Greg Laurie - Don't Make Deals with the Devil
Okay, so we're back in our house of David series, and kind of to get back into the story of where we're at, David is running from Saul. Remember, David, the shepherd boy, has been called by God to be the next king of Israel. The Lord has rejected King Saul because of his disobedience. David goes out and defeats the giant 9 foot, 6 inch, Philistine named Goliath, and he is celebrated by the people of Israel, and once Saul discovers that David is gonna take his place on the throne, he dedicates his life to the destruction of David. And now at this point in David's life, every crutch has been removed. His family has effectively abandoned him. His wife has betrayed him. His best friend can't help him. And his father-in-law, King Saul, wants to kill him. So David has a momentary lapse of faith, and he runs to a city known as Gath.
Now Gath was sort of like Philistine central. In fact, Goliath came from the city of Gath. I don't know what David was thinking that he could walk through the city and not be recognized, but he was like legend in, in his own time. Everybody knew who David was and he's immediately recognized and realizes he's in trouble and he's brought before the king, and so David pretends, he's insane to get out of the mess and the predicament he's put himself in. And then he runs from there and flees to a cave called Adullam. Now, David has royally messed everything up, by taking matters into his own hands. Now he has time alone. No one's with him. No family, no friends, he's alone with God.
But David was gonna emerge from this cave a different person than who he was when he went in. I'm sure he was feeling sorry for himself. Said, "Man, I just did what God called me to do. I was happy watching my little flock of sheep. How did this come upon me? This isn't fair. This isn't right"? Maybe he even thought, "No one cares about me. No one loves me. My dad sure doesn't, my brothers don't, my wife has betrayed me, my best friend, Jonathan, isn't here to help me". He might've thought, "You know, things would be better if I weren't even here". People entertain thoughts like that when they get really down. Sometimes they even entertain suicidal thoughts. "I think maybe if I just left this world, all my pain would end". But what they don't realize, is that pain will just begin for all of those that are left behind.
And I want you to know, no matter what kind of a situation you are in, you are loved, and you are wanted, and you are needed. Don't let the devil whisper in your ear. "Oh, just take your life". No, no, no. Don't do that. You're loved by God, you're loved by people more than you will ever realize. And look how things change quickly for David. 1 Samuel 22:1, "David escaped to the cave of Adullam. And so when his brothers and all of his father's house heard it, they went down there to him". Wait, what? His father, his brothers have come to him now. This is the father that wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of his son, when the prophet Samuel came to Bethlehem, looking for the next king of Israel, who is one of the sons of Jesse, that's David's dad. But now the father comes to him and his brothers are there as well. That must have been reassuring to David.
Isn't it great when you can reconcile with someone you've been estranged with? You know, sometimes we drift apart from people that might be a member of our family, might be a close friend from our childhood, and we don't see them for years. And we don't even know why we're not talking to 'em but we just aren't. And then something happens that brings us together. Maybe it's an event, maybe it's a death of a loved one or something, and then we start communicating again, and fellowship is restored. That's what's happening for David. How reassuring this must have been. And I think his dad and his brothers are finally getting David. Like, "Wow, we underestimated this kid. He's not just the weird kid, watching the sheep, writing songs, this guy's a warrior. This guy's legitimate. This guy is gonna be the next king". And plus he's been a man of integrity, because David has handled success very well.
You know, I think one of the greatest tests of a person's character is not failure, but success. What happens when you succeed? Some people you give them a little power, they have a little success and it goes to their head, and they become an together different person, you know what I'm talking about? But I've seen some people with a little authority, it goes to their head, a little success it goes to their head, a little money, it goes to their head. David had it all, he was still that humble, loving, caring young man, that was described in the Bible, "As being the man after God's own heart". But it wasn't just his family that showed up. Look at who else shows up.
1 Samuel 22:2, "Everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt and everyone who was discontent gathered to him and he became captain over them and there were about 400 men with him". Wow, what a Motley crew this was. A rag tag army. Their actual classification would be 3D: Distressed, in debt, and discontented. This was not actually the cream of the crop. Everyone who was in distress, it means under the pressure of stress. Suddenly David finds himself surrounded by stressed out people, but not just them, those who were in debt, which means people that had a number of creditors. So there are around him too. And then everyone who is discontented or literally people who are bitter of Saul, people who have been wronged and mistreated. Are these the kind of people you wanna hang around with?
That was David's new team. But out of this group of misfits, and unhappy, discontented, stressed out people, God was going to bring a mighty army. They would later be known as, "David's mighty men of valor". And they would rule with David, when he finally ascends to the throne. Listen to this, God seems to specialize in taking the outcasts of this culture, and turning them into men and women of God. So now these rejects are going to be a mighty army under David. David is suddenly becoming Robin Hood with this band of Merry Men. His sure went forest is the Judean wilderness. David is the outlaw king, the William Wallace, the brave heart figure, leading his men against King Edward. He's Maximus Meridius standing up to Caesar or he's Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vader. You get the picture. This is who David is. Against all odds he's taking on the establishment. He's taking on King Saul and his power, and he's going to be God's man.
So here he is in this cave, looking around at his Rag Tag Army, who are gonna become mighty men of faith, and he starts getting perspective again. He starts seeing their potential. And at this point, he writes Psalm 57, which says, verse 4, "My soul is among lions; I must lie down among those who breathe forth fire even the sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows". Wait, David, are you looking at the same people we're looking at? These are the stressed out people. These are the people in debt. These are the depressed people. Oh yeah, David says, but I see them for what they will become. Now a big test is gonna come his way. It will appear to be a great opportunity, but in reality, it's a test. 1 Samuel 24, I'm gonna read verses 3 to 7 from the New Living Translation "At the place where the road passes some, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself".
Do we all understand what that means? Saul was sitting on a different kind of throne at this moment. So he's going to the bathroom, as we would say. "And it's so happened that David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave! 'Now's your opportunity!' David's men whispered to him 'Today the Lord is telling you, 'I will certainly put your enemy into your power to do as you please.' So David crept forward and cut a piece of the hem of Saul's robe", verse 5, "But when David's conscience began bothering him because he cut Saul's robe. He said to the man, 'The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn't attack the Lord's anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.' So David restrained his men and did not let them kill King Saul". Wow, isn't that an interesting twist in the story? Here's a test. "Okay, David, here's your moment. You can slit his throat. You can put an end to this". Saul has been pursuing David for years, years, day in, day out. Trying to take his life, throwing javelins at him, pursuing him with armies. David could have ended it. Is David going to be merciful or is David gonna be an angry and bitter man like King Saul?
You know, so sometimes I hear people say, "The reason I don't wanna become a Christian, is because I will no longer be in control of my own life". Hey everybody, I'm Greg Laurie, talking to you about who's really in control here. You know, actually you're not in control of your own life if you're not a Christian. I hate to break this to you, but someone else is in control, and it's the devil. The Bible says that the devil, called the God of this world in scripture, blinds the minds of those that do not believe, and holds people captive. In fact we're told, we should pray, they would be taken out of the captivity of the devil. The reality is, it's only when you become a Christian, that you are really set free. So you may be saying you're in charge of your life, and you say, "I am the captain of my ship. I'm the master of my destiny". Actually, you aren't, let Jesus be the captain of your ship and you'll experience the freedom you've wanted all along.
You might be surprised to know that the devil believes the Bible is true. He hates it, he's opposed to everything it says, but he believes the Bible is true because the Bible says, "Even the demons believe and tremble". And Satan believes what the Bible says about his ultimate judgment. Because Revelation 12:12 says of Satan, "He has come down to us with great wrath knowing his time is short". There's another translation puts it. "The devils come down to you with both feet. He has had a great fall he's wild and raging with anger and he hasn't much time and he knows it". Doesn't that explain things? Why is he so angry? Why is he agitated? Why is he pursuing us? Because he knows his days are numbered. That's King Saul. He can't let it go. David could have said, "Hey, you know, I'm just tired of this, I'll give God a little assistance". I'm sure the men were rooting him on. "Come on, David, kill this guy. It's time to get it done," right? "Do it, David". "I can't". David said, "I can't do it. He's the Lord's anointed, God put him in that position".
Okay. Here's point number one, if you're taking notes, we need to do God's will the right way, at the right time. We need to do God's will the right way, at the right time. That's very important. Listen, God will accomplish his will in his time. The Bible says, "He makes all things beautiful in his time". But it's hard. We get impatient with God. Don't we? "Lord when is my husband gonna come to you? When is he going to believe? I'm gonna help you out Lord. I have a plan, to nag him into heaven". That plan is not going to work. It may drive him further away. "Oh my prodigal child, Lord, they need to return to you. I'm gonna pursue them and make it so hard for them," and you actually drive your child away from the faith.
Or maybe you're single, "Lord. I'm single. I wanna get married, I'm tired of waiting and I'm 18 years old. And come on. I'm tired of waiting for some Christian guy to ask me out or a Christian girl, I'm gonna go find a nonbeliever and lead him to you". Oh boy, famous last words, you need to do God's will in God's time in God's way. And here's what was happening with David. Saul was still technically king. He was a bad king, but he was in that position of authority. David said, "I'm not gonna kill him. God put him there, I'm not taking him out. If God wants to take him out, he can, but I'm not gonna be the one to do it". This is why he's called a man after God's own heart. Look at verse 5. "His conscience began bothering him after he cut Saul's robe". Really? But that shows a tender heart. Listen, if you have a tender and sensitive conscience, thank God for that and don't temper with it.
Point number two; we should not take vengeance on people, even if they deserve it. We should not take vengeance on people even if they deserve it. David chooses to forgive Saul and not take vengeance. That's God's job. Now I told you to turn to Romans 12, right? Look at Romans 12 verse 14. And Paul says, "Bless those that persecute you," don't curse them. "Pray that God will bless them. Never pay back evil with more evil, do all you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge, leave that to the righteous anger of God, for the scripture, say, 'I will take revenge, I'll pay them back says the Lord.'" There it is. It's not our job to pay people back, that's God's job. Oh, I know that's a tall order. We live in a world of conflict. We have division and discord everywhere. It's only amplified on social media. We live in a culture that believes in the adage, "Don't get mad, get even," right? In the society we're living in, the exaltation of vengeance and violence is everywhere you look, and it feels like payback is always the answer, never forgiveness.
Bringing me to point number three; instead of taking vengeance, we should instead forgive. It's getting really quiet in here. Now it's one thing to not take vengeance. "I really want to hit you back. Okay, I won't hit you back. Now, what? I'm supposed to forgive you on top of that"? Yes, actually you are. Forgiveness is not just suggested in scripture, it's commanded. In The Lord's Prayer, Jesus gave us the example, he said, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us". Listen to this, forgiven people should be forgiving people. "Well, Greg, they don't deserve forgiveness". Okay, point taken. Do you? "Well," no, you don't. So God forgave you, right? Should you not then forgive others as well? I love what C.S. Lewis said about this. He said, quote, "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely thing until they have someone to forgive". How true. "Oh, I love forgiveness. I am for forgiveness".
Until we're the one that has to extend it to someone who has hurt us. I like you have been hurt in life, you know, with my crazy childhood and my mom married and divorced seven times. After about the third dad, I got tired of calling them dad. My mom would literally bring home a man who is a complete stranger to me and say, "Greg, this is your new dad". And after a while I thought "I'm, done with this". And I started getting hardened and I became an angry young man getting in trouble in school, very rebellious because of the life I'd lived, and you know, as I became a Christian, I had to forgive my mom. I had to forgive these others. I had to forgive a lot of people. But it didn't stop after I became a Christian. I've had people hurt me, like you've had people hurt you. I've had people slander me, lie about me, but God tells me to forgive.
But listen to this. Forgiveness is not giving into the person who hurt you, it's getting free from the person. It's getting free from them. I know it sounds virtuous when I say, "I forgave that person but in a way, it's the only way I can maintain my own sanity. 'Cause I'm not gonna walk around angry at someone that hurt me". I don't wanna live that way, and I don't think you wanna live that way either. Listen, forgiveness is not only good for you spiritually, it's good for you physically, and even psychologically. It's good to forgive. It's good for you physically, spiritually, and it's not an option. Back to our story. So Saul has done his business, he's left the cave and David's a safe distance from him and he yells at, "Hey King Saul, do you notice a little draft in the old robe? I'm holding a piece of it right here. I could have killed you, but I didn't".
Now Saul seems to change his tune, 1 Samuel 24 verse 16. "Saul called back, 'Is that really you, my son David?' Then he began to cry. And he said to David, 'You're a better man than I am, for you've repaid me Good for evil. You've been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, and you didn't do it. Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you for your kindness you have shown me today. And now I realize you're surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule".
Looks good, an improvement, right? Not so much. He said these things, but he didn't really mean them. 'Cause he returned to this murderous way shortly after this, as they say the proof is in the pudding. And I don't even know what that means cause I've eaten pudding, I've never found proof. But I think the idea is, if someone really is sorry, they'll change. And if they don't change, are they sorry? The answer is no. The Bible says, "Godly sorrow produces repentance".
So if you're really sorry for something, you will change your behavior. Oh sure, Saul cried a few tears, you can do the same chopping an onion, but they weren't tears of repentance for he continued on in his path. But I love this, because David was not a fool. He didn't go home with Saul. he could have said, "Okay, Saul, now you know I'm the king everything's cool. I'll go back with you, we'll have meals together". David's like, "Yeah, okay. See you later". And he kept his distance. Why? 'Cause he had a few javelin thrown in his direction from King Saul. He didn't trust him and he was right to not trust him. So Saul went back to the palace, he had no intention of abdicating his throne. If he had, he would've given this Royal robe and crown to David at that very moment.
Bringing me to point number four; you can't make deals with the devil. You can't make deals with the devil. We think we've got the devil under control. "I've got him in this one little area he'll never get out of this". No, the devil's really good at getting into little openings in your life. You give him an inch, he'll take a mile. I've told you this story before, but I'm gonna tell you again because it makes a point. Years ago when I was a little boy, I collected snakes. I loved them so much and I had my mother drive me to the pet store and we bought a snake and we put it in the cage. It was secure, we got home and we opened the trunk and there was the cage and the snake was gone. The snake was loose in the car. You've heard of snakes on a plane? This was snakes in a car.
My mother said, "I'm never driving this car again". But a week later, she had to drive the car and she was sitting in an intersection, waiting for the light to turn green. Suddenly a cold coil dropped on her ankle. She opened the door, put her foot out, jumped out of the car, screaming, and there was a police officer there. She said, "Officer, there's a snake in the car". He walked over to the car and saw that a hose had come loose, but she never drove the car again, and she gave it to me.
So kids, if you wanna get cars, lose snakes. It worked for me. But that's the way a snake is, that's the way the devil is. Oh, just one little area, and then he gets a foothold in your life. Remember, you give him an inch, he'll take a mile and the Bible says, "Don't give the devil a foothold, he's subtle". So here now the people of Israel, they have a choice. What king do you wanna follow? Do you wanna follow the wicked King Saul, or the godly King David? And we have the same choice in our life. What king are you gonna follow? Are you gonna follow Jesus Christ the King of kings and the Lord of lords, or are you gonna follow Satan?