Steven Furtick — The Winning Hand
Let's take a look, today, at Psalm 59. And I'm really excited to share this with you today. This series is going to help us get real with God and this series is going to help us get past the nice things that we think we need to say to God to convince Him that we're doing better than we are, even though He knows the full condition and intents of our hearts; and show us how that some of the greatest bars come from some of the greatest battles.
Of course, through the scriptures, we get a portrait of David, who is a victorious warrior and giant slayer and a great king, the most beloved king that Israel ever knew. But we also have the benefit of reading not only what was written about him, but what was written by him.
And so, when you see that little book close to the middle of your Bible called Psalms, it is over half attributed to King David. And so, we not only see what was going on in his life, but we see what was going on in his soul. And we all have things that people see that we go through and then we have that other part, the stuff that we don't say, the enemies that we don't talk about in our e-group because they're sitting next to us and they're called our spouse.
Okay, let's go to Psalm 59. Please look at this with me before I say too much. It's only week one. Pace yourself, Furtick. "You are my strength," verse nine, "I watch for You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely." Isn't that nice? Come on, isn't that great? Don't you want to screenshot that and put it on your wallpaper and set it as your background, put it in a cursive font, a pink cursive font and crochet it on a pillow and put a coffee mug behind it and bald eagle and a rock climber and a hot air balloon; make a motivational poster out of Psalm 59?
"You are my strength," I could see this on Pinterest, "O Lord, You are my strength, I watch for You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely." Don't you love the Psalms? Raise your hand if you love that, to know that God is your strength and your fortress, and you can rely on Him?
David goes on to say, "God will go before me..." How many are grateful that God has prepared the path before you and you don't know what's there but He knows what's there? That's the only way sometimes that you can go forward is to know that God has already been there. "You will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me." Whoa, took a little turn there. Took a little turn.
The bald eagle just flew off the poster and the hot air balloon just popped and now we're gloating. "But do not kill them, Lord our shield, or my people will forget." Oh, that's nice. He's coming back to us, coming back to that holy place. "In Your might uproot them and bring them down. For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume them in your wrath, consume them till they are no more."
And I'm confused because this started as a devotion and it turned into a dis track. I don't know if this is David or if this is Drake. I'm so confused. I'm so confused. Help me. Help me. Help me understand. "Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. They wander about for food and howl if not satisfied. But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble."
I want to let you know today that you have the upper hand. Turn to somebody and let 'em know, "I have the upper hand." Come on. Let's get started. Spirit of God, speak to our hearts today in such a powerful way that we will never forget this encounter with You. Show us who You are and who we are and make up the difference in our lives, for all that we are not.
Be something, God, right now that we don't even know that we need. Speak something that we don't even know we need to hear. Deposit something that we didn't even know we were walking around without. Speak to our souls. And we give You praise in advance, in Jesus' name, amen.
So the question I have is what could David have been going through at this point in his life that would cause him to experience such a range of emotions. You saw it for yourself it was a Psalm sandwich. You saw it, where he was talking about the strength of God and the struggles of his life all in the same Psalm.
Now, I knew that David had range of motion because I saw him kill Goliath and I knew that he had range of motion and the ability to take down giants, but what surprises me is his range of emotion that he experienced within himself. And I want to talk to you from three points today to help set up this series. And I usually don't show you the whole thing, I don't show my hand at the beginning of the sermon, but I'm going to give you all three points. I'm going to talk about the wars, the weapons, and the way; the wars, the weapons, and the way.
The scripture declares that "I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me". If that's the case, then why are there times where I do not feel His love? The scripture declares that God is my defender and that He will arise and that no weapon formed against me will prosper. Why is it then that I feel under siege?
It is into this tension that we must reconcile these lines that David wrote with the life that David lived. And so, I want to take you over today to a scene in David's life and, you know, some of the Psalms that are written, we don't really know what was going on at the time they were written or what situations they refer to, but David's talking about all kinds of enemies and all kinds of battles. And the Bible says that this was written a time, a particular time in his life that is recorded in scripture in 1 Samuel 19.
Now, please understand once again that God is not your refuge from trouble but He is your refuge in trouble. That understanding alone would answer many of our questions about the operative nature of faith; that God is not my refuge from trouble, but God is my refuge in trouble. Some of the times in your life that you think you're in trouble, you're not. You're in training. What you see as trouble, God sees as training.
And I'm going to try not to holler and scream today and just teach a little bit, but go over to 1 Samuel 19, because when David wrote Psalm 59, or at least the period of time he's referencing here, it's a very successful time in his life on one hand. I mean, he's been anointed to be king and he got a pretty cool opportunity in front of all of his brothers to be singled out as the chosen one who is going to replace King Saul. He is called a man after God's own heart and he's got oil on his head which represents the way that God is going to use him, the influence God has given him.
And God didn't speak it to him like Joseph, in a dream. God spoke it to him in front of his whole family. So when God spoke to Joseph and said, "I'm going to make you great," Joseph had to try to convince people. But when David was spoken of, he was spoken of in front of his brothers. So everybody knows he's a little special. If they didn't know it when he was anointed, they certainly knew it after he got done with Goliath.
How many of you have never heard a good Bible sermon about David and Goliath? I need to see... If you've never heard the story about David and Goliath, well, I'm not going to go into it now because... Spoiler alert, Goliath goes down. By the way, for every Goliath in your life... Spoiler alert, he goes down. He might be bigger, he might be loud, he might be defiant, you might have never seen a battle like this before, but Goliath goes down.
In fact, can I show you something? When David stood before Goliath, before he hit him with a stone, he spit a few bars. Can I show you? Can I show you? Because you didn't know that David was the original battle rapper. You always saw him in your mind, you saw him with a harp and a lamb in his lap and he's stroking a lamb with one hand and strumming a harp with the other hand.
But before David was ever strumming a harp or stroking a sheep, he walked up to Goliath and, watch this, he looks at Goliath and begins to declare what God is going to do. Now, here's a principle. Write your bars before your battle.
Don't wait until things turn out positively in your life to give God glory. Don't wait until seas part and you're standing on dry ground to declare that God is able to split them. Don't wait until everything is perfect in your life to enjoy the presence of God. Don't wait until you don't have any hang-ups to say to God, "Here am I, send me; use me". God is looking for somebody who will shout before the first brick falls, who will blow a trumpet while you're still looking at enemies in an occupied territory.
So David stands up to Goliath. And I know you know all this already, but just in case nobody ever heard it, he goes up to Goliath and grabs the mic and he tells Goliath, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel who you have defied." Next verse, "This day, the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I'll strike you down and cut off your head, this very day."
Can't you hear a beat behind this? "This very day, I'll give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel." And David's confidence is not only something that he speaks of, but it's something that he walks in. He has the kind of confidence to declare victory before battle.
So when I praise God, I'm not praising God for outcomes that I'm currently experiencing. I am praising God for promises that are still to come. Can I preach a little bit today? I want to talk about the wars David fought, because he's doing great. He's anointed to be king. He kills Goliath. He cuts off his head.
He goes to Saul's tent 'cause Saul told him he was just a little boy and he tried to tell Saul that he had the winning hand and Saul said, "You don't have a sword," and David said, "Not now, but after I get done using what's in my hand to knock him down and take what's in his hand, I'm going to cut off his head with what he came against me holding and I'll take his sword and I'll cut off his head." And he stood at Saul's tent with Goliath's head.
And if that wasn't proof enough, when he went back into the city, watch this, when David went back into the city, a whole group of women started following David into the streets, singing about his great victory. David is an anointed future king. He's a warrior. His music career is taking off. He's released a mixed tape. He's being called to the palace to play the harp for Saul 'cause Saul's going crazy. He just held Goliath's hand.
And now, the women are lining the streets, shaking tambourines. You want to see this? I promise you. In 1 Samuel 18. You think I'd make this stuff up? This stuff is in the Bible. You thought the Bible was boring. The Bible's not boring. Touch your neighbor and say, "You're boring. Read the Bible. The Bible's awesome."
David is rising in power and he's proving the presence of God, not through what just he says but through what he does, and the women are lining the streets. And they've got this little song. They're singing to Saul. They're staking timbrels and lyres and 808s. And as they dance, verse seven, they sang, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands".
Well, Saul didn't like that song very much and so Saul shut that song down and he actually wanted to kill David. And so, this brings us to 1 Samuel 19, which is the historical context of Psalm 59. And in Psalm 59, we see David calling on God to be his strength. But in 1 Samuel 19, we see into his struggle. Okay? Let's look into his struggle in order to understand his strength.
So important that we understand his struggle, or we will misunderstand his strength. As one great theologian has said, "The presence of God is not the absence of trouble". If I could get one thing across to you in this series, it is that your greatest testimonies will come from your greatest tests. Your greatest bars will come from your greatest battles. Maybe we assume that David killed Goliath and went to the beach. Not so.
The Bible says that David, continuing to serve Saul, would go out — look at verse eight — and he would fight against the Philistines. In fact, it says, let me read this from the New King James Version, "And there was war again," 'cause it never stops; 'cause you don't kill Goliath, get the gold medal, and go home and stare at his head for the rest of your life.
Every time I heard Goliath preached as a little boy, it ended when he fell down. But you know what the Bible says was the reward for David's victory? More battles. I know that some of you are about to get engaged, and before you post the engagement pictures with eight different pictures so everybody will "OMG" down in the comment section and "literally just died" and "so happy to you".
But before you post that, make sure you are prepared, because the reward for engagement... I mean, just ask Holly about the reward for engagement. She will tell you that the process of becoming one is much grittier than the prospect of walking the aisle.
So David kills Goliath. Guess what. You get to fight again. You get the promotion. Guess what. You get to manage people. Guess what. People suck. You get the house, you get to clean it. I just love preaching the Bible like it really goes, 'cause if we stop when Goliath goes down, we miss the whole point. He killed Goliath and Saul said, "Now I've got something bigger for you to do."
You really want God to answer your prayer? And war broke out again. And war broke out again. And Saul needed somebody to fight. And here's the thing he did, he sent somebody that he didn't even like to fight a battle for him that he needed him to fight. And people will sometimes use you for what you can do for them while secretly hating the threat that you represent to them.
And sometimes everything that appears to be a gift is not a gift. And Saul wanted to kill David. One of the ways he tried to kill him was he let him marry his daughter. He said, "I'll give you my daughter if you go kill 100 Philistines." David said, "No problem; I'll kill 200," because he had hustle and heart and ambition like that. And he came back, the Bible says, with 200 Philistine foreskins.
In case you did not drop your kids off at eKidz, I will bypass the exact meaning of the text. Just let it be known that Saul's intention in giving David the gift was not to bless him. And some of the things in your life that appear to be battles are really gifts, and some of the things in your life that appear to be gifts are really curses.
So David is out fighting the Philistines. And we all have Philistines that we must fight in our lives. We all have Goliath's, not just one but many. When we kill Goliath, here comes another and another 'cause Goliath has brothers. And in the midst of fighting the Philistines, because it's hard enough to fight the external battles, but I didn't really want to talk to you about the external battles because it seems that David had no problem fighting the Philistines.
That's what he did. David was a killer. Give him a Philistine, he'll knock him down. Give him a rock, give him five rocks, he'll only use one. You can keep the other four. Because David knew how to fight Philistines. And I'm going to prove to you over the course of this series that the biggest battles David ever fought didn't stand in front of him; they lived within him. Because while he is fighting the battles without, there's another battle that is being waged within.
Once more, war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistine's. And he did good. He struck them with a mighty blow and they fled from him. He sent them scattering, running for cover. But verse nine says that while that battle was being won, another battle was being waged. On one hand, David is coming up. And as he comes up into a greater position, as he comes up into a season of greater usefulness to God, a distressing spirit from God has come upon Saul. On one hand, David is being blessed; and on one hand, David is in a battle. And the battle is happening because God's hand has been taken off of Saul and put on David.
Now David has the unique task of trying to serve someone who is threatened by his potential. That's tough. Not only that, but Saul is distressed. He knows that he's slipping, but he cannot do anything to catch himself. And because of this, he's acting crazy.
You know how you do when you sense that you're losing control? And so you try to fix stuff, but everything you try to do to fix it in frustration only makes it worse? And you would do better to just leave it alone but you can't? And so you try to control people and then you sabotage yourself by creating the very result that you dread by trying to take matters into your own hand? That's Saul. And he's going so crazy in his mind that the only way that he can get the voices in his mind to stop is if there's music playing.
Now, we don't do that. We don't occupy ourselves with anything to try to keep ourselves from having to be with ourselves. And David is in the position that Saul's dysfunction has created over in the corner, playing the harp for the king, because David's kind of weird, 'cause on one hand he can whip you with a slingshot, but on the other hand he can touch the strings and make you cry.
And so he is the embodiment of both a warrior and a worshipper. And now, this gift has brought him into a position that has created for him an opportunity in the form of opposition. And as the hand of God is leaving the life of Saul and as the hand of God, the anointing of God is raising David up, the Bible says that Saul sat in his house with his spear in his hand.
This is kind of creepy. Big ol' Saul, sulking in the corner with a spear in his hand. And watch. Watch what David had to do. David had to sit over there behind a harp, strumming a harp, while Saul held a spear. And David was playing music with his hand. Verse ten, "Then Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he," David, "slipped away from Saul's presence; and he drove the spear into the wall."
Let me ask you a question. Who is Saul fighting? Because on the surface, it looks like he's fighting David; but I wonder how many times in my life I thought I was fighting someone and I thought I was fighting something, but the real fight, the real war, the real battle was not the battle with them...