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Tag: fear

Saul & the Rare Medium

Two weeks ago, we saw that the Philistines were preparing to go to war against the Israelites. Now of course, that’s not unusual – as you read through the Old testament, it seems these two nations are always preparing to go to war with each other. But this time is a little different. This time, David, the future king of Israel, is preparing to fight alongside the Philistines against the Israelites!

You’ll remember that David had fled from Saul and had found refuge among his enemies – the Philistines. They had accepted him as a defector from Israel and had even given David his own Philistine city to live in – the city of Ziklag – and David lived there for nearly a year and a half with his 600 men and all of their families.

Of course, during all this time, David had been lying to the Philistine King – King Achish – about his true loyalties – and more specifically about his true military expeditions. For those 16 months, David had actually been raiding the enemies of Israel, but he told Achish that he had been raiding Israel itself.

And so Achish was convinced that David had turned against his homeland and would be a loyal Philistine subject for the rest of his life. Therefore, when the time came that the Philistines were preparing a full scale invasion of Israel, King Achish expected David to be a key part of that.

1 Samuel 28 begins like this:

About that time the Philistines mustered their armies for another war with Israel. King Achish told David, “You and your men will be expected to join me in battle.”

2 “Very well!” David agreed. “Now you will see for yourself what we can do.”

Then Achish told David, “I will make you my personal bodyguard for life.”

1 Samuel 28:1-2

It’s seems crazy that King Achish would place so much trust in David – the very guy who killed the Philistine champion Goliath some years earlier! But none the less, at this point, we are left wondering, what in the world will David do now? Will he actually join the Philistines and fight against the Israelites – fighting against Saul and his best friend Jonathan? Or perhaps will David turn on king Achish in the heat of the battle and join forces with the Israelites? Or will something even more unexpected happen?

Well, unfortunately, we’re not going to find out until next week, because at this point, without any resolution, the story shifts the spotlight back over to King Saul.

From verse 3 and on, it’s like an entirely different story as we see how Saul reacts to this imminent battle against the Philistines. Now of course, both stories are woven together and we’ll see that more and more as we go on, but today’s passage will revolve exclusively around Saul.

Now at first glance, verse 3 seems kinda out of place itself. It reads kinda like some random facts that don’t have any apparent connection to the story at all. Let me show you what I mean. Verse 3 reads like this:

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Everybody Loves David

There was a tv show back in the late 90s called ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’. And the title of the show came from the fact that Raymond’s older brother, Robert, believed Raymond was unfairly favoured over him. The way he saw it, Raymond got the cake, and he just got the crumbs. Even in the eyes of their parents, everything Raymond did was wonderful and exciting, everything Robert did was lacklustre and mediocre. Raymond had a successful career, a great wife, and 3 wonderful kids – Robert still lived home with this parents. It seemed even life favoured Raymond over Robert.

And so, in the opening credits of the shows, Robert always remarks with the self-pity of Eeyore, “Everybody loves Raymond.”

And I mention that this morning because in our passage today, we’re going to see Saul take on that same attitude towards David. “Everybody loves David”.

If you were with us last week, you’ll remember how David had just returned from the battlefield after killing the Philistine giant, Goliath. Of course, David wasn’t even in the army at that time. He was just running some errands for his father and he overheard Goliath’s defiant boasting against the Lord and he just couldn’t believe that no one in the entire Israelite army (not even Saul himself) had the courage to fight Goliath and show the Philistines that the God of Israel was not Someone to triffle with!

And of course, you know the rest of the story. With just a sling and a stone, David takes out Goliath, allowing the Israelites to soundly defeat the Philistines and win a great victory for the Lord! 

Then as we saw last week, when David returned from the battlefield – with Goliath’s head still in his hands – he spends some time talking with Saul and his son Jonathan.

And both of them are incredibly impressed with David – especially Jonathan. It seems that David & Jonathan were kindred spirits – men cut from the same cloth. And so Jonathan, a seasoned man of war and next in line for the throne of Israel, takes this young kid under his wing and makes a pact with David. And while we aren’t given the details of this pact, it’s clear through the rest of the story that this is a pledge of loyalty and support and lifelong friendship between David and Jonathan. 

Perhaps most amazingly, through this pact, we see that Jonathan whole-heartily accepts the Lord’s decision that David will be the next king, instead of him – and Jonathan acknowledges this by giving David his robe, his tunic, his sword, his belt, and his bow. It’s an amazing act of servant leadership. Jonathan willingly does this because of his trust in the Lord and because of his love for David.

And that’s about as far as we got last week. Today we’re going to continue to see how life rapidly changed for David in the aftermath of his victory over Goliath – and we’re going see how Saul’s view of David also changed just as rapidly.

It doesn’t take long for Saul to bemoan the fact that “everybody loves David.”

To get us into our passage this morning, let’s start once more at the top of 1 Samuel chapter 18. This will be a bit of a review since we covered this last week, but the chapter begins like this:

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David & Goliath

Last Sunday I told you half of the story of David & Goliath – which really ended up being more like the story of Saul and Goliath. Because by all accounts, that’s how the story should have played out!

David never should even been at the battlefield. Saul should have defeated Goliath weeks before David even showed up. As the king of Israel, it was Saul’s responsibility to lead the Israelites into battle. It was his job to courageously face the enemy and lead his men to victory.

But as it happened, Saul did none of that. As the Philistine giant Goliath strutted in front of the Israelite army both day and night for 40 days, boasting and taunting and mocking them, Saul did nothing but offer a reward to anyone who had the courage to do the task that he should have done. It seems both he and all the Israelites were paralyzed with fear.

I was reading in the book of Deuteronomy this week – and in chapter 20, Moses lays out instructions for what to do when the the Israelites went to war and I just want to read a few of those verses for you this morning. This is Deuteronomy 20, verse 1-4

“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! 2 When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. 3 He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. 4 For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’

Deuteronomy 20:1-4

Even before they entered the Promised Land, Moses assured the Israelites that God’s presence and power would be with them as they faced their enemies – even when the enemy armies were far greater and stronger than their own. But It certainly seems like the Israelites had missed this memo from Moses because as Goliath mocked and taunted them, and challenged them to come and fight, it says in 1 Samuel 17:11…

11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. 

1 Samuel 17:11

Both Saul and all of the army were paralyzed with fear. And interestingly, Deuteronomy 20 addresses that issue as well. If you jump down just a few verses from what we just read, it says:

8 “Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’ Deuteronomy 20:8

It seems like Saul missed that memo too! Fear is contagious – and it’s the last thing you want spreading through your troops before a battle! But Saul certain had done nothing to put an end to the fear that was running rampant throughout his camp.

Fortunately, David had not been in the camp very long. He had only just arrived to bring some supplies from his father and to get a report on how everything was going. And as we’re going to see today, David’s courage was just as contagious as Saul’s fear!

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The Story of Saul & Goliath

I noticed something interesting this week. I have been preaching for over 10 years now and I’ve preached through a lot of different Bible stories. In fact, many of those great Old Testament stories are some my favourite sermons to preach! But as I looked back through my archives this week, I realized that I have never preached through the story of David & Goliath! I’ve touched on many of the other stories of David’s life – David & Jonathon, David & Saul, David & Bathsheba – but never David & Goliath!

So today is going to be a first for me, because in our study of 1 Samuel, we’ve now reached chapter 17 – which includes of course, perhaps the most famous Bible story of them all – the story of David & Goliath.

However, the title that I’ve given to today’s message is actually “The Story of Saul & Goliath” because as you read through the chapter, you see that this story revolves around Saul just as much as it does David. It actually continues the contrast that we saw last week between these two characters.

Because of Saul’s earlier disobedience, God had determined to end Saul’s dynasty and replace him with another – and David was the man that God had chosen. (Although at his time, he was still just a young lad.) But you’ll remember from chapter 16 that Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David at his anointing, and at the same time, the Spirit of the Lord left King Saul.

This is just the first of many contrasts that the author of 1 Samuel will draw for us as we go through these next few chapters. Saul is fearful – David is courageous. Saul is hesitant, David takes action. Saul becomes jealous of David, David remains loyal to Saul. These contrasts will continue for the next 14 chapters – right to the end of the book when Saul is finally killed in battle and David actually becomes king.

But of course, that’s getting ahead of ourselves! We’re not there yet. But this chapter, chapter 17, really begins to emphasize this contrast between Saul and David. And there is a lot of stuff that goes on in chapter 17, so I think I’ll divide this story into two parts. We’ll do Saul and Goliath today and then next week we’ll do David & Goliath to finish up.

So chapter 17 opens up with a familiar scene. It says…

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Meeting Expectations

Listen to this Sermon!Have you ever thought about all the expectations that people put on you? How much of your life is spent trying to meet the expectations of others? Have you ever thought about that?

When I was a kid, there were lots of days when I felt I was being bossed around by everyone. I was told to clean up my room, do my homework, take out the garbage, be nice to your brothers, eat your vegetables, and so on… – and sometimes I wished I could warp through time and suddenly become an adult. Because if I was an adult, no one could tell me what to do. I could do whatever I wanted. All those demands and expectations that people put on me – I wouldn’t have to deal with them anymore.

Are there any teenagers here today that can relate? Anyone looking forward to that day of independence? Well, don’t get your hopes up!

I’ve found that as an adult, I have way more expectations put on me now then when I was a kid. Let me show you what I mean.

For example, when you’re a grown up, you’re expected to pay your bills. You’ll have expectations from the phone company, the power company, the water company, the cable company, the internet company, the gas company, the credit card company. They expect you to pay your bills.

Because of that, you’re expected to get a job. That means that you’re going to have a boss and your boss will expect you to come to work. And not only does he expect you to show up on a regular basis, he expects you to do a good job. He’ll expect you to accomplish a certain number of things each day.

Of course, if you’re married, or even dating, you’ll have a girl that is going to have expectations for you too. She’ll expect you to be thoughtful and helpful. She’ll expect you to spend time with her and take out on dates and such. (I’m speaking from a guys perspective, but you girls know you’ve got expectations on you too!)

When you add kids to them mix, the expectations increase. You’re expected to change their diapers, and calm their crying, buy them food and clothing. As they grow older, you’re expected to take them to school and hockey practice, ballet and youth group. You’ll be expected to love and discipline and nurture them as they grow and become adults themselves.

And even as a grown up, your family will have expectations for you. You’re mom will always expect you to call her on her birthday. You’ll be expected to go to Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners with the rest of your family. You’ll be expected to go to your cousins wedding and your nephew’s graduation.

The government has expectations for you too. First of all, they expect you to pay taxes. They also expect you to obey the laws of the land. They expect you not to drive 140km per hour on the highway.

And then there are all the other little things that our culture expects of us that we probably don’t even think of. People expect us to return their calls when they leave a message. We’re expected to leave a tip for the waiter when we eat out. We’re expected to check our email regularly and carry our cell phone where ever we go.

And if you’re a Christian, the expectations grow even more! We’re expected to go to church each Sunday and volunteer our time. We’re expected to read our Bibles and pray. We’re expected to be good and to avoid sin. We’re expected to win our neighbors to Christ and bring good food to the potluck!

And we could come up with thousands of other expectations that people put on us. And that’s not to say that they are all bad – the vast majority of those expectations are good things. But the truth of the matter is, we will spend most of our lives trying our best to meet the expectations of other people. But we just can’t do it! We can’t possibly meet everyone’s expectations of us. Eventually we will disappoint someone. We will let people down. It’s inevitable.

But I have some good news for you this morning. You see, at the end of the day – when all is said and done – it really doesn’t matter how many of those expectations you met or didn’t meet.

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