Allen Jackson - King David - Part 2
What if we only follow God when we have complete information? We'll never follow. You see, there is vulnerability in following with incomplete information. There's trust involved in that. Now, this isn't something bizarre. You live your life this way. You give birth to children and you have no clue what's coming. Right? You make a covenant of marriage with no idea what's entailed in that covenant. You live your life making significant choices with incomplete information. Why do you assume this faithless, stubborn, rebellion posture with God that says, "I will not cooperate until you show me the entire journey"? I want a better response in my heart.
Verse 2, "Samuel said, 'How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.'" Saul is very much still king. "And the LORD said, 'Take a heifer with you and say, 'I've come to sacrifice to the LORD.' Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I'll show you what to do. You're to anoint for me the one I indicate.'" You know, I've read my Bible enough times, and many of you have as well. There are times when God smites his enemies with blindness, right? And I'm reading this and I'm thinking, "Okay, my choice on this day would be blindness to Saul and all of his advisors. 'Cause if he knows I've gone to anoint another king to displace him, my life is not going to be worth sawdust". And so I'm thinking, "Okay, God. I'll move, as soon as I hear that Saul is deaf and blind, I'm moving". But God gives Samuel a different response. He gives him a response of wisdom but not the supernatural. He says, "Take an offering with you. If anybody asks, just say, 'I'm here for a sacrifice.'"
How many times have I said, "God, I'm not doing this unless you provide supernatural attestation that that was you for the sixth time 'cause those first five could have been coincidences"? Verse 4, "Samuel did what the LORD said. And when he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. And they asked, 'Do you come in peace?'" This intrigues me. Did you hear it? When Samuel got to Bethlehem, the most influential people in the city trembled at his arrival, trembled at the arrival of the person of God. Clearly, he's more than a convener of Bible studies. He's more than a voice for a heightened morality. They recognize an authority, a power present in his life. May I humbly submit to you that we have cared so little about the power of God that we've been content to be conveners of studies, and we desperately need the power of God in our world.
Are we willing to become those kind of people? Are we willing to follow when we're given instructions? Are we willing to take a place that puts us at risk? Samuel was safer at home. He's had a good run. He's been a judge and a leader and anointed a king. He could have looked at his curriculum vitae and said it's enough, but now he's at Jesse's house. Excuse me. Verse 5, "Samuel replied, 'Yes, I'm in peace. I've come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.' And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice".
Now we're to the heart of the matter. He's going to look at the boys. "When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab". He's the oldest. This is a season in history which existed for a long time. In agricultural societies, the eldest typically inherits because you don't want the family estate to be divided up amongst a dozen children. If you do that for two or three generations, there's not enough land to support the family any longer. So to maintain the entity of the estate, of the resources, typically there was a decision made about who would inherit. So the oldest in this case is expected. And Eliab presents himself, and Samuel says, "Surely this is the Lord's anointed". And the Lord said, "Don't even consider it". In verse 8, "Then Jesse called Abinadab," number two, "had him pass in front of Samuel". And the Lord said nope. Living Bible. Verse 9, "Jesse then had Shammah pass by," and Samuel said, "The Lord didn't choose this one either". "Jesse had seven sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, 'The Lord has not chosen these.'"
I'm thinking if you could present seven boys, you ought to get some kind of an award. Can you imagine how much food had to go on that table? Lord, have mercy. So he said, "Jesse, are these all the sons you have"? Now, again, this is the prophet of God to anoint a king. "I've been sent here to anoint one of your boys". If you're in Samuel's shoes, wouldn't you like to be better-informed? I've just seen seven. Now I got to go, "Is there any more? Do you have any more boys than..." Jesse says, "Well, I got one. He's the kid, kind of, he's out sheep-herding". And Samuel said, "Send for him. We'll stand until he arrives". So he sent and had him brought in, and he was of fine appearance with handsome features and the Lord said, "Rise and anoint him. He's the one". "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power".
There wasn't something about David that so distinguished him that the whole family understood he was the one. Samuel looked at two or three others before he ever saw David and thought, "Well, this one would work". So whatever David's distinguishing characteristics were, we're told he was of fine appearance, but his distinguishing characteristics were not so unique that the whole family understood. But I want to call your attention to that last line. It says that from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. The Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. In fact, from this point forward in the narrative, we understand David to have been chosen by God and anointed. The power of God has come upon him. David didn't volunteer. He didn't put his name on a list. He didn't have a GoFundMe page. Samuel came to his house. He was out doing his summer job and was brought into the house and he was chosen to be king, and it says the power of God came upon him.
Now, I'm working on my understanding and inviting you along on a journey. What does it mean to be chosen by God, anointed by God, the power of God come upon you? I want to believe that's like you just got recruited to be a new Marvel character. You're going to get a spandex suit, blue. You could fly. You get a cape. You can leap tall buildings in a single bound. You're faster than a speeding bullet. Right? Anointed, chosen, empowered; that's David from this point forward in the story. The other thing I can tell you from that passage we just read, those were some awkward circumstances. Seven brothers in front of the prophet seven times. No. "We got one left, but it's just David". And when he comes in, "That's the one"
How many of you know that room is awkward? Right? We got enough biblical narrative about brothers and stories. Think Joseph. This is an awkward room. And long before HBO thought of it, we got "Game of Thrones" going on right here. Samuel says, "If I go to Bethlehem and anoint somebody at Jesse's house, Saul will kill me". Now, I want to make three quick observations, but before I share them with you I want you to remember that all of these following statements are true in spite of Samuel's visit and in spite of God's selection. 'Cause, again, I'm thinking if the prophet shows up and the anointing comes upon me and the power of God comes upon me, the path gets smooth. Right? "God, if this is you", right? Or is that just me?
So the first thing I can tell you is that David on that day gained a powerful adversary. When Samuel rolled into Jesse's yard and unpacked the black SUV, he lit the fuse on a conflict. Look in 2 Samuel 3:1. We don't talk about it a lot, but it's a part of the story. Says, "The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time". That day in Jesse's house, with a proclamation from the Lord Samuel ignited the fuse on a civil war. Do you have room in your imagination that the call of God, the anointing of God, and the power of God would put you into the midst of a conflict that wasn't present before those things came to you?
You see, I think we have talked primarily about the anointing of God and the power of God as a means of resolving conflict, not escalating it. Are you with me? At this point, there is no easy path forward for David. There is no easy path. There's no negotiation. There's not a simple way. The second thing we can learn is that the support that moves towards David at best, it seems to me, is inconsistent. In 1 Samuel 22 it says, "All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around David, and he became their leader". Suppose I said to you I'm going to start a new group, all right, and I have recruited a very specific group of people. I started with the group of people who were under the greatest stress of everybody I knew. They're all on antidepressants, they're basket cases, they sleep very little, they're nervous wrecks, and on top of that they're the people in the greatest debt I could find. They have mountains of debt. They have no hope of ever getting out from under it, and on top of their stress and their debt they're the most discontented human beings I know. Who'd like to lead them?
That's who got off the bus for David. It says there were 400 of them. Don't you know it was a happy, clappy lot of people? But it's not done. "From there David went to Mizpah to Moab," Moab is a neighboring nation, "and he said to the king, 'Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?'" David is under so much pressure he takes his parents to a neighboring nation 'cause it's not safe for them in Israel. There's a third piece of this. The pressures David faces are persistent. They're not for a day or a week. He lives as a fugitive for more than a decade. Says, "That day David fled from Saul and went to the king of Gath". Again, do you have an imagination that with the anointing of God, the power of God upon your life that you would have to flee from an enemy? That's an adjustment for me. I think my enemies ought to flee from me if I'm in that place. And if I'm having to flee, it must mean that I've strayed from the anointing or I've somewhere misplaced the power or God is displeased.
How could you ever have to retreat if you're about God's business? That's not easy for me to understand. It's not the position that I want to believe in. I want to believe that every day is a triumph and every enemy yields. Right? And when that's not happening, then the accuser comes and says, "See, you're a failure. Your God doesn't work. What you believed is inaccurate". But the story we have from Scripture is different. David's been chosen and anointed and empowered, and he is fleeing for his life to another country. And the servants of the king of Gath said, "Isn't this David the king of the land"? He has a reputation. "Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances: 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands?' David took these words to heart, and he was very much afraid of the king of Gath".
This is David, the warrior king. He's afraid. How afraid is he? Well, God gave him, again, this is that place where, you know, if I had a king and I was, I'd like God just to strike that king dead. "Did you threaten me, sir"? That'd be my choice. But the answer God gave David was a bit of wisdom. "He pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman. He made marks on the doors of the gate, and he let saliva run down his beard". I'm praying for a heart attack, and God said, "Why don't you drool"? It's there. Right? Are you prepared to stand in the gap? I love the king's response. He said to his servants, "Look at that man. He's insane. Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to import them from other places"? David's doing a good job. He's in it with his whole heart.
My time is about up. To conclude this, I want to give you some life hacks, travel tips, whichever way you want to label it. If you're going to stand in the gap, there are some things we're going to have to pack for this journey. Number one is the awareness that you're never too young, and you can put in parentheses or too old, to begin a relationship with the Lord. David's journey starts when he's a young man. 1 Samuel 17, this is the Goliath narrative. You know, most of us learned about David with Goliath, the big Philistine warrior. Goliath means warrior. It's not really a name, it's a designation. "But David said to Saul, 'Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep.'"
When David hears Goliath's challenge, he says, "I can do this". Nobody in all the Israelite army can do this. For 40 days Goliath has taunted them, and nobody said, "I'll do that". And David rolls in with lunch for his brothers. He's just checking on his brothers and he says, "I got this". And the king, Saul, is incredulous so he wants to interview him, and David said, "Well, your servant has been keeping his father's sheep". Well, that explains everything. "And when a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it".
Again, I know it's in the Bible and we act like that's normal, but I'm here to tell you if I'm in the backyard and a bear or a lion comes out I'm going in the house. I'm not going after it. And if it grabs the dog, I'm going to the shelter. David said, "I went after it and I struck it, and I rescued the sheep from its mouth". All right, you're a bad man. You know, at this point, maybe we'll call it even. But then he said, "When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair. I struck it and killed it". He's been strange for a long time.
Now, you need the larger narrative to know the point of what David is saying is he said, you know, "I did this in the name of the Lord". He said, "This isn't new to me". David's a teenager at the best at this point. A teenager. He may be shaving, but he's not shaving every day. He's a young person, and he said, "I know the Lord well enough to know how this plays out. I've been in this scene before. It wasn't with the Philistine, but it's been with a bear and a lion and it turned out okay". You're not too young. Wherever you are in whatever season you are, you're not too old. What are you waiting for to say yes to the Lord, some perfect place? It's never coming.
David didn't start in a perfect place. The second thing I would submit is you want to cultivate or nurture the fear or respect of the Lord. The fear of God is about reverence, respect, awe; that we hold God in high esteem. Folks, we have lost this in contemporary American Christendom. We're ashamed and embarrassed. We're reluctant to say Jesus is Lord. We're a little more comfortable saying, "Well, there's really no difference in Buddha, or Allah, or Jesus". What nonsense? We have no respect for God any longer. We hold our sports teams in higher respect than we do the name of the Lord. Look at what David said in 1 Samuel 17. "Your servant has killed the lion and the bear, and this Philistine will be like one of them because he's defied the armies of the living God".
David heard something that nobody else heard. They heard a personal challenge, a personal threat, a threat to this army is of Saul. David said, "He has defied the armies of the living God. He's called God out. He can't stand". He said, "Send a kid out there. He can do it. You don't need a warrior. You don't even need armor. I know my God". We need our hearts open to who God is again. It's time. He called us into existence, and he's still watching over us. We want to cultivate that. Let that grow in you. Feed it. Nurture it. Let it grow every day.
And then thirdly, David knew what defined him, and you and I need to get this sorted out too. It wasn't his age. It wasn't his military training. He hadn't even been to basic training. He wasn't even in the army. It wasn't the circumstances. He's there with lunch for his brothers. It's not a title. It's not the label in your clothing, or the car you drive, or the diploma you have on your wall, or the resources you've accumulated. If those things define you, they can bring some definition to your life. But if you imagine those are the things that define you, you're no different in your responses than the secular culture. You're no different at all. Look at what David said. "David said to the Philistine, 'You come against me with sword and spear and javelin'".
And, again, we read that like that's insignificant. Somebody coming at you with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, it will get your attention. He said, "You come at me with military weapons, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel". David said, "You have tremendous physical strength. You've intimidated the entire Israelite army, and if we're ever going to wrestle I got no chance". And Goliath is cussing him in the name of his gods. He said, "Am I a dog that you send a boy out to meet me"? And David looks at him and he said, "A dog would be enough 'cause you pulled the chain of the God of heaven and earth. You have defied the God of the armies of heaven".
David understood whose he was. We've got to come back to that understanding. To whom do we belong? Who is the source of our lives? Who is the one who keeps us and watches over us? If you can establish that, it doesn't matter who's threatening you. It doesn't matter because the creator of all things just said, "I got this". People to stand in the gap. I'm not talking about stadiums and arenas and enormous numbers of followers. God may ask you to stand in the gap in your family system, or a classroom, or an operating room, or a factory floor, or a construction site.
I don't know, but God is looking for people to say, "I'll be a difference maker. I'll stand for the truth. I'll be a rallying point so some other people can come and lock arms with me and get an outcome they wouldn't have gotten if I didn't stand there. I'll defend this city because those people are there". Sadly, there have been generations when nobody would take the assignment. What's going to be said of our generation? It isn't clear yet. It's still being written. I brought you a prayer. If you'll stand with me, we're going to pray it together. It's a prayer of preparation. Let's read it together:
Heavenly Father, here I am. Send me. Deliver me from futility and establish me in the midst of Your purposes. Holy Spirit, lead me in the paths of preparation for the purposes of the King. In my weakness may Your strength be evident. Deliver me from all my enemies. Let them be turned back and ashamed. Let the purposes of God be made apparent throughout the earth. In Jesus's name, amen.