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Monday, March 31, 2014

Filming the Resisting Gossip Video Series

Exciting news!

All this week, Spencer Folmar and I will be producing 10 short videos about Resisting Gossip for CLC Publications!  The videos will correspond to and complement a study guide and Bible study I'm also working on (more on that another time).

Spencer is the filmmaker who created the trailer for Resisting Gossip.  He grew up around and in Lanse Free Church but now lives in Seattle. His production company is called Third Brother Films.

We've been collaborating on this project since last Fall, so it's very gratifying to see the whole thing come together now.

Pray for us as we go to various locations and shoot the videos--there is so much that goes into the process, and we have a limited amount of time to get it all done.

Eventually (late Summer?), the finished videos will be made public and be free, downloadable, and shareable! I can't wait to share them with you. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Right Way to Worship"

“The Right Way to Worship”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
March 30, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 6:1-23

Two weeks ago, David became king over all Israel.

And last week, we saw what David’s new kingdom was like: promised, powerful, and prosperous.

David’s power grew and he conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. The City of David.

It seemed like everything David touched at that time turned to gold.

And now in chapter 6, David believes that it’s high time to bring the ark of the covenant up to Jerusalem, as well.

This is a momentous occasion, because it will bring together the monarchy, the capital city, and the center of worship all into one place.

David is trying to unite the kingdom and center it on the presence of God.

Because that’s what the ark symbolized.

You remember the ark, right?

The ark was very important in the early chapters of 1 Samuel.

And, if the scholars have it right, it’s languished in the city of Kiriath Jearim for about 60 years!

But now, David is going to do something about it.

He’s going to bring the ark up to Jerusalem. And that’s a very big deal.

We’ll see how it goes.

Now, as you can see from the back of your bulletin, I’ve entitled this message, “The Right Way to Worship.”

Because there is a wrong way and a right way to worship.

Worship is not just “as we please.”

I remember a few years ago, I was trying to help a needy person buy a new mattress. Hers was flea-bitten and nearly destroyed.

And I invited her to church here with us. And she said, “I prefer to worship God in my own way.”

And I didn’t say it then, but I thought it later, “Wouldn’t it smarter to worship God in His own way?”

I think that’s the application of this story to our lives today. It reveals the right way to worship by also showing us the wrong way.

Because David knows that this “bringing up of the ark” is a big deal and a time to worship.

2 Samuel chapter 6. Verse 1.

“David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.”

Stop there for a second and let those numbers sink in.

David is going to bring up the ark (v.2), and he gets a group of chosen men. Thirty thousand of them.

I’ve never noticed that number before. They are not going into battle. They are going into a worship service.

They are the military procession fitting for moving the ark from one location to another.

In other words, David is “doing it” up big-time.

Because this is the “ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark.”

This is the early throne of God. It symbolizes (it’s just a symbol. We learned before that you cannot put our God in a box, but it’s a powerful symbol) of the presence of God.

He is enthroned between the two cherubim angels on top of the ark. Symbolically, he sits there and rules from between them.

This gold covered box contains the original 10 commandments (at least the second copy, the one that Moses did not smash). It includes the staff of Aaron that budded. It stands for the covenant, the relationship between God and His people. The top of it is called the atonement cover or the mercy seat.  It stands for the reconciliation that the sacrifices provide making things right between God and man.

This box is so connected to God, that it is (v.2) called by the Name.

It stands for God. It is not God, but it stands for God.

So this is a big deal. 30,000 men in a parade to bring it to its new home in Jerusalem. V.3

“They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.”

Now, what just a second. Here’s where the story goes wrong.

It looks like David is respecting the ark. There are all of these troops. And there is a brand new cart to move the ark along.

However! Are you supposed to use a cart to move the ark?

No. The law given by God to Moses had very strict instructions, rules, for how the ark was to be transported. And it involved Levites with poles carrying it on their shoulders.

So, there is a disregard here for the law given by God. Middle of verse 3.

“Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.

David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.”

I don’t know what a sistrum was, do you?

Whatever it is, they are rocking now!  This is a quite the worship service.

They’ve got the full band, and everybody is rocking along, singing a song, playing their instrument, giving it their all.

Have you ever been in a worship service that was really enthusiastic...

...but there was something missing?

Lots of music, even “worship music” does not equal lots of true worship.

Not if the hearts are in the wrong place.

And there is a disregard going on here for the holiness of God.

Now, you probably know what happens next.  The ox pulling the cart stumble. V.6

“When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.”

What?!

Uzzah was just trying to help!

The ark was going to fall.

But he wasn’t supposed to touch it.

And God is holy.

No matter how rocking the worship band is, if we don’t treat God as holy, then our worship is just a bunch of noise.

What’s the right way to worship?

#1. WITH HOLY FEAR.

There was plenty of warning before Uzzah’s bad choice.

The law was clear. God didn’t want anyone to die! That’s why He gave them detailed instructions about dealing with holy things.

But David’s crew ignored the instructions and Uzzah dared to grab the ark.

Now, if Uzzah loved the Lord, he went to heaven.

But you can’t just worship God however you feel like it.

We need to worship God with holy fear.

And that’s not just for Old Testament believers.

We don’t have the ark today, never mind what you see on Indiana Jones.

But we have the same God today as they worshiped then.

The New Testament says, “live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” That’s 1 Peter 1:17. “Reverent fear.”

Hebrews 10 says, “let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” Reverence and awe.

Holy fear.

There is a lot of triviality in worship today. Treating God as a small thing, a light thing, a warm and fuzzy thing.

But we forget, to our peril, about God’s “lethal holiness.” (Dale Ralph Davis, pg. 76)

Yes, God’s wrath is consumed by the sacrifice of Christ, so there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

No, we don’t have to worry that if we somehow pray or sing wrong at church on Sunday that God will strike us dead on the spot.

But that doesn’t mean that we should call God, “The Man Upstairs” or make light of Him or treat Him as a small thing that we can safely ignore or put on the shelf between Sundays.

Or stop paying attention to what He wants.

Remember, worship is not just a Sunday thing. It’s a 24-7 thing.

We can worship Him wrongly by not treating Him as holy the other 6 days of our week.

God is not cute.

God is holy, and if we want to worship Him rightly, we will worship in holy fear.

Reverence and awe.

David got mad. V.8

“Then David was angry because the LORD's [anger] wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.”

Who’d David get mad at?

Some people think it was the LORD, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. God is just doing what is right.

Maybe he was mad at Uzzah.

But my guess is that he was mad at himself because he knew that he was responsible.

“Oh, I should have followed the law. I should have obeyed the Lord. Oh, I should have led my team to worship with holy fear. What have I done?”

Last week, the Lord broke out against the Philistines.

Now, he’s broken out against the Israelites who have not revered Him rightly. V.9

“David was afraid [not just angry, afraid] of the LORD that day and said, ‘How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?’ [I’ve messed up.] He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.”

David is scared that he’s flunked worship for good and that the ark will never reside in Jerusalem.

And that’s a good thing.

It’s right for David to be concerned. He’s thinking now, not just feeling.

Worship is a thinking thing. It involves our feelings, but it starts with our thoughts.  What we think about God is important.

“Is God done with me now?”

The answer is no.  v.11

“The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. Now King David was told, ‘The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.’ So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.”

He tries again.

And, this time, he does it right. V.13

“When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.”

Six steps?!  1-2-3-4-5-6. Sacrifice.

For 10 miles!

And notice that there is no ox cart. “Those who were carrying the ark.”  1 Chronicles 15 tells us that they were doing it, this time, as they should.

Taking God seriously. Worshiping with holy fear.

Is there anything you need to adjust in your worship, either on Sundays or daily, to make sure that you are worshiping with reverence and awe and not slappy dappy happy sappy?

Now, I think it’s interesting that David makes sacrifices and (v.14) dresses in linen ephod, which was a priestly kind of garment, whatever it looked like.

David is not a Levite, and he does not sacrifice in the temple. He does not act as a Levite.

Perhaps all this means is that he directed these kind of sacrifices to happen.

But I also wonder (following some stuff I read this week in the commentaries) if he didn’t see himself as a different kind of priest. Maybe like a priest in the order of Melchizedek?  As ruler of Jerusalem like Melchizedek was?  It’s possible.

We’ll see that he’s also blessing people like a priest does.

King and Priest together(?)–that has possibilities to think about.

However it works, this time it’s right. It’s reverent. And it’s also joyful. V.14

“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”

Verse 12 said that it was with rejoicing, and v.14 says that David danced.

I almost called this sermon, “David Dances.”

And they’re shouting. And playing the trumpets.

The worship band is rocking again! And this time, it’s right.

But somebody’s not happy about it. V.16

“As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. [She’s not going to attend this worship service!] And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.”

It must have been quite a sight to see the King of Israel leaping and dancing before the LORD as part of the procession.

What joy he was experiencing!

How he gave himself over to worship.

But Michal, his wife, despised him. V.17

“They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD.

After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty.

Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.”

It was probably the greatest worship event since at least the end of Joshua and probably since the Red Sea Rescue and the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.

But David’s wife was not happy. V.20

“When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’”

Was David being lewd?

I don’t think so.

He’s wearing a linen ephod and the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 15 says that he also wore linen robe.

He’s not disrobed. He’s not immodest. He’s not flashing the crowd.

But he’s not been dignified either.

At least, not dignified enough for Michal.

She’s disgusted with him because he’s not been wearing the royal robes and the crown and acting the part of the king.

Remember she learned kingship from Saul.

Notice that every time she’s named here, she’s named, not as the wife of David, but as the daughter of Saul.

She’s got her priorities in the wrong place.

What’s the right way to worship?

#2. WITH HUMBLE JOY. V.21

“David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel–I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.’ And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.”

David is saying, “You’ve got it all wrong, Mic.”

I wasn’t putting on a show for the girls.

I was worshiping God alone.

“I will celebrate before the LORD!”

And nothing is going to stop me.

David was worshiping with humble joy.

We can see the joy part in his dancing.

But we get the humble part by his self-forgetfulness.

He’s not focused on how he looks.

Do you ever worry about how you look when you’re worshipping?

How you look?!

Now, we should try not to distract people in corporate worship. They aren’t here to watch us.

But we aren’t here just for them, either.

We’re here for Him!

V.22. “I will become even more undignified than this.” Watch me. “And I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

“I am just a servant. Yes, I’m the king. But I’m just the LORD’s servant.”

“And I will risk being misunderstood to worship the LORD with gladness and joy and abandonment.

And if you can’t see that, Michal, that’s your problem!

Even the slave girls of Israel will be able to see it rightly, and honor it.”

And the daughter of Saul never had a child. Judgement upon her for being too much the daughter of Saul.

Humble Joy.

Joy and gladness and rejoicing and enthusiasm–not to put on a show but because we truly have the joy of the Lord.

That’s the right way to worship.

There are people who will jump up and down and scream in their living room or on the field when their team scores a goal, but who will not even lift up their voice and sing to the God who saved them.

David worshiped with humble joy.

He knew how much He had to praise God for.

He knew how worthy God was.

And He didn’t care who saw him humble himself before the Lord.

Do we worship with humble joy?

Or are we Michal’s, judging everyone else’s worship and thinking that it isn’t quite up to snuff.

Let’s give our all to the Lord is worship.

Not just on Sunday. Worship is not just a Sunday thing.

It’s a every day thing.

Every day should be a day of humble, joyful worship of our holy God.

Psalm 2:11 says, “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.”

That’s right.

It’s both/and not either/or.

“Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.”

Holy Fear and Humble Joy. That’s the right way to worship.

Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Gossip Chemotherapy" by Brian Dainsberg

Pastor Brian Dainsberg has wrapped up his short series based upon Resisting Gossip with a great brief post with three reflections on how believers can overcome gossip:

1. Wisely steward your use of words.

2. Rest in the gospel.

3. Plead with God for help.

My favorite lines:  "If God created words, I bet he has in mind how he wants us to use them." and "Of all the things we ask God for, I do believe prayers for holiness are prayers he's eager to answer." Amen, Brian, and thanks for the encouragement.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grace for the Broken Conference


Eagerly anticipating this Saturday's Grace for the Broken Conference at Innovation Church in the Poconos.

I'm looking forward to listening to Ed Welch teach again and offering a breakout session myself on Resisting Gossip.

There are still a few seats left--join us if you can!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Interview about "Resisting Gossip" with Nitoy Gonzales of Delighting Grace

Nitoy Gonzales, a Christian blogger in the Philippines, has interviewed me about Resisting Gossip on his blog "Delighting Grace".

Nitoy asked 7 great questions including ones about the "novelty" of Resisting Gossip, the influence of CCEF on my pastoral ministry, if women gossip more than men, and if believers gossip more than unbelievers. It was very enjoyable to interact with him.

Nitoy previously posted a review of Resisting Gossip which he gave two thumbs up. Thanks, Nitoy!

It's exciting to know that believers in the Philippines can order a copy from their local CLC bookstore.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "David's Kingdom"

“David’s Kingdom”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
March 23, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 5:1-25

Last week, our sermon was titled “King David” because, at long last, David was King of, not just Judah, but Israel as well.

And so the big question is, what will David’s new kingdom be like?

What will characterize the reign of David as king over Israel?

So our title for today is simply, “David’s Kingdom.”

That’s what chapter 5 is all about it. It establishes what David’s kingdom was like, especially in the early years.

Chapters 5 through 10 are the pinnacle of the books of Samuel. This is the best of times in David’s life and David’s reign in David’s kingdom.

We’re going to enjoy and be encouraged by a lot of what we read in the next 5 chapters.  This is the good stuff!

Today, I’ll try to summarize David’s Kingdom in three key words.

Promised, powerful, and prosperous.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

And we’ll see that each of those kingdom blessings comes from and is for the glory of the LORD and the good of His people.

So out of those 3 key words we will see some key applications for our lives today.

Last week, we read verses 1-3 through and ended on the promise of God.

David’s Kingdom came through the promise of God.

I’d like to start there again this week. Let’s read verses 1-5.

“All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. [We’re related to you!] In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. [We remember your service as the general of the army!] And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will  become their ruler.'’ [They have heard of the promise given to David at his anointing by Samuel. And now the promise is KEPT. V.3]  When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.”

#1. PROMISED.

David’s Kingdom was a promise that God kept.

And I don’t think that we can overemphasize that.

Our God is a promise-keeping God.

And we can trust Him.

Think about that with me for a just a second.

Was the fulfillment of God’s promise an automatic thing?

It sure wasn’t a quick thing!

Years and years have gone by since God made that promise to David.

And even after he became king in Judah, it was still more years until he began to reign over all of Israel.

The promises of God are sure, but they often require waiting.

Are you waiting on the promises of God?

These promises were also opposed, weren’t they?

For chapter after chapter we said that David was chased but not caught.

It wasn’t always easy to trust in the promises.  In fact, most of the time, it was hard.

I think that some people think that faith is easy. But it’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s good, but it’s hard. It involves waiting and enduring.

David, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will  become their ruler.”

Didn’t say when.
Didn’t say it would be easy to get there.

But here’s the point–he did get there.

God’s promises are sure.
Our God is a promise-keeping God. So hang in there.

Hang in there.

God’s promises weather the storms of life.

Are you going through a storm right now?

Imagine what it must have felt like for David to finally wear that crown!

Trust God to keep His promises.

Including the promise of Christ’s return.

Sometimes, we can get weary waiting for the return of Christ and start to wonder if He’s really come back for us.

But Peter says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

So, hang in there.

Just as David’s Kingdom was a promise and then a promise kept, so will David’s greatest Son Jesus’ kingdom be soon a promise kept.

Moving on. V.6

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here.’”

Now, stop there for a second.

This is also going to be a promise kept.

Anybody know when the Jebusites are first mentioned in the Bible?

Enter “Jebusites” in the search engine on your Bible app, and you’ll get a bunch of  search results.

The first is Genesis 10 listing them as the sons of Canaan.

The second is Genesis 15 where God promises to give Abraham’s children the land of the Jebusites.

That’s a long time. Around 800 years, I think from Abraham to David.

And the Jebusites get mentioned again and again in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges.

Always enemies, and up till this time unshakable in Canaan.

Joshua and the armies under him were not able to dislodge them from Jerusalem.

They were still living there in the days of the judges.

But now, what’s going to happen?

Now, God’s promise is going to be kept.

David marches up to this fortified city on a hill, and says, “That’s the one I want for my kingdom’s capital.”

And the Jebusites say, “Over our dead bodies!”

And David says, “Okay. Over your dead bodies.”

And the Jebusites say, “You can’t beat us. It’s inconceivable.”

And David says, “That word. You keep using it. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Not exactly what happened, but close.

They say, “Even the blind and the lame can ward you off.”

“Our city is impregnable! It could be defended by soldiers without eyes or arms fro the likes of you!” v.7

And David, “Oh yeah?” v.7

“Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.”

By the way, that’s the first time that the word “Zion” appears in your Bible. It won’t be the last.

David captured the fortress of Zion.

Now, verse 8 is notoriously hard to translate, but the NIV does a pretty good job with it, I think. V.8

“On that day, David said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those 'lame and blind' who are David's enemies.’ That is why they say, ‘The 'blind and lame' will not enter the palace.’”

I think what that means is that v.8 gives us the strategy David used. He knew about a secret way in, through the water shaft that fed fresh water from the Gihon to the city of Jerusalem.  Many scholars think it refers to “Warren’s tunnel,” “a narrow vertical shaft fory-nine feet long dug through rock ... [and] difficult to climb.” (Bergen, pg. 321).

Apparently, David sent a strike force up the shaft to let the rest of the army into the walls, and reach the “lame and blind,” David’s enemies.

He uses their taunt against them. The “lame and blind” are pejorative nicknames for the Jebusites. And they will no longer be allowed in the palace. V.9

“David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.”

There’s number two.

#2. POWERFUL.

David’s Kingdom was powerful.

He took up residence in the fortress and called it “The City of David.”

“And he became more and more powerful.” Why?

“Because the LORD God Almighty was with him.”

David’s ascendancy was not an accident. It was not a freak of nature or the forces of history.

David’s rise in power was from the LORD.

It’s really important for anyone in power to realize that they are in power at the moment by the will of the LORD.

What would happen if every public official came to deeply realize that their authority was not something they earned or deserved or were worth, but they were powerful in that moment as a gift by and stewardship for the LORD God Almighty?

Wouldn’t that change a lot of government?

David became more and more powerful because the LORD God Almighty was with him. V.11

“Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

There’s a lot there.

David gets a palace. A throne room in a cedar house in Jerusalem where his powerful kingdom can be centered.

And see again in verse 12 what David knows about his power.

“And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom [it’s from God] for the sake of his people Israel.”

That’s really important.

David realized that God had given him this power, not for himself but for his people.

The point of David’s Kingdom is not David.

It’s God’s people.

God gave David power over the people but for the people.

That’s really important.

So often, those who are in power assume that they are in power because they’re so great and assume that the people under them are there to make them look good.

But in God’s kingdom, power is given to authorities to truly serve those under authority.

Husbands, take note of that.

Yes, the Bible calls for wives to submit and husbands to be the head of the home.

But the point of being the head is to take responsibility to see that what is done is whatever is best for your wife.

The head sacrifices.

The power is given, not for the glory of the man but the good of the wife.

The same is true for pastors.

We pastors can be very tempted to think that the church is all about us.

It’s “My Church.”

That’s “Pastor Matt’s Church.”

No, actually, it isn’t. I have authority here, yes, but it’s an authority that exists to truly serve you.

And if I’m not, then I’m not being a pastor. I’m being an anti-pastor.

My point is that David realized at this time in his reign that his power was given to him for a purpose, a people-purpose.

And we would do well to adopt that philosophy ourselves.

Everybody in authority.

Parents.
Teachers.
Older siblings.
Bosses at work.
Foremen.
Managers.
Church leaders.

Whatever authority we have comes from God and is given for a time for a people purpose–other people than ourselves.

How are we using our power?

There will be a day when David gets this wrong, but today he gets it exactly right.

V.12 again.

“And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom [powerful] for the sake of his people Israel.”

#3. PROSPEROUS.

And by that, I mean both blessed and victorious.  V.13

“After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.” Stop there for a second.

I think we’re supposed to get two things out of this paragraph.

The first is that David was prosperous. His family grew. His dynasty grew. His power in Israel probably grew through marriage alliances.

He was blessed with a full quiver of kids with hard-to-pronounce names.

But I also think that there is a hint here of trouble to come.

Like I said last week, multiple wives may have been allowed but it always spells trouble in the Bible and falls short of the intention of marriage set out in Genesis 2.

I think we might hear a hint of the trouble to come where David is concerned. David is not perfect. He is not a hero to be worshiped. He has feet of clay and women (or at least one particular woman) is going to be part of his downfall.

We’ll keep an eye on that as we progress through the book.

But you can’t say that his family is not prosperous!  Now, verse 17.

“When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold.”

This is another thing that happened early in David’s kingdom, the Philistines heard about his anointing over all of Israel and they got worried and decided to chase after him.

We’re not sure if it’s Acish or one of his successors. It doesn’t say.

If it was Acish, he’s probably kicking himself from here to the moon over this one.

V.18

“Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’ The LORD answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.’

So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, ‘As waters break out, the LORD has broken out against my enemies before me.’ So that place was called Baal Perazim. [Lord Break Out!] The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.”  Probably to the garbage dump.

Now, notice where the prosperity, the victory comes from.

It’s the LORD. He breaks out against David’s enemies.

Notice that David inquired of the LORD before attacking.

That’s been his pattern, and it’s a good one.

Seeking the LORD’s guidance before a major initiative.

But the Philistines aren’t done yet. V.22

“Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.’”

Notice, again that David doesn’t just assume that God wants him to fight or fight a certain way.

He inquires.

And it’s good thing because the LORD’s strategy was different this time.

Circle around this time.

And notice what the marching sound will mean.

“The LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.”

The LORD will be the captain of the army.

He will be in the vanguard.

The LORD doesn’t just send His troops to war. He goes ahead of them!

And David is obedient. That’s the mark of David’s kingdom. Obedience. V.25

“So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.”

Victory in David!

David prospers.

David wins.

By the hand of God.

Notice, again, that David did as the LORD commanded him.

With obedience comes blessing.

David’s kingdom was blessed because David had a heart for the heart of God and that meant that He sought out the LORD’s will and then did what he knew the Lord wanted.

And that’s what we should do, too.

Ephesians 5 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is” (15-17).

And when you understand it, do it!

Are you and I being obedient to the will of the Lord?

Are we inquiring for His guidance in prayer and in the word?

And are we doing what we know He wants us to do?

Because it’s with obedience that comes blessing.

Not that we deserve it. Blessing is all of grace because we don’t deserve anything.

But God loves to match up a heart that wants what He wants and a life that is lived as He wants with blessing upon blessing.

Prosperity–not in many wives and children and houses of cedar and defeated military enemies–not today.

But prosperity where it really counts–peace and joy and hope and love and eternal life and defeated enemies of sin and Satan forever.

That’s prosperity! Not just today but forever.

If you think that David’s kingdom was prosperous, just read about David’s greatest son’s kingdom and how prosperous it will be!

Streets of gold and all that!

Let’s trust in Jesus.

His kingdom is promised and it will come.
His death and resurrection have made that certain!

All we have to do is trust and endure and wait in hope.

His kingdom is powerful. Powerful beyond our imaginings.

And He uses His power for the good of His people which brings glory to His name.

His kingdom will be prosperous beyond imagination and forever and ever.

Let us praise King Jesus!

Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Yes! The Gray Havens Are Coming Again.

I just got off the phone with Dave Radford of The Gray Havens, and we've confirmed April 27th for them to be back in our area as part of their 651 Tour.

Can hardly wait to hear the songs from their new album, Fire and Stone, before its release.  We are big fans of their addictive first album Where Eyes Don't Go.

More details to come.

If you are within a 2 hour radius of us and are interested in hosting a show yourself, contact Dave through their website. Tell 'em Matt sent you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Brian Dainsberg on Resisting Gossip

Pastor Brian Dainsberg of Appelton Alliance Church is blogging about Resisting Gossip.

1. Christianity’s Undiagnosed Malignant Cancer
It’s more widespread than pornography. It’s perpetrated in the hallways of every church. It goes undetected by those committing it. It is Christianity’s undiagnosed malignant cancer: gossip.
Seriously? Malignant? Come on, it can’t be that bad! It is that bad.
One of the reasons this problem is pandemic is it doesn’t come with a warning label. It’s one of those sins you may commit without knowing it. But not knowing we’re guilty of it doesn’t get us off the hook. That’s why resisting gossip is something that requires the greatest diligence. (More.)
2.  Gossip: The Grapevine Continues
As I was writing last week's blog, "Christianity's Undiagnosed Malignant Cancer," I thought I was writing the most boring blog post ever. I was wrong. Apparently, there's an issue there. For some who struggle with gossip, secrets are like candy. They are delectable and savory treats. Why do we do it? (More.)
In this second post, Dainsberg helpfully summarizes chapter 3 of Resisting Gossip emphasizing the 5 main motivations of the gallery of gossips.

Dainsberg is a gifted writer. My favorite line so far is "People are not theme parks. They don't exist for our amusement. People exist for us to love and serve." Amen!

He promises more to come.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "King David"

“King David”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
March 16, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 2:1-5:3

Last week, we ended one sermon series and started another. We finished 1 Samuel which is really just the first part of the big book we call Samuel.  And we started 2 Samuel, and I didn’t even know then what we were going to call this new series.

But I do now. Our series on 2 Samuel will go under the name, “The LORD is My Rock.”

Which is one of David’s favorite things to say. He says it at the end 2 Samuel in chapter 22 as a kind of summary of his life story, and he also says it again and again in the psalms.

So, that’s our title, “The LORD is My Rock.” And I hope that we all grow in our faith and confidence and ability to make that declaration ourselves because we’ve studied 2 Samuel together.

I want us each to be able to say with confidence and joy, “The LORD is My Rock!”

Now, today’s message in this new series is going to be titled, “King David.”

Because that’s what actually finally happens in our story for today.  David is Kinged!

We’ve been chasing after that for a long time, haven’t we?

Our last series was entitled, “A Heart for the Heart of God” which referenced what God thought about David’s heart.

Twenty one sermons on thirty one chapters and David was never made king.

He was anointed by Samuel. He was promised to be king by God Himself.

But he has not yet gotten there until now.

“King David.”

Now, last week, King Saul died and so did 3 of his sons, including David’s friend Jonathan.

So you might be tempted to think that David would automatically become king himself and be accepted as king by all of his fellow countrymen.  Easy peasy!

But if you thought that, you would be wrong.

David was not automatically accepted as king by all of his fellow countrymen. In fact, it was a long, convoluted process with lots of factors, lots of political intrigue, and lots of new important characters involved.

In fact, it’s a little hard to follow who’s who in these 3 chapters!

Who’s on who’s side and when?

I’ll try to make that clear as we go through this. I loved finally sorting it out for myself this week.

And the key is to keep your eye on the prize.

How does the kingdom come?

That’s the key question. How does David actually become King David?

How does the kingdom come?

And, that’s where we will find our applications for today because David’s kingdom was, in many ways, a picture, a pre-figuring picture of King Jesus’ Kingdom. The kingdom of heaven.

And there will be things we see about this kingdom that will find their fulfillment in King Jesus and His Kingdom.

Including how his kingdom came.

And so it applies to us.

Okay? Let’s dive in. Chapter 2, verse 1.

“In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’ he asked. The LORD said, ‘Go up.’ David asked, ‘Where shall I go?’ ‘To Hebron,’ the LORD answered. So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.”

King David!

“[T]he men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed [confirming] David king over the house of Judah.”

That’s exciting!

Notice, that David didn’t assume the throne. He inquired of the LORD if it was time to take up the throne.

Old Saul never did that, and ignored what God said when he did.

This shows again David’s heart for the heart of God.

“What do you want, Lord? Shall I go up?”

“Yes, go up to Hebron.”

David burns all of his bridges with the Philistines and takes up the throne of what?

Judah.

That’s the sad part about verse 4. It’s just the one tribe, Judah, that has made David king so far.

How does the kingdom come?

#1. SMALL AT FIRST.

David’s kingdom comes small at first.

He tries to grow it by reaching out to the men of Jabesh Gilead. V.5

“When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul [remember that last week?], he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, ‘The LORD bless you for showing this kindness [hesed] to Saul your master by burying him. [Good job!] May the LORD now show you kindness [hesed] and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this.

Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.’”

That’s bold. He’s appealing to Saul’s most loyal subjects and inviting them to follow him.

That’s bold! David knows that he is rightfully anointed king and that he was faithful to Saul, so it just makes sense to him.

We actually don’t know whether the men of Jabesh Gilead came over at that point or not. It doesn’t say.

What it does say is that Abner and Israel didn’t. V.8

“Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The house of Judah, however, followed David. The length of time David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.”

We met this guy Abner back in 1 Samuel chapter 14. He is the cousin of Saul.

And he fancies himself a king-maker.

He makes Saul’s son (the one who didn’t die on Mount Gilboa, Ish-Bosheth “Man of Shame” not the most promising name! He makes Ish-Bosheth) the king over Israel.

So, again, these people have two kings.

One king is king by divine calling.

The other one is named king by his first cousin once removed.

How do you think that’s going to turn out?

What I want to emphasize here is that David’s kingdom comes small at first.

And so does Jesus’s Kingdom.

Jesus said that his kingdom “is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31).

He also said it was “like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Jesus’ kingdom often starts small, but it doesn’t end that way!

And I think that should encourage us when we try something for the LORD and it starts out really small.

We start a prayer initiative, and it seems so paltry.

We reach out to a neighbor, and we say, “I don’t know if that did anything.”

I had a some interactions with some people this week, and I thought, “I wonder if that did any good.” It seemed so small.

Well, that’s the way His kingdom comes. Small at first.

Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

David may not have been king over all Israel, but he was king, finally and actually. That’s something.

God loves to work in small ways that become big.

Do you need to hear that today? I did.

His kingdom often comes small at first.

Now, here’s where it starts to get complicated, so I’m going to give you the big point up front so that you can keep your eyes on the ball.

How Does the Kingdom Come?

#2. NOT BY MIGHT.

And by that, I mean not by human ingenuity, intrigue, political wrangling, or treachery.

We’ll see a lot of that in these next few stories. God, of course, works His plan even through all of those things, but they in themeslves are not the way to get God’s kingdom to come.

Now, there are two main characters here that are the generals of the two kings’ armies.

Abner is Ish-Bosheth’s general and Joab (who is David’s nephew) is David’s general.

And here they enter into a blood feud. Verse 12.

“Abner son of Ner, together with the men of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, left Mahanaim and went to Gibeon. [He’s on the move. He’s on the attack.] Joab son of Zeruiah and David's men went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. One group sat down on one side of the pool and one group on the other side. [A stand off.]

Then Abner said to Joab, ‘Let's have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.’ ‘All right, let them do it,’ Joab said. [Representative fighting. Kind of like David and Goliath.]

So they stood up and were counted off–twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David.

Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent's side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.”

You can see how this is. Blood everywhere. Israelites fighting Israelites.

Who won?

Nobody one. 24 young men are dead. More to come.  V.17

“The battle that day was very fierce, [it didn’t end with the 24. It started with them.] and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by David's men.

The three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab, Abishai and Asahel. [David’s nephews. Zeruiah was David’s sister.] Now Asahel was as fleet-footed as a wild gazelle.

He chased Abner, turning neither to the right nor to the left as he pursued him. [Asahel figures that if he can take out the general, he’ll win the army.]

Abner looked behind him and asked, ‘Is that you, Asahel?’ ‘It is,’ he answered. Then Abner said to him, ‘Turn aside to the right or to the left; take on one of the young men and strip him of his weapons.’ But Asahel would not stop chasing him.

[I think Abner’s trying to get it to become a fair fight. Asahel may be fast, but Abner is better armed and more dangerous. And Abner doesn’t want to kill Asahel because he doesn’t want to get into a personal family feud with Joab or David for that matter.]

Again Abner warned Asahel, ‘Stop chasing me! Why should I strike you down? How could I look your brother Joab in the face?’  But Asahel refused to give up the pursuit; so Abner thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel's stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He fell there and died on the spot. And every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died.”

I get the idea that Abner wasn’t trying to kill him, but it Asahel basically ran into it.

And now the blood feud begins.

[By the way, this is not the way the kingdom comes.] V.24

“But Joab and Abishai [brothers] pursued Abner, and as the sun was setting, they came to the hill of Ammah, near Giah on the way to the wasteland of Gibeon. Then the men of Benjamin rallied behind Abner. They formed themselves into a group and took their stand on top of a hill. [High ground. Tactical advantage.]

Abner called out to Joab, ‘Must the sword devour forever? Don't you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their brothers?’

Joab answered, ‘As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued the pursuit of their brothers until morning.’

So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore.

All that night Abner and his men marched through the Arabah. They crossed the Jordan, continued through the whole Bithron and came to Mahanaim. Then Joab returned from pursuing Abner and assembled all his men. [And counted heads.] Besides Asahel, nineteen of David's men were found missing. But David's men had killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites who were with Abner. [Decisive victory there.] They took Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. Then Joab and his men marched all night and arrived at Hebron by daybreak.”

It’s not over though. Chapter 3.

“The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. [That’s important. The kingdom is coming, just slowly and piece by piece.]

Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream the son of David's wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.”

Busy guy!

I think the point of this genealogy here is to show how ascendent David is.

He multiplies heirs. His dynasty grows. His alliances grow, with other nations.

Now, that’s not to say that this was a wise strategy, making multiple marriages.

Every time in the Bible there is more than one wife, there is major strife. It may have been permissible, but it was not the ideal started in the Garden of Eden.

I don’t think we’re supposed to be proud of David’s marriages, but we are supposed to see how powerful he’s becoming.

And someone else is becoming powerful, too. And it’s not Ish-Bosheth. V.6

“During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. [He’s the power behind the throne. But the diminishing power on the throne feels threatened, so he broadcasts a sex scandal. V.7]

Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, ‘Why did you sleep with my father's concubine?’

[You’re making a play for the throne, aren’t you?]

Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said and he answered, ‘Am I a dog's head–on Judah's side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven't handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman!

May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the LORD promised him on oath and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David's throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.’

Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.”

Oops. That didn’t work.

Now, I think that Abner is an opportunist. He isn’t looking out for David or for the LORD’s promise.

He’s looking out for Abner.

And he uses this as an excuse to defect to the other side. Maybe he can become a powerful general there.

Maybe he can bring the two kingdoms together under David and become the power behind that throne!

[By the way, this is not the way the kingdom comes.] v.12

“Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, ‘Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.’ [Alright. We can talk.]

 ‘Good,’ said David. ‘I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.’

[Why would he want Michal?

Maybe for a son. If he and Michal had a baby, the baby would be Saul’s grandson and that could unite the kingdom.

Because David was still legally Michal’s husband. V.14]

Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, ‘Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.’ [And Ish doesn’t seem able to say no to anybody.]

So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her [supposed] husband Paltiel son of Laish. Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go back home!’ So he went back.

Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, ‘For some time you have wanted to make David your king.

Now do it! For the LORD promised David, 'By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'’

[Abner knows the prophecies. He’s been fighting them up till now, but now he’s preaching them, because it fits his desires.]

Abner also spoke to the Benjamites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin wanted to do.”

Here comes the deal. There’s a big deal in the works.

But there’s just a little problem. And it’s name is Joab. V.20

“When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. Then Abner said to David, ‘Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a compact with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.’ So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

[Safe conduct. The deal is on.]

Just then David's men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.

When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.

So Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone!

You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.’

Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it.

Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.”

That’s treachery.  He had safe conduct from the king. He was in Hebron which was even a city of refuge.

But Joab was livid and vengeful.

And this puts the kingdom deal at risk, too, doesn’t it?

The northern kingdom will assume that David is behind this and back out of the deal to make him king.

But David is wise, and shows himself kingly. V.28

“Later, when David heard about this, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father's house! May Joab's house never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.’ (Joab and his brother Abishai [we find out here] murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)

Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, ‘Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.’ [You must.] King David himself walked behind the bier. [Chief mourner.]

They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner's tomb. [He’s been on the other side until now!] All the people wept also. The king sang this lament for Abner: ‘Should Abner have died as the lawless die? Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered. You fell as one falls before wicked men.’ And all the people wept over him again. Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!’

All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day all the people and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.

[That’s not how the kingdom will come! Murder is not the answer. That’s not how a man after God’s own heart does things!

Now, one day not too long from now we’ll see a day when David does do just that.

But that was not right. And it was not the way that the kingdom was to come. V.38]

Then the king said to his men, ‘Do you not realize that a prince and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!’”

Apparently, David didn’t think that he had enough power to execute his generals, but he did discipline them strongly, curse them, put them in their place, and ask God to bring them to justice.  In time, we’ll see how that turns out.

So, David is on the rise. Ish-Bosheth is going down. And here’s how. Chapter 4.

“When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. [What’s going to happen next?]

Now Saul's son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands. One was named Baanah and the other Recab; they were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite from the tribe of Benjamin-- Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have lived there as aliens to this day.”

Okay, these two guys.  Baanah and Recab.

But first, is Ish-Bosheth the last heir of Saul?  No, there is one more. V.4

“(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth.)”

That’s a little bit of foreshadowing of a great story yet to come.

And it also shows how weak Saul’s family has become. V.5

“Now Recab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah slipped away. [Brave guys who kill a sleeping man!] They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah.

They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, ‘Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to take your life. This day the LORD has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.’

[How do you think David is going to react?]

David answered Recab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of all trouble, when a man told me, 'Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news!

How much more–when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed–should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!’

So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner's tomb at Hebron.”

Guys, that’s not how the kingdom comes!

That’s not how the kingdom should come!

Injustice?
Murder?
Machiavellian schemes?
Intrigue?
Politics?

No!

“Not by might, nor by power, but my Spirit says the Lord.”

That’s not how the kingdom comes.

Not Abner’s way.
Not Joab’s way.
Not Baanah and Recab’s way.

That’s not a heart for the heart of God!

How might we apply this to our lives today?

I mean, I doubt that any of us here are planning to murder anybody to bring in the kingdom. I hope not!

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place" (John 18:36).

He told Peter to put away His sword and then healed that chopped off ear.

His kingdom doesn’t come through our human power plays.

The crusades in the middle ages were not the way to bring the kingdom of God to the world.

And it’s true of politics today.

Sometimes we erroneously think that if we could just elect the right people, the right godly people[!], then God’s kingdom would come right here.

Now, I’m not saying that we should try to elect godly leaders, but that’s not the way the kingdom comes.

Not where we should put our trust.

Whatever ways we try to pull a power play and use human ingenuity and fleshly wisdom to bring in the kingdom, we are short-circuiting the kingdom!

Pastors, like myself, can be tempted to manipulate people to accomplish our goals–even good goals, kingdom goals!

But we must use kingdom means to achieve kingdom goals.

Verse 9 is really key.  David says, “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of all trouble.”

The LORD has saved me. He’s delivered me.

I’ve got to do things HIS WAY.

Are you doing things His way?

That’s why David cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies up on the billboards.

It was to say, “That’s not how we’re going to do things in this kingdom!”

Injustice will not reign!

We’re going to do things the LORD’s way.

He’s saved us, so we’ll let Him call the shots.

How does the kingdom come?

Not by (human) might or political power.

But...

#3.  BY THE PROMISES OF GOD.

Chapter 5.

“All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'’ When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.”

The important thing to see is v.2 where the people of Israel admit that they have been wrong and proclaim that God has promised David the kingdom.

“And the LORD said to you, 'You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”

That’s how the kingdom comes.

It comes by the sure and certain promise of God.

King David!

And how much more is this true of King Jesus?

Psalm 110.

“The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” (v.1)

The LORD has promised that King Jesus will reign forever and ever.

And LORD always keeps His promises.

It may not seem like it yet.

The kingdom starts out small at first.

And it doesn’t come through our human machinations.  Our efforts.

But it’s coming. Oh, it’s coming.

You can be sure of that.

And the key is to be on the right side of that kingdom.

To trust in that King and believe that He won the Kingdom by His own blood.

And that He has been raised to indestructible victorious life.

And to lay down our arms and embrace Him as Lord.

As our Lord.

The kingdom comes by the sure and certain promises of God.

The great and precious promises of God.

Believe them. Trust them. Put your confidence in this King.

Sing with the seventh angel of Revelation 11, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

He is Lord.

Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Crazy Busy" by Kevin DeYoung

My review of Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung is posted at the Next Step Resources book blog.

It starts like this:
I was almost too busy to read or review this book. But I needed to.
My last year has been “crazy busy.” Life has been more than full of ministry, family, and publishing. I have a hard time saying “No” to a good opportunity, and I’ve “written some checks that my body can’t cash.” It’s been hard to know what to back off of and what to barrel into.
Kevin DeYoung has the same problem (probably more so). He writes about the problem of busyness as a fellow-struggler, not from the perspective of one who has life perfectly managed. In Crazy Busy, DeYoung shares what he’s been learning–and it’s really helpful. In ten quick chapters, DeYoung writes meaningful reflections on the dangers of busyness, the importance of setting limits and priorities, and establishing a rhythm of rest and daily worship.
Read the whole review.

***

Thanks to Next Step Resources for the free book and for publishing my review.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

And the Winner Is...

...Ann Beaulieu!

Congratulations, Ann, for winning a free hardback copy of What's Best Next by Matt Perman.

(And it goes to show that sharing the contest with your networks of friends really does increase your chances of winning. Ann shared it out and had 5 chances in the hat. Her name was picked out at random by my daughter five minutes ago.)

This is a groundbreaking book. Buy it today at Amazon or WTSBooks (only $11!).

Read my interview with Matt Perman about What's Best Next.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sunday, March 09, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"

“How the Mighty Have Fallen!”
A Heart for the Heart of God: The Message of 1 Samuel
1 Samuel 31:1-2 Samuel 1:27
March 9, 2014

Today is, finally, our last message in our series on 1 Samuel which we’ve been calling, “A heart for the Heart of God.”

And, strangely enough, it’s the first message in our next sermon series which will be on (surprise, surprise) 2 Samuel!  And I don’t know yet what we’re going to call that series.

I’ve been wondering whether we’d stop after 1 Samuel or continue right on, but studying for this week’s message decided it for me.

As I was studying chapter 31, it became really clear to me that you have to read 2 Samuel 1 with 1 Samuel 31. They just go together. So, we’re going to do both under this title, borrowed from David himself, “How the Mighty Have Fallen!”

Today, the cliffhangers are over.

You may or may not remember where we have been in this story (it’s been a few weeks), but the narrator has been jumping back and forth between the two anointed kings of Israel: Saul and David.

And last time, we saw what happened to David. He got out of his bind. He did not have to fight alongside Achish against King Saul. His family and his men’s families were all kidnapped but then all rescued.
So, David’s cliffhangers ended with deliverance, salvation. He was chased but not caught once again.

But the fate of the other anointed king is still hanging out there on the cliff.

When we last saw King Saul, he was slinking away at night from the medium at Endor who had called up dead Samuel who had promised that tomorrow Saul himself would die.

And now, the author of this book tells us what happened the very next day. Chapter 31, verse 1.

“Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.’ But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.”

How the mighty have fallen.

Here’s how the cliffhanger ended for Saul–badly.

Everybody died.

I don’t think that verse 6 means that all of Saul’s men died (v.7 makes that clear). But probably his entire elite guard did.

Achish and company were triumphant.

Saul and his men lost the battle and lost their lives.

This is a chapter of death.

And the greatest tragedy is the death of Jonathan, isn’t it?

Everything we’ve seen about Jonathan was good, and now he’s gone.

And, of course, so is Saul. He finally died. Hit by at least one arrow, he knew that he was done for, so he asked his attendant to kill him.

His attendant, taking a page from David’s book, is too afraid to lay a hand on God’s anointed, so Saul takes his own life. V.7

“When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.

They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. [Yeah! Our gods have won. Dagon has won again!]

They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. [2 Chronicles 10:10 says that it was also the temple of Dagon.]”

What a shame! What a shame to the name of YHWH that His own anointed king was killed, stripped, beheaded, and nailed to the wall in Dagon’s temple.

But think about this–this was God’s doing.

It wasn’t Dagon that prevailed here, no matter what the Philistines said.

This was the LORD keeping His promises and His threats.

I’ve got three applications of our passage for today, and this is the first one:

#1. BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS.

Saul never seemed to believe what God said.

He was half-hearted when he was at his best and no-hearted most of the time.

We’ve seen again and again that David takes God seriously.

David was a man after God’s own heart.

He had a heart for the heart of God which meant that he believed what God told him and therefore obeyed what God commanded.

But Saul never seemed to get that.

The prophet Samuel would tell Saul what God had said, but then Saul would just decide to go and do things his own way.

But this is what God said would happen if he did.

Isn’t it?

Over and over again we’ve seen God promise this disaster to Saul.  The last time was when the prophet Samuel dropped back in from the dead to say, “The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors–to David. Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines” (1 Samuel 28:17-19).

Believe what God says.

Because He means it.

God carries out His threats.

And God is faithful to keep His promises.

Even if, for a short time, He gets a bad name!  The LORD is willing to let it look like Dagon and the Ashtoreths can beat Him [!] while He carries out His promises.

And that’s saying a lot.

Do you need to be reminded today to believe what God says?
Satan has been trying, since beginning, to undermine our confidence in God’s Word.

The serpent said to Eve, “Has God really said...” that?

And today, he says, “Can you really trust the Word of God?  Is it really something you can bank on?  Maybe you ought to hedge your bets a little. Spread your faith around.”

What promises (and what threats) from God’s word do you need to trust in again today?

Believe what God says, because He means it and He always keeps His promises–even His threats.

Now, this is a sad chapter, but there is a sweet moment at the very end. V.11

“When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard of what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their valiant men journeyed through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them.  Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.”

Does Jabesh Gilead ring any bells for you?

It didn’t really for me. I had to study this deeply to get it.

But Saul rescued the people Jabesh Gilead in chapter 11 of this book.

It was the high point at the very start of his kingship.

And it’s fitting that those he rescued when he was at his best showed up to rescue his body and bury him when he was at his worst.

Okay. Now, how do you feel?

Are you pleased that Saul is finally dead?

Relieved for David?

Maybe ready to do a little happy dance on Saul’s grave?

We can’t stop in the first book of Samuel, we’ve got to turn the page and see what David felt and did when he found out about Saul and Jonathan.

2 Samuel chapter 1.

“After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days.”

You see where we are? Back to David. Back to the joy he felt at finding his family and defeating the enemies of Israel, the Amalekites.

Back to Ziklag for a 2 day party! And then, verse 2.

“On the third day a man arrived from Saul's camp, with his clothes torn and with dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.

‘Where have you come from?’ David asked him. He answered, ‘I have escaped from the Israelite camp.’  ‘What happened?’ David asked. ‘Tell me.’ He said, ‘The men fled from the battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.’

Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, ‘How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?’ ‘I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,’ the young man said, ‘and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and riders almost upon him.

When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, 'What can I do?'‘He asked me, 'Who are you?' ‘'An Amalekite,' I answered. ‘Then he said to me, 'Stand over me and kill me! I am in the throes of death, but I'm still alive.'

‘So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.’”

Now, we’ll talk about this guy’s story in a second, but just think for a moment what your reaction would be to this news.

And then think, how would a person who has a heart for the heart of God respond to this news?  And look at verse 11.

“Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”

Not just for Jonathan!

Not just for the army.

Not even just for their fellows Israelites.

But for Saul, too.

Wow. What respect. What honor. What loyalty. For God’s anointed.

“They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”

Now, a word about this guy’s story. I think it has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

He’s an Amalekite who just so happens to be around when Saul is dying and instead of dragging him off, he finishes him off and strips the body of his crown and royal arm band and just so happens to bring it all the way to David.

Sounds like somebody angling for a government job to me.

“Give me a reward!”

And we know, because the biblical narrator told us in chapter 31, how Saul really died. This guy’s lying.

Opportunistic lies.

But David doesn’t know what we know. He believes him.

And this guy doesn’t know David. He doesn’t know how David feels and how David thinks.

He expected a warm welcome, but he gets something else entirely. V.13

“David said to the young man who brought him the report, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite,’ he answered. David asked him, ‘Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?’ Then David called one of his men and said, ‘Go, strike him down!’ So he struck him down, and he died.”

Here’s application point #2 this morning.

#2. DON’T CUT CORNERS.

Do you remember we learned about that in the last two months?

David had more than one opportunity to lift his hand against the LORD’s anointed.  And one time, he even cut the corner of Saul’s robe and then immediately regretted it.

Remember?

And we learned that sometimes it’s very tempting to not go the long way around in God’s will, but to short cut across God’s will and cut the corner.

To get impatient with God’s way and decide to just do it ours.

We said things like yelling at our kids, or taking cheapshots at our spouses, or sleeping with our boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage, or escaping into drunkeness, drug use, or pornography are all examples of cutting the corners of God’s will.

For this guy, it was actually lying to get to try to please David and get rewarded.

Instead of doing good deeds and hoping to get noticed, he tries to win David over with a fake story, with bringing him a crown, and with claiming to have killed David’s opponent.

But David says, “Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?”

“Why were you not afraid?”

Where was the fear of God?

Why weren’t you concerned about what God thought?

While you were cutting those corners?

Saul’s armor bearer was afraid to kill Saul.

David was afraid to kill Saul!

“Why were you not afraid?”  You should have been. V.16

“For David had said to him, ‘Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, 'I killed the LORD's anointed.'’”

“Why weren’t you afraid?”

I think we need to hear that question when we are tempted to do something we know is outside of the LORD’s will.

He’s clearly said it right here, but we think we know better.

Why aren’t we afraid?  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Don’t cut corners.

This is a sad story. 2 Samuel actually begins to pick up after this, but it starts with this  sad, sad story with difficult lessons to learn.

But that’s okay. A lot of the Bible deals with sad stories so that we can know how to deal with our sad stories. Because really life is not always happy, happy, happy.

The rest of chapter 1 of 2 Samuel is a sad song that David wrote because of what happened on Mount Gilboa. Verse 17.

“David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):

‘Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!

‘Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

‘O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul–no longer rubbed with oil.

From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.

‘Saul and Jonathan–in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

‘O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

‘How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.

‘How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!’”

#3. LEARN TO LAMENT.

I’ve always seen that David knows how to (v.17) take up his lament.

He knows how to grieve. He’s a psalmist. He knows how to write a sad song, and we need sad songs.

But I never noticed until this week that in verse 18, David makes his soldiers (the men of Judah) learn the lament of the bow.

Saul got caught by the archers of the Philistines, so David wrote the lament of the bow.

And he made his men learn it!  That’s significant.

Why did they have to learn David’s sad song?

Well, for one thing, David wanted them to remember how it felt to lose to the Philistines so that they wouldn’t next time.

Kind of like, “Remember the Alamo!” Remember how that felt, we don’t want to do that again.

But that’s not the feel of this passage. That’s not the most important thing.

The most important thing is to express your grief in a godly way.

Someone who has a heart for the heart of God will express his grief in a godly way.

He will know how to lament.

And if he doesn’t know how, he will learn.

As followers of Christ, we need to learn how to lament. How to be sad.

We need to learn how to be sad well.

We’re not always that good at it.

Unfortunately, many Christ-followers have been given the impression that being a Christian means smiling all the time.

But our Savior was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

And our Christians lives are not just full of happiness and felicitousness all day long.

There is a lot of life that just plain stinks–and nothing worse than the death of our loved ones because we’re separated from them for who knows how long.

We need to learn to lament.

Listen again to David’s song of the bow. V.19

“‘Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!”

It hurts! This is bad! God, you know it.

Your glory lies slain. What an evocative way of talking!

“How the mighty have fallen.” How sad it is.

Sometimes you just have to tell God how sad it really is.

Then he tells Israel to not broadcast it outside of Israel. V.20

“‘Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.”

Man, this hurts. God’s glory is undercut by this. It looks like Dagon has won. I wish they didn’t have to party at God’s expense.

The anointed one has fallen. V.21

“‘O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul–no longer rubbed with oil. [No longer anointed with oil.]

From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.”

They gave it their best, even if it wasn’t good enough.

“‘Saul and Jonathan–in life they were loved and gracious [that’s being kind to Saul, but its very true of Jonathan, and they stuck together that day], and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

[Go ahead and cry about it!]

‘O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold. [When he was at his best, he was God’s blessing on Israel. It’s true. Go ahead and weep.]

You know, sometimes people need to be given permission to cry.

Guys, especially.

Guys, you may cry. Don’t be a baby.

But be real men and allow yourself to grieve over what is truly grievous.

‘How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”

In what way? It’s obvious. Jonathan was an amazing friend to David.

He was so incredibly loyal.

Jonathan should have been David’s enemy.  But instead, he chose to be second fiddle to David.  Instead of his rival for the throne, Jonathan made a covenant with David and did not break it even when it meant trouble between him and his dad!

David had not yet met a woman with loyalty like that.

Certainly not his first wife, Michal.

They were like brothers even though they should have naturally been enemies.

Jonathan always strengthened David in the LORD.

And now he was gone.

It’s okay to cry over that. It’s wrong if you don’t.

V.27, “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!’”

We need to learn to recapture the art of lament.

Because life is not happy, happy, happy all the day.

So many of the Psalms are Psalms of lament.

God has given us an entire language of sadness for Christians to take advantage of.

Let’s learn to lament.

Let’s learn to believe what God says, including His threats.
And let’s learn to fear Him and not cut the corners around His will.

And let’s learn to express our grief in godly ways, not pretending that all is well all the time. Because it’s not.

Let’s learn to lament and be like our Savior who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

***

A Heart for the Heart of God

01. Hannah's Prayers
02. Those Who Honor Me I Will Honor
03. Speak, LORD, for Your Servant Is Listening
04. God In A Box
05. Who Can Stand in the Presence of the LORD, This Holy God?
06. Be Careful What You Ask For
07. "Go and Look for the Donkeys."
08. From Here On
09. Who Knows?
10. How to Grieve the Lord
11. The Lord Looks at the Heart
12. The Battle Is the Lord's
13. May the LORD Be With You
14. The Fugitive
15. Cutting Corners
16. A Tale of Two Fools
17. Do the Right Thing
18. He's Still There
19. Turning Away
20. Find Strength in the LORD Your God