Stages of Growth: “Celebrating Myself” – 2 Samuel 24

The end of David’s biography in the Bible is not about how GOOD a man or a king he was, but rather a series of stories of how God redeemed a flawed man and watched out for him with great friends and honest prophets. The story of the founding of the Temple fits this time and this pattern.

David had many great days of following God, but near the end of his reign, he began to believe his own press. His success went to his head, and his pride led him to folly. The outcome was a costly lesson to him that exposed a deep truth of God – the true meaning of repentance and obedience.

Key Principle: Repentance is not simply deciding I am wrong in what I did. It is not tears over how bad I feel about what I did. It isn’t even crying out loud that I am wrong and despicable. Real repentance is surrender to God’s way in the inner most part of me.

I. The ego trip: five steps down (24:1-9).

David opened himself to sin (24:1; cp. 1 Chron 21:1). Note: The Lord once again turned his face from Israel (as in 21:1 and the story of Gibeon’s revenge) when David opened his heart to Satan’s stirring (1 Chron 21:1) and David ordered a military census to rejoice over what David had accumulated and to give him a man made security over an impending trouble. James 1:13 – God doesn’t tempt!

David drew others into his sin (24:2)

David turned off godly counsel (24:3). It has been my experience that we find it easy to block out godly counsel and quickly forget what we heard when we DO hear it. We have selective hearing and selective memory. An older couple had trouble remembering common, day-to-day things. They both decided that they would write down requests the other had, and so try to avoid forgetting. One evening the wife asked if the husband would like anything. He replied, “Yes. I’d like a large ice-cream sundae with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.” The wife started off for the kitchen and the husband shouted after her, “Aren’t you going to write it down?” “Don’t be silly,” she hollered back, “I’m going to fix it right now. I won’t forget.” She was gone for quite some time. When she finally returned, she set down in front of him a large plate of hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. He took a look and said “I knew you should have written it down! You forgot the toast!”

David ignored nine months of emptiness in distance from God (24:4-8). Problems have a way of growing when we ignore reality. Take this true story from our American past: Every February on George Washington’s birthday, the late newspaper columnist, Frederick C. Othman, used to visit the West Wing of the Smithsonian Institution, look at a certain statue there among the antique printing presses, then reprint this piece in his column as a tribute to governmental  bungling…. “I regret to report that Father of this country looks as goose-pimply as ever – all 11 feet, 4 inches of him – with a sheet around his middle, a laurel wreath on his brow, and his bare toes in the breeze.” I guess you might call this the result of one of Congress’s sorriest experiences with the arts. “It began in 1833, when Horatio Greenough was paid $5000 to sculpt a heroic statue of George Washington for the Capitol’s rotunda. Horatio went to Florence, Italy, and emerged several years later with a 20 ton marble statue. When the longshoremen started to hoist the statue onto a boat, the rope broke and George sank in the mud. The U.S. Navy sent a battleship to Italy, fished George out and took him to New York. Because some railroad tunnels between there and New York weren’t big enough, they took him to New Orleans and forwarded him by deviant routes, without tunnels, to Washington. This artistic enterprise by now had cost some $26,000. “When the statue proved too heavy for the Rotunda, it was quickly moved to the Capitol lawn, where the unveiling came on George Washington’s birthday, 1843. The Navy band tootled, the lawmakers made speeches, the Speaker of the House pulled the string, and sure enough – there was George Washington, twice as big as life, scantily clad as a Roman Senator! “Over Capitol Hill rose a horrified gasp. After weeks of bitter debate, Congress decided to build a wooden shed for $1600 to hide the statue. By 1908, the shed was so weather beaten – and the lawmakers so mortified, that they appropriated a final $5000 to tear it down and haul the semi naked Washington – in the dead of night – to the Smithsonian.” Why did this Frederick Othman visit the Smithsonian every February… and then (every February) reprint this story about this statue? Because in Washington D.C., Othman was constantly exposed to governmental waste and incompetence – AND this story perfectly symbolized the emotions of anger and frustration he felt every time he was exposed to the bad judgment of elected officials.

David got what he wanted – the fruit of his sin (24:9).

II. The sound of Repentance (24:10)

David Realized the Problem (24:10a).
David Took his trouble to the Lord (24:10b).
David Verbally admitted his wrong (24:10b).
David Asked for cleansing (24:10b).

The problem with verbal people is they can sound like they mean what they are saying, even when their heart doesn’t really agree. We must learn how to both obey in the heart, and use our lips wisely. I think you will quickly sympathize with these men who learned to use their mouth well the hard way:

TOP 10 Lame-brained, Foot-in-mouth Compliments from a Husband to His Wife

10. “You look great for a woman who has had four kids.”
9. “This is almost as good as mom used to make.”
8. “Thanks for the new shirt. It’ll be great for working on the car.”
7. “That’s a great new hairdo, Honey. How much did it cost?”
6. “I never knew you could sing that close to pitch.”
5. “I like it when you wait until halftime to vacuum.”
4. “Whaddaya want me to say? Okay, you look fabulous.”
3. “This … meatloaf is a neat color.”
2. “Yes, that actress is beautiful, but you’re pretty on the inside.”
1. “Wow, that makeup works wonders!”

III. The Test (24:11-16). Note: God never tests us so that He can learn anything!

God sent a test to expose David’s heart (24:11-13).

Under pressure, David blurted out his selfishness (24:14). We have an almost unlimited capacity to be selfish. A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagon load of corn. The farmer who lived nearby heard the noise. “Hey Willis!!” the farmer yelled, “Forget your troubles. Come in with us. Then I’ll help you get the wagon up.” “That’s mighty nice of you,” Willis answered, “but I don’t think Pa would like me to.” “Aw, come on,” the farmer insisted. “Well okay,” the boy finally agreed, and added, “but Pa won’t like it.”  After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked his host and said, “I feel a lot better now, but I know Pa is going to be real upset.” “Don’t be foolish,” the neighbor said with a smile, “by the way, where is he?” “Under the wagon,” the boy replied.

Judgment fell all about David, exposing to him his inner sickness (24:15-16).

IV. The Breaking Point (24:17).

David watched in horror as others paid (24:17a). “A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, but sometimes a loving pat won’t bring the desired result.”
Finally he recognized his ego is the problem (24:17b).
David asked for a personal penalty (24:17b).

V. The Redemption (24:18-25).

God didn’t continue the discipline, but gave David something he could work on (24:18).
David obeyed immediately and precisely (24:19).
David had an opportunity to sacrifice personally so that he could accept the grace and restoration of God (24:20-25).

God didn’t need a place to meet. The Tabernacle was already more than 400 years old, and the ark was parked on the high place at Gibeon. Why the building program? Because God gives us an opportunity to be LIKE Him, to participate in the relationship by giving, building and working.He doesn’t ask us to do it because He can’t. He does it for US. In the case of David, he gave him something that would help David visually get back on track. God’s forgiveness isn’t always the issue. Often, the real problem is accepting God’s forgiveness once it dawns on us how despicable we really are!

God offered an outward sign to help David come to the solid realization that his heart was truly open…

Repentance is not simply deciding I am wrong in what I did. It is not tears over how bad I feel about what I did. It isn’t even crying out loud that I am wrong and despicable. Real repentance is surrender to God’s way in the inner most part of me.

Matthew 3 shares the teaching of John the Baptizer: Bring forth fruits worthy of real repentance. Let him who has ears to hear, move from hearing to doing!

Stages of Growth: “The Five Heroes” – 2 Samuel 23

Every generation needs heroes! We need to see role models that stand up to the test of adversity and come through with hope and strength. This morning we reach into the reign of David to meet some of the heroes of a generation and ask, “What makes a hero of these followers of God who served David?” You may be surprised at what you see!

I want to look at something today that will encourage us in a time of battle. In that time we are called to be a good soldier, and a good soldier doesn’t point the weapons at headquarters. It is always a mistake to start saying, Oh, God, why did you do this to me? Oh, God, why did you wreck my car and plug up the washing machine? Why did you make me sick? When the shield is heavy and your having trouble keeping the belt of truth on is no time to attack your commander and chief. God is not the problem. He is the answer. It is time to get a firm grip on the sword, tighten up the belt of truth, and to begin to speak the truth.

You don’t have to panic and you don’t have to fall. Let’s turn in our Bibles to 2 Samuel 23 and meet some heroes on the way to meeting the king they served, and then push on to see the God the King served.

I want to talk about five of David’s mighty men, but I also want to address OUR MEN, and the women that love and depend on them.

Key Principle: God is looking for some heroes, and we need to grow and shape some right here in this room.

A few years ago a study was conducted among Peace Corps volunteers. Researchers took a random sample of volunteers and split them into two roughly equal groups: those who completed their tour commitments and those who returned home early because of “problems of adjustment and conduct (including psychiatric terminations)”. This study was nearly unaffected by the volunteers’ socio-economic background, because the sample showed almost all of them were college graduates from middle-class families. The study asked about their upbringing and their father figure. The researchers did not differentiate between reasons for a father’s absence in the volunteer’s life, but allowed the client to state whether their dad was absent or present, whether “psychological” or physical absence, the age at separation from their father figure, and any other father figures who may have stepped in. An “absent” father was said to be one who was away from the child’s residence, for whatever reason, during at least the child’s tenth through fifteenth years. The results were startling. Of the people who completed their duties, 91 percent came from backgrounds with a father in the picture. Among those who came home early, 44 percent had absentee fathers. The study was repeated, and again there was a wide gap of difference: 14 percent and 44 percent. We’re finding similar results in study after study. The evidence must not be ignored: your children need you. (Ken R,. Canfield, PH.D. The 7 Secrets of Effective Fathers: Becoming the Father Your Children Need. Wheatland Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992. Citation: Peter Suedfield, “Paternal Absence and Overseas Success of Peace Corps Volunteers,” Journal of Consulting Psychology 31 (1967): 424-25.

  1. Yoshev-basshevet the Ta-chemonite who went by the nickname “Adino the Eznite” (2 Samuel 23:8; 13-17).
  1. Eleazer son of Dodo the Ahoahite (of Benjamin; 2 Samuel 23:9-10; 13-17)
  1. Shammah son of Agee a Harrarite (2 Samuel 23:11-12; 13-17).

Everyone else ran away. Everyone else fled from the Philistines, but Shammah was not affected by what everyone else did. It’s important that we don’t let what everyone else does affect what we do. He was determined. How determined are you today to hold on to what God has given, and to claim the blessings that are rightfully ours through the shed blood of Jesus? Maybe Satan is trying to overrun your pea patch where health is concerned. Take the sword to him. Let your hand or heart cleave to the Word of the Lord. Maybe he’s trying to overrun your pea patch where finances are concerned. Satan is a thief. We must be determined to defend our heritage of faith.
If we don’t defend our blessing, the thief will come to steal.

  1. Abishai son of Joab (and David’s sister, Zeruaiah, ie his nephew – 2 Samuel 23:18-20).
  1. Benaiah son of Jehoida, a favorite son of the village of Kabzeel (2 Samuel 23:20-23)

What does the record of these men teach us?

1. They were all out numbered BUT, MIGHTY MEN STAND THEIR GROUND!

  • 23:8 says Adino stood against 800 with only his spear. 800 men came to do battle, and did he stick his head between his legs and run? NOT on your life! He raised his spear and 800 men fell in one encounter!
  • 23:9 says Eleazar whose hand became weary in battle, but his hand clave to the sword, and the Lord gave a great victory. He did battle until he was so tired that his hand froze to his sword.
  • 23:11 says Shammah stood in the midst of a piece of ground full of lentils and defended it. Shammah’s attitude was: “This is my pea patch. It may not be much in anyone else’s eyes, but it is mine. I won’t surrender it to the enemy. Here is the line, and I am not backing up.”
  • 23:18 says Abishai faced 300 armed men and used a spear on them all. He wasn’t as good as the big three, but he had to LEAD them. What a job!
  • 23:20ff says that Benaiah didn’t care if he was fighting a stocky Egyptian or a lion in a snowy pit, he didn’t turn and run in a two on one. He stood his ground in spite of the odds. He was a guy with guts (a hutspan!).

What is our gut reaction when the battle looks unwinable in the flesh? Do we stand our ground and fight or do we run? These men teach us that God uses those who stand for Him even when it looks bad for the home team.

2. They faced strong opposition, BUT MIGHTY MEN DON’T THROW DOWN THEIR WEAPONS in the day of battle.

  • 23:8 says Adino stood on the carnage of 800. The grammar suggests they were sword slain.
  • 23:10 says Eleazar’s hand was stuck to his favorite sword. Just a word here about this man and his victory:

a.) A WEAPON HE HAD CONFIDENCE IN. Eleazar wielded his sword with confidence – it had proven reliable to him time and time again.

b.) A WEAPON HE WAS FAMILIAR WITH. Eleazar, by constant use, had mastered that sword. Before he ever came near the battlefield he had defeated a thousand imaginary enemies – he had practised with it for hours on end. He was familiar with its feel and its weight; he knew what it could cut through, and how much force he needed to swing it with. He knew how to use it both defensively and offensively – he was totally at home using this sword. He was so familiar with it, in fact, that it became just like an extension of his own arm.

  • 23:12 suggests Shammah used something like a club or blunt instrument to hold onto his lentil field.
  • 23:18 chose a spear against 300 warriors.
  • 23:21 says Benaiah used a club to get himself a spear that belonged to his foe.

There really is something uncommon about the courage to stand for one’s convictions when tested. Psalms 78:9 tells of the children of Ephraim how they turned back in the day of battle.

It says: 78:9 The sons of Ephraim were archers equipped with bows, {Yet} they turned back in the day of battle. 78:10 They did not keep the covenant of God And refused to walk in His law; 78:11 They forgot His deeds And His miracles that He had shown them.

At the risk of spiritualizing the story, I have to admit I cannot resist the temptation to the sword analogy:

  • Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
  • Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Too many of my generation have forsaken the sword, and the power is lifting in their lives. They are offering little leadership because they haven’t learned the manual of leadership, and they haven’t spent time with the king they serve. Mighty men know their weapons, and they don’t leave them lying in the car, sitting in the church, laying on the night stand. They are sharpening their use of them, and getting ready for a battle that is coming.

  • Peter admonishes us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).” The enemy has one goal and that is our destruction!
  • “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6: 12).”  Remember THE ENEMY MUST BE OVERCOME!
  • “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (I Peter 5:9).”

We cannot give into the enemy, there is too much at stake. How? We give in my laziness, lacking the presence of mind to look at right things, and away from wrong ones…

3. Other around them fled, BUT MIGHTY MEN DON’T MOVE WITH THE CROWD.

They were not moved by what those around them did. Did you notice ANOTHER COMMON THREAD in several of the stories? Two of our mighty men were left in a lurch when the battle got the hottest:

  • 23:9 says that Eleazar lost his team and they didn’t return until it was time to strip the bodies and get the spoils of the battle.
  • 23:11 tells us the people with Shammah fled before the Philistines when they entered the bean field.

Paul had this happen much later, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might heart it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me form every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:16-18).”


  • 23:8 says that Adino wasn’t going to leave the field to the enemy for God had promised it to Abraham’s sons.
  • 23:10 says that Eleazar was numb and tired by was going to swing until the last enemy fell.
  • 23:12 says Shammah stood smack dab in the center of Israel’s pea patch and said, “Go ahead, make my day!” No Philistine is getting this land!
  • 23:18 says that Abishai wasn’t leaving until all 300 fell to his spear and David his king was safe.
  • 23:20 says that two princes, a lion and an oversized Egyptian fell in front of Benaiah, but he wasn’t giving up the ground God had given His people Israel.

We need a new sense of what God has given us to defend, so we can march out and take our stand! When Don called home from the road one evening, he spoke briefly to his nine-year-old daughter: “Honey, could you get your mommy on the phone?” He then heard Tasha blurt out, as she set the receiver down on the counter: “Hey Mom, the invisible man is on the phone!”
In that moment, even before his wife got on the phone, Don went through a transformation. He couldn’t laugh it off. He had to face the fact: “There’s something more important than achieving success at work. It’s being a dad.” SOURCE: Ken Canfield, PH. D. The Heart of a Father. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1996. Who are you? Will you be the invisible man? OR will you serve the Lord’s mission in your life?

In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, and yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ. He lived a libertine life that most of us would call “dissolute”… but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression. A short story he wrote perhaps reveals the grace that he hoped for. It is the story of a Spanish father who decided to reconcile with his son who had run away to Madrid. The father, in a moment of remorse, takes out this ad in El Libro , a newspaper. “Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana, Noon, Tuesday… All is forgiven… Papa.” When the father arrived at the square in hopes of meeting his son, he found eight hundred Pacos waiting to be reunited with their father. Was Paco such a popular name? Or is a father’s forgiveness the salve for every soul? SOURCE: Rev. Brent Eelman, D. Min. Northwoods Presbyterian Church, 1998.

5. They had opportunity to rest BUT MIGHTY MEN SERVE WITHOUT BEING ASKED TO SERVE THEIR KING (23:13-17).

How selfish can a man be? Men can be pretty selfish (AMEN LADIES?) David wants a cup of what from Bethlehem. Without asking, specifically, So the three mighty men broke through the Philistines lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David (verse 16).” Did you catch that? For a cup of water these men risked their lives!! David didn’t even ask them to do it! They did it of their own volition!

Were they commanded by David to get the cup of water? NO
Were they compelled by duty to get the cup of water? NO
They went because they loved their King.

Some of you are writing off this passage and saying, but Pastor, look, these were extraordinary men. They probably trained for years to become men of battle. They probably graduated from West Point. NO! Remember 1 Samuel 22:1,2 says that there were three classes of these men who came to David in his rejection as King.

1. There were those who came in Distress. The were persecuted by Saul.

2. There were those who were in Debt and about to be sold into slavery.

3. There were those who were Discontented and unhappy with what life had to offer. Life had not been good to them.

There were a lot of men in David’s army. What made these men stand out. What was it that made them different than the rest. All of these Mighty men had one thing in common. They loved the king. They loved him more that their own lives. They were willing to risk and to sacrifice.

6. They fought for God’s program, BUT MIGHTY MEN SEE GOD BRING THE VICTORY.

Isn’t it time we took a stand where our family, our health, and blessing from God are concerned?
Isn’t it time we let our hand cleave to the Sword and say, Devil this is my pea patch. You’re going to have to leave in Jesus name.

1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I want to be one of the few – don’t you. Are you satisfied with just being a Christian? Wouldn’t you rather be a soldier on the front line for your Savior. These mighty men were a picture of the Spirit –filled believer. The Times in which these men lived were:

Times of Great Conflict. – The enemy was out to destroy.
Times of Great Cowardice. – The enemies greatest weapon was fear.
Time of Great Victory. – Thru these men God defeated the enemy.

God is looking for some heroes, and we need to grow and shape some right here in this room.

Stages of Growth: “The Tower I Trust” – 2 Samuel 21:15-22:29

Have you lived with the pressure of a persistent and seemingly insurmountable problem for a long time, and felt overwhelmed by it? So did David. He may have been a king, but he was a king with nagging troubles. Today we’ll hear from his mouth how he saw God’s faithfulness in the defeat of the problem!

The end of the book of Samuel has four chapters that act as an appendix to the book. The appendix includes two major songs of King David, a sin that introduced the building of the Temple, and the two strange stories we are about to encounter.

Chapter 21 has two stories that sound like, “tying up loose ends from the past”. They are not attached to the time in the life of David, but are admittedly strange stories placed together near the end of the book of Samuel. The two stories are:

Last time we looked at five lessons that came from a famine because of Saul’s sin against Gibeon (21:1-14). The lessons were:

  1. Silent suffering isn’t necessary – we can ask God about things that go wrong!
  2. Guessing at God’s will is bad, while seeking God works!
  3. God deals with sin in a consistent way, He doesn’t change.
  4. God deals through unchanging covenants, and wants us to live up to ours!
  5. Trouble can be a great educator to help me see what I wasn’t seeing!

As we wind down the pages of this book, a second story creeps into chapter 21 in verses 15-22. It is the story of another leftover nagging problem of David, followed by a song about the victory God gave him! The story is of the final end to the Goliath of Gath family and their insurrections (14:15-22).

Goliath, with whom David fought at the outset of his military career, had a number of offspring who were left over and needed to be dealt with.

  • David’s fight was a personal one (21:15a,16). David fought battles with this great adversary of God’s people repeatedly. Though he killed Goliath early in his fighting career, even before he was king, yet the Philistines came back and fought again a number of times in his life. We have only a few details about these continued incursions, but we know the problem continued. Remember that David killed Goliath (1 Sam. 17), and took his sword from the field of battle. It was later put back in David’s hands by the priests of Nob (1 Sam. 21:9). David was PERSONALLY hated by Goliath’s family, and that was a persistent sore that wore on him throughout his reign.
  • David wore out from the persistence of the problem, and his age. He needed the strength of his mighty me about him to win the battle (21:15b,17a-22).
  • David found himself celebrating not just what God did in his hands, but what God did through the hands of those around him, in obedience to the Lord and in His strength (22:1-51)

Key Principle: When we cry out, God will rescue us. He sees the truth – all the truth!

The Song of Celebration

Who is our God? (22:2-4)

This is where praise begins. It starts with understanding what God says about HIM, so we can make sense of all of history and our purpose. Knowledge of HIM is the source of our praise! Look at WHO He is (2 Sam. 22:2-4):

  • He is my Rock (Sela’) of Refuge (chawsaw, as in machase). This speaks of a natural place prepared for the warrior without his aid, as a place to hide from the onslaught of an enemy. God has prepared for me places to hide that I did not build. He provides a way of escape from temptation, or a cave when the storm approaches. Even though I didn’t make it, I can use it.
  • He is my constructed battle shield (magen: either battle protection), my constructed fortress (metsadati), my built up high strong tower (misgav) of retreat hideaway of protection (manocee). This speaks of the carefully constructed place of refuge that was built in times of peace, so that in times of war, the warrior could find the special place to stand.

A constructed fortress provides a place of protection. All the strength in the world is useless unless we have the proper protection. Ask General George Custer. “The regiment consisted of approximately 750 officers and enlisted men, and was accompanied by a contingent of about forty Arikara Indian scouts. Also in the column were three companies of infantry and a Gatling gun platoon, all supported by wagons carrying supplies. 2000 rounds of ammunition per company. Each soldier was armed with the single-shot, .45 caliber rifle with 100 rounds ammunition The troopers also carried a .45 caliber, single-action revolver with twenty four rounds of ammunition.” Lots of fire power, Lots of strength, but no fortress to provide protection. And we all know the outcome.

All he needed was a high vantage point and a built place of fortification, and he would be untouchable! In the Battle of Little Big Horn, these would have changed the course of the battle. There was a place near the battlefield called Weir point. It was the highest point along the river and would have afforded Custer an unlimited view of the Indian village had he gone there. For whatever reason, he chose not to go and because of his lack of perspective, he made some fatal choices. No high place, no built fort, no protection.

  • He is my Deliverer (m’pawlati; from pawlat: to be whisked away in a rescue) and Savior (yeshua). This speaks of the time when built defenses fail and no safe place is found, and the cavalry comes in to save the day. He comes when my signal flare is fired, because I have no way to save myself! (22:4).

I would like to give you a homework assignment. Sometime at home…during your time of personal prayer and devotions… Take out a piece of paper and a pen… and begin to look back over your life… think back about those times that God was with you… think back about those times that God answered your prayers… think back about those times that God spoke to you… think back about those times that God intervened in your life… and begin to write about it! Don’t worry if you aren’t a skilled poet like David… But just write down your praise to God… let it flow from your heart. Like I mentioned earlier… it is always good to let people know that you love them… well, let Jesus know that you love Him… and let Him know why… and do it on paper… It will be meaningful to Him… and it will be a blessing to you as well.

Let me share my experience (David sings – 22:5-16)

  • Where I was (22:5-7):
  1. I was being swallowed by waves that overwhelmed me (22:5).
  2. I was dying inside (22:6).
  3. I was in a squeezed place and I cried out to God (22:6).
  • What God did (22:8-25):
  1. He heard from Heaven’s Temple (22:7). God listens when we cry. Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  2. He responded in a storm on earth (22:8-16):
  • The earth shook and trembled (22:8).
  • A storm came with a hamseen wind (22:9).
  • Thick clouds followed (22:10).
  • He blew a mighty wind (22:11).
  • He darkened the sky and brought strong rains (22:12).
  •  Thunder and lightening struck the earth (22:13-15).
  • Eroded cracks formed and were exposed from the rushing waters and sharp winds (22:16).

3. He snatched (lawkhak) me from the raging sea (22:17). **Note that God did not cause me to avoid the pain and squeezed place. He waited for my call, then rescued!

Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down. They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.” Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded. And, according to Paul Harvey, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

4. He set me upon a place that I could not be destroyed even when I was not strong enough to win the fight (22:18).

In the late 1800’s Ira Sankey was very famous for being D.L. Moody’s song leader. On Christmas Eve of 1875, he was traveling up the Delaware River on a steamboat. Some of the passengers recognized him and asked him to sing for them. So, he sang the old hymn, “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” One of the lines in that hymn says, “We are thine, do thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way.” As Sankey finished the hymn, a man stepped out from the shadows. He asked Sankey if he had ever served in the Union Army. He said he had. Then the man asked, “Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?” Sankey was very surprised and said, “yes.” The man looked up at him and said, “I was there too. But I was in the Confederate Army. It was my job to shoot you that night. As you stood there, completely exposed in the bright moonlight, I drew my aim. Then you lifted your head and began to sing the same song you just sang. When you finished, it was impossible for me to take aim again. I thought, ‘The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.’”

  • He upheld me when they could have crushed me on my own (22:19).
  • He relieved me of the tight place and gave me room to breathe well (22:20; ct. 22:7 “distress” which is b’tsar: in a tight squeeze).
  • He spent time delighting in me and hugged me as one He missed! (22:20).
  • He has rewarded me and known that I was clean before Him (22:21-25).
  • What God knows (22:26-**):
  1. He know if our actions toward others are kind (22:26a).
  2. He knows if the surface truth is our real intention (22:26b).
  3. He knows if we have an untainted heart (22:27a).

A little boy was in the grocery store with his Mom. He just happened to be standing next to an open box of chocolate chip cookies. The grocer spotted him and said, “Son what are you up to?”“Nothing,” replied the boy. “Nothing?” questioned the grocer. “Well it sure looks to me like you were trying to take a cookie.” “Well, you’re wrong mister. I’m trying NOT to.”

  1. He is more clever than our attempts to finesse and decieve Him (22:27b).
  2. He knows if we are unfairly hurt, or if we are proud and deceptive (22:28).
  3. He lights up the truth in my life (22:29).

Key Principle: When we cry out, God will rescue us. He sees the truth – all the truth!

Five small boys had obtained permission from their parents to camp outside their small town near a wooded area. They were having a wonderful time until darkness settled in. Then they began to have certain fears and misgivings about their adventure. However, they eventually snuggled down in their sleeping bags under the tent hey had set up. They talked loudly among themselves and laughed a great deal to counteract fear, and were finally settling down then they heard a noise rustling in a nearby bush. They panicked until their flashlight revealed a friendly dog. In the middle of the night the wind howled through the trees making a moaning noise. The rumble of distant thunder kept coming closer on the winds of an approaching storm. The closer the storm came the more they huddled in fear. Then they heard the sound of footsteps outside. A new fear assailed them. But one fellow had the courage to look out under the tent flap and there, lantern in hand, stood his father, who had become concerned for the boys and had come to stay out the rest of the night with the boys. The young boy said: “It’s all right now, fellows, my Dad is here.”

Aren’t you tired of trying to live without your Father to protect you and walk with you?

Stages of Growth: “The Snowball Effect” – 2 Samuel 21

Why do we go through tough times even when we are doing right? Sometimes it seems as though it is getting tougher and more stressful to live modern life. Why? It may have to do with the “snowball effect” of sinful behaviors. As we pass through time, the snowball is growing. We pay for our own trouble making, but also pay indirectly, for the troubles that have been made before us. History bears this out, and so does the Word. Sadly, we still don’t seem to get it…Disobedience has a price that is incalculable to us, and to our children, and our children’s children…

There is hope in our text today. Following the trail of others mistakes can offer us a lesson that saves us pain.

Key Principle: God’s Word offers us a pain-filled portrait to help us avoid the same mistakes.  Education can be gained by experience or example – but example hurts us less!

Today, I want to look at five lessons that will help us learn by example.

The end of the book of Samuel has four chapters that act as an appendix to the book. The appendix includes two major songs of King David, a sin that introduced the building of the Temple, and the two strange stories we are about to encounter. Chapter 21 has two stories that sound like, “tying up loose ends from the past”. They are not attached to the time in the life of David, but are admittedly strange stories placed together near the end of the book of Samuel. The two stories are:

  • A famine because of Saul’s sin against Gibeon (21:1-14). The Israelites made a covenant with the Gibeonites 400+ years before David. King Saul must have convinced himself it was so “old” it really didn’t have a binding force any longer. He and his family tried to stamp them out. His actions brought a famine upon the land of Israel some time after he died. It fell to David to deal with Saul’s covenant breaking and make things right. The Gibeonites want justice and said it was necessary to deliver seven descendants of Saul for something done years in the past, in violation with a covenant that was 400 years old.
  • A final end to the Goliath of Gath family and their insurrections (14:15-22). Stranger still is finding that Goliath, with whom David fought at the outset of his military career, had a number of offspring who were left over and needed to be dealt with.

Lesson One: God doesn’t want us to suffer in silence (21:1). Sometimes you can see things are going right, but not be sure why. We can ASK GOD about his trials (something God reminded later believers to do in James 1:5. (21:1-2).

“The Inquiry” (21:1a): Israel suffered from a three-year long famine, and so David inquired of the Lord to learn why He had sent this famine. (21:1a). David sensed the famine came from the hand of God. The Mosaic Covenant indicated famine would come from God’s hand as a judgment for sin (see Deuteronomy 28:23-24; 2 Chronicles 6:26-31).

To understand the verses let’s think for a moment about the Gibeonites and their city. The Word reveals there was a:

  • Treaty Made: Our author refers to them as Amorites (21:2), but they are more technically known as the Hivites (Joshua 9:1,7;11:19). They lived in Canaan, and God had commanded Israel to annihilate (Exodus 33:2; 34:11; Deuteronomy 7:1-2). Israel was tricked (Joshua 9), under the leadership of Joshua. Though its warriors were among the best (10:2) the Gibeonites believed that God had given the land of Canaan to Israel. They sent a delegation to the Israelites’ camp, pretending to have made a long journey from a distant place. The Israelites made a covenant of peace with this “distant” people. When the Israelites learned that they had been deceived, they wanted to kill the Gibeonites, but their recent covenant prevented them from doing so. And so the Israelites made the Gibeonites their slaves, and made them chop wood and draw water, especially for the house of God (Joshua 9:16-17).
  • Treaty Tested: The Gibeonites’ treaty with the Israelites saved them from death by the Israelites, but it also put them in danger with their fellow-Amorites. When five Amorite kings learned of the defection of the Gibeonites and their alliance with Israel, they viewed the Gibeonites as their enemies. They set out to attack and destroy the Gibeonites (10:1-5). The Gibeonites sent word to Joshua at Gilgal, asking for his help, which they got. Joshua was assured by God that He would give them the victory: “Not a man of them shall stand before you” (10:8). Marching all night from Gilgal, Joshua routed the five Amorite kings with a great slaughter at Gibeon. As they fled from before Joshua, God brought down great hailstones on them, killing more with the hail than with the sword (10:11). Even so, the victory was not complete, and so Joshua prayed that God would cause the sun to stand still, giving the Israelites more time to destroy the Amorites. The sun stood still over Gibeon, so that there has never been a day of battle like it before or since. One can only wonder what these Gibeonites thought as they beheld the hand of God, and as they partook of God’s blessings on His people, the Israelites.

Further, the Word tells us about Gibeon and its “Area Events”:

  • When the Israelites took possession of the land of Canaan, the city of Gibeon was allotted to the territory of Benjamin, and it was also set aside for the Levites (Joshua 21:17). A nearby “high place” (Nabi Samwill) held for a time the tabernacle (see 2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 16:39-40; 21:29). Early in his reign, Solomon went up to this high place to offer sacrifices and God offered to grant whatever Solomon requested (1 Chronicles 16:39; 21:29; 2 Chronicles 1:1-13; 1 Kings 3:4-5).
  • Gibeon was the hometown of Saul’s forefathers (1 Chronicles 8:29-30; 9:35-39). It was also the place where 12 of Ish-bosheth’s men (Saul’s son) engaged in some kind of contest with 12 of David’s men, which turned into a bloody battle (2 Samuel 2:12-17).
  • It was also the place where the “great stone” was located, where Joab met Amasa and killed him (2 Samuel 20:8). Later, when David grew old and Joab foolishly supported Adonijah (against Solomon) as David’s successor, he would flee to Gibeon and cling to the horns of the altar, but to no avail (1 Kings 2:28-34).

Now, 400 years after the Israelites were tricked by the Gibeonites, Israel was being punished…so David called on God, because it was the RIGHT thing to do!

Lesson Two: When we guess and do not ASK GOD what will honor Him in a situation, we create more problems than we solve! (21:1b-2).

“The Answer” (21:1b-2): God answered that it was because of the sin of Saul and his bloody house, a sin against the Gibeonites (21:1b-2). In the Hebrew text: “For Saul, and for [his] bloody house.” Though the law of Moses forbade Israel to punish children for the sins of their fathers: (“Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16), God’s words to David seem to emphasize the fact that Saul did not act alone in seeking to annihilate the Gibeonites. His family became accomplices in this plan. What had Saul done? Apparently, Saul and his house commenced a program of genocide against the Gibeonites and take their ancestral territory into the private inheritance of their father’s family (an honor issue). 21:2 indicates this was attempted out of some misguided patriotism! What a reminder to stick to the script!

One student observed: “Saul just didn’t seem to be able to get it right.” He refused to completely annihilate the Amalekites, whom God commanded him to kill (1 Samuel 15), and he tried to annihilate the Gibeonites, whom he could not put to death. Thinking to do Israel and Judah a favor, Saul brought a famine on the land. We do not know how far Saul got with this evil scheme, nor what stopped him from completing his task. We DO know that Saul’s actions were a violation of Israel’s covenant. Until reading about it in this text, we would never have known anything about Saul’s bloody scheme.

Saul never seemed to fail to get it WRONG. Most of it he did by guessing at God’s will, instead of asking for it and listening when God revealed it!

Lesson Three: God has consistent principles in dealing with sin, and has revealed them to us! (21:3-6). Here are some of those important principles:

#1) Sin gives away reward of God.  “The Inquiry” (21:3): David knew he must make atonement and needed the blessing of the Gibeonites to regain God’s favorable blessing in the removal of the famine. The Gibeonites must “bless” (release) Israel, the people of God, in order for God to once again bless Israel. When the believers sinned against non-believers, God removed His blessings and withheld their prosperity – until the made right the people they cheated. Even though the believers still knew God, He was not going to bless them the same way until they tried to make it right.

#2) Sin gives away control of my future course. (21:4) David called the Gibeonites and asked what he should do to make this matter right. The Gibeonites made it clear that it was not money they wanted. Just a note here: When we wrong people, it is not what WE feel will make it right that counts the most, it is what THEY feel. That is one of the profound penalties of sin. We become the servant of those who we have hurt, and surrender the blessing and power over all rectification.

#3) Sin’s judgment isn’t partial. God doesn’t play favorites in the sow and reap principle of life. He did not excuse or overlook the sins of those He chose. He did not condemn the Canaanites for their sins and then condone the same sins among His chosen people, Israel. (21:5-6) The Gibeonites told David that since Saul destroyed some of them and purposed to kill them all, they would find justice served if but seven of Saul’s “sons” were handed over to them for execution. They would hang these sons “before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD” (verse 6). Hanging was the punishment used for very serious crimes (see Genesis 40:19; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Joshua 8:29; 10:26). The Gideonites promised they would hang Saul’s sons “before the LORD.” It seems to me that they were viewing this matter as they should, seeing that they were carrying out God’s will in a way that satisfied (propitiated) Him, and thus satisfied them as well. They would carry out the execution before the city of Saul, before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul. The Gibeonites made a point of referring to Saul as “the chosen of the LORD.”

#4) Sin’s judgment isn’t my job! It is God’s business and His authorized agents alone! (21:6b “the king said”). The Gibeonites didn’t bring about the judgment of God, God brought out the righting of the wrong for them. This was not a vengeful hatred; it was a careful justice. I know that because they didn’t initiate the judgment, they waited until asked and acknowledged (even in their hurt) the position of Saul as “God’s chosen one.”

God says:

  • “If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious” (Exodus 22:26-27).
  • Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (James 5:4).

#5) Sin’s judgment will arrive. It may not come immediately, but it will come (21:6b “I will give them”). Saul’s “sons” were selected. Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, was spared because of David’s covenant with Jonathan. The two sons of Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, are executed, along with the five sons of Saul’s daughter, Merab. The Gibeonites took these seven men and “hanged them in the mountain before the LORD” (verse 9). The execution took place at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Lesson Four: God takes covenant agreement seriously (21:7-9).

David restricted the sons taken based on his covenants, and then gave the Gibeonites the seven sons as requested by the Gibeonites (21:7-9). They were not murdered, they were executed by legal command of the authority.

This illustrates the serious nature of a covenant in Scripture. David’s dealing with the Gibeonites, at its root, is a matter of keeping covenants. Israel had made a covenant with the Gibeonites. Even though this covenant was 400 years old, God still took it seriously. Saul broke that covenant by trying to rid the land of them. No matter how good his intentions might have been, the covenant should have been kept. The breaking of that covenant had serious consequences for Saul’s family and it brought a famine on the land of Israel.

God deals with men in terms of covenants. Time does not weaken God’s covenants. Even when men do not take their covenants seriously, God does. He expects us to keep our covenants:

  • Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2 Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. 3 For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for {He takes} no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger {of God} that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6).
  • In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change (Psalm 15:4).

Think through the implications of this lesson with me. It takes my mind in three directions:

#1 Even when a covenant is entered into foolishly, as the Israelites and Gibeonites, God expected a believer to keep covenants. How many times we have witnessed the marriage ceremony where a man and a woman enter into the covenant of marriage. Then a few years later, one partner (or both) decided the marriage hasn’t been all they hoped it would be. How do you think God feels about the breaking of the covenant of marriage? We are not left in doubt:

13 “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 “Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 “But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:13-15).

#2: I know the story is bloody, and it is hard to understand. Yet, in the Biblical economy, blood was shed to atone for sin. This story vividly illustrates how one man can die for the sins of another. Remember, that was true for our sin as well:

  • And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).
  • There is only one Person’s blood that was shed which can save us from our sins — the blood our Lord Jesus Christ shed on the cross of Calvary: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
  • 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-14).
  • 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-18).

#3: It is amazing to me how this story illustrated that the disobedience of Israel led to a blood payment on behalf of the Gentiles, only to lead back to the blessing of Israel! The Gibeonites were sinners, worthy of God’s wrath. It was due to Israel’s foolishness (if not sin) that a covenant was made with the Gibeonites. These condemned Gentiles were saved by Israel’s failure. And, wonder of wonders, it will be through the Gentile Gibeonites that Israel will once again enter into God’s blessings.

Is this not a foreshadowing of the way God will bring salvation to the Gentiles, and then through the Gentiles bring blessing to the Jews? Romans 11:11 says:

11 I say then, Israel did not stumble so as to be permanently rejected, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” 27 “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

Lesson Five: Troubles can make us face laxity in our own walk (21:10-14).

David corrected something of an oversight of his own in the story as well. Saul had done wrong, but Saul was a king of Israel. David forgot to bring the bones of Saul and Jonathan home to Benjamin and bury them with honor in the family tomb of his father Kish. It was not the execution of Saul’s sons which brings healing to the land. Not until after the burial of Saul and his sons does the famine end (verse 14).

Rizpah, a concubine of Saul, had two sons put to death by the Gibeonites. The bodies were not removed, as it would seem they should have been (see Deuteronomy 21:22-23). Rizpah highlighted their improper disposal and called to David’s attention an oversight on his part that he had to deal with. Since the bodies of Saul’s sons were left unburied, this mother determined to watch over them, stationing herself nearby so that she could drive off both birds and devouring beasts. David got word of this, and by Rizpah’s actions was prompted to take action. These were seven of Saul’s sons, who were not yet given a proper burial. David was reminded that Saul and his three sons had not been properly buried either.

Though brave men from Jabesh-Gilead marched all night to take the bodies, burning them and burying their bones under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh (1 Sam. 31:11-13) David did not offer them a family burial later and honor them appropriately.

The final words of verse 14 are significant: “And after that God was moved by entreaty for the land.” We would have expected to read something like: “And so God removed the famine that had plagued the land for three years.” Instead, we are informed that God once again heard the prayers of His people beseeching Him to cease His judgment on the land. In other words, the people must have been praying for God to remove the famine for the entire three years, but God would not heed their petitions because of the sin of Saul and his bloody house. Now that this sin was atoned for, God would listen to the prayers of the people.

Note what Solomon said to God only a few years later:

26 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance. 28 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, if there is locust or grasshopper, if their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities, whatever plague or whatever sickness there is, 29 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own pain, and spreading his hands toward this house, 30 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men, 31 that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You have given to our fathers” (2 Chronicles 6:26-31).

God answers prayer. In this case, the author of our text in 2 Samuel underscores the fact that God removed the famine because He took heed of the prayers of His people. And He took heed of their prayers because the sin which hindered their prayers had been atoned for. Let us not miss the point that our author seeks to stress: Sin hinders our prayers, but when that sin has been dealt with, God then heeds our prayers. Let us not underestimate the importance of prayer.

There you have it, five important lessons:

  1. Silent suffering isn’t necessary.
  2. Guessing at God’s way is bad, but asking works!
  3. God deals with sin in a consistent way, He doesn’t change.
  4. God deals through unchanging covenants, and wants us to live up to ours!
  5. Trouble can be a great educator to help me see what I wasn’t seeing!

God gave us models and bread crumb trails, because God’s Word offers us a pain-filled portrait to help us avoid the same mistakes those who went before us made. Learning by example is less painful than learning by experience.

Stages of Growth: What’s Wrong with Being a Rebel? – 2 Sam. 20

What’s wrong with being a rebel? We celebrate some rebels as heroes. George Washington and his army fought the American Revolution to rebel against the tyranny of a British king named George III. Those of us born and bred by the grace of God south of the Mason-Dixon Line are sometimes known as “rebels” in honor of our Civil War ancestors. The good guys in the movie Star Wars were known as the Rebel Alliance and everybody cheered them on to defeat the Evil Galactic Empire. Books and films paint rebels as heroes—misfits who are always in trouble at school, always in trouble with the law, standing alone, living life on their own terms, answering to no body else, a law unto themselves.

That sounds pretty inspiring, but there’s a problem when you start translating rebellion into real life. Teachers and principals tend to frown upon students who disrupt class by disobeying the rules. Parents don’t see that rebellious son or daughter as a hero. The criminal who refuses to obey the law doesn’t get awards for his brave rejection of society’s laws. The hard-headed, hard-hearted man/women too stubborn to listen to those who love them aren’t very easy to live with. The Bible says that one of our big problems is all of us have rebellion living in us, and if we’re not careful, our rebel will ruin us.

Key Principle: Rebellion is a serious affront to God with terrible consequences.

There are six truths about rebellion we must face from God’s Word today:

I.  Rebels reject legitimate authority. (v.1-2)

Let’s step back and see what God said about David before we look at what Sheba said about David:

  1. God said that He was the rightful king over the people, but they felt they needed something a little closer to home (1 Samuel 8:6-9). God had the right, and God passed the authority to the king of Israel.
  1. God took from Saul the authority because of his continual disobedience and his hard heart toward God (1 Samuel 15:26-28).
  1. God selected David as the next king, even when David didn’t know anything about it. The authority of David was conferred by God, not grabbed by David (1 Samuel 16:1,12).
  1. God covenanted with David to establish his throne (2 Samuel 7:15-18) even when David knew he did not begin to deserve it!

There you have it. David was on the throne because God vested His Divine authority on the undeserving man and made him king. Go back to 2 Samuel 20:1 and our view becomes clearer. Sheba didn’t simply reject David, he rejected God’s right to place him on the throne and promise his throne endurance! Because of that, in God’s sight, Sheba was worthless!

Idolatry Principle: We become of no use to God when we decide to become our own god and decide what is right, in spite of what God’s Word says. Rebellion is in essence idolatry, and God will not tolerate it!

Any parent of a two year old can recognize the great battle of the wills. It be as far back as the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve (Genesis 3:4-5) “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Note the progression into rebellion:

  1. Listen to the Devils tempting voice.
  2. Believe his utter rejection of God’s truthfulness.
  3. Buy into his suggestion that God has another motive, to keep you from getting what is best.
  4. Promise that you will become LIKE GOD!


That was the same attitude we in the character named Sheba. Sheba rejected David’s authority, and at the same time, rejected God’s authority. Why? One reason may be because Sheba is from the tribe of Benjamin—the clan of the previous king of Israel named Saul. Perhaps he’s still angry over Saul’s rejection and David’s acceptance as king of Israel.

One thing is clear: this rebel has no respect for legitimate authority.
This is something all rebels share in common-a rejection of authority.

“Nobody tells me what to do.” For a rebel rules are made to be broken. You don’t need anybody else’s help, or advice. Who needs a boss? Who needs parents? Who needs God? Stand with one foot in, and one foot out, and dare anybody to try and make you do anything.

So what’s wrong with being a rebel? First, it is a rejection of God’s right to be God, to place that person in your life as an authority. An authority that deserves your respect, your obedience, your submission- an authority placed there by God Himself.

Why should I do what my parents tell me? Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Why should I do what my teacher, or the law demands? Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

Are there exceptions to these rules? Yes, but they are rare in Scripture and truthfully, most of us don’t deal with the exceptions. Most of us live life under the normal circumstances addressed by the rule, and the rule is this: when you reject a legitimate authority in your life, you are rejecting the authority of God. You are being a rebel. The price in your life is that your Creator cannot use you for a great purpose. You become a broken tool, worthless to Our Father’s uses.

Rebels always hurt other people. (v. 3)

There was a terrible wreck a few month back on US 27. The driver had already been convicted 4 times for drunk driving and had a suspended license. He nevertheless got behind the wheel of a car and drove after having too much to drink. He ended up plowing into a van full of a family, killing several, and critically wounding several others. The drunken man was not hurt, but is now charged with more serious crimes, including vehicular homicide. He pleaded with the judge that “He didn’t mean to kill anyone” and I am sure that was true! The simple fact is that his rebellion cost some people their lives. That’s another big problem with rebellion, they invariably hurt others, even the ones they love.

Look carefully at verse three (20:3). David was cleaning up a mess left in the palace by his now dead son, Absalom. Rebellion left a mess. Because of Absalom’s sin with the concubines of David, they paid a penalty the rest of their lives. The sexual sin was open rebellion. Yet, there are other kinds of rebellion, and they are also seen in this snapshot of David’s life.

Rebels overestimate their importance and abilities (4-5).

Look at verse 4 (20:4). There is a second person mentioned, the new head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, name Amasa. David called on his to gather the army together in a three day period, for the rebellion of Sheba was underway. If you keep reading, you will note that Amasa didn’t obey. WHY he delayed isn’t specified. There may be several reasons, but let me take a shot at one.

It occurs to me that Amasa might have felt that he had leverage and power over David because he mistakenly felt that David NEEDED him to maintain his position. That’s one of the mistakes that rebels often make. They think that they have escaped the need to obey God’s appointed authority because they are TOO IMPORTANT to the cause of God. How many men in ministry have fallen because they made that mistake!

Here is an important principle: Delayed obedience is disobedience. You cannot put off the things God tells you to do NOW. The delay may be your utter undoing!

It is also worth mentioning that rebellious people are terrible predictors of the future, and unable to see the consequences of their rebellion. The three Sebring High School students that were charge with murdering an eighty year old resident that lived a mere mile and a half from here this past week, had no idea that they were ruining their lives when they decided to break into a home and steal from an 80 year old man. Rebellion can be quite, but it is rebellion no less. Rebels don’t see it coming, but they are swept out of the way in a flash, and the same was true of Amasa. It is worth remembering when teens begin idolizing the rebel at school.

Rebels think the rules don’t apply to them, and as a result cannot be trusted, even by each other! (6-13).

David sent Abishai instead of the rebellious Amasa to stop the Sheba rebellion (20:6). While Abishai was mustering the troops, Joab (his brother) joined the ranks. Only then did Amasa (the cousin of both Joab and Abishai) show up (20:7-8). Joab showed up “dressed to kill” (pun intended 20:8b).

Joab allowed his sword to fall out of its sheath, and in a display of affection, grabbed Amasa by the beard as if to greet him with a kiss. Instead, with his left hand he thrusts his sword far into the abdomen of Amasa, and his insides come gushing out.

Why did he do it? Why did he kill this man who was not only his relative, but on the same side in this war? Was Joab jealous? Joab was also a rebel. He was merciless, and left his foe to wallow in his own blood, not even giving him a decent burial. “Follow me!” he shouted to David’s army, and left Amasa to die like a wounded animal. (20:9-13)

Rebels will hurt anyone. How do I know? I’ve talked to parents whose kids reject everything they taught them. I’ve seen their tears of pain and worry. That boy/girl is out having a good time, but mom and dad are in misery, and that rebel doesn’t even care.
I’ve talked to that wife, and that husband, whose spouse who won’t stop drinking or doing drugs, who won’t come to church with them, who won’t stop doing what’s wrong, who is too stubborn to admit they are wrong or so proud they refuse any kind of help. That kind of pain runs deep, and leaves scars not only on the spouse, but the kids.
“I’m not hurting anybody but myself.” That’s a lie. When you rebel, you hurt everybody who loves you, everybody who depends on you. Rebellion can break the hearts of the people who love you most.

Rebellion even breaks the heart of God. Isaiah 65:2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; Who does your rebellion hurt? You may say, “I really never realized how I’m hurting the people I love. I never stopped to think about who else is suffering for my rebellion.” Now is the time to think about it.

Besides, if you look at life carefully, you will find that other rebels can’t be trusted, and don’t trust you. Only a fool trusts a person who thinks the rules don’t truly apply to them!

Rebels carve their path on the road to destruction. (20:14-26).

There is a rule in our house we have attempted to follow consistently: we don’t punish our kids for mistakes, or accidents. We focus on willful disobedience. I don’t want my kids to grow up and think that you can rebel against God and against authority and get away with it because you can’t get away with it.

Flashback to this rebel Sheba, who has made it all the way to the town of Abel on the outskirts of Israel; a town known for wisdom, hiding a rebellious fool. (20:14). Joab, maybe hoping to get back in David’s good graces by crushing this rebellion, geared up for the attack, though the citizens of Abel aren’t sure why they are being assaulted.

A wise woman of the city council met with Joab (20:16-21). She wants to know why he came to kill innocent people, and Joab explained. Send him out, and I’ll be glad to leave the rest of you alone. The wise old woman tells Joab .

“Don’t do anything until I return”. Inside the walls of the city, Sheba is already planning his escape. If these folks can just hold Joab off a little longer, he’s sneak out and get away. Who cares what happens to them? The old woman makes her way back to the crowd and explains the situation. Joab doesn’t have a quarrel with any of us. He only wants this stranger here. Send his head out, and he’ll go back home. Sheba’s face goes white. You can’t be serious! Can’t we talk about this? Give me some time to get away! Can’t we make some kind of deal? In a few more minutes, Joab sees what’s he’s looking for come sailing over the walls of the city. One of his men brings it to him. He confirms it’s his man, and then he and his army head back to Jerusalem. This rebel problem has been solved.

Do you suppose this is how Sheba expected his story to end? Probably not. He would rather have gone on to become somebody great, somebody big, somebody important. Instead his own pride brought his destruction. If he had never rebelled against David, he could have lived to a ripe old age. But rebellion stole his future from him.

What about this other rebel, Joab? He seems to get away with his rebellion. But later on, the Bible tells us in 1 Kings 2:28-35 that Joab’s rebellion catches up with him, too.

There is a serious problem with being a rebel! You cut your life expectancy dramatically. It is a poor career move. You never really get away with it. Rebels are on the road to destruction.

You don’t have to do what the teacher or coach tells you- you can walk out and impress all your friends with your bravado. But quit school, and you can kiss that diploma good-bye. When you get tired of that boss ordering you around, you can tell him what you think and clock out. But you’ve got to make a living somehow, or you’ll end up with nothing. You can only get caught breaking the law so many times before they take away your license or send you to jail, where you most certainly will develop a habit of obeying rules. You can even thumb your nose at God for awhile—but not forever. Sooner or later, you will answer to Him. Sooner or later rebels come to the end of the road and meet the Judge.

On Oct. 22, 1999 professional parachutist Jan Davis was practicing the dangerous sport of BASE jumping—parachuting off fixed objects lke high cliffs or towers. She was making her jump off the 3200 foot granite cliff of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. She knew BASE jumping had been outlawed because of 6 others who had died doing the same thing she was doing. Her own jump was meant as protest, to prove that BASE jumping was safe. Yet still she stood at the top of the mountain and leapt off, and as her husband and several others watched, her parachute did not open properly, and Jan Davis feel for 20 seconds before she crashed to her death. Jan Davis paid for her rebellion with her life.

Does this sound foolish to you? Of course. But it’s no more foolish that willfully rebelling against God and the legitimate authorities He has set up in the world. What will your rebellion cost you? I don’t know. All I really know is that when you and I rebel, we are travel the road to destruction.

But you and I don’t have to stay on this road. Rebellion is a choice we make. We’ve all made that choice many times in our lives. But we don’t have to keep making that choice, and we don’t have to live with the guilt of our rebellion. God has done the most amazing thing when He sent Jesus Christ to die on the Cross not for good people, not for obedient people, but for rebels like you and me. He died to transform rebels into children of God.

In his book Pursuit, evangelist Luis Palau tells the story of his nephew whom he calls Kenneth. Kenneth lived most of his adult life in open rebellion against God as a homosexual. But in his early 20s his rebellion caught up with him, and he contracted AIDS. Not long after the diagnosis, he met with Palau and announced Jesus Christ had forgiven him for all his sins. Palau was skeptical. Kenneth, how can you say that? You rebelled against God, you made fun of the Bible, you hurt your family terribly! And now you say you’ve got eternal life, just like that? His nephew looked him straight in the eyes and replied, Luis, when the doctor told me I had AIDS, I realized what a fool I have been. I did repent, and I know God has had mercy on me. I know the Lord Jesus has forgiven me. Several short months later, at age 25, Palau says, Kenneth went to be with the Lord—saved like the thief on the cross from his rebellion by the grace of God.
What so wrong about being a rebel?

I wonder if you can admit this morning the rebellion in your own heart? How many of you realize the danger and pain you are bringing to others to yourself, and to God this morning? Right now is the time to lay down your arms, and surrender to the Lord Jesus Chris. Will you come and bow before Him, and submit your life to Him today? Why don’t you come now?

VI. Rebels set up rebellion behind them!

Rebellion is learned and perpetuated when it is glorified. This is the danger we face in the media today. Note the word of Sheba “We have no portion in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!” (2 Samuel 20:1b). Now compare the words spoken by Sheba in our text with these words, spoken by Israel after the death of Solomon: When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; To your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So Israel departed to their tents (1 Kings 12:16).

It is almost as though Sheba’s words become the motto of those who rebel in Israel. The roots of division between Judah and the other tribes of Israel run deep in Israel’s history, but it is evident that Israel was a divided kingdom for a very short time in David’s day. This division is never completely healed. It may lay dormant for the years of Solomon’s reign, but it comes to life after his death. In all of this, God is preparing the nation for the division He purposes. The second time the nation divides, it will not reunite. The northern kingdom will fall to Assyria, as a lesson to Judah, a lesson which will not be heeded. And so the southern kingdom will also fall, this time to the Babylonians. God is providentially preparing the nation for their coming division in the events of our text.

 Rebellion is a serious affront to God with terrible consequences.

Stages of Growth: Get Ready To Meet the King – 2 Samuel 19:8-20:2

Introduction: The king is coming, the king is coming! When that shout was heard, people in the marketplace moved their goods. A stir was caused all over the village. Any obstruction in the pathway was removed. Children were called in doors to wash and prepare. The rider’s warning was to all who dwelt in the village, “Get Ready!” It was a necessary message, and it is the message of this lesson as well.

This morning I want to tell two stories of a king’s return. The first is the story found in 2 Samuel 19 of the return of David to Jerusalem. The second story is the one that we will experience that this model reminds us of. (Read 2 Sam. 19:8ff).

In our reading, we read about three events that transpired to set the model of the king’s return.

1. Reassertion of rights: The king took Joab’s advice and became public again as he sat down in the judgment court at the city gate of Mahanaim (19:8).

2. Confusion of the army: The armies of Israel thought he was about to judge their rebellion and retreated in fear to their tents (19:8b). The people were in a quandary, they recalled what David did in the past for them (19:9) but acknowledged their awkward position (19:10). Yet still many thought the right thing was to bring David back and renew his covenant with the northern tribes (2 Sam. 5:3; cp. 19:10b).

3. Judah’s agreement: David sent emissaries to ask why they hesitated to renew the covenant, since he did not cause the rift (19:11-12). David’s messengers appealed to Amasa, head of Absalom’s army to drop the rebellion, and offered him Joab’s position as head of the army (19:13). Seeing that David would allow a full reparation of the troops, Judah’s men decided to renew the king and sent word for his return to Jerusalem (19:14). The king left Mahanaim and came to the crossing of the Jordan at Gilgal, where he met a number of men (19:15).

Key Principle: The king rewards those who honestly acknowledge sin now, and give themselves fully to Him. The others face the king under terms of judgment.

You see, we are not ONLY looking today at this story, but at the shadow it casts on the coming of our own king, who has promised to return and judge. The Bible tells us that there is a king named Jesus who left this earth one day to go back to heaven from where He originated. Before He left, He gave His people some promises that stand as glorious hope for the people of God, but that also stand as a solemn warning for those outside Jesus. Let’s notice a couple of those glorious promises:

John 14:1-3 – “(1) Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Acts 1:9-11 – “(9) Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (10) And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, (11) who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Revelation 22:20 – “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The truth of the matter is, not everyone will meet Jesus the same way when He returns. Some will be excited and happy, others will be caught off guard, still others will be found lost, and undone and will find that an eternity in hell is all they have before them. The question I have for you this morning is this: How will you meet the King?

There are four kinds of people that face the king:

  1. Late Salvation to a Bitter and Angry Man: (19:16; 19:18-23)- The first man he met was Shimei, who cursed him when he was fleeing to Mahanaim (16:5-8). Bitter from the losses David inflicted on his family by David when the Gibeonite compromise forced David into giving seven of Saul’s household to the gallows of Gibeon (recorded later in 2 Samuel 21). Shimei lost family and blamed the king. He saw the king as evil and self-serving. Yet, in his own household was Jonadab, his son, that advised Amnon how to rape Tamar (13:3). Funny how we can go ballistic on someone for wronging us, but overlook others around us for terrible behavior! As a result he cursed him in the hour that it looked like the king was powerless to do anything to him. Now he had to face the king, and supposed that would be his end. He fell down before the king and asked for mercy (19:18-20). His confession and request to be forgiven was heeded (19:20) in spite of calls for punishment (19:22). The king forgave (19:23). How sad that so much of life was wasted in bitterness when he didn’t see the king as he truly is early!
  1. Final Judgment to Half-Hearted Followers: (19:17; 19:24-30)- The second and third men the king encountered were both judged together. The servant Ziba and his master Mephibosheth both sued for recognition from the king. It was time to get their just deserts.
    1. Ziba was a man that had came to the king and appeared to be a loyal helper. Apparently he had stolen the goods of his master to ingratiate himself to the king, and lied to David concerning his master (Mephibosheth, cp. 16:3), saying that Mephibosheth remained of his own accord to get back the throne. His report turned out to be very unlikely, since Absalom was seeking the throne for himself, not a restoration to Saul’s household. Ziba was rewarded with the household of Mephibosheth (16:4) because of his apparent loyalty. Now Ziba was going to have to face the truth of what he had done. He was safe from the king’s wrath, but his wrong motives were about to be judged. When the truth came out (19:24-29), the king gave Ziba part of the inheritance he had planned for him (19:30). Some of the inheritance blessing was lost to him, because he did not give his own things, and give them honestly.
    1. At the same time, Mephibosheth did not give all he could to the king. He remained in Jerusalem, and used an excuse to exempt him from laziness regarding the king’s service. He did not go out of his way. He symbolically showed repentance (19:24) giving what HE THOUGHT the king wanted him to give. Sadly, what the king wanted him to give was withheld (19:25). At his judgment, he claimed it was “too difficult for him” (19:26) and immediately blamed the people around him. David had shown him much love in the past (2 Samuel 9:6-13) and given sacrificially for Mephibosheth. The man enjoyed the blessings of the king, but could not bring himself to sacrifice for the king. As a result, he lost part of the intended blessing in the judgment of the king (19:29). It was only then that Mephibosheth realized that his things were all the kings, and the king was more important than convenience or comfort (19:30).

One old preacher of yesteryear wrote this reminder: Some are guilty of pure blasphemy in that they claim to love the Lord, but live lives that deny Him. When the Lord saves a soul, He takes possession of that life. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “(19) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (20) For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The saved person loses all rights & control over his/her life. As a result, we are expected by the Lord to live for Him.

Will you be worried when Jesus comes? If you have chosen to be unfaithful to the Lord, His house, His work, then you have reason to worry, because when He comes we will all stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

You may say, “Preacher, I can live as I please.” Yes! But know that there will be a price to pay. Ecclesiastes 11:9 – “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.”

  1.  Blessing to the Faithful One: Barzillai the Gileadite (19:31-43) was a faithful and supportive worker for the king. He gave of himself when it was not popular to do so (18:27-29).

Not every Christian will be worried when Jesus comes. There are some who spend their lives waiting for Jesus to return. To their hearts there will be no sweeter sound, than to hear that trumpet blast & the shout from heaven, “come up here.” I want everyone who is looking for the Lord Jesus to know that one day your heart’s cry will be answered. Jesus will do as He said and will return in power and glory to take us home. Will you be waiting when He returns? Don’t let His coming catch you looking at the world or its treasures. Instead, let’s all strive to be found looking for Jesus when He returns.

Are you looking for Jesus to return this morning? If so, then rejoice, for He may return today. The King is coming. Keep watching & waiting, for He will return. Hebrews 9:28 – “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

Barzillai was old, yet he kept on working for the king. Barzillai was faithful to David & he kept living, giving & working until the king returned. Can the same be said of your life?

Will you be found working when the King returns? In truth this morning, there are a lot of Christians who are AWOL. They refuse to serve the Lord with faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 4:2 – “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” Required – to demand, order, command.

Nearly every time Jesus spoke about His coming, He stressed the importance of being prepared. In Mark 13 He warns, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with an assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone. Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37).

Luke 12:40-48 – “(40) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (41) Then Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?’ (42) And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? (43) “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. (44) “Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. (45) “But if that servant says in his heart, ’My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, (46) “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (47) “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (48) “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

  1. Destruction to the Defiant One: Sheba the lost man (20:1-2,21-22) was a man who lived for his own god (Belial=worthless, cp. Dt. 13:13).

This man Sheba had one thing on his mind & that was overthrowing the king. He wanted to see David ousted from the throne. He hated David and tried to cause Israel to follow him in rebelling against King David. In response, David’s generals went after Sheba and he was finally killed. This man Sheba represents all of those who are the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now many may feel that they are not the enemies of Christ, but the truth of the matter is, that every person who is not in a personal relationship with Christ is the enemy of God.

When King Jesus returns, these people will find themselves shut out of the kingdom and shut out of an eternity in Heaven. Will you be without when Jesus returns? If you are not saved, you will find yourself on the outside of salvation, on the outside of heaven, on the outside of hope, and on the outside of the mercy & he grace of God.

The good news is that the return of Jesus Christ doesn’t have to catch you off guard. You can be ready for His coming. He loves you, He died for you, and He wants you. Don’t be like Sheba and find yourself lost forever. Be saved and have a blessed eternity.


One Pastor wrote: My son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and them yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk. When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???” He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure…because you’re my Dad.His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted.

Stages of Growth: “The Case of the Misshapen Man” – 2 Samuel 13-18

On January 3, 2008 an important man died. In Brooklyn, NY, this one time executive of a Fortune 500 company breathed his last, He had prepared his own lavish funeral. His body was dressed with a stunning Italian suit. Guests for the funeral have already been notified of the viewing and coming funeral. It will be well attended, because he provided for an elegant luncheon to follow, along with the reading of his will. Had he not done so, he knew the funeral parlor would be empty. You see, he was powerful, but he had no friends. He had wealth, but he had no admirers that did not want a “piece” of him. He knew it well enough. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, he didn’t want the only emotion at his death to be some old house keeper anxiously pawning the bed curtains. He carefully organized a memorial to himself, paid an expensive price to have his hair and face “redone” to look almost alive. He even chose what china would be used to have a dinner in his honor. He even chose his burial plot and had the carving of the tombstone cut without the date, ready to go. He was a man that left his own memorial, his own “standing stone”. Once a man of great power – now he was reduced to memorializing himself.

Three thousand years ago, a man faced a similar predicament. His life hadn’t left any deep marks on others. He was powerful, but pitiful, all at the same time. He had no children, and the Bible says at the end of his life (2 Samuel 18:18) “in his lifetime (he) had taken and set up for himself a pillar which is in the King’s Valley (in Jerusalem).” His end was tragic, the consequence of failed parenting and a rebellious spirit. Yet, he was loved. What went wrong?

Two men awoke that morning on opposite sides of a battle line. Only one would live to see the sunset. Both faced momentous decisions. Only one faced the darkness encamped with real friends that he developed over a lifetime of serving people. The difference in the crisis was how the men shaped life before the crisis….

Key Principle: How we deal with pain can be the key factor to our success in life.

A Few Observations about Absalom that may teach us:

This morning I can only chose pieces of Absalom’s story for our Scripture reading so I’ve divided it into six small sections.

Before we proceed with his appearances, listen to the description of the young man Absalom – 2 Samuel 14:25, 26. “Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. When he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, 200 shekels by the king’s weight.”

1. Let’s begin with where Absalom first comes into the Biblical text in 2 Sam. 3. Absalom rose out of the text of Scripture in a time when his dad was rising to the throne, terribly busy with important alliances. Absalom was a middle child, the product of a minor alliance with the King of Geshur and a wife supplied to seal the deal (2 Sam. 3:1-5).

2. Absalom next appears, years later, when the public scandal of his father broke the news and his war campaigns of his father were pushing the message of scandal off the front pages to allow the King to reemerge as the obvious hero of his day (2 Sam. 13:1). He is not the subject here, but is a secondary player in the story of the rape of his sister by a half-brother Amnon. A few things to note about this encounter, though. Here Absalom observed three important things about his father that helped shape his course in life.

  • First, he learned that it was not difficult to manipulate his dad, as he saw Amnon accomplish (13:6). He did it by observation of his parent, when his parent was unaware of his eyes. Doubt that he understood this? He would later use the same tactic in 2 Sam. 13:26-27).
  • He also learned how his (now fallen) dad reacted to sin in the life of those he had charge over. In other words, he found a guilt spot in his dad that left him vulnerable to under reaction. He found a moral soft spot brought on by his dad’s own compromise! (13:21).

The writer of Proverbs was Solomon, the younger brother of Absalom. I want you to read with me a portion of Proverbs 3 that illuminates the meaning of the fifth commandment, words that Absalom should have had taken heed of as a young man.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you. . . Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

When Solomon wrote those words more than likely, Solomon pondered the undisciplined life of his brother, Absalom as he penned the words, “do not rely on your own insight,…be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” And Solomon probably shed tears as he wrote “let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you.”

  • Finally, he experienced how his dad reacted when something that was both unjust and hurtful to HIM. The silence on the issue of his pain was deafening until Absalom could bear it no more (13:23). Injustice breeds dissatisfaction and anger, and the language of anger is rebellion. Absalom was culpable, but dad bore some real responsibility!

3. The third appearance of Absalom is when he decided to be judge and jury for his half brother Amnon, and have him killed (13:24-39). A closer look a this passage reveals more lessons that shaped the young man:

  • He learned where he could turn (a family ally) that would NOT cause him to face consequences (2 Sam. 13:37-38). There are people we love to turn to because they love us and protect us. Yet, they don’t truly help us because they refuse to be involved in shaping us into responsible people. Grandaddy Talmai was one such man.
  • He learned from his dad’s silence that his pride and other political considerations were worth more to his dad than a relationship with him (13:39). Dad may say he loves me, but I am apparently not worth the chase!
  • Even when he was brought back into his father’s good graces, he no doubt heard that it was because dad was “talked into it” (14:21). Dad never reached of his own accord. It seemed he was a political pawn.
  • Add to that the reality that his dad kept him from coming to see him, and feeling fully loved and accepted (14:24-28). You may say, “Wait! He should be disciplined for the killing of his brother!” That is true enough, but David neither pardons and forgives, nor punishes. The passivity on his part was planned in the text. Passive parenting leads to deep feelings of insecurity and pain in children, even adult children!

4. Absalom now forces his way into our story. Discontent to sit for another month to await some word directly from his dad on his own future, the idle son set on fire the fields of the chief of staff of David, to finally convince the man of his serious desire to have audience before his dad (14:30). Can you imagine that? The child had to misbehave and agitate people close to his dad to get any response to from his dad! How painful to look into the mirror each day and see yourself, but know you are utterly invisible to your parent.


  1. God’s children are not supposed to suffer pain.

  2. If I hurt, there must be something wrong with me.

  3. If I hurt, there must be something wrong with God.


If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures suffer pain; therefore does God lack goodness or power, or both? None of these. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”-C. S. Lewis

One Pastor told the story about a boy who grew up in a rural community that specialized in growing tobacco. Their first summer job was to weed the crop and most of the time he and his fellow workers would walk the seemingly endless rows with a hoe, scuffing out weeds in relative comfort. But sooner or later when they got close to the fence, they ran into thistles- hundreds and hundreds of these little thistles. They looked harmless enough, but you couldn’t scuff them out with a hoe; you had to get down on your knees and pull those prickly little things out by the roots. You know, bitterness is a lot like those little thistles. We can put away hurts and pains, but the only way to get rid of bitterness is to fall to our knees and root it out through prayerful dependence on God.


Remember that God knows what He is doing, even when we have no idea.

Tomorrow morning,” the surgeon began, “I’ll open up your heart…” “You’ll find Jesus there,” the boy interrupted. The surgeon looked up, annoyed. “I’ll cut your heart open,” he continued, “to see how much damage has been done…” “But when you open up my heart, you’ll find Jesus in there.” The surgeon looked to the parents, who sat quietly. “When I see how much damage has been done, I’ll sew your heart and chest back up and I’ll plan what to do next.” “But you’ll find Jesus in my heart. The Bible says He lives there. The hymns all say He lives there. You’ll find Him in my heart.” The surgeon had had enough. “I’ll tell you what I’ll find in your heart. I’ll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels. And I’ll find out if I can make you well.” “You’ll find Jesus there, too. He lives there.” The surgeon left. Later, he sat in his office, recording his notes from the surgery, “…damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, widespread muscle degeneration. No hope for transplant, no hope for cure. Therapy: painkillers and bed rest. Prognosis:,” here he paused, “death within one year.” He stopped the recorder, but there was more to be said. “Why?” he asked aloud. “Why did You do this? You’ve put him here; You’ve put him in this pain; and You’ve cursed him to an early death. Why?” The Lord answered and said, “The boy, My lamb, was not meant for your flock for long, for he is a part of My flock, and will forever be. Here, in My flock, he will feel no pain, and will be comforted as you cannot imagine. His parents will one day join him here, and they will know peace, and My flock will continue to grow.” The surgeon’s tears were hot, but his anger was hotter. “You created that boy, and You created that heart. He’ll be dead in months. Why?” The Lord answered, “The boy, My lamb, shall return to My flock, for he has done his duty: I did not put My lamb with your flock to lose him, but to retrieve another lost lamb.” The surgeon wept. The surgeon sat beside the boy’s bed; the boy’s parents sat across from him. The boy awoke and whispered, “Did you cut open my heart?” “Yes,” said the surgeon. “What did you find?” asked the boy. “I found Jesus there,” said the surgeon.
Accept what you cannot change. “David got up from the ground . . . he said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept . . . but now that he is dead, why should I fast’” (2 Sam. 12:22-23).
Don’t exaggerate your pain, play it down and pray it up. After David’s baby died, “he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.” (2 Sam. 12:20).
Focus on the good you have left, not the bad that was lost. “David comforted his wife . . . she gave birth to a son and they named him Solomon” (2 Sam. 12:24).
– People will hurt you, but God replaces grudges with blessings. “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 5:22).

5. The fifth time we see Absalom in the text, he is plotting the coup that will oust his dad from the throne. By now, the fruits of his misshapen life are easy to see. He is selfish (15:1), manipulative (15:2-6), and deceitful (15:7-8). These ingrained sins carried Absalom through the rise of the coup, and the despicable acts during his short lived time of the throne (2 Sam. 16:15-17:4).

6. The final chapter of his life was the battle between the forces of David led by Joab and the forces of Israel by the usurping son Absalom (2 Sam. 18:1-18). Last time we noted that Absalom died, hung in a tree by his hair, a spear in his heart. That heart was already broken. We end this message where we began. With a man’s death.

How we deal with pain can be the key factor to our success in life.

On January 3, 2008, an important man died. He had few earthly riches. His body was used up. The love of his life preceded him in death. He quietly slipped into eternity in the presence of his dear friends and loved one. His footprint on the earth was deep and well placed. He loved many people, and they loved him. He cared for things eternal, and God smiled on his life in amazing ways. He even had the joy of sharing Jesus and leading an 80 year old woman to salvation in the closing days of his life. He doesn’t have a grave stone. His body is being used by science. He didn’t need to find a way to have people remember him. They already do!

Stages of Growth: "The Relationship Equation" – 2 Samuel 18

Both Absalom and David faced momentous decisions. Only one faced them with friends that wanted his success. Absalom’s selfish life left him alone and without another to remember him. David’s friends, by contrast, carried David’s good when he could not help himself. The difference is what relationships David made before the crisis….

Key Principle: We can face a crisis successfully if we exhibit a godly character.

I become incensed whenever I see or hear of a child treating their parent in a disrespectful way. Some daytime television talk shows have given us a glimpse at what’s going on in some families today. Maybe you’ve watched some of them. I won’t give them a free commercial by mentioning their names, for their names are really not that important. They all pretty much do shows on the same topics: “Kids Out of Control!”… “Children Off The Hook!” … “I’m Afraid of My Child!” … The list could go on and on.

–Imagine it. Having to run and hide from the child you have given life to!
— Imagine it. Having to hire body guards to protect you from the child you have sacrificed and toiled for to put a roof over their heads!
— Imagine it. Having to suffer the shame and embarrassment of those who heard about Absalom’s actions and as your walk down a public street hearing them whisper, “There goes David. It’s a shame what his son did to him!”

What did David do? He demonstrated the character that got him through the difficult situation:

  1. Focused: Faced the problem and understood the need to get his people to safety (17:24).

We must learn to identify the facts and face them. Then we must analyze the situation correctly:

Consider this new study:

(A) Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(B) The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(C) Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(D) Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

(E) Conclusion: Eat & drink what you like. Apparently, It’s speaking English that kills you.

Seriously, it is important to identify the REAL issues. Too many people are caught up in panic over things they cannot control. Mark Twain said this: “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

  1. Trusted: David stood on the shoulders of his loyal friends (17:27-29). Note: Shobi was the child of a conquered King. David treated people so well in his life that when things went very wrong for him, people that could have been enemies decided rather to stand  with him.
  1. Organized: the people to meet the challenge (18:1a). Divided the responsibilities under responsible people and set the chain of command in front of all (18:1b-2).

You aren’t designed to do everything yourself. I am amazed at the craze of self help literature that suggests you can do anything on your own! It isn’t true. In fact, others see the craziness of this. One guy complied this little list of titles he thinks people should put on their books!

1. Chickenless Soup for the Vegetarian Soul
2. 7,000 Habits of Highly Compulsive People
3. Stupidity for Dummies
4. Teaching Yourself to Read
5. How to Lose Five Pounds in Six Years
6. How to Rip People off by Writing Self-help Books.

  1. Grabbed Responsibility: Took the responsibility personally (18:2b).

Presidential Advice was given by a lame duck President who met his successor in the Oval office in the transition period near the end and presented the incoming leader 3 numbered envelopes. He told the new President to open them in order when great difficulties presented themselves. After new the President had a “honeymoon” period wmedia & public, the US experienced an economic downturn. Frustrated, he opened the 1st envelope. Inside a card read: “Blame me.” So he set out and criticized the former administration. Sometime later, a social upheaval brought about a critical domestic crisis. Exasperated, the President opened the #2 envelope. Inside the card said simply, “Blame my party”. He did so, in an overt display of partisan politics. A year later, when his foreign policy resulted in serious problems that took him to the end of his rope, the President opened the third envelope. Inside, the card read: “Prepare three envelopes.” After all, You can only blame so long before you become responsible.

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault we find with another, regardless of how much we blame someone, it will not change us.The only thing blaming someone does is to keep the focus off of us while we look for external reasons to explain our unhappiness or frustration. We may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming them, but we won’t succeed in changing and moving away f rom the sin that is making us unhappy.

  1. Listened to the hearts of his people and acknowledged his age limitation (18:3, cp 17:2). He did what was best for the Kingdom, and did not act in vanity.

How well do you really listen? Let me test you: You are driving a bus. You go east 12 miles, and turn south and go 2 miles and take on 9 passengers, and then you turn west and go 3 miles and let off 4 passengers. How old is the bus driver? The main problem that many people have when trying to answer this brain teaser is listening. A lot of the times, we latch onto certain information that we think is important in a question and then somehow, miss the most important part. When I first read this question earlier this morning, like many of you, I latched onto the directions (east, south, west), the distance and the number of passengers on the bus. Those are things that that are important right? When I got to the end and it asked how old the bus driver is, I just was dumb founded. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “how are we going to find the age of the buss driver from the information given.” I took a minute and looked at the numbers are wondered if there was some secret message in the numbers and maybe, if you added them together or something, it would work. It wasn’t for a few moments that I finally realized that the clue to this teaser was a simple, three letter word that starts the whole question off. “YOU are the bus driver.”

Listening and loving go together like peaches and cream. If you love people you listen to them. You hear what they have to say. I read a story this past week that illustrates the point.

“A young lady by the name of Lisa was approached by her outreach pastor and asked if she would become part of a new evangelism team. After Lisa considered the request for a moment, her first words out of her mouth were, ‘I’m sorry, I’m no good at evangelism!’ Since that is the response that the outreach pastor received many times he asked her, ‘Wouldn’t it be exciting to help people come to know Jesus?’ ‘Oh,’ replied Lisa with a big smile, ‘I get to do that all the time.’ When the outreach pastor heard that he asked her what she meant. Lisa said, ‘Every few months God sends me a new friend to listen to. Pretty much all I do is tune in to what’s going on in that person’s life and let the person know that I care. Sooner or later, for some reason, most people ask me how to get to know Jesus. When they do, I tell them. And then we pray together to ask the Lord to come into their hearts. I can’t stand the idea of high pressure knocking on doors evangelism thing: it feels too manipulative to me. Listening to people and talking to them heart to heart is something I love to do.’ After a stunned moment the outreach pastor roared with laughter. Then he asked, ‘Just out of curiosity, how many people are we talking about?’ Lisa could not say at the moment, but when she went home that night she started reflecting back, looking up in her personal journals the past seven years. What she found was that she had helped more than 80 people begin a personal relationship with Jesus! All because she would start by listening to them. (From the book “Outflow” by Steve Sjogren and Dave Ping.)

  1. Placed his blessing on each going out (18:4).
  1. Exuded compassion for his enemy, but anticipated victory! (18:5).

In 1975, a child named Raymond Dunn, Jr., was born in the state of New York. The Associated Press (AP) reported that at his birth, a skull fracture and oxygen deprivation caused severe retardation. As the child grew up, the family discovered that he had other impairments. His twisted body suffered up to 20 seizures per day – He was blind, he was mute, and he was immobile. And if that wasn’t enough, he had severe allergies that limited him to only one food – a meat-based formula produced by Gerber Foods. In 1985, Gerber Foods ceased production of the formula that Raymond Dunn, Jr., depended on to survive. His mother scoured the country, buying up all the formula that stores had in stock – accumulating cases and cases of the product; however, in 1990, her supply ran out – without this particular food, Raymond Dunn, Jr., would starve to death. In desperation, his mother appealed to Gerber Foods for help. The employees of the company listened; and, in an unprecedented action, volunteers donated hundreds of hours to bring out old equipment, set up production lines – with permission from the Food and Drug Administration – and produced the formula – all for one special boy! In January 1995, Raymond Dunn, Jr., known as the “Gerber Boy,” died from his physical problems. However, during his lifetime, he called forth a wonderful thing called compassion.

  1. Experienced God’s aid (18:6-8). Jas 4:8-10 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up

I came across a little prayer in a Christian magazine, headed: “A Morning Prayer for Help” – note that I said “morning”! “Dear God, so far today I’ve done alright, I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty, selfish or over indulgent. But in a few minutes God, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on, I’m going to need all the help I can get.

We can face a crisis successfully if we exhibit a godly character.

On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport, killing 155 people. One survived: a four-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecelia. News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators first assumed Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecelia’s name. Cecelia survived because, even as the plane was falling, Cecelia’s mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go . . . Such is the love of our [heavenly Father and] Savior for us. He left heaven, lowered himself to us, and covered us with the sacrifice of his own body to save us.

Stages of Growth: “Retreat to Win” (Part 2) – 2 Samuel 16

There are times when evil looks like it will triumph over good. Ashamed and beaten, the valiant David fled into the wilderness. Unsure of how God would repay his sinful neglect, David was deeply unsure of what God was doing. Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Absalom partied his way to the palace. Where was God? How could David recover? .

Key Principle: There are always many voices that rise during a crisis. The key is to seek God, whether the experts believe His Word or not!

There are two sections to the narrative:

  • The Story of David’s Encounters (16:1-14)
  • The story of Absalom’s Arrival (16:15-23)

Within the story there are six people that reveal the kinds of people we should expect to encounter during a crisis:

1.  Ziba the Servant (16:1-4): Acting as an opportunist, he put supplies together to help David through his difficult time, but had the desire to receive a long term benefit out of aiding David (16:4b).

  • He came out to meet him and had things that David needed (16:1).
  • He had a plan for their use (16:2).
  • He was quick to give up information not flattering to his master (16:3). People that easily share negative information with you, share it about you.
  • He didn’t hesitate to signal that he wanted favor for his work (16:4). People that offer help with strings are people you need to be careful about.

2.  Mephibosheth the Prince (16:3): Though treated very well by David (2 Sam. 9) because of a long standing covenant with Jonathan his father (1 Sam. 20), Mephibosheth still may have desired to receive the throne. We cannot tell if he really felt the way Ziba said he did, but we do know that he stayed behind. That was a strange way to behave if he didn’t want to look disloyal.

3.   Shimei the Heckler (16:5-9,13): Shimei was deeply hurt because David gave over some of the house of Saul to be killed for Saul’s wrongdoing to the Gibeonites (recalled in 2 Samuel 21, though it happened before these events..). Shimei wanted to see David die a painful death. He was bitter and angry.

  • He sought the conflict and came looking for a fight (16:5).
  • He was so hurt he jeopardized his life by attacking many at once (16:6).
  • He wanted David to know why he was so angry (16:7).
  • He automatically assumed the misfortune of David was as a result of things that made HIM hurt. It never occurred to Shimei that his situation may not have been in any way connected (16:8,13).

An older couple were on a trip across country and they stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. As they got up to leave, the woman forgot and left her glasses on the table. They were several miles down the road before she realized she didn’t have them and to make matters worse, her husband had to travel quite a distance down the road before they could find a place to turn around. The old man fussed and complained all the way back to the restaurant. He berated for her foolishness and stupidity. How could she be so thoughtless! When they finally arrived, as the old woman got out of the car to retrieve her glasses the old man said, “Well, as long as you’re going back in there, you may as well get my hat, too.”

After a preacher had given a sermon on spiritual gifts, a woman from the congregation came up to him and said, “That was a great sermon… but I believe I only have one talent.” The preacher smiled and asked, “What’s your talent? The man replied, “I have the gift of criticism.” To which the preacher wisely, “The Bible says that the guy who had only one talent went out and buried it. Maybe that’s what you ought to do with yours.”

Catherine Marshall (considered by many to be one of the more godly women of the last century) noticed this trait in herself. So she decided to go on a “fast” from being critical. She noted: “For the first half of the day, I simply felt a void, almost as if I had been wiped out as a person. This was especially true at lunch…I listened to the others and kept silent… In our talkative family no one seemed to notice. Bemused, I noticed that my comments were not missed. The federal government, the judicial system, and the institutional church could apparently get along fine without my penetrating observations.” In short, stripped of being able to make any negative comments… she found she had nothing to say!

4.   Abishai the Reactionary (16:9-12,14): Shocked that David allowed such insubordinate behavior, Abishai was ready to start shedding blood (16:9). David understood the irony of battling this fight (16:10-11) while fleeing from Absalom. Remember: Some friends will get you into the wrong fight. They want to help, but focus isn’t their strong suit. They can get you caught up, worked up and worn out, but it won’t fix the problem!

5.   Hushai the Secret Friend (16:16-19): The Lord was using real friends to defend David though he couldn’t see what was happening at the time. When David had no control, he set in motion help and trusted the Lord and his friends to do what they must do in his defense.

6.   Ahithophel the Expert (16:20-23): He looked on top of the world. The new king turned to HIM for a plan. Yet, as a turncoat to David, he offered cruel and wicked advice. He may have seemed like the expert, and may have even been wise by the standard of the day (16:23), but God was working behind the scenes to confound his career (17:14b).

How did David keep himself together when pulled in so many directions? (16:11-14)

1)       David RESISTED the temptation to get caught up in the wrong fight, but conserved his strength for the coming battle (16:11).

2)       David REMEMBERED his own sin (16:12) and didn’t presume that none of this was his fault. The key to a humble, uncritical spirit is to remember that we’ve sinned.

A man told of the time his Aunt Varie had a woman friend over. The two women had spent a good deal of the afternoon trying to impress each other with how religious they were. Finally, the other woman left, and my Aunt Varie smugly turned to Uncle Will and remarked, “You know, Mrs. Sills is a good Christian, but I just believe I live closer to the Lord.” Uncle Will thought a moment, and then replied, “Ain’t either of you crowding Jesus any.”

In I John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

3)       David REACHED UPWARD TO God’s faithfulness (16:12b).

Psalm 3 was written by David while he was fleeing Absalom.
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom. O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.” (Psalm 3:1-4)

One article I read said this:

The taxes I pay ….because it means I’m employed.
The clothes that fit a little too snug ….because it means I have enough to eat.
My shadow who watches me work ….because it means I am out in the sunshine.
A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing ….because it means I have a home.
The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot ….because it means I am capable of walking.
My huge heating bill ….because it means I am warm.
All the complaining I hear about our government ….because it means we have freedom of speech.
The lady behind me in church who sings off key ….because it means that I can hear.
The piles of laundry and ironing ….because it means my loved ones are nearby.
The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours ….because it means that I’m alive.
Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day ….because it means I have been productive.

If we focus on God’s faithfulness then you and I can inoculate ourselves against the ungratefulness that is often the source of a critical spirit.

4)       David REQUESTED God’s blessing be restored (Psalm 3:5-8) continues:

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.”

When condemned, we may need to utter: Romans 8:1 “There is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  When we recognize and REMEMBER this truth, we are protected from the spiritual illness of a negative and critical heart.

There’s a story about a crazy old woman who was known to be crazy because she would walk down the streets talking to herself. One of her best known pastimes was talk to Jesus… and Jesus would talk back. One day a new preacher came to town and thought that perhaps he might be able to cure her of this odd activity. So one day, he spied her on the street and went over to talk to her:
“I hear that you often talk to Jesus?” he remarked.
“Oh yes,” she replied. “Jesus and I often have long talks together.”
“Would you do me favor?” he inquired. “The next time you talk to Jesus, could you ask him what the last sin I confessed to Him was?”
She agreed, and the next day as he was walking down the sidewalk, he saw here again and went to her.
“Did you ask Jesus the question?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” she exclaimed. “Jesus and I talked about it for a long time.”
“Oh.” he said thoughtfully. “Well, what did He say my last confessed sin was?”
“He said He didn’t remember.”

Stages of Growth: “Retreat to Win” – 2 Samuel 15

The Allies won WWII. Yet, not every day looked like victory. A lot of days it looked like defeat was inevitable. Gauging the war with too close a look yielded the wrong conclusion.

In today’s text, David learned that sometimes you must step back and lose a battle to win a war. His pattern of hesitance to tackle sinful behavior, his misplaced love and his guilt may have slowed his reactions to the rising challenges of a rebellious son, he was eventually forced to act. Absalom decided to attack what was rightfully Davids.

David knew that you cannot always win in the first round. It may take a retreat to evaluate the situation before you can square off with rebellion and resistance. Yet, in all this David left us a pattern for handling a crisis that strikes our hearts deeply and personally.

Key Principle: When handled Biblically, even a crisis can become a sweet time of God’s instruction to shape us to be more usable to Him.

Several years ago, a Los Angeles Times (5/23/01) article with the curious headlines of “Pests Pester Even the Poshest of Posh Spots” caught my eye. The poshest of posh spots was the famed, luxurious, 285-room, 16-floor Four Seasons Hotel nearby the upscale Rodeo Drive shopping haven, and the pests were the cannot-live-with, but hard-to-kill and never-say-die roaches that invade the main kitchen of the hotel. The pest problems surfaced when the Los Angeles health inspectors paid a surprise visit and discovered six or more egg capsules behind an industrial-strength dishwasher, five or six dead insects on the floor, five or more live adults on the wall, 12-plus live nymphs or baby roaches and two dead nymphs stuck to some tape in the dishwasher area.

The powerful Department of Health Services, which has authorization to shut down food facilities for as long as necessary for the owners to correct conditions that pose a danger to public health, cited the hotel for violation code M (vermin infestation) and N (failure to prevent entrance and harboring of vermin). A county spokesman said, “We don’t take closures lightly. We also had a suspension and revocation hearing about this happening, and that speaks to the gravity of the situation.” Two days later the county reported after a re-inspection: “We went out and found the infestation was still there. We kept it closed.” Finally, three days later, the A rating was reinstated.

David had a secret, a skeleton in his closet that was not dealt with. It would not go away and would resurface at will.

  • Absalom was the third son of David, his mother was the third wife of David and his grandfather was the king of Geshur (2 Sam 3:3).
  • The most outstanding, charismatic, and ambitious of David’s children, Absalom had the perfect looks, the perfect build, and the perfect hair (2 Sam 14:25-26), but not the right or necessary character, temperament and maturity to be king.
  • Passionate, impulsive, and headstrong, he avenged his sister Tamar’s rape by killing her half-brother, Amnon (2 Sam 13), the number one son of David (2 Sam 3:1), and fled to his ancestor’s homeland of Geshur for three years (2 Sam 13:38).
  • Absalom secured permission to return to Jerusalem, but David did not meet or see him for another two years (2 Sam 14:28).

Though not every wayward child is, Absalom was the product of a failed, ignorant and stubborn parenting method. God offered this record as a warning:

  • When son number 1, Amnon, violated his half-sister Tamar, David was furious but said and did nothing (2 Sam 13:21).
  • Absalom hated (2 Sam 13:22) and killed Amnon to avenge his sister’s dishonor and fled to Geshur for three years, but David was consumed with the absence of Absalom (2 Sam 13:39). David did not learn from the past. Like his infatuation with Bathsheba, David pined for and doted on the irrepressible, and the insubordinate Absalom. Both father and son repeated, recycled, and revived past mistakes, and Absalom became even more conniving, cruel, and cunning.
  • Three years of exile in Geshur (2 Sam 13:38) and two years of seclusion and isolation in Jerusalem (2 Sam 14:28) did not reform Absalom, partly because David failed to confront, correct, and chastise Absalom for the two years he was near, and for yet another four years (v 7) Absalom was free to wander about and wreck havoc.

No wonder David had to hear of Absalom’s coup, Israel’s discontent and the city’s unrest from a servant (v 13). Three years stretched to five years and then nine years, but still David did and said nothing and heeded and believed nobody. Like before, the king was in denial.

Absalom was a parent’s worst nightmare. He eyed his father’s throne and plotted to overthrow his father and forced him into early retirement or permanent exile. In a tragic sense, he had the best and worst of David’s genes – he was cut from his father’s cloth. He (2 Sam 14:25) and his father (1 Sam 16:12, 1 Sam 17:42) were the only two men known in the Bible for their beauty that rivaled women’s. Also, Absalom was like David at his lying, murderous, and arrogant worst in the latter’s sin with Bathsheba.

The phrase “good and right,” (v 3) in Hebrew is the usual word for “good” but the rare word for “right,” the first of four occurrences in the Bible (Prov 8:9, 24:26, Isa 57:2) with the meaning of “direct,” “plain,” and “simple.” Absalom promised down-to-earth advice, justice that works and, of course, the “one-of-a-kind” and “never seen or heard or practiced before” legal rhetoric to the people who craved for and lapped up these words. David the king did not stand a chance against Absalom the politician, who shook hands, gave hugs, and promise changes. Absalom socialized, spoke and sided with the Hebrew commoner, the average man, the town folks. He was the politically, legally, and socially correct figure and candidate of his day who promised the world, the moon, and the Jerusalem bridge to his constituents

Absalom’s public yearning was to be judge (v 4), but his hidden agenda was to be king. Absalom was not the Crown Prince of Israel, but the Pied Piper who stole the hearts of Israel (v 7), the same way he stole his father’s heart, stole into Jerusalem and stole the limelight. Divine kingship could not be bought or sought; they were anointed, conferred or inherited, but Absalom couldn’t wait for the throne even though his father was already aging. Absalom, the number three son, was the new number two son after he had killed son number 1, and the new son number one (Chileab called Daniel, 3:3) was taught well not to harbor ambition by his mother, Abigail (2 Sam 3:3), the best of David’s wives, but the king ignored and neglected him.

The Model: What to do When Crisis Comes

1. Recognize that a crisis usually comes from a long circumstance, and cannot be overturned quickly. It has been stewing a long time! (15:1-12). David may have been hesitant to deal with it:

  1. Because of the prophecy of the sword of Nathan (12:11) and guilt over the sin of Bathsheba.
  2. Because of guilt over Tamar’s rape, as David allowed Amnon to have access to her (13:7).
  3. Because of his fixation on Absalom’s attractive way, a misplaced love (13:39) of the “stolen heart”.

The pattern of Absalom is the same again:

    • He planned the things he needs to get his way (15:1),
    • He sucked in the people he would use (15:2-6),
    • He lied and deceived David (15:7-9).
    • He formed allies of the discontented (15:10-12, remember Jonadab son of Shimeah?)

2. Deal decisively with immediate danger when you finally awake to the trouble! (15:13-14).

3. Get help from those who will stand with you and those who you truly can trust (15:15).

4. Try to maintain order for the future (15:16).

5. Make note of those who are with you so that you can care for them later. (Note: don’t become so self-absorbed that you can’t see others around you! 15:17-18).

6. Don’t expect everyone to be caught up in your crisis (15:19-22).

As David leaves Jerusalem, he speaks with one of the military leaders traveling out of the city. Ittai was not Jewish but rather was a foreign mercenary under the service of King David. Both Ittai and his men befriended David during his wilderness experience in Ziklag. (1 Sam 30) and returned to Israel with David. These men served as a type of honor guard for David and did not have to leave with him. David understood that the agreement that he had made with Ittai and his men could no longer be met. Essentially he was an foreigner in foreign land now being exiled to who knows where. This was no situation for innocent people.

David tells Ittai to return to Jerusalem for several reasons:

• David wants Ittai out of harms way

• David cannot fulfill his end of their agreement any longer

• David does not know his course of action

7. You need to be able to cry (15:30) and so do those who suffer with you (15:23)!

As David leaves the Jerusalem, literally running for his life, the emotion of the situation comes pouring out. The power of the pain came to the point that he could no longer contain it.

Look at the pain points that David had to face:

• David’s own son wanted him dead
• Many of David’s friends had turned against him
• The nation was being plunged into civil war
• David was leaving the Ark of the Covenant behind
• David was headed for an unknown future on the run

As David leaves Jerusalem, he is a man in exile. A man marked for death and a man whose followers were more foreigners than his own people. David covered his head, walked barefoot and openly wept as he climbed the Mount of Olives, no doubt looking back down to see Jerusalem one more time before he headed to exile in the desert.

Too often we try to hold our emotions in when we experience the difficulties of a crisis. We rely on our own strength to get us through and we put up a brave face. The reality is that there are times when the emotions simply must come out. Like David, there will be times when the tears have to flow. Whether you let yourself cry or you go out and scream your head off. You need an outlet for your emotion. The longer you hold on to the pain, the more difficult it will be to let go and experience the needed release.

8. Remember that God is the one still in control of the results of your own self-made crisis. He is faithful WHEN WE ARE NOT! He does not give what we deserve! (15:24-29).

David gives instructions to Zadok to return to Jerusalem and to take the Ark back to the temple. This was a bold move for David because the Ark was the empowered symbol of God’s presence. The understanding was that if you had the Ark with you, God was on your side. When David sends the Ark back to Jerusalem it is an act of absolute trust and total faith. David understood that his entire situation was now in the hands of God and that the only way to live through the crisis was to place His complete trust in God. David shows also that he belongs to god because he says that he is committed to God’s will whatever it may be.

9. Pray about the situation as it unfolds! (15:31).

David teaches us a valuable lesson that we sometimes seldom learn during a crisis. God can accomplish what we cannot. The same is true of our lives today, when the situation moves beyond our ability to deal with, we must give it over to God. Prayer is one of your most valued resources during a crisis. Just as worship is a seeking of God’s presence, prayer is a seeking of God’s provision. David understood that if he was going to get through the crisis, he needed God’s provision.

10. Get more information before you respond to the crisis with what you have (15:32-37).

By fleeing the coming coup attempt David does three key things:

• Preserves the sanctity of Jerusalem

• Provides for his family

• Protects his military strength

Crises are a fact of life and we all have to deal with them. Your problems may not be to the extent that David had to deal with but the reality is that when you go through them, you don’t go through them alone. When trials face you, that is the time to seek God’s presence and provision even more earnestly. This morning maybe you are going through a crisis, take some time to seek God and find His strength and support for your life in a fresh way.




When handled Biblically, even a crisis can become a sweet time of God’s instruction to shape us to be more usable to Him.