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15. Questions in Transition

December 17, 2009

Text:      I Samuel 27:1-31:13

Outline:            I. David Questions God’s Sovereignty      I Samuel 27:1-28:2

II. Saul Questions the Spirits      I Samuel 28:3-25

III. Philistine Rulers Question David’s Loyalty      I Samuel 29:1-11

IV. David’s Men Question His Leadership      I Samuel 30:1-6

V. David Questions His Lord      I Samuel 30:7-8

VI. David Questions the Amalekite’s Slave      I Samuel 30:9-20

VII. Some of David’s Men Question His Justice      I Samuel 30:21-31

VIII. Saul’s Questions are Answered      I Samuel 31:1-13

Context/Discussion/Comments:

I acknowledge this is a long text but it does have a common theme. It is time for a transition; from running to leading, from defense to offense, from servant to King, from Saul to David. For example; consider this a hockey game, David is on defense and has had two chances to score on an open hockey net but has passed the puck instead. The Score is 0 to 0 at the end of the second period. Now David goes to the locker room between the second and third periods. He is tired and frustrated. The referee, God, has not tossed out Saul for unsportsmanlike conduct. I think this describes what has happened up to this point. Now we are ready to play the third and final period.

David fears for his life, takes his men and their families, and flees to Achish, the son of the Philistine king of Gath and asks for asylum assuming that Saul would not pursue him if he was in Philistine territory. Achish gives David and his men asylum in Ziglag. They reside there 1 1/3 years raiding small pockets of Israel’s enemies, destroying all human life and plundering their possessions. When questioned by Achish, David lies and claims to be raiding small Israelite settlements in the Negev. Thus, Achish believes David has changed his loyalty from Saul to himself. As a result, Achish gather his forces to fight Israel and conscripts David and his men to help them in their fight against Israel. This raises a couple of difficult questions.

1. Was it God’s will that David seek asylum with the Philistines?

2. Do you think God approves of David’s deceitful tactics?

I Samuel 27:1 says nothing about consulting God. David is not only fleeing from Saul, he is fleeing from Israel. In a sense , David is questioning God’s sovereignty by his actions. On the other hand, perhaps it was God’s way of giving David a “breather” and a chance to hone offensive skills and discard his defensive skills and at the same time eliminate some small communities in the land given to Israel by God. But David’s deceit does show forth a lack of faith in the sovereignty of God. Deceit is man’s means of survival, not God’s. However, God seems to tolerate man’s deceit against man [Jacob, Rehab, and David even in prior Lessons] but does not tolerate man’s deceit against God [Ananias and Sapphira]. God always is looking at our hearts [I Samuel 16:7].

Saul is terrorized when he sees the huge Philistine army. He inquires of the Lord but hears nothing so he disguises himself and visits a medium to consult with Samuel who is dead. Saul is revealed and so is Samuel. Samuel repeats God’s sentence of removing him as king because he did not obey the Lord when fighting the Amalekites. Saul hears the death sentence for him, his sons, and his army.

The Philistine army gathers in the valley of Jezreel with David and his men in the rear guarding Achish. The Philistine commanders question Achish about David’s loyalty. Achish defends David but succumbs to their demand that David return to Ziglag in order to unify his command and position. Achish informs David of their decision and requests he leave quickly. David argues but obeys.

David and his men reach Ziglag and find it in ruins. All their women and children were gone, taken captive. They all weep over their loss and David’s men discuss killing David. David seeks the Lord for direction and the action to be taken. God tells him to go after the raiders. David and his men leave but 1/3 of his men are left at Besor Ravine because of exhaustion. The others continue the pursuit and come upon an Egyptian slave of the Amalekites who was left to die of exhaustion. David feeds him and asks for his help. David and his men are led to the Amalekite camp, rout them, and retrieve all their families and possessions. David and his men return with their families to those men left behind. Some of David’s men question his plan to divide the spoils with all the men. David emphasizes that all his men are equally valued and important to their objective, establishing loyalty to him. David even shares some of their plunder with Judah. Here we see God using discipline to get David’s attention. I Samuel 30:6b speaks volumes; his strength is in the Lord.

The Philistines rout Israel, killing Saul’s three sons and wounding Saul. Saul asks his armor bearer to kill him but he refused. So Saul falls on his own sword and his armor bearer did likewise. The Israelites in the nearby towns flee and the Philistines occupy them. The Philistines communicate their great victory back home, cut off Saul’s head and take his armor back to their temple as proof. The men of Jadish Gilead [Saul came to their aid after being made king] came to Beth Shan at night and take the bodies down, burn them, and bury them.

Lessons/Applications:

1. We can question God’s sovereignty but we can never change it.

2. Do not trust in “dead spirits” but trust in the “Living Spirit”. One cannot change the past but one can live for the future.

3. Saul seems to make a greater effort in seeking advice from the medium than in seeking advice from God. He is more interested in “saving his skin” than in saving his soul. In times of stress we will seek advice from bankers, insurance agents, lawyers, doctors, friends, relatives, pastors, co-workers, spouses, etc. These are all appropriate. But we must also include God, coming before His throne with an honest, open, genuine, humble, and penitent heart seeking to know and understand His sovereign will.

4. When consulting a “medium” you may hear what you want to hear but, in reality, you already know in your heart what is true. Saul knew what he wanted to hear but was shocked when he heard the truth repeated. Mediums to not have the power to change God’s Will. Remember Balaam and Balak?

5. A continually disobedient heart results in the destruction of one’s soul. The decisions we make today affect us now and forevermore.

6. God can and will use the enemies of His Children and those for whom we have responsibility to redirect our focus and make His purpose clear.

7. Leaders, worldly and spiritual, are not perfect. Look into their hearts before seeking their removal. True good and Godly leaders are more concerned about others then themselves. Discernment is difficult but required for making the right decisions.

8. When questioning the Lord, be prepared to follow through in obedience.

9. When in the process of resolving a crisis, always stop what you are doing and care for those in the pathway. Caring for others leads to answers and solution in times of crisis thereby speeding ones recovery.

10. Give thanks where it is due. The decisions one makes to value people are critical to the development of loyalty and unity. Equality coupled with generosity gains loyalty and respect. Share your possessions, share your principles, and share your faith. Practice what you preach and never compromise your principles or your faith.

11. Honoring an earthly king or ruler can bring death. Honoring the King of Kings can also bring death. But only the King of Kings can guarantee victory over death. Death is real, but so is victory over death for those who place their trust in God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

12. Regardless of the circumstances, always pay your respect to those who have come to your aid whether it was great or small. Thanksgiving is never out of season.

Concluding Thoughts

STUFF HAPPENS when you lose your focus.

STUFF HAPPENS when you have a focus.

When STUFF HAPPENS:

The man of faith has HOPE, whereas

The man who lacks faith expresses HOPELESSNESS.

     God is willing and able to restore us even after we have ignored His Will. But we must seek Him with humble and penitent hearts; seeking His Will and not our own; seeking His strength; placing Him on the throne of our lives.

One cannot know God’s Will without having God’s Spirit within. Get right with God first, then seek His Will. God answers our prayers, not our questions. God refuses to hear us and advise us when we approach Him concerning our own agenda; desiring to hear a result based on our own strength; wanting to remain on the throne of our lives instead of letting Him be King.

We ask “Why does David seemingly get a free pass from God for his disobedience [or lack of trust] whereas Saul did not?” The only reason I know is this:

David returned to the Lord Seeking His Will

whereas

Saul returned to the Lord seeking his will.

therefore,

Guard Your Heart.

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