Greg Laurie - What To Do When The Bottom Drops Out
Now here is David who's been chosen to become the king of Israel, because Saul is on his way out. If David was the man after God's own heart, then Saul was the man after man's own heart. He had some fine qualities, things that our culture values today, he had fame. He had followers, he had power, he had wealth. He was really handsome. So he would probably be elected to office today if he ran. He had a huge following on social media, no, not really. But so he had it all going on. In fact, he even sang songs about King Saul, but he sinned against God and he was disqualified from being the king.
And Saul summed his own life up succinctly, when he said to David, who had shown him mercy, "I have played the fool and I've erred exceedingly". You could have put that on the tombstone of King Saul. "I played the fool and I erred exceedingly". Really a tragic summation of his life. But why did Saul turn against David? The answer is 1 Samuel 18:12. Saul was afraid of David, he was afraid of him. But the fact is, that David was afraid of Saul as well.
So now we're looking at the steps down for David. Up to this point, he's done amazingly. He's been the faithful shepherd boy tending his sheep. He's been the giant killer in the valley of Elah. He's been the comforter to the king who was torment by evil spirits and David pulls out his Stratocaster electric guitar and plays songs, well, he played some stringed instrument. He sings songs to God that soothe Saul temporarily. He's done everything right, but now we see David being gripped by fear, which brings me to my first point if you're taking notes, fear replaced courage in the heart of David. Fear replaced courage in the heart of David. 1 Samuel 21:10 says, he fled because of the fear of Saul.
1 Samuel 21:12 says, David was very afraid of the king of Gath as well, we'll talk about him in a moment. Fear is a powerful emotion, isn't it? Yet we will pay good money to be frightened, right? We go to a movie and we wanna get scared. And ironically, when the scariest scene of the film comes on this screen, we cover our eyes. It's like, "Take your hands down and look, you paid for this". How many of you have ever seen the film, "Jaws"? You've seen "Jaws", so, remember the scene where the guy's eaten by the shark, the captain? I remember when I saw that the first time, I was horrified, "Look, the shark is eating him". It was like traumatic to me.
Now I've seen that movie since then and it's like, that is the cheesiest thing scene I've ever seen. That shark is so fake looking, but I'm like, "Oh no, it's," you know. But we pay money to be frightened or we go to an amusement park and getting that crazy roller coaster, because we want to experience fear. But sometimes fear grips us in life. It can take you over and it can warp how you see everything including God himself. One person defined fear this way with an acronym, F-E-A-R. F, for false evidence appearing real. Fear, false evidence appearing real. It's not even a rational thing, but you are gripped by fear. That's what was happening for David.
Now, this is a really courageous young man too. This is the David who wrote Psalm 27, which says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the strength of my life of whom then shall I be afraid"? So the answer is nobody, because the Lord is your light and salvation, but David was a guy just like you and me. He took his eyes off of the Lord. And now he's gripped by fear. Why was Saul afraid of David? Listen to this. The very people who are out to get us are often the ones who are afraid of us.
Let me say that again. The very people that are out to get us are often the ones who are afraid of us. And why are they afraid? Because we're a threat to them and their power. Sometimes it's a close friend. Sometimes it's a coworker. Sometimes it's someone else who is angry and jealous that you got the raise. You got the promotion. You got the opportunity. You got the girl. You got the guy, whatever it might be. They don't like that, so suddenly this person that you were so close to, turns on you, they lie about you. They try to undermine you. They try to bring you down.
Of course, this happened to Daniel, the great prophet of God. A loving, caring man, but his co-counselors who were advising the king, King Darius at that time historically, didn't like Daniel, why? 'Cause he was more effective and successful than they were, so they hatched a plot to destroy him that ultimately failed, and they ended up having to face the penalty. They prepared for Daniel being eaten alive by lions. But you know, I think David was probably thinking, "You know what? Kinda liked it better when I was watching the flock of sheep. I mean, at least then I knew who my enemies were. Oh, it's that bear here, or that lion over there. I'm gonna protect my little flock," and he did.
But now he doesn't know who his friend is, he doesn't know who his enemy is. He's entered into the world of political intrigue, right? So he is trying to sort it out. He's just a kid who was living out in the field, watching sheep. And then he killed that giant and all of this started happening. God was removing everything David had depended on humanly, starting with his family. He never had the support of his father.
When the Prophet Samuel showed up and said, "One of your sons is gonna be the next king of Israel". Jesse proudly paraded his seven sons, the magnificent seven, there they were. And the most outstanding of them was Eliab who was taller than the other brothers and even the prophet Samuel thought, "This is the guy, I mean, he just looks like a king". Lord says, "Nope, none of these guys are the one". And then the prophet says, "Do you have any other sons"? And Jesse reluctantly acknowledges the existence of David. In comes David full of energy and youth and the Lord says, "That's the one," and he's anointed to be the king, but his father didn't support him and his brother didn't either. Because later David is sent on an errand by his father to deliver bread and cheese to his brothers on the frontline, finding the Philistines, also known as a pizza delivery, bread and cheese.
All that's missing is marinara. And he shows up and Eliab his older brother says, "What are you doing here? Did leave your little flock of sheep to come be with the big boys. You're filled with pride". Actually, his brother was revealing his own problem. Sometimes when people accuse you of something, it's actually something they're guilty of. They're projecting their problems on you. That's what this older brother Eliab did. So he had his family that was not there for him. And then David's wife turned against him. So David got married. The daughter of King Saul princess Michal fell in love with David, and the king thinking he could get rid of David said, "Oh, you wanna marry my daughter? Okay, go kill 100 Philistines and you can have her". David says, "No problem". He goes and kills 200 Philistines.
"All right, there you go boy, there's your new wife"? And there was love in this marriage initially, but King Saul anger and jealousy erupted again and he sent men to murder David. Michal, David's wife warned him. Even putting a dummy into bed to look like David was asleep and when they pulled the covers back, it was this little straw replica of David, but it wasn't really him but the real dummy was King Saul who just couldn't let it go.
I read a really weird article the other day in the paper about an elephant in India that attacked a woman. Now of course, elephants are known for their memories, right? We're told an elephant never forgets. So this woman whose name was Maya Murmu, a 70 years old, went out to draw water, and this rogue elephant attacks and kills her, tramples her to death. Again, that's horrible. But then at her funeral service, the elephant shows up and takes her body and tramples it again. What happened with this woman and the elephant? What is with this elephant holding a grudge like you've never heard of before. It's a true story. And that's King Saul in a nutshell, he just couldn't let it go. Some people they can hold a grudge for decades. Never let it go.
Everything you do in their mind is wrong. Your motives are wrong. And that's king Saul he just had to destroy David. Pretty much Jonathan was the only friend that David had in the whole world. And even Jonathan couldn't help him, it's not that Jonathan turned on David, he was working behind the scenes trying to get his dad to chill and welcome David back again. And Saul would relax for a time, and David would return to the palace and play his stringed instrument and sing songs to God, and Saul would be okay. Then all of a sudden here comes another javelin. He's out to kill David again. And finally, Jonathan said to David, "Buddy I can't do anything for you. You need to run for your life right now because my father is determined to kill you".
Point number one, was David allowed fear to overtake him. Point number two; though people abandon us, God never abandons us. Let me say that again. Though people abandon us, God will never abandon you. Romans 8:38 says, "I'm convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death, nor life nor angels, nor demons, nor our fears for today, nor our worries for tomorrow, not even the power of hell can separate us from God's love". And we're also told in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us"? God is for you. God will not abandon you. He just won't. Jesus said, I will never leave you or forsake you. And if you were to translate that from the original language, it would be Jesus speaking, "I will never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you". I think he's trying to make a point, but sometimes we lose heart. The man after God's own heart is having a lapse of faith. He takes his focus off of God and now makes some bad decisions.
Bringing me to point number three; David went to the wrong place for solace, for comfort. He went to the wrong place with King Saul hunting him. David goes to the wrong place and hangs out with the wrong people. He goes to a place called Gath. You're saying "Gath, I don't know much about Gath". Gath was where the Philistines hung out. Gath was Philistines central, the enemies of Israel. And that's where David went. Goliath himself came from Gath. So here comes David to this city, filled with his enemies and he's walking through the enemy camp.
So we read about this in 1 Samuel 21:10, read it with me. "David escaped from Saul. He went to King Achish of Gath, but the officers of Achish were unhappy about him being there asking, 'Hey, isn't this David, the king of the land?'" Interesting. Saul's still officially king, but even the enemies recognized David as the king. "Isn't he the one that people honored with dances singing, 'Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands?'" We'll stop there. Did David really think he would blend in? At this point David's a legend. He's the goat. The greatest of all time. Everyone knows him. His merch is everywhere. His enemies, though they hate him they respect him. They've seen him on the battlefield. "This guy's a warrior and he's walking through our camp? What is he even doing"?
I don't know what David was thinking, but I think the problem is, he wasn't thinking. You know, David wrote many of the Psalms and it's always interesting to find out. When did he write this? Where did he write this? And why did he write this? It gives you insight into what he was facing in the moment. So after this experience and Gath, he flees to this cave and he writes these words in Psalm 142 and I'm reading from the New Living Translation. David says, "I cry out to the Lord. I plead for the Lord's mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles". You might underline that, I'll come back to it. "I pour out all my complaints before him and tell him all of my troubles. When I'm overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. I look for someone to come help me, but no one gives me a passing thought. No one will help me, no one cares a bit about what happens to me".
Wow, have you ever felt that way? Do you feel that way right now? You feel like my enemies are setting traps for me, no one even gives me a passing thought, and but I love how David shifts gears. In the middle of the Psalm, he goes from his one person pity party, and looks up and gets perspective. Psalm 142 verse 5, he continues. "Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, 'You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me". I love that. I love how he starts by complaining, and then he looks up again. So what should you do when the bottom drops out?
Point number four; you need to look up and put your focus on God, not on your problems. He had his troubles like we all do. Again, David was forgotten by his family, betrayed by his wife, under threat by his father-in-law, running for his very life, yet, he's trusting God. By the way, it's okay to complain in your prayers. Did you know that? That's why I had you underline that verse. It's okay to complain to God in your prayers. Look at Psalm 142 verse 1. "I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles". Many go, "You can't do that". Oh no, you should do that. It's okay to say to the Lord, "Lord, I don't really like this situation I'm in. I don't like the circumstances that surround me. I don't want this, Lord help me". But you might also add, "However, Father, if this is part of your plan and purpose for my life, I want your will above my own". But complain to God, cry out to God.
When the Israelites criticized and turned against Moses, we read in Exodus 15:25, Moses cried to the Lord. When Hezekiah received a letter threatening his life, we read in Isaiah 37:14, he spread it out before the Lord. When John the Baptist was beheaded, we read that his disciples went and told Jesus, I love that. When you have a problem, go and tell Jesus. "Jesus, I wanna talk to you about this. Lord, I don't understand this," and he will hear your prayer. Even Jesus himself cried out to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. "If it is possible let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will be done". Can I loosely paraphrase that? "I don't really wanna do this, okay. But, but Lord, I know it's the only way. So Father, I'm gonna do this".
But why did he not wanna to do it? Was Jesus apprehensive about the pain? Well, I don't think he looked forward to it. He was gonna be beaten. His beard would be ripped from his face. They would strike him with a fist to the face, a crown of thorns would be pressed upon his forehead causing severe pain. His back would be ripped open with a Roman whip. They would pound spikes through his hands and his feet. But I believe the thing that Jesus recoiled from in the garden of Gethsemane more than anything else, was the foreknowledge that all the sin of the world was gonna be placed upon him.
Jesus had never sinned, not even once. He never had a thought out of harmony with the Father. That's why he could say, "I and my Father are one". And yet now all of the corruption, and filth, and wickedness of the world is gonna be placed upon him as he bears this sin of humanity for us. "If it's possible, let this cup pass". And even on the cross, he cries out the words, "Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani," which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? Again, he cries out to God, not against God. What do you do when your family or friends abandon you? What do you do when you're betrayed? What do you do when you're very life is threatened? You call out to God and cast your cares on God.
1 Peter 5:6 says, "Humble yourselves under the Mighty hand of God and at the right time, he will lift you up in honor. Casting all your cares upon him for he cares for you". I'm not sharing these words from a vacuum. I don't live in an ivory tower. I face the same pain that everyone faces. And today marks the 14th anniversary of the departure of my oldest son, Christopher to heaven. Fourteen years ago, he died in a tragic automobile accident. That's him as a little boy, and that's my wife with Christopher and Jonathan.
And so, you know, we loved this boy. He was so much a part of our life. I mean, that's obvious. And to have him suddenly taken from us, was devastating. It was shocking. I didn't even feel like I could survive it. I thought hearing those words could literally cause me to die, but God was there for me. And when I called out to the Lord, he sustained me in my hour of pain, and sustains me to this very day. But you know, this verse that says, "Cast your care upon him", is the idea of deliberately ceasing to worry and putting it into the hands of the Lord.
And you know, there'll be a time when, when you've lost a loved one, you'll say, "I know they're in heaven. I know I'll see 'em again. I know they're in perfect joy and happiness," and you're okay. You're kind of emotionally okay, you're stable. And then boom, another thought comes and you go down again, sort of like being in white water, you know, where maybe you go over the wave and you don't know which way is up. And you're just like in this washing machine of white water and that's what grief is like. It just just hits you and overtakes you. You need to get your head above the surface and get a gulp of air, and get perspective.
So this is what David was understanding. You cast your cares upon God. Listen, stop worrying about what you're facing and let God assume the responsibility for your welfare. God cares. If it concerns you, it concerns him. David later wrote in Psalm 139 verse 17, "How precious are your thoughts toward me O Lord. How vast is the sum of them". You know, maybe you've come to church today or you're watching this right now with a burden. It's the burden of sin. I remember when I was a young boy and I was 17 years old, this is 10 years ago. And I'd lived my crazy life without God, made a lot of bad decisions.
And I remember when I prayed this prayer to ask Jesus Christ to come into my life, I had the distinct sensation of a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. And I didn't know why that was. I thought, "Why do I feel this way"? What way would I have, it was a weight of sin. God was forgiving me of all of my sin and maybe there's somebody here watching wherever you are, and you have that weight of sin on you right now, you can't get rid of it. "Oh, if I drink, it'll go away". Oh, it'll be waiting for you when you sober up. "Oh, well, if I just escape, but we go here or see that". No, it'll still be waiting for you, in fact it will follow you, wherever you go.
You have to come to Jesus and say, "Lord, lift this burden from me, forgive me of my sin". But there might be somebody else that would say, "Man, I've hit bottom and it's dropped out, and I don't know where to turn. I've doubted God, I've turned away from him and turned to other things I shouldn't have turned to". You need to come back to the Lord again. See, my great hope that I have concerning my son, Christopher, is I will see him again in heaven, why? Because he's Greg's son? No, because he's God's son. Because he put his faith in Christ and he was forgiven just like I was forgiven. Just like you need to be forgiven and Jesus who died on the cross for your sin and rose again from the dead, stands now at the door of your life and he knocks and says, if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in.