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“They Found an Egyptian”

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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May 16, 2024 4:00 am

“They Found an Egyptian”

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 16, 2024 4:00 am

As David’s story unfolds, it quickly becomes evident that God’s promise of deliverance doesn’t shield His people from sorrow. Study along with Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines David’s experience to learn what to do when you’ve hit rock bottom.


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As we've been looking at King David's life and story on Truth for Life, we've been seeing that God's promise of deliverance doesn't shield his people from sorrow.

Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn from David about what to do when you've hit rock bottom. Alistair Begg continues our study in 1 Samuel. We're in chapter 30. A great deal has happened since David's secret anointing, back in chapter 16.

And the pathway to the crown has not been a straight pathway. And at the end of our study last time, at the end of chapter 29, he had been sent away with his men early in the morning in order that they could head for the only place that they could really call home at that time, namely Ziklag. Which then brings us to chapter 30.

And I have a number of headings in my notes, which I'll share with you, and perhaps they will help and repay further study. First of all, to consider the fact that here David hits rock bottom. He's been freed from his dilemma by the intervention, ironically, of his enemies. He and his men have then covered the some sixty miles from where they were in Aphek to Ziklag, getting there in approximately a couple of days, because you will notice it says, And they arrived on the third day. Now, you can anticipate all of the excitement that was theirs in thinking about going home. And yet, they arrive only to discover that what they were looking forward to is unavailable. Because you will see in the text that the raiders had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire, didn't kill anybody remarkably in the providence of God, but carried all these people off. Now, their reaction to this in verse 4 is, I think, quite obvious. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. We're not going to pause on this, but it is a reminder to us that an assurance of the company and promise of God does not remove us from the realm of grief. In fact, the Bible is very, very clear that one of the privileges that has been given to us in our humanity is the ability to wail and to mourn and to recognize sadness when it hits us. We sorrow not as those who have no hope, but still we sorrow. And these people sorrowed.

They wept until they had no more strength to weep. They were devastated, and David now finds himself isolated. And not only have his wives been taken in verse 5, but his distress is on account of the fact that his own troops thought of stoning him. And ironically, having avoided the spear of Saul and having dodged and conned the Philistine king, he now faces the prospect of being taken out, killed by his own people. Now, that leaves us to wonder, what's he going to do next? Is he going to go back to the chapter 27 experience, where he crossed over and looked for help elsewhere?

But no. He's hemmed in on either side. He's at rock bottom, as we say.

The only way that he can look is up. And so, from David hitting rock bottom, we notice that David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. It doesn't just say David thought about God and it made him feel better about things—that David thought there was an entity out there, the kind of talk that is not unfamiliar in our day. People who have no knowledge of God at all, no awareness of his truth, no concept of the fact that he has made himself known in the person of Jesus will often talk in these terms. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

There's all the difference in the world between an intellectual capacity to conceive of a higher being and a personal relationship with the living God. Now, the contrast between Saul and David we've been pointing out along the way, and here's another one in passing. How different is this from what Saul did in 28? He went to seek a word from God from the strangest of sources, and he was filled with fear. He wasn't strengthened.

He was met by silence. But now David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. This isn't the first time that we've had this phraseology. If you remember the part that was played by Jonathan way back in chapter 23, Jonathan was reminding David of the promises of God. He was reminding him of the facts as they were. And as a result of that, David was strengthened at that time. Now, I take it that verses 7 and 8—if someone says, Well, what does it mean to strengthen yourself in the Lord your God?

Is this some kind of emotional experience? Well, let's just think about it. What does David do? I think that 7 and 8 are explaining to us how this strengthening took place. He said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech—you remember, this is the one who managed to get out when Saul had destroyed the priests at Nob. And how he is here in this moment, we're not told. But he is able, then, to supply David with the ephod in order that David, then, may listen for God's Word.

Listen for God's Word. I think it is a mistake—and I said this before—for us to get caught up in the mechanism of this, to immediately find ourselves saying, Now, where was this ephod, and how did the ephod work, and how does this unfold? Clearly, we're not told. And I think that is purposeful. I take it that it is purposeful, that the writer wants the reader to understand that David wanted to hear from God, and David heard from God. He received a clear answer. And the answer was, Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue. And so, having listened to God, he then obeys God, and he sets out. Verse 10, "...but David pursued, he and four hundred men, two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Bessar." So if we're saying to ourselves, How do I strengthen my hand in the Lord?

Well, we say, by listening to his Word, by obeying his Word, by joining with the company of others who have a like perspective on things. David hits rock bottom. David strengthens himself in the Lord. And in verse 11 and following, David meets an Egyptian. They—you will notice that they, at the beginning of verse 11—they found an Egyptian, i.e., his men.

He was out in the open country. They brought him to David. And notice what they did. They gave him bread. They gave him water.

They gave him a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And it would seem that their kindness was extended before they learned his identity, before they knew who he really was and why he was actually there. Now, at this point, you see, David may not know that the people who have burned Ziklag down are actually the Amalekites. We realize that the circumstances in verses 1 and 2 have then been encountered by David when he arrives, but there's nothing to actually tell us in the text that he knew who it was. And even if he did know their identity, how was he going to discover where they were? It wasn't as if they could just go down the road and there they would be sitting.

Now, this little section here that begins, they found an Egyptian, is rich for further study. Consider, for example, in passing, the callous disregard on the part of the Amalekite soldier that left his Egyptian servant to shrivel and die in the open country. And all the time not realizing that when he and his friends did that, they were actually signing their own death certificates.

They could never have known. He's dispensable. What would he ever do? Leave him behind. He's of no help to us again. He's sick.

He's just a nuisance. And, fascinatingly, the Egyptian not only paves the way for the destruction of the Amalekites, who are the enemies of Israel, but he's also the key to the recovery process whereby nothing is missing and everything is restored. Now, it is in this context that David learns that the Amalekites have actually done what David had pretended to do.

It starts from the lips of a stranger that he learns of the burning of ziklag. And so it is that this Egyptian, then, is able to lead David and his men to the band of raiders. And once again we have the opportunity to think about the fact that the ways of God are undeniably odd. This is an amazing providence here—that this man should be here in these circumstances at this moment and is able to display a knowledge of these things and lead them on. The ways of God are strange, but they're equally sure. And what he purposes, he accomplishes. So, having hit rock bottom and strengthened himself in the Lord and having met an Egyptian, in the next little section we realize that David brought back all. Now, the Egyptian is a savvy soul, isn't he? Because he wants David to swear that he will not kill him and certainly won't deliver him into the hands of his master. He's going to be saved.

He wants to be sure that he's saved. And so he then in turn leads him to the Amalekite camp. And they are certainly not arrayed in any kind of military splendor. They're not put together in such a way that they would be ready for further battles. There they were eating and drinking and dancing, they were scattered over a wide area, and all of the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of the Judah was the source of what they were doing.

They were clearly unaware of their vulnerability. And consequently, although David's men were smaller in number, they were able to strike them down, catch them off guard. And all, except the four hundred who headed out on camels, were destroyed. Again, let us notice that what is happening here is not a matter of personal vengeance on the part of David.

This is not just, if you like, some skirmish that has to do with the ego of one king against the ego of another king. No, let's not forget the fact that God had given clear direction to his people concerning the Amalekites because they were the enemies of the Lord. And what David is doing here is what should have been done a long time before. And the recovery process is comprehensive. You just look at the word all. David recovered all the Amalekites had taken.

Nothing was missing. Verse 19, he captured all the flocks and the herds and the people who drove the livestock before him. And he rescued his two wives. It's clear that David wants to make sure that his wives are under his jurisdiction once again.

Isn't it fascinating, too, when you think about leadership, how quickly things turn? He is, if you like, in the earlier part of these proceedings, the scapegoat. He's the one who is worthy of being stoned by his own people. But now he's no longer the one who should be stoned. He's the one who should be praised. And gratitude for his leadership is now part and parcel of things.

After all, everybody's benefiting along with him. And they said of this, "'This is David's spoil,' they said." Now, I don't know whether what they were saying was, This is David's spoil, and that's not David's spoil.

This is his bit, and this is our part. Or whether they were actually saying, This is what David has done. Isn't David fantastic? Someone says, Yeah, but you wanted to stone him earlier on. Yeah, that was an aberration.

No, no, he's terrific. Now, if that is the case—and I imagine that it probably is—then what is being said about David is about to be corrected, and he corrects the greedy by his theology of grace. Verse 21, then David came to the two hundred men who'd been too exhausted to follow David and who'd been left at the brook. And of course, the inevitable happened—those who'd been responsible for taking care of all of the provisions, the kind of quartermaster role, the baggage handlers.

They came out. And clearly, they are going to benefit. After all, they're part of things. But that's not the perspective on the part of the four hundred who went. Verse 22, then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone. Now, he's not saying that the four hundred were a bad lot. But he's saying it's almost inevitable that in that group, given that it was put together from a ragtag and bobtail group of individuals, some who were renegades and running away and worthless characters, it's almost inevitable that there would be those, then, who said, Well, we're not going to allow them to participate in this. We're the ones who did the fighting.

What did they do? And there's a very dismissive line there, where it says, Just let them take their wives and their children and get out of here. They didn't go with us. We're not giving them any of the spoil that we've recovered, except that each man may lead his wife and children and depart. And then verse 23, But David said, No, you're not going to do this at all.

Now, notice he's very firm, but he's also very gracious. David said, You shall not do so, my brothers. You're not going to do this, hoard it for yourself, because it is what the Lord has given us. He is the one who has preserved us and given them into our hand.

Who would listen to you in this matter? This is a wrong perspective. And then here's the principle. For as his share is, who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.

And he, in anticipation of his kingly authority, establishes this as a statute and makes it as a rule for Israel from that day forward. Now, if you cut to the chase, what is happening here is that these individuals who respond in this way, these worthless troublemakers, are essentially operating on the principle of works. We get this because we deserve it.

We did this, therefore we get that. And those who operate their lives on this principle will always be impressed by their own contributions. Greediness and selfishness, when displayed in my life, make it actually clear that I need to enroll in a refresher course in the theology of grace. Because, you see, grace is not actually about fairness.

A gift is a gift. And that's why David not only demands this of these characters, but he lays it down as a statute to follow. He is not going to be the king that Samuel referred to when, reluctantly, he agreed that the people should have an earthly king.

Remember the one who takes? No, David is going to be a king who gives. And then you will notice, in conclusion, that David shares the benefits of victory with his friends and potential friends.

That's what we have in 26 to the end. Everyone is going to benefit from the generous rule of this king. He sends part of the spoil—presumably his own spoil—to his friends, who are the elders of Judah.

And perhaps, thinking of what the future holds and the people he'll be dealing with very skillfully, he suggests that they become the beneficiaries of his largess as well. And you have that lovely picture there. Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.

Here's a present for you. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. You see, when we've been studying this—and it's important we keep coming back to it—when we're studying this, when we see this conflict between the Amalekites and between Israel, it's actually pointing to a far greater conflict than what is here in history.

It's actually the great conflict which consumes the world ever since the Garden of Eden. When Peter preaches on the day of Pentecost, you'll remember that he quotes there from the hundred-and-tenth psalm, and he looks forward to the day when the great and royal king will see his enemies as his footstool. And on that day when that triumph takes place, all who are the friends of the king, all who are members of the king's community, if you like, will enjoy the bounty that flows from his triumph. So, David, we find at the beginning of the chapter, is at rock bottom. Now, here we are at the end of the chapter, and David is giving out presents—generously, lavishly, and not because they had earned it. Fast-forward all the way to a scene outside the city wall, and there you have Jesus at rock bottom, opposed by so many, and from one perspective it looks as though it's all over. And yet he triumphs, doesn't he?

Over sin and death, he ascends on high, and he pours out gifts—presents that are undeserved. And what it actually is saying to us—and it's something far more than a historical lesson about the Amalekites and Judah—but it's saying this, that it is only the king. It is only the king who is able to turn defeat into victory.

It is only the king who is able to establish the kind of unified peace that our world longs for. You think about the nations of our world today. Think about all of the rebellions. Think about all of the mayhem. Think about all of the committees, all of the designs, the desires, the increase in education and social care—everything that we're able to do.

And yet it is absolute mayhem. What are we missing? We're missing the king who comes to reign. All men shall dwell in his marvelous light. And races long severed, his love shall unite. Justice and truth from his scepter shall spring. Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is king. Now, this is what Peter was proclaiming. And when the people listened to him, they said, Well, what should we do about this?

You remember what he said? Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In other words, he says, internally, turn to God and from yourself and from your sin, and trust him, and externally declare it in this public forum. You see, we're either on the side of the king or we are opposed to the king. Don't fall for the notion that everybody is in sort of a quasi-relationship with the living God, and it's just that some are more into it than others.

It's not so. By nature we are enemies of God. We're alienated from God. We're alienated by our rebellion on the one hand and by his settled reaction to sin on the other. And where is reconciliation to be found? And the answer is in the king. Jesus is king. You're listening to Alistair Begg. He's titled today's message, They Found an Egyptian. I hope, as we have studied 1 Samuel, you have found yourself encouraged by all of the evidence of God's providence, the assurance that he uses even those deemed worthless by others for his purposes. Tomorrow is the last day in this study. If you've missed any of the messages, you can catch up or re-listen.

It's all free. Go to our mobile app or our website, We're currently in volume 4 in our study of 1 and 2 Samuel. Next week, we begin a series on parenting. And to complement that study, we want to recommend to you a book titled Parenting Essentials, Equipping Your Children for Life. This book helps parents walk through the issues they will likely face as their children grow.

It helps them prepare a unified plan before they find themselves in the trenches. The book is filled with real-life biblical advice for how to navigate the many challenges that come with raising godly children in today's culture. As you read Parenting Essentials, you'll learn to embrace your role as a mentor and a guide. You'll also be equipped to nurture your children's unique gifts and talents and to cultivate a strong sense of identity and belonging in Christ. There are a lot of books available on parenting. We are recommending this one.

We think it is biblically solid. Again, the title is Parenting Essentials. It's yours when you give a gift today. You can give a one-time gift at slash donate, or you can arrange to set up an automatic monthly donation when you visit slash truthpartner.

I'm Bob Lapine. King Saul's journey began with great promise, but as we'll see tomorrow, it came to an undignified end. Join us as we find out how this Old Testament tragedy is a warning for us today. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-16 09:13:29 / 2024-05-16 09:22:12 / 9

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