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Who Does David Think He Is!

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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May 6, 2024 4:00 am

Who Does David Think He Is!

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 6, 2024 4:00 am

When disaster’s averted, some call it luck or coincidence—but you’ll never read those terms in the Bible. Join us on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg looks at a few ordinary people and seemingly disconnected events through the lens of God’s sovereign care.


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When some kind of potential disaster is averted, some people attribute it to luck or coincidence, but those are not terms we find in the Bible. Today on Truth for Life, as we follow David's continuing saga, we'll see some ordinary people and some seemingly disconnected events through the lens of God's sovereign care. Alistair Begg is teaching from the opening verses of 1 Samuel chapter 25. Well, the life of David as we've been following it in these weeks, in these variety of circumstances as he has moved essentially from wilderness to wilderness, may appear from our perspective to simply be a series of unconnected, disconnected events. But in actual fact, what we're discovering and what comes across clearly in this chapter, in the entire chapter, is the fact that like all of God's children, David is being schooled in the work of God in terms of providence, and that even though he is on the receiving end of all this opposition, he is actually safe in God's care.

And we're discovering that God is always at work in a variety of circumstances and that God is always at work in a variety of lives. Let's try and make our way through these verses by considering, first of all, the context and the cast of characters. The chapter begins by telling us that Samuel has died and that David has moved on. He went down to the wilderness of Paran.

Now, I think it is impossible for us to mistake or to fail to be struck by the fact that the obituary here that we're given of Samuel is incredibly brief. He was a prophet. He was a priest of God. He was a judge of the people. He was an anointer of kings.

In his old age, he actually accomplished more than he accomplished in his earlier years. And he has taken himself to his home in Ramah. David has been to visit him there, we saw, and it would appear that he's pretty well settled down—settled down to follow the events of the kingdom, presumably waiting, wondering, How will these things unfold? After all, he had been there to anoint David as the king, and yet Saul continued to pursue him in this way. As the events unfold, we discover back in chapter 24 that for the first time, Saul actually is prepared to admit that he knows that David is going to be the king. And then, quite interestingly, chapter 25 immediately begins, Now Samuel died. I wonder, is there not some kind of direct link between these two things, but it was almost as though when Samuel realized that Saul now knew how this was going to be, he could, if you like, just draw his feet up on the bed and breathe his last. And Samuel died.

In English, his obituary is only twenty words. Samuel died. Israel assembled. Israel mourned.

Samuel was buried in his house in Ramah. It's quite salutary, isn't it? You think about those of significance in the church of Jesus Christ, whose funerals we have either attended or prayed about and for—a reminder of the brevity of life, a reminder of the frailty of our existence, a reminder of the fact that God, in his sovereign plan, takes people never a day too soon and never a day late. I wonder, did Saul attend the funeral? And David, we're told, he went down into the wilderness of Paran.

I wonder if that was his way of responding to the news—down there to ponder, down to think, down to mourn, down to wonder. But I think there is definitely a time gap between the end of verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2. Because in verse 2, we're now in a different place. We're in a familiar place. Back in Mahon, we looked at it and saw Saul in that context in 23.

We also, way back in 15, may remind ourselves that it was in Carmel that Saul built a monument for himself, and we pondered just how wise or foolish that must have been. And it is now in this context that we're introduced to the other members of the cast. We are introduced to a man here by the name of Nabal, who has about him hints of Saul himself. Notice the way in which we're introduced to him. It's interesting that it doesn't lead with his name. It leads with what he has.

Now, because what he has was really what he was all about. He was about his possessions. There was a man in Mahon. This man was very rich. This man's name was Nabal.

This man was harsh and badly behaved. This man had a wife whose name was Abigail, and she was bright and beautiful. And so the scene is set. The reader of the story is saying, I wonder how this is all going to unfold. Well, with the scene set in verses 1–3, the action proceeds.

Let me outline it as follows. First of all, in verses 4–9, what we have here is a reasonable request—a reasonable request. We're told that David had heard about Nabal and about the fact that he was shearing his sheep. You see that there in verse 4. In actual fact, it's hard to imagine that Nabal himself was shearing his sheep.

After all, he had three thousand of them. I think if we'd met him, he would have said, Oh, no, no, no, I don't shear my sheep. If you come to the sheep shearing, you'll find me, that I am normally entertaining, in the corporate tent.

But I have people that do the sheep shearing. Well, David sends ten of his young men. He gives them their speech. He tells them, This is the way in which you should approach this situation, and this is how you should greet Nabal.

And so, that is exactly what they do. And you will notice that they begin with the shalom in verse 6. Peace be to you, peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers, and now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Show us favor, because after all, this is feast time. The sheep shearing time was a time of great rejoicing.

It was evidence of abundance and so on. And here we come, we are representative of a larger crowd, and you are a man of plenty, and we are in need. And so, whatever you have at hand that you might give to us and give to your son David—notice that deferential expression there. David is a wise man. He's not going to tell them that he's dealing with the anointed king of Israel.

He says, No, just let him know, and approach him in an appropriate way. And when David's young men came, verse 9, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. Presumably, waiting to carry the stuff. Ten of them, in expectation of the fact that there would be plenty to take back.

And so they stood. And then, of course, Nabal answered. So we have a reasonable request, and then in verses 10 and 11 we have a selfish response.

A selfish response. It's probably good at this point to note what we find elsewhere in the chapter, and that is that the name Nabal means fool. Fool. Just how he came to be known by that name is a matter of interest. I can't imagine that his parents, when he was born, said, Why don't we call him Fool? I think that would be a good name. Let's call him Stupid.

No, I don't imagine that. Perhaps his name is a corruption of another similar-sounding word. Maybe it is a nickname. Maybe he earned this name.

And as you can see in the text, he certainly lives up to it. Now, he responds in a dismissive way there in verse 10, Who's the son of Jesse? Who is David? Now, I don't think we should imagine that he doesn't know who he is. What he's really saying is, Who does David think he is?

Which is, of course, ironic. It's not who he thinks he is. It is who he is. He is the anointed king. He is the Lord's anointed. And so Nabal despises him.

Nabal is unwilling to show any kindness to him at all. Now, all the way through our studies, as we've been looking at things, as it were, through the lens of David, we've also been looking telescopically beyond, as little hints have come our way, as we've sensed, as we pause for a moment and said to ourselves, Now listen, this is the Lord's anointed, and the Lord's anointed has come to this ruffian of a character, and he has simply despised, and they show him no kindness at all. Well, they say, Well, wasn't that similarly what happened to the anointed of the Lord, namely Jesus himself, when he moved amongst people in his day? Remember, when he goes to his own hometown. And the people there in Nazareth, particularly the leadership says, Well, where is all this wisdom coming from? Where does he get all this stuff? How is it that he's doing all these mighty works?

We know his family. And it says in Mark chapter 6, just simply, they took offense at him. And we've noted all the way through, and it's good to remind ourselves of the fact that people take offense at the Lord's anointed, at the Lord Jesus Christ, in a way that it would not be true of other religious leaders.

Well, he's worth a lot, this navel, but he is a worthless fellow. He regards, verse 11, David as just being another runaway. There are a lot of people who have run away from their masters, he says, and he's just another one of them. And frankly, you folks that are here, the ten of you, are a bunch of renegades. And so he makes it very, very clear in verse 11.

He's not about to take his hard-earned largess and give it to this company of nobodies from nowhere. Did you notice the mise there as I tried to read it in verse 11? Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers? You see, man in his folly doesn't realize that every breath that he breathes, every benefit that we enjoy, is from the hand of God.

My, my, my, my. Then in verses 12 and 13, we have, following the response, the selfish response of navel, we have a fierce reaction on the part of David himself. And verses 12 and 13 should be read in concurrence with verses 21 and 22.

We didn't read them, but you can allow your eye to look onto them. David said to his men when the report came back, every man strap on his sword. Now, I don't think it's hard to imagine that as they made their way back, the ten of them, they might have been saying to one another, I don't think I'd want to be the one to tell him how it happened, and eventually the facts are made available to him. And David reacts ferociously, doesn't he?

There seems to be just no pause between the report and the reaction. They turned away, they came back, they told him all this, and David said, Let's go, strap on your sword. In other words, it is the antithesis of the warning that is given by James in his letter, whereby the servant of God is to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Now, if you look at verse 21, now David had said. It doesn't say David said at that point. It says that David had said. And I imagine that he had said it right here when he gives instruction about what they're going to do to this character.

What he had said. In vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him. And yet he has returned me evil for good? God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him still standing.

Well, this is actually moral outrage, isn't it? The thing that strikes David is that this man has returned evil for good. In the previous chapter, 24, you remember that David has returned good to Saul, despite Saul's evil extended to David. But having done the right thing in chapter 24 by restraining himself from his impulses, now he is setting out to do the wrong thing in chapter 25. And actually, the language that is used in verse 22 is graphic language, which our modern translations have kind of decided that these are days in which we can't handle it, but you can find it in the King James Version if you want to go and look for it. I've got to kill the whole lot of them, he says to himself.

Every one of them. Now, remember, back in chapter 24, he chooses not to grab what is only God's to give. But now, here, in a moment, he's ready to avenge himself rather than to leave matters in the Lord's hands. Instead of overcoming evil with good, he is apparently about to be overcome by evil.

Quite a shift, isn't it? Remember verse 6? Peace, peace, peace. And now verse 13?

Sword, sword, sword. Now let's not forget who is doing this, who is saying this. This is the very one upon whom God has set his heart to make him king. This is the Lord's servant.

Question. How can he speak so unadvisedly? How can he move from twenty-four into twenty-five? How can he move from peace to sword with hardly a gap in between? How can he plan on carrying out such an atrocity? Four hundred men, all with their swords, two hundred left behind—it's not difficult to figure out what they had planned. His ferocious reaction is the precursor to an atrocity. Well, I thought about it quite a lot this week.

I found it very challenging. Because it is surely a good time to remind ourselves that the best of men are men at best, that there has only ever been one perfect man—namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. Success in twenty-four, and an incumbent failure in twenty-five. Well, of course, it is not to be, and mercifully, because in verses 14–17 we have a timely report. It's timely in the sense that if it had come a lot later, it would not have been of any use at all.

The matter would have been settled. Now, the key player, as we're going to see in the balance of the chapter, is Abigail herself. But as we see in this little section, her actions are prompted by the initiative of one of the young men. But one of the young men. Who was he? One of the young men.

This is all we have. We can see that he had insight, that he took initiative, and that as a result he had influence. But he was just one of the young men, one of a vast company who, as per George Eliot, lived faithfully hidden lives and rest in unvisited tombs. So much of the story of the Bible, particularly the narrative of the Old Testament, is filled with these characters, male and female.

And there was a young man, and a young man here, and a young woman there. Wonderful! Should be a great encouragement to us. The vast majority of us will not even be a footnote in history. If we think that Samuel's obituary was short, wait till it's ours.

Unless inflated by ego. Now, what are we to say of this young man? Well, his intervention was of crucial importance. He explains to Abigail that the men were actually very good, that it's true what they reported—that there was no harm, that there was no theft. In fact, he takes it up a notch, and he says in verse 16, they actually did provide protection for us.

They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. And he explains, The reason I'm telling you this, Abigail, is because her husband is worthless. Not very nice. But he's such a worthless man, there's no point even going to him and speaking to him. And so he urges her to consider what action she ought to take. Now therefore, know this and consider what you should do. For harm is determined against our master, against his house.

In verse 18, then Abigail made haste. Now, the balance of the story is fantastic, and I urge you to read it on, and we will come back to it, but we must leave it here. Next time when we come back, God willing, we will consider God's restraining grace.

But as we end, let's remind ourselves of what we're doing. We're studying the Bible. Studying the Bible.

You say, Well, there's nothing brilliant about that observation. But I wonder, were you reading this morning, as I was, in Acts and in chapter 13 in the McShane Bible readings? I was struck by the fact that Paul and his companions, when they arrive in Pisidia in Antioch, they go into the synagogue, they sit down, and after reading from the Law and the Prophets—in other words, they read the Bible, and that's what we're doing. Everything that has been written down before, says Paul, is for our instruction to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, to bring us encouragement with a view to endurance so that we might be able to see beyond our present trials and our present difficulties and find hope—a hope that is the promise of a reality not yet experienced and is found in Jesus himself.

So we continue. Because the Word of God does the work of God by the Spirit of God as God continues to speak through what God himself has spoken. You're listening to Truth for Life, that is, Alistair Begg with a message he's titled, Who Does David Think He Is? As Alistair just pointed out, God speaks to us through the Bible. That's why we teach the Bible every day here on Truth for Life. Beyond listening to daily Bible teaching, it's important for all of us to read God's Word for ourselves and to be able to recall it. And to help you develop this discipline, we want to recommend to you a booklet called How to Memorize Scripture for Life. Ask for your copy of the booklet today when you donate to Truth for Life.

You can give a gift through the mobile app or online at slash donate. We're excited today because pastors from all around the world are joining Alistair, along with fellow pastors Rico Tice and Sinclair Ferguson for the 2024 Basics Conference. This is a time for those who serve God week in and week out as pastors or as church leaders to be renewed, refreshed, and encouraged to preach God's Word faithfully to their congregations. I know that all of those who are attending, including Alistair, greatly appreciate your prayers as the conference has kicked off today. It will conclude on Wednesday. If you'd like to watch the Basics Conference live, it begins at 12 noon Eastern time today.

You can live stream the conference for free online at Thanks for listening today. As we are finding out, God's providential grace protects and delivers his people from their enemies. Tomorrow, we'll see how it also protects us from ourselves. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-06 05:26:58 / 2024-05-06 05:35:18 / 8

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