- Sermon Notes
Winning God’s Way
1 Samuel 24:1-22
Intro: The Sun and The Wind
In our world of growing conflict and diminishing resolution the way someone goes about trying to win says a lot about what they think winning is. Many may think that victory is simply defeating an adversary, but God calls us to an even sweeter win. As followers of Jesus, living in the current era, we know our battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). As much as we may feel that someone is an enemy in our life that needs to be defeated, they are so often the very thing we need to win. They are our mission, and victory is not found in overpowering them, but overwhelming them with love.
That’s the idea that I would like to explore today, and I would like to do it through the lens of one of a great man’s great moments. King David was an awesome man of God. He was a warrior, a ruler, a gifted poet, and a man who loved and feared the Lord. But, before he would be king, David had many trials and tests to overcome. Today’s passage demonstrates the power of gentleness and how we can win in a Christ honoring way.
Read: 1 Samuel 24:1-22
After living under the threat of death at the hand of King Saul, and being forced to run and hide to preserve his life, David is given a critical opportunity. He could raise his hand against his enemy and be free from this persecution. What David chooses is rare and remarkable, and an example to us of a different way to live. When we have the opportunity to raise our hands against our enemies, we are wise to pause and acknowledge the character of our God, to recognize what winning really means, and to surrender the actions of our hands.
- Let God guide your hand
- In this passage we see King Saul continue his pursuit of David’s life. Can you imagine such an enemy? The most powerful man in the nation, an accomplished warrior, winged by 3000 choice combatants.
- This was not just a trivial disagreement, a broken relationship, or coworker or relative that you can’t seem to see eye to eye with. The stakes of this conflict were life or death.
- So, when King Saul steps into the very cave where David and his men happen to be hiding to relieve himself, David could have ended his persecution right there and then.
- Some of the men with David even encouraged him to, saying, “Look! God has put Saul’s life in your hands. Now is your chance!” But David, a man after God’s heart(1 Sam. 13:14), chose to spare his king.
- In life, we often find ourselves at odds with others…more and more it seems. In that tension, our minds and hearts come up with all sorts of solutions to win our conflicts.
- Sometimes we even fantasize about having just the right comeback, just the right argument, just the right opportunity to take out our opposition. But on the occasion that your opportunity arises, as a follower of Jesus you need to ask yourself, what would God have me do?
- It’s really an opportunity to let God guide your hand. We ought to be ready to acknowledge that our hope and plan might not line up with God’s intent and wisdom.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
- David gets close enough to King Saul to cut off the corner of his robe, evidencing that he could have taken his attacker out. Yet, he even feels a sting in his conscience over this…what could be seen as an affront on Saul’s anointed kingship by cutting part of a royal garment. What a tender heart David had before the Lord.
1 Samuel 24:6…Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed…
- I believe that we are called to such gentleness. David was thinking about his identity as a servant of the Most High God, and he allowed the hand of God to stay his own hand.
- King Saul was not a distant figure in David’s life. We has a real tangible threat, and a betrayer to David. Their relationship had been intimate. David had soothed Saul with music, had married Saul’s daughter, was best friends with Saul’s son. These two were family, but when Saul felt threatened he turned on David, even though David had done nothing but honor and serve his king and his God. Saul was personally and mortally dangerous to David.
- David’s decision to spare Saul is the sort that so many people would call weak today, just as they would have in his own day. David’s concern and ours should be matched…What does God want me to do with these hands? With this life?
Illus. Bow Grip
- Our first instinct when we face a difficult challenge can often be too aggressive, too ham-fisted. Often times a gentle grip is not only enough, but optimal.
- Our God is so powerful, far beyond anything we can comprehend.
Job 26:7-14 He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds, and the cloud does not burst under them. He obscures the face of the full moon and spreads His cloud over it. He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble and are amazed at His rebuke. He quieted the sea with His power, and by His understanding He shattered Rahab. By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; and how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”
Job 19:12 Were He to snatch away, who could restrain Him? Who could say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’
- He has the authority and ability to bulldoze any problem that may arise, any adversary. And He is the God of justice and righteousness, and that is a truth we would be foolish to overlook. Yet, He is also the God of grace and mercy. In His unbounded power, He chooses so often to move gently. He chooses such tender ways to deal with us. His heart is so clearly to win our hearts.
- His agenda is greater than ours, and it’s greater than us. He not only loves you and I, but also the person you may call (or who may call you) enemy.
- When that person is delivered into your hand, when you have a chance to wound those that would wound you, pause, and seek what God’s will might be in this. Let your heart melt a little bit.
- Follow the model of meekness
- Once Saul finished his business, he leaves the cave, completely unaware of what had just happened. Then David comes out after him.
- Note this. He call’s out to Saul saying, “My Lord the king!” Then he drops down and bows to the one who has been trying to end his life.
- What!? Can you imagine making yourself that vulnerable to someone you know has it out for you? Not only did David let Saul live when he had the upper hand, he practically handed the advantage back to his enemy!
Read: Samuel 24:9-15
- David is so meek, so humble before Saul. He assures him that he is not against Saul, with the corner of the royal robe as proof. He places the authority to judge into God’s hands (where it belongs and –actually– always was). And he calls himself a dead dog or flea, a nothing, in comparison to Saul! That is not the response our flesh wants to give. Yet it was the right one.
Illus. Table Top
- I really admire the example we are given here through David. It embodies so many of the fruits of the spirit: it’s deeply loving, subversively peaceful, notably patient, remarkably kind, quite good, movingly gentle(or meek), and you wanna talk about self-control?
- And David was no pushover. He was a mighty warrior, he had readily taken out many enemies. From bears to Philistine giants. He knew what it took to win with force. He wasn’t afraid to get blood on his hands, he just feared the Lord. When the Lord said fight, he fought.
- Now, we live in an era of grace that is being sustained by the mercy of God. (2 Peter 3:9). We have been given a radical calling in this life, and the precedent set for us, as laborers for the Gospel was one of meekness.
- So, you may be asking, what exactly is meekness? It is being strong enough that you can endure being vulnerable, able to withstand affliction—even if it makes you look weak—because you have a greater inner strength.
- David was a great example of this, but an even more powerful and relevant example is Jesus! The one who hung on the cross and asked God to forgive those who crucified him. The King of kings, who has all authority, and yet submitted himself to torture and death. The only one strong enough to endure all temptation and the weight of all sin, and emerge victorious, overcoming it all!
- Christ demonstrated gentleness, meekness and all things good to us, and he called us to do likewise.
Luke 6:27-32 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”
Illus. Stolen Song
- This is a very difficult way to live, and only Christ himself did it perfectly, but it is part of His instruction to us.
As a note, I want to say that I don’t suggest you put yourself intentionally in situations where you will be taken advantage of, and I hope you will only place yourself in the locations and situations God calls you to. Be wise, be decerning, and let us all protect one another.
- When God is calling you to be meek, to turn the other cheek, it can be a powerful opportunity to show a person Christ’s strength and love.
- “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven”(Eccl. 3) but we are not always great at judging what the moment calls for, and to err toward aggression (verbally, relationally, or physically) is common and dangerous. This tendency may have us fighting the wrong battles.
- We may even be convinced we are doing the right thing, but God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Illus. Jesus, the sword, and the healing
- Jesus has a heart for people, and He has been so missional about healing the sick and sinful. He was more concerned about the eternal well-being of His children than He was about His earthy comfort or anyone else’s. Let us get on mission with Him. Let us seek to win people, not fights.
- Let love win hearts
- So, Saul heard David’s words , and his response was astounding. He starts to weep and declares that David was more righteous than he was. He was so moved by David’s kindness compared to his own evil, that he concedes to David’s destiny to take his place as king of Israel. At least for now, Saul is repentant.
- That is what it so often should look like to win God’s way.
Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
- It is this miraculous loving-kindness –supplied by the power of the Holy Spirit– that allows us to win the hearts of our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, and our enemies.
Proverbs 25:21-22 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
- When we see a battle brewing our first tactic needs to be love, it shouldn’t our last resort. When we choose to be Christ-like in our approach, amazing things can happen!
- Suddenly, our goals shift. Suddenly, we aren’t in fight or flight, but our hearts are set on freeing our fellow. When we start seeing our enemies as hearts to be won for Jesus, all the rules change. It’s a whole new game.
- When you respond to hostility with love and gentleness, it will likely throw people off. They may think you are disingenuous, weak, an easy target. It may take them some time to recognize that you are choosing to show them grace. But stay the course!
- The spirit is powerful, and loving people who won’t show you love is lifechanging. Even if they don’t ever humble themselves, it is a lifegiving mentality and blessing to you!
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Matthew 5:5 (NIV) “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”
- We have a mission to win people for Jesus, with love and gentleness. Let God lead your actions, follow Christ’s example, and let love do its work, and you will see amazing victories beyond what you ever would have fought for.
1 Samuel 24
Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way. Now afterward David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, a single flea? The Lord therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you. You have declared today that you have done good to me, that the Lord delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely? May the Lord therefore reward you with good in return for what you have done to me this day. Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. So now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household.” David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.