1 Samuel 22:1-23
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds God's sovereign plan of history in using David as a type of the rejected Messiah, Jesus Christ.
[Message] We are engaged in looking into the life of David and trying to find some lessons in it that may be appropriate for us in 1990 and we have reached 1 Samuel chapter 22 and our Scripture reading will be of this entire chapter. So if you have your Old Testaments or your Bibles, turn with me to 1 Samuel chapter 22. And the author writes.
“David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave Adullam: so when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And every one who was in distress, and every one who was in debt, and every one who was discontented, gathered to him; so he became captain over them: and there were about four hundred men with him. Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab: and he said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and my mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.’ So he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.”
It may be puzzling to you at the first, to reflect upon why David did this and what may be lying behind it. But, perhaps, if you will remember that Ruth, the Moabitess was an ancestor of King David as reflected in the Book of Ruth, and that she was something like his great grandmother. You can see there were family relations in Moab and there were some other connections as well. So it’s not as surprising as it might appear at first. The fifth verse states.
“Now the prophet Gad said to David, Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah. So David departed, and went into the forest of Hareth. When Saul heard that David, and the men who were with him, had been discovered” [Now Saul was staying in Gibeah under a tamarisk tree in Ramah, with his spear in his hand, as usual. It seems that that was one of the things that he constantly wore, his spear or his javelin, being sure that he had something in hand to defend himself.] “and all his servants standing about him. Then Saul said to his servants who stood about him, ‘Hear now, you Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds; All of you have conspired against me, and there is no one who reveals to me that my son hath made a covenant with the son of Jesse, and there is not one of you who is sorry for me, or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day?’ Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, ‘I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.’ And he enquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. So the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were in Nob: and they all came to the king. And Saul said, ‘Hear now, son of Ahitub.’ And he answered, ‘Here I am, my lord.’ Then Saul said to him, ‘Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread, and a sword, and have enquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day?’ So Ahimelech answered the king, and said, ‘And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, who is the king’s son in law, and goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house? Did I then begin to enquire of God for him? Far be it from me: let not the king impute any thing to his servant, or to any of the house of my father: for your servant knew nothing of all this, little or much.’” [In other words, he pleads his innocency and that when David came, if you will remember, David deceived him, actually, and it was not his intent to side with David as over against Saul.] “And the king said, ‘You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you, and all your father’s house.’ Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, ‘Turn and kill the priests of the Lord because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not tell it to me.’ But the servants of the king would not lift their hand to strike the priests of the Lord. And the king said to Doeg, ‘You turn and kill the priests.’ So Doeg the Edomite turned, and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod.” [It’s likely, although it’s not stated, that since he was the head of Saul’s herdsmen that he had some help in killing the eighty-five men who were priests.] “Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen, and donkeys, and sheep, with the edge of the sword. Now one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests. So David said to Abiathar, ‘I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house. Stay with me, do not fear: for he who seeks my life seeks your life: but with me you shall be in safe.’”
Incidentally, I didn’t mention this in the morning, and actually I don’t have it in my notes, and I probably should have said something about it but we have here another illustration of the way in which in the Scriptures we have human responsibility and divine foreordination. And they mingle together without contradiction. And even thought you and I may not understand all of the ways by which God accomplishes this, they are, nevertheless, taught in Scripture.
Here, of course, David assumes responsibility for the slaughter of the priests but back in chapter 2 in verse 31 through about verse 36, Eli is told that because of his failure to take responsibility for his own children and to bring them up, if I may use as New Testament expression, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that he would ultimately lose his children. So what we have here is the fulfillment of prophecy by the determination of God. But, at the same time, David acknowledges his own responsibility. He doesn’t say, “Now, the Lord is responsible for this alone because he foreordained it.” But he acknowledges his part within it. Both of these things are true. It is the fulfillment of the divine foreordination and prophetic word, but at the same time, he’s responsible as he, himself, says, “Stay with me, do not fear: for he who seeks my life seeks your life: but with me you shall be safe.”
Let’s bow together in a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are thankful to Thee for the word of God and as we reflect upon it, we realize the remarkable wisdom that is found within it and the way in which, if the Scriptures are carried out, we are blessed. We thank Thee for the admonitions, for the instruction, for the confidence that we have that Thou hast made provision for us, through the word of God, that we may live our lives in a way that pleases Thee and not simply that pleases Thee, for our own good, for time and for eternity.
We thank Thee for our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has come, has become incarnate, has taken to himself human nature, and as the god-man has gone to the cross at Calvary and there died for the sins of sinners. And we are surely sinners. And we thank Thee for the provision made for sinners and we pray, O God, that by Thy grace we may learn to appropriate everything that Thou hast done for us, for our blessing now as well as our blessing throughout the ages of eternity that lie before us.
We ask Thy blessing upon the whole church of Jesus Christ, wherever our Lord is lifted up. We pray, particularly, Lord, for those who have requested our prayers and have asked that we remember them, and for some of them, particularly, who are suffering, and suffering very, very severely. We pray for them, we ask that Thou wilt give the kind of ministry to the them that will deliver them from pain and encourage them in the inner man as they listen to Thy voice within them, as believing Christians. We pray, particularly, for some who have requested our prayers who are at death’s door.
Lord, we thank Thee for the way in which Thou hast blessed the ministry of the Chapel, we pray that in the future it may have that blessing from Thee that the things that are proclaimed may go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the saints and for the drawing of sinners to our Lord, Jesus Christ. May our time today be useful to that end,
We pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] The subject for today as we continue our series of studies in Lessons from the Life of David, is “David, the Outcast, in History and in Type.” If I may say just a word by way of introduction concerning the term type; the term type is a biblical term that means simply illustration or example. It’s not really a technical term, although many individuals use it that way. If one looks at the term, it becomes evident upon reflection that it means, simply, an example. But in the particular way in which these examples are found in the Bible, it may be, at least, useful for us to use the term type, but simply think of illustration.
Typology is the study of the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the relationship between particular things in the Old Testament and particular things in the New. Examples in typology include such things as persons of the Old Testament who are reflective of things found in anti-types in the New Testament. One of the big illustrations, one of the most obvious illustrations, is David, himself, who is an example, a type, an illustration of the ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and also, one who anticipates the coming of our Lord.
Types may then be found in persons, they may be found in institutions such as the tabernacle, in which many of the things concerning the worship in the tabernacle reflect New Testament facts, particularly concerning redemption. So in persons and in institutions and then in events, such as the Exodus, we have typical illustrative things that reflect New Testament anti-typical or final truth. For example, when the children of Israel came out of Egypt and were redeemed from the bondage in Egypt, that illustrates the redemption personally of individuals who are redeemed from slavery of sin; they were redeemed from the slavery of the Egyptians. We are redeemed from the slavery of sin and, consequently, our redemption may be called an exodus, in that sense.
So typology then is the study of things in the Old Testament that are like things in the New. The particular things about typology that might and must be remembered to understand it, I think, fully, is that the Old Testament event or institution or person must be historical. In other words, historicity belongs to typology. Lack of historicity would suggest allegory. So far as I know, there is no allegory in the Old Testament but, perhaps, one or two little brief instances of it.
Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is a true allegory, spiritual truth reflected in something that is un-historical. But in typology, there is historicity. In typology, and more important, there is correspondence, correspondence between events, institutions, persons in the Old Testament with those same things in the New Testament. Correspondence, that’s very important. And then, of course, because these persons, institutions, and events look forward to the New Testament fulfillments, you probably are justified in saying that predictiveness belongs to typology as well. So if we keep those things in mind, we will understand the term typology, we’ll understand the term type; historicity, correspondence, predictiveness.
Now, one might ask the question, why is this so? What is the fundamental, spiritual truth that lies underneath the biblical use of typology? Well, if you’ll reflect for a moment, I’m sure you will agree that the fundamental ground of it is that God controls history. And it’s the same God who spoke in the Old Testament who speaks in the New Testament, and so, therefore, by virtue of the fact that it is the same God, the same being, the same attributes, we expect that he will reveal himself in the events that have to do with human beings in the same way. They will be in different historical situations because, of course, the Old Testament is the “old” testament and the New Testament is the “new” testament. But, the fact that God controls history is the ground of typology.
Now, it’s possible to overdo these things and I hope I don’t overdo that today, when I talk about something that may be called typical. It’s possible to overdo it; it’s also possible to under do it. We’re trying to be sure to warn ourselves against both of those errors. And we must also remember that when we talk about typology, there is some element of speculation in it; if we are not specifically told by the New Testament that something is typical or illustrative or an example. That’s the problem with biblical interpretation. And the interpreter who is wise and has perception and judgment, he will come closer to the truth than those who are not wise and perceptive and who do not have judgment, or much judgment. And the evaluation of an interpreter, ultimately, rests with other interpreters and with you, who listen to such interpretations.
Now, the subject today is “David, the Outcast: In History and in Type.” David, in the cave of Adullam, suggests illustratively Christ in his present rejection. The Lord Jesus is the anti-type, the son of David, the son of David, the one to whom David in his ministry and life looked forward. And in fact, he is called the son of David, partially, for that reason.
We read in the New Testament, “He came unto his own and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, to those who believe on his name.” David, in rejection similarly, is an individual who is the anointed king, but in rejection and in his rejection he obtains followers. His followers also are suggestive illustrations of Christ’s reception of his own, in the present age. When the Lord Jesus was in the presence of the chief priests and the Pharisees, you remember, they criticized him by saying, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” Well, actually, in a very limited sense, David, the anointed king, is doing just that when those who are in debt and those who are discontented and those who are in distress gather to him.
It’s very interesting, you know, you can tell a whole lot about our Lord, Jesus Christ by the statements of his enemies. They said, “This man receiveth sinners.” Now, that’s very interesting because it reveals something very significant about our Lord. Even though they were being critical; it is true, he does receive sinners. And that, of course, is very significant in the life and ministry of our Lord. They said of him, “Who is this man? Why, he’s the son of Mary.” That’s rather striking, because in Jewish style, you would have expected them to say, he’s the son of Joseph.
Now, you do have that. But to say “The son of Mary” is an indication of the fact that even then there was an acknowledgment of the fact that his birth was different. And so they knew they could not say “son of Joseph” only, but they were free to say “son of Mary,” contrary to Jewish practice, for the legal father was Joseph and that was their practice to acknowledge him. So the fact that they said that “this is the son of Mary” is indicative of what he really was.
Now, of course, when they say “this man” they are telling us that he is a human being; that is, he possesses a human nature so even his enemies acknowledge that about him, too. That may not be much of an acknowledgment, but listen to this, when he was hanging upon the cross, the enemies of our Lord in authority in the land said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.”
Now, it would have been true that he couldn’t save anyone if he were as they. But the fact that they said, “He saved others,” is an acknowledgment of the reality of our Lord’s ministry on the lips of his enemies. So if you begin to put all of the things that his enemies said about our Lord, you could construct a pretty nice Christology, or doctrine of Christ, that is relatively true to the teaching of the New Testament.
Caiaphas said, “It’s expedient that one man should die for the people.” And even in the words that came out of the high priest’s mouth, whether he meant them that way or not that’s another question. But the words that come out of his mouth are words that are suitable for the atoning work of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s a man, he saved sinners, he’s accomplished saving work, and many of the things about our Lord might be derived from the things his enemies said about him.
Well, the historical section that we are looking at reflects the call of David and the anointing of David long before he assumed his authority. He’s not assumed it yet. The conquest of Goliath is set forth in great detail because that, too, was typical, illustrative of the conquest of Satan by the Lord Jesus, when he died on Calvary’s cross, as the New Testament tells us in several places, Jesus was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. The Epistle to the Hebrews, particularly, in chapter 2 in verse 14 and verse 15 has an important statement concerning the ministry of our Lord that pertains to Satan and his ministry. We read in chapter 2 in verse 14 and verse 15 of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
“Inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
The conquest of Goliath then illustrates the defeat not simply of that Philistine giant, but ultimately of our Lord’s overcoming of Satan on the cross at Calvary. Then following that, conflict with Saul begins because of the jealousy of the king who is still on the throne but has been rejected by God. The last chapter we looked at last week, we noted that even though David is the anointed king and the type of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as a human, he is not excluded from sin. And so he declines and commits several acts in chapter 21 that are contrary for God’s best for him.
But now, he is forced to flee to Adullam and there we read in verse 1 through verse 5, that he is in Adullam, in the cave, and as an outcast. And the gathering of men out of fellowship with Saul, it’s very interesting that David departed from there, escaped to the cave of Adullam, and everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, everyone who was discontented gathered to him. His brothers and his father’s house came to him. So he became captain over them.
And they are said to have been about four hundred individuals. So these individuals are gathered out of fellowship with Saul – to fellowship with David. It’s interesting, is it not, that David makes provision for his family? I mentioned the fact that he had relatives in Moab, but he was very concerned about them and so he made some provision for them. It’s one of the many little practical lessons that one notes when one reads the Bible. And this one is the lesson of respect for ones family. “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the earth.” That’s a great lesson that is so applicable to us in the society of which we are a part today. “Honor thy father and thy mother.” Respect for the family.
One of the reasons that our society has so often broken down today is the fact that we have lost the sense of respect for our family. Our children have lost respect for their parents. And I do not think that it is altogether the parent’s responsibility. I mean, not the parent’s fault. It’s not altogether that. It is the fact that we are part of a society to which the children are exposed in which this is basically so often taught, if not in word at least in deed.
David respects his family and cares for them. He, of course, is just following in the train of the Lord Jesus Christ. He went up to Jerusalem; it became obvious that he was the Messianic King, to the spiritual minds at least, and then he came back and Luke tells us, he went back home and he was subject unto them.
Isn’t it striking to think of our Lord Jesus, the god-man, being subject to Joseph and Mary? What a beautiful illustration of the principle of the word of God; fulfilling perfectly the Law of Moses and a lesson that is repeated in the New Testament. Respect for ones family, and that is exhibited here. It even carries through to the time of the cross, when our Lord is hanging upon the cross, and he has not yet forgotten that injunction, hanging upon the cross, he turns to his mother and speaks to her and then turns to John and says, “Behold, your mother,” pointing to Mary. And from that time forth, John tells us, Mary went home with the Apostle John. How beautiful it is, from beginning to end, submission to the word of God.
Now, David is an outcast, but the individuals have gathered to him. They’ve left Saul; they’ve come into fellowship with David. Now, the verses from 6 to 19 describe the massacre that involved Doeg the Edomite. We read in verse 7, incidentally, some things rather interesting in the light of our political life in this country. “Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, you Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds.”
We are told as we study American history, that Andrew Jackson, I believe, was the father of the spoils system. Well, he may have been the father of the spoils system in the United States, but he’s not father of the spoils system in the political world. Here is Saul; the spoils system is alive and well thousands of years earlier. So he speaks to the Benjamites and just says simply, “Is David going to do for you what I do for you?” And so, they are gathered around him for material reasons. He says, also, that all of them are against him. Isn’t that striking? Here is the King of Israel. All of you have conspired against me.
As you look at Saul’s life, you can see that the sin, which has characterized it in the beginning, leads constantly to more irrationality. Saul is a kind of paranoid; and, consequently, all of the elements of hell lie within him. And he thinks of everyone being against him. It’s like Herod the Great, when Herod the Great heard about the wise men that came from the East and said, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” What did Herod do? Did he delight in that fact? Marvelous, I’m living in the time of the birth of the promised king? No, the text of Scripture said, he was troubled.
When Herod the Patriarch, later on, after having killed John the Baptist, heard about the Lord Jesus and the miracles that he was performing, what did he do? What was he thinking? Marvelous things are happening in the land? No! He said, John the Baptist, for whom he had a great sense of guilt, John the Baptist is risen from the dead. That’s characteristic of us, in our sin. And, consequently, the guilt that we have as God’s way of letting us know our need, causes Saul to say, “You’re against me. Everybody’s against me.”
Well, the story of Doeg the Edomite is a very pathetic story. Doeg would never have said that he was not religious; he was religious. But professors who do not have the reality cannot appreciate the spiritual. And Doeg the Edomite outside the pale of divine redemption does the despicable deed of killing eighty-five of the priests of the Lord. Saul, by his command that they be slain, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord,” is sinking deeper and deeper into disobedience and open rebellion.
I cannot help but think that we see a great deal of the same thing happening in our society today and happening in our — we call it our spiritual society — that is, in our religious society. Some of the things that we happen to see today are most remarkable. For example, nineteen ninety-two is the five hundredth year after the discovery of America.
Now, when we were in school in my day, and that was a long time ago, we had teachers lay a great deal of emphasis upon Columbus being the discoverer of the United States of America. Would you not think that the National Council of Churches at least might be somewhat favorable to the fact that the United States was discovered by Columbus? And that this would be some kind of celebration that would be significant? Christopher Columbus did not discover the Western hemisphere, he invaded it, the Council has said. They’re wanting to get in their word two years in advance. He invaded it. His voyage of exploration didn’t open this region to European civilization, to Christianity, and what we call the free country of the United States of America, but it introduced church supported racism, genocide, exploitation, moral decadence and enslavement of the Indians and terrible injustices to Africans and the peoples of Asia. I need not go into further detail about it, but this astonishing statement was made, not by some radical fringe party, but by the nearly two hundred members of the general board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in America.
We are living in rather strange days. There are many things that one might criticize about Columbus, no doubt, but the fundamental fact, his place in our history should not be destroyed. As a matter of fact, when he landed down in one of the Caribbean Islands, it was as a result of the penetration of others into those islands that those who were cannibals down there, actually, the term cannibal comes from one of those terms that used to describe the peoples there, there were some great benefits that came from the introduction of, at that time, a higher civilization.
But I, also, cannot help but think that what we see in our society is a reflection in principle of some of the things that we find here, in the life of Saul; homosexuality in our society. The pattern of the Bible, if you read the Bible, the pattern of the Bible is clearly heterosexuality and monogamy. That’s the pattern. If homosexuality is permissible, then the pattern is no longer binding. For the vast majority of homosexuals, not all, by their affirmations, but the vast majority of them, freedom is the right to have homosexual relations with as many partners and as often as desired. The ordination of homosexuals and lesbians in our churches is a reflection of the breakdown of the word of God.
Bishop Spong, the bishop of Newark, in the Anglican Church, or in the Episcopalian Church, ordained a homosexual some years ago, but now is very angry over the fact that the homosexual that he ordained, publicly, has ridiculed monogamy and chastity. So the pattern of heterosexuality, monogamy, is broken by that. Even in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, we have now several ordained and fortunately the church is trying to do something about that in two San Francisco congregations. You might expect from that locale.
And, surprisingly, at least to me, in the Central Conference of American Rabbis, now, this is Reformed Judaism not Orthodox Judaism, now, the ordination of homosexuals has been endorsed. This is not to mention things like abortion; the historic Christian view is the absolute prohibition of abortion, except to save the mother’s life. Jewish teaching has historically been very similar to that. Now, Rabbi Balfour Brickner of New York City, has attacked Cardinal O’Connor of the Catholic Church, who is seeking to hold the line for the Catholic Church, as being wrong on abortion. And then the Rabbi went on to say, “He’s wrong on about every other thing too.” [Laughter] So what we are seeing is the breakdown of some of the things that find their beginning in departure from the word of God. Slay the priests. Everybody’s against me. Go contrary to the express will of God and, ultimately, these are the things that result from it.
Fortunately, Saul’s servants had some sense of the importance of the anointing of God and they refused to respond. They would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the Lord. And so Doeg the Apostate comes and carries out the task. Abiathar makes a report to David. He’s the only one who escaped and David brings the consequences upon himself and says, “I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house.” But, God’s providential judgment on Eli’s house is set forth here. If we disobey the word of God, you can be absolutely sure that ultimately you will suffer from it. That’s the plain teaching of Scripture and when the priests are slain by Doeg the Edomite, it was the carrying out of the word of God in chapter 2 of this very book. David may say, “I’ve caused it,” but in the ultimate, it is God who carries out his foreordained will.
Now, I’d like to close with a comparison of the situation here with a situation of the New Testament. In other words, suggest that this is something of an example of New Testament truth. So I want to say a word about the typological interpretation. The parallel to the present rejection of our Lord, to the gathering of individuals by the Holy Spirit to him, reflects the situation in 1 Samuel chapter 22. And I’ll just spell them out, I think they should be plain to you.
First of all, Saul, the rejected king is on the throne. Today, the true king is not on the throne in actuality yet. He sits at the right hand of the throne of the majesty on high, he has been anointed as the Messianic king. He’s carried out his work. David was the anointed king but not serving yet. Saul’s still serving. And, in this society of which we are a part, as the apostle tells us, “The whole world lies in the wicked one.” Or, as one of the versions has recently rendered it, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” We are living in such a society. The apostle can speak of himself being prevented in doing his work by Satan. So, Saul, the rejected king is on the throne, Satan, the rejected king as a result of his original sin, is still on the throne and very active.
Secondly, David, the typical true king, has been divinely called and has been victorious over Goliath. And so the Lord Jesus has been divinely called by the angel and then has been victorious in his incarnation and in his saving work on Calvary’s Cross, and just as David took Goliath’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, so the Lord Jesus in the words of one of the great expositors, “Has the Giant’s head in his hand and he has carried it to the right hand of the throne of God in token of his ultimate victory.”
I, this week, read an interesting little quotation. And I’ve framed it in a way that I would like to express it. David, in killing Goliath, proved Gene Green’s words that “two heads are better than none.” [Laughter]
So he took the head of Goliath to Jerusalem as our Lord has taken the head of Satan and has come into Heaven in victory and now has the keys of death and Hades, having wrenched them from the hands of the evil one.
David, the true king, thirdly, is persecuted by Saul, the rejected king. Our Lord Jesus came into our society, was persecuted. He came to his own, his own received him not.
And, fourthly, David, the true king, gathered followers to himself. He gathered, as our author said, “Those who were in distress, those who were in debt, those who were discontented.” And so, likewise, in the present day, the Lord Jesus is gathering followers. We know, of course, that the remnant of Israel were the remnant of the people of God but through the ministry of the Apostle Paul as is pointed out in Acts chapter 15, at the present time, God through the ministry of the apostle and those who have succeeded him is gathering out a people for his name. And that people, united with the remnant of believing Israel, formed the people of God. So in Saul’s day, David was gathering out followers who formed the people of God.
Fifthly, David’s followers owe their life to him just as the followers of the Lord, Jesus Christ, owe their spiritual life to him. He is the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep. He is the one who gives unto them eternal life and they shall never perish. Isn’t that marvelous? He gives unto them eternal life, as he said, and they will never perish. He does not give them life until they sin, he gives them eternal life, they will never, never, never perish. And the subjunctive of emphatic negation which is used in that particular text in John 10 underlines that. “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall by no means ever perish.” Eternal life, we owe that life to him.
Here is love and the love of God is that he sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The propitiation which he accomplished on the cross in shedding his blood defines biblical love and biblical love is explained by the propitiation, fundamentally, that’s the love of God. Not sentiment, but what Christ did on the cross. That has great effect sentimentally, upon true believers, but that’s not the essence of the love of God, it’s not romantic love, it’s not sentimental love, it is divine self-giving love.
I still love the statement that Professor Denney used to make, “I’d rather preach with a crucifix in my hand and the feeblest power of moral reflection, than have the finest insight into ethical principles and no Son of God who came by blood.” That’s the problem with the Christian church today. They often have, outwardly, evidence of fine ethical principles, but no Son of God who came by blood. And in having no Son of God who came by blood, they have no power. No power at all for the implementation of ethical principles.
And then, sixthly, David’s follower’s descriptions reflect us. Those in distress came to him. “Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden,” Jesus said, “Those who are in distress, those who are in debt, and oh, how much we owe and those who are discontented, embittered of soul,” the Hebrew text says it. The unsaved, incidentally, are always discontented. If you look back on your life, if you have a day when you came to know the Lord Jesus as your savior, you’ll know as you look at your life, that your life in the past could be characterized, among other things, as discontented.
I love the story about the Christian Quaker, who often spoke to his neighbors about their souls. They didn’t pay too much attention to him but they thought that they were well off, away from God, and imagined that they were quite contented. And so one day to seek to make the point, he owned some property and he put up a sign on about ten acres of property and the sign said, “I will give this field to anyone who is really contented.” And soon one of his most prosperous neighbors came along and said, “Ah, look it there. Look at that sign. It says that property is given to anyone who is contented. I’m that man. I have one of the finest farms in the county. It’s been paid for, years ago. I have a fine nest egg at the bank.” That might not be reason for content today, but anyway, he had a fine nest egg at the bank. “And my children are all in excellent circumstances and doing well. And I enjoy the best of health. I surely am a contented man. So I went to the Quaker’s door and demanded the field, in accordance with the sign. The Quaker said in good old Quaker style, “Ah, Friend, if thee is contented, what does thee want of my field?” [Laughter] And so he didn’t get his field, you can be sure of that.
And, finally and seventhly, David’s followers were trained by association with a rejected king. David’s followers, as you know if you read the Bible, David’s followers became what Scripture called his mighty men, his mighty men by association with David, his mighty men, they were those who were poor, they were in debt, they were discontented, they were oppressed, but by association with him, his mighty men.
True believing Christians, by association with our Lord, Jesus Christ, become his mighty men. They’re called “The Sons of the Kingdom.” And that’s something that God gives to those who associate with him. Sons of the Kingdom, redeemed by him and, ultimately, even if we fail miserably in this life, ultimately, we shall rule and reign with him, as the Book of Revelation says, upon the earth.
There was need for a decision then as there is need for a decision now. Which king will I serve? Which king will you serve? The god of this age, or our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the King at the right hand of the throne of God? Love for David meant rejection but, ultimately, reward.
There is an old story, which I also like, of Napoleon’s soldiers who once were marching through the streets of Paris when their general’s cause was hanging in the balance. A working woman named Jeannette, seized a broom as they were passing and putting it to a shoulder, fell in line with the troops and marched with them, with a broom on her should. The bystanders, of course, broke out laughing, and asked her if she expected to fight with a broom. She said, “No, but I can show which side I’m on.”
And there are many ways in which you and I can show which side we are on.
I cited in the beginning of this message, “This man receiveth sinners.” I’d like to modify it. The Greek term is a term that has a bit of intensiveness about it, and so, consequently, we could render it, “This man welcomes sinners to himself.” He doesn’t patronize. He takes us to his heart. He’s not on the throne. As a matter of fact, he’s by you in the pew. And he is available.
He welcomed Mary of Magdala uncontaminated by the seven devils that came out of her. He welcomed the woman that was a sinner, obviously a great sinner, because of her sin, probably sexual sin. He was an individual who was not touched by that. He welcomed John Bunyan, the swearing tinker. Mary of Magdala became the first proclaimer of the resurrection. Bunyan became what someone has called “The Celestial Dreamer.” This is what God does, through Christ, for those who come to him. May I close by reading a poem as a form of invitation to you. “Behold, a Stranger at the door. He gently knocks, has knocked before, has waited long, is waiting still, you use no other friend so ill. But will he prove a friend indeed? He will; the very friend you need, the friend of sinners, yes, ‘tis he, with garments dyed at Calvary. Admit him, ere his anger burn, lest he depart and ne’er return, admit him, or the hour’s at hand, when at his door denied you’ll stand. Admit him, for the human breast, ne’er entertained so kind a guest. No mortal tongue their joys can tell, with whom he condescends to dwell.”
If you’re here today, and you’ve never believed in our Lord, we invite you to reflect upon the fact that he, as the incarnate Son of God, came and offered the sacrifice for sinners. May God, in his grace, touch your heart so you say, “That’s the sin offering that I need; the work of the Lord, Jesus Christ.” I appeal on the basis of the word of God, for the eternal life that he promises, by virtue of what Christ has done.
May God so touch your heart. Turn to Christ. Come to him. Believe in him. Don’t leave this auditorium without that decision having been made in your heart.
Let’s stand for the Benediction.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee and thankful to Thee for the word of God, which so beautifully points us always to the coming of the great Son of God, the Lord, Jesus Christ. And we pray, Lord, that for any who may be in this audience who have never believed in Christ, that they may, in their hearts right now, say I thank Thee, Lord, for dying for me. I take eternal life as a gift from Thee. I need it to cover my sins.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.