Sunday, December 10, 2017

Rock of Escape

Listen to the podcast of the sermon titled Rock of Escape.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Prophecy of 1 Samuel 23:7-13

Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. (1 Samuel 23:7-13)

It's easy to get fascinated by the conditional foreknowledge of God in this passage.  God tells David what will happen if he chooses a certain path, David decides to not go down that particular path, and the foreseen event does not take place.  This is the stuff science fiction alternate timelines are made of.  This is the basis for the multiverse, a philosophical theory which tries to disprove God by building an infinite number of possibilities for existence to happen naturally.

But, we can't miss the prophecy in this passage (which I ignored this past Sunday) that this Godly prediction of what MAY happen to David, and did not, actually DID happen.  This is a prophecy of Christ.

The devil was quite pleased at the incarnation.  The father had made the drastic "mistake" of giving his son into the enemy's hand.  What foolish action could be worse than the incarnation?  In the parable of the wicked tenants, they laugh as they say to themselves, "here comes his son!  Now the inheritance will be ours when we kill him!"  Christ was made vulnerable, emptied into the form of a mere man, who could be killed. On earth there is no place to hide, and so it was only a matter of time for Satan to be satisfied in his conquest of the Lord's life.

Furthermore, Jesus knew all of this.  He knew that he was to be killed, but he knew that his death would a victory over the devil, not a loss.  Whereas David left Keilah, in order to avoid his fate, Jesus remained, and he even walked into the danger, knowing that it must happen for the salvation of the world.  The devil wants the destruction of the whole church on Christ's account, and what David asked the Lord came true: the world turned Jesus over to the devil in order to save itself.  We crucified Christ.  Jesus also told us that after he was gone, the world was going to continue to persecute the church on his account.  Read the newspapers and see that this prophecy, too, has come to pass.  We surrendered our savior into the hands of evil men, and as a result, the evil men continue to persecute us for his sake.

So, when David asks the Lord if Saul will come down, the Lord does not lie.  The spirit of Saul, the false church, does come down. And the men of Keilah, the city that David saved from destruction in the previous passage, does surrender the savior over to evil men.  The church is saved from destruction by the very act of turning the savior over to evil men.  The very idea that our wickedness toward Christ becomes the very act that sets up eternal salvation for believers testifies to the truth of scripture.  The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  Repent and believe the gospel.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Urim and Thummim

Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. (1 Samuel 23:7-13)

1. What we have here is David, in the midst of great trials, consulting the Lord, and the Lord helping him directly.  Why does David need the ephod that Abiathar brought with him?  Because in the breastplate of the priestly garment are the Urim and Thummim.  What are they?  They are precious stones that are used to cast lots for yes/no answers from the Lord.  They are not used many times in the Bible, only when necessary.

2. Notice that what the Lord directly tells David will happen ACTUALLY DOES NOT HAPPEN.  God knows the conditional future as well as the actual future.  He tells what will happen to David if he remains in Keilah--a disaster!  So, David leaves Keilah, and the horrible occurrence does not take place.  God is not only omniscient in the past, present, and future, but he knows what would have happened in certain cases.  David has free will, and the Lord knows each avenue that David's free will will take.  However, what actually happens is what is foreordained by God, in order to advance his purposes in the salvation of the world.

3. This practice of casting lots for yes/no answers from the Lord was reserved for the high priest and even then was not used often. In 1 Samuel, we have a couple of instances where the king uses the ephod, but the average believer is not to do so.  Also, priests today are not to do so.  Not only do we have passages of scripture prohibiting consulting oracles, but looking at Exodus 28 will show us something important:

So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord. And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly. (Exodus 28:29-30)

4. The high priest has the burden of his people upon his heart.  Their names are literally upon his heart in the ephod.  Also, the Urim and Thummim are in the breastplate over his heart.  As the text says, "Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord."  At the time of Exodus, the Israelites had begun their wandering in the wilderness.  Like David, this was a time of great trial upon the people.  Aaron, the high priest, had the burden of their judgment upon him.  In the midst of trial, Israel can consult with the Lord directly through the high priest.

5. Things have changed since Christ.  The ceremonial law of the priesthood is gone, because we do not need Aaron and his ephod and the Urim and Thummim.  We have a great high priest in heaven, who is interceding for us in the midst of our trials.  We don't have the Urim and Thummim, because we have the Word of God, the scriptures that show us the living Word of God, Jesus.  Everything we need to know about living in God's will can be found within its pages.  Let's look at 1 Peter 4:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19)

6. As Israel entrusted its souls to Aaron, so we entrust our souls to the one who is always faithful and will save our lives eternally--Jesus, the great high priest.  The burden of our judgment is upon him and him alone.

7. As Christians, we are to go through fiery trials that test us and sanctify us before the Lord.  This is a good thing.  We are lied to when we are told that we need to have our best life now.  I'd be very worried if I were having my best life now, because that means that the life to come will be tremendously horrid.  As Christians, we do not suffer for unrepentant sin.  We do not suffer as haters and time-wasters and busybodies.  No, as Christians we are set upon by the world.  The Lord allows the world to persecute us and the devil to tempt us, so that his glory is revealed in us and we will repent and rejoice.  We are in the wilderness.  We are on the run from Saul, and we don't have an ephod with Urim and Thummim, but we do have the Bible for comfort and encouragement.  Peter says we share in Christ's sufferings, and it is easy to forget that, so we go to the scriptures and we read...

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27-31)

8. Christ suffered.  He was persecuted without cause.  But the persecutors will suffer a worse fate.  Ours is only suffered in this life, but in the life to come, we have life everlasting in Christ, where there is no more pain and no more tears.  Today, there is mourning.  We need to pray and weep for our children, that the Lord will spare us and them from eternal destruction.  When we are persecuted by the world, we have a great testimony to God's grace upon us, because Christ suffered likewise, and when the world commits such atrocities against a "green tree", what will the world of dry trees suffer when the end comes?  They will wish they and their children had never been born, and they will desire to have the mountains cover them, in order to hide from the Lord.

9. What does the Lord want of you?  Consult the scriptures.  In the midst of trials, we can turn to the Word of God for guidance.  Ignore the new church of prosperity that tells you that suffering is a result of your failure to love God. The world hates God, and so suffers from his wrath. If you have a penitent faith in Christ, you will suffer, too, but yours will be the suffering of Christ, partaking in his righteousness and experiencing great joy at his glory.  The Urim and Thummim can be found on the cross.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. (1 Samuel 23:6)

Abiathar is the only surviving member of Ahimelech's family, who were all wiped out by Saul for assisting the renegade David in his flight. Abiathar flees to David and David promises to protect him, and it seems here in this isolated verse that Abiathar has brought an ephod with him. An ephod is the garment of a priest, and it is highly symbolic in this context, because David, the rightful king of Israel, is on the run, and he has now been given this symbol. Jesus, too, is rightful king and priest of a world that rejects him and persecutes him. Tuesday marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, of Martin Luther posting his grievances on the door in Whittenburg. One of the aspects of the Reformation was connecting the common man directly with Jesus through the scriptures translated in the vernacular language. Jesus is the great high priest, and until we had the scriptures in our own language, we had to trust in the priests to connect us to Christ through a confusing Latin Mass. Martin Luther and the printing press started the process of getting the ephod to the son of David, where it rightly belonged.

As we see in Leviticus 10, the priesthood is a flawed institution when in the hands of men. Nadab and Abihu offer strange fire to the Lord and are destroyed. Aaron, their father, is so grieved by this tragedy, and full of resentment and sin, that he is unable to eat the sin offering for the atonement of the congregation. Likewise, a man cannot atone for the sins of others, because his own sin is in the way and must be atoned for first.

In Leviticus 16, God gives Moses a complicated choreography of offerings and motions for a sinful priest to be able to atone for the sins of the congregation, but these complex instructions only show how inadequate humans are and how important it is to have a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. All of this prefigures Christ.

Once again the book of Hebrews is our enlightening star. Jesus had to become a man in every respect so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (2:17). Because he was faithful to the commandments and did not sin, he does not have to atone for his own. Because he is God, his blood is sufficient for all. Jesus is a priest, not because he is descended through the levitical order, but because he has the power of an indestructible life (7:15).

And Christ is not just a priest, he is the great high priest. Aaron was a priest in weakness, but Christ is perfect and therefore the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (5:9). Because Christ is in heaven, at the right hand of the Father, no complex instructions for tabernacle patterns is necessary. Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises (8:6).

Without Luther and the Reformation bringing this knowledge to the common people by way of the scriptures in the vulgar tongue, we would still be lost in a dead language, an imperfect earthly system that confuses the once-for-all sacrifice on the cross with a continual re-sacrifice at the hands of a sinful priest, and a lack of assurance of salvation due to a lack of Christ as liaison between heaven and earth.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David's men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. (1 Samuel 23:1-5)

1. There may be something to the Philistines robbing Keilah of "Cain's offering" and David capturing "Abel's offering" in return, but since nothing is written about it, it will remain something to mediate on.

2. The main significance of this passage is the prayer.  David asks the Lord if he should attack.  Of course, in David's situation, his army is not a formidable force.  It is only composed of fellow desperate people.  Even though the Lord responds (probably through the prophet Gad) that he should attack, the men are sorely afraid, so David asks again.  The Lord responds that he will, indeed, give the Philistines over into David's hand, and so David proceeds with the attack.  David saves Keilah.

3. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus brings his disciples and has them wait near him, so he can pray.  He takes with him Peter, James, and John, and he begins to be afraid.  His divinity is minimized at this point, and his humanity is coming to the forefront.  He possesses a great heaviness, which he tells the three apostles about.  He describes his heaviness as the approach of death.  He then tells them to wait where they are and watch.

4. Going forward a little, Jesus falls to the ground and pleads from his humanity that the Lord might take his impeding sacrifice away.  But he submits himself fully to the father's will in perfect obedience.

5. The watchers fail three times.  Peter, James, and John are unable to stay awake each time.  The third time Jesus returns he tells them, "Sleep hence forth and take your rest.  The hour has come."  Christ means that, even though their watchfulness was weak, it was enough.  Their task is over, and Christ has passed the final test of human doubt.  Christ saves the world.

6. As Romans 8:26-27 reads, God's Spirit helps us in our infirmities, because we do not know how to pray or what to pray for.  But God's spirit prays through us, giving expression to what we are unable to express.  God searches through all hearts and knows what is in them.  He not only stirs up hearts to pray but shows the heart to whom to pray and how. Our prayers are to be for saints and potential saints, and the prayers themselves are to be according to the will of God.

7. So, even though the three apostles "failed" and fell asleep, through their infirmities God succeeded in the keeping watch.  What was the watch for? Not, it seems, for the people that were coming to capture Jesus but for his humanity's faith in the task at hand to be restored.

8. We must stay awake now, though, for we do not know at what hour the end will come, and we must be prepared. The incarnation of Christ is a warning to all the world to turn from our sin and live.  When Christ comes again, anyone who did not heed his message will have to pay for his own sins for eternity.  All who did heed Christ will have placed their full trust and faith in him for the forgiveness of their sins and have everlasting life.  When we keep watch, we are to be on watch for the best interests of the saints and potential saints. Sharing the gospel of forgiveness of sins would be in the best interests of our people.  Being a watchman is sharing the gospel.

9. David trusted God and fought the Philistines, but God was the one who won the battle.  All David needed was to trust in the Lord.  God works through even our doubt and weakness.  We cry out, "I believe! Help my unbelief!" when we hear that God has forgiven our sins through the shedding of Christ's blood.  The Spirit of God does just that.  We are saved through faith alone, and the rest of our earthly life is the Spirit helping our unbelief.  Your sins have been forgiven!  Believe!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Testing Ground

And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 21:10-22:5)

With the sword of Goliath in hand, David flees his own kingdom to Goliath's home city, Gath.  So, David is essentially going back to the beginning of his ministry, seeking refuge in the very place he conquered for Saul.  Here we learn that after one has been delivered from the darkness, he cannot go back.  God uses the world as his sanctifying ground for us, to test us and put us through trials, so we can be transformed more into the likeness of his son.

1. Even the outside world can identify a believer.

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)

2. The Christian bond is that of bitterness (discontent) of soul.  We are together not in our power but in our wretchedness. This is important to note, because the modern church is teaching that we are bonded in prosperity.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

3. The Christian is obedient to God's commandments, even in adversity.  Remember, David's great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite.  Perhaps he was looking for that same honor in Moab's king.  He did find it, for his parents were safe during his time in the stronghold.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

This series of scenes show the believer's interaction with the outside world.  We learn that true believers cannot hide among them but are drawn to each other by their wretchedness in Christ.  However, we can utilize the world's assets for our benefit.  Luke 16:8-9 reads: For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.  God made the world for his children, and although its people are hostile to us, we can take care of our own in it, just as Christ did.

God put everything in subjection under his son, and so there is nothing that is not his.  We do not yet see everything in subjection under him, but we see Jesus in the scriptures suffer death so that through God's grace he might taste death for everyone.  Since all things exist not only through him but for him, Jesus brings his children to glory through suffering.  He sanctifies them through the world that exists and is subjected to Christ.  So, when we interact with the world, things may not go our way, like with David at Gath, yet we can be sure that God is sanctifying us.  He brings fellow suffering Christians together, and he gives us opportunities to obey his commandments in the playing field of the world.  We don't have to isolate ourselves.  As Christians, we are obedient to him, even as the world tries to tempt us and turn us away. These trials and tribulations test our faith, so that we may become perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Goliath's Sword

Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.” And the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.” (1 Samuel 21:8-9)

David has been through a lot. After defeating Goliath, he was a hero, but just as you and I become persecuted when we take the Lord's side, so, too, did David experience trials and tribulations as soon as the Lord was in control of his life. He stood before Goliath and proclaimed the name of the Lord of hosts. He had already been anointed king of Israel. He defeated Goliath and then took the giant's own sword to behead him. Saul was impressed and kept David close. Then the women of Israel came out of their homes to sing about how great David was--how much better he was than Saul. Think of the angels singing when a lost soul comes into Christ's kingdom.  What happens next? The unbelieving world rises up against that new Christian and tries to bring him down. Saul gets very angry with David. He hurls a spear at David, not once, but twice, and Saul even throws his spear against his own son, because of his son's defense of David!

Saul tries to have David killed in battle, Saul tries to have servants kill David, and he tries to send messengers to kill David. David is now on the run, desperate, and he goes to priests in Nob and acquires bread. He has resorted to bearing false witness in order to get what he needs, because he is so desperate. Finally he asks for a weapon, and Ahimelech the priest tells him that all he has is the very sword of Goliath, the very one David used to secure victory against the Philistines.  He tells David, "there is none but that," and David responds, "there is none LIKE that!"

When we are at the lowest place in life, God reminds us that he is still there, that he is still in control. He reminds us of our justification. He tells us to be strong and courageous, not to fear or be in dread, because he is walking along side us the whole way. He will not leave us nor forsake us. 

After we are justified, we are commanded to follow God's law out of gratitude. However, David had just gotten through a whopper of a lie, before Ahimelech presents him with Goliath's sword. Likewise, we will fail to keep God's law. But if we repent of our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In our desperate time, we will be tempted to turn to the right hand or the left hand, to incorporate false teaching about Jesus into our faith. But if we keep the word of God before us at all times, and we meditate on it day and night, then we will be successful in building up our faith and becoming sanctified in the Lord. Armed with the word of God--sharper than any two edged sword--and a good defense of the truth that is in us, no worldly person will be able to stand philosophically before us. God will not leave us nor forsake us.

Not only does the sword of Goliath remind us that God is with us, it reminds us to love our neighbor. After beheading Goliath, David did not keep the sword but turned it over to all Israel for commemoration. Now, that symbolic sword has come back to David. Likewise, when we give of ourselves the good work that God has done in us to our neighbors, the good work comes back to us. God's presence reminds us to show hospitality to strangers, to visit those in prison--those whose souls are held captive by the devil, who has tempted them to unbelief. We visit them in their cages and share the word of God with them, giving them another piece of the key to life, with which they may be sprung free. We keep the gospel elevated in our marriage and with our children. The Lord has told us that he will never leave us nor forsake us.

But one has been forsaken. On the cross, Jesus cried out, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why? Because there he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. God transferred all our sins upon him and then smote him. He was wounded, crushed, in order to bring us peace with our maker. All of our straying like lost sheep, God has put upon his son. God cut him off, forsake him, so that he could conquer sin and death alone, making his grave with the wicked. Even though he was sinless, God treated him like the most vile of sinners in order to save all of us. The sword of Goliath represents this satisfaction of wrong against God. Jesus participates in a duel and dies, but in that death he is victorious. He is forsaken so that the Lord will not forsake us.

When you are persecuted, desperate, and at your lowest ebb, think of Goliath's sword and know that the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you. We will never be separated from the love of Christ. Neither in tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution. No, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Nothing in creation can separate us from the love of God that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Karma Undone

Then David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. (1 Samuel 21:1-6)

What we have here is a desperate David spinning a yarn in order to get food out of the priest.  Ahimelech asks him why he is alone, and David essentially claims, "I'm on a secret mission!  Yeah, that's it.  I'm a spy, and I'm meeting up with some other spies, and we are going to be doing some spy stuff.  Shhh!  Don't tell anybody.  Do you have any thing to eat?"  So, David is engaged in bearing false witness, because he is desperate, but that should not be an excuse.  Remember Abraham lying to the Egyptians about not being married to Sarah, and what happened?  A plague hit...the Egyptians!  This is not karma, this is something else.

Ahimelech responds with a sin of his own.  He takes an incidental command from Exodus 19 and applies it to eating consecrated bread that is only meant for the priests. There is no situation in which David is allowed to eat the bread, and so Ahimelech has violated the law of God.  What's more, because David is a likable and famous individual, having killed his ten-thousands as the song goes, Ahimelech is ready to violate God's law, and David has given him a tremendous opportunity.

Now, there's the chief of Saul's herdsmen, Doeg, an Edomite by birth, and it says in the passage that he was "detained before the Lord" at the same location.  God wanted this man there for a reason, and it is clear why in the next chapter.  Doeg tells Saul all that has happened, Saul confronts Ahimelech, and then Saul has Doeg himself kill all the priests and destroy the entire town of Nob, including women, children, and livestock. Once again, this is not karma, for none of this is happening to David, and the punishment on Nob is overwhelming in comparison to David's crime.  This is something else.

Let's look at another David transgression.  We will look closer at this in the future, but the taking of Bathsheba for his own and killing her husband involves not just being dishonest but literally lining up all the commandments and shooting them.  This makes lying to Ahimelech a boy's prank.  However, there is much destruction due to David's secret agent yarn.  There is much more destruction due to Bathsheba, too, as we read:

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” (2 Samuel 12:10-14)

Once again, this is not karma.  The world is not under a karma system.  Karma does not exist.  We are under a curse caused by the original transgression of Adam.  This is important, because the illusion of karma permeates everything that happens in life, including the history of David, as we see.  We get sucked into the idea that our actions cause direct consequences back at ourselves, and so we find ourselves in situations where we are watching our every move.  We find ourselves in a covenant of works, where every transgression of God's moral law manifests itself as an injury to self or loved ones, as if God is waiting for us to "mess up" so he can afflict us or our families.  But the truth is, the curse mankind brought on ourselves IS the affliction.  This is the natural state of things due to the fall, and so God doesn't need to afflict us with sickness and disease.  We've done it to ourselves already.  God's glorious job is to deliver us from the curse by grace.

I have been confused by certain verses for years.  When Jesus heals a 38-year invalid, he later tells him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14)  The wording made me think that one could lose God's grace by sinning again, and so one had to be constantly on our guard against sin to prevent his soul being lost.  This is a plunge into legalism fueled by karma.  Here is another way of looking at what Jesus said:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

One is unable to repent unless the Holy Spirit draws him to repentance.  Repentance is the immediate and first seed of a true faith.  Faith is given to us by God's grace, which he exerts over us to deliver us from the curse.  So, what Jesus is telling his disciples and those with them, is that only those with a true faith will escape the curse that has been in effect since Adam sinned.  David repents in both of his situations.  In Psalm 32, David writes:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (1-5)

And we know the deep repentance of Psalm 51, which David wrote directly after Nathan convicted him.  Remember, this exchange: David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die."  We know that God forgave David his lying to Ahimelech, because Jesus justifies David to the Pharisees in Mark 2 (see last sermon).

Now, as Christians, we do continue to sin, and trials befall us, but this, too, is not karma, but God allowing his children to be disciplined by the curse without us being still under the curse.  As Paul writes in Hebrews,

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

We are delivered out of the curse by Jesus Christ taking the curse upon himself on behalf of God's children.  In an astonishing exchange at the end of 1 Samuel 22, David takes on the role of both the first Adam and the second Adam for the sake of the last surviving member of Ahimelech's family:

But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” (1 Samuel 22:20-23)

In these four verses we have the fall of mankind through Adam, the curse, and even both the serpent and Judas in the actions of Doeg.  But then the second Adam rises up and takes charge when David proclaims, "Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping."  The grace of God in Jesus Christ appeals to us, "stay with me, do not be afraid. Those still under the curse hate you because they hate me, and they will try to destroy you, because they hate all that I stand for, but put your full trust and faith in me, for with me you shall be safe forever."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Against Legalism

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)

In order to support what his disciples are doing in breaking the ceremonial law of the Pharisees, Jesus actually has the audacity to cite a desperate time in David's life.  David lies repeatedly to a priest, because he and his followers are starving, and Jesus uses this historic event to make his theological point.  The reason will become apparent, and it is the difference between life in the old covenant of works and the new covenant of grace.

The law of resting on the Sabbath is not only a ceremonial law that shows love for God, but it has been corrupted into a man-made exaggeration of the original law.  When man does something like this, he believes in an aberration of who God is.  Remember the original sin?  Adam and Eve were convinced by the serpent that God was a mean tyrant, and so they broke the single boundary that God had provided for them.  We even read Eve adding a little legalism of her own.  She tells the serpent that she and her husband are not to eat of the forbidden fruit NOR TOUCH IT.  God didn't actually say anything about touching the forbidden fruit, but the illusion of God as tyrant had grown in their minds, that they could not escape the image, even though it was a graven image they had created themselves.

Likewise, the Pharisees have taken a law in which man shows his love for God by taking a break from the toil that is part of the curse and basking in God's glory for at least a day, enjoying the Lord who made him, learning about him, and studying his eternal nature.  The Sabbath is a day to live in the gospel, and the Pharisees have turned it into a ritualistic game of freeze tag, where we aren't even supposed to touch anything.  So, we have developed a system of works that is a misinterpretation of a law that God made for us, so that we could live in his reality better.  So, when the disciples pick grain for food, the Pharisees freak out on them, telling them they are breaking a strict law.  God as strict taskmaster is unbelief in the God of the bible, and Jesus tells them so.

The key word that Jesus uses here is "need."  Elsewhere in the gospels (Luke 14:5) he says, "Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?"  The truth of the matter is, that even these legalistic Pharisees would help another in need.  The law of need supersedes the ceremonial law, especially a law that has been distorted by man's wiles.  Jesus punctuates his point twice.  Once with "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."  This first smack directly states what I said above, that the law of need--or the moral law--supersedes the ceremonial law.  The second smack across the face comes with the statement, "So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath," which is another way of saying, "I'm God, so my interpretation of the Sabbath is the correct one!"

Today, we have the same legalism going on, and it confuses us, because we are no longer in a covenant of works but in a covenant of grace.  Paul helps us in his fantastic letter to the Colossians in this exact matter.  He tells us that God "has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  This transfer of his children from one covenant to the other absolves us from legalism. It doesn't mean we are not under the law, though.  Being in the covenant of grace means that we still perform the moral law, the law of need, out of gratitude.  Gratitude means loving the neighbor we can see to show that we love the God we can't see.

Paul writes, "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:16-23)

Remember, there are many in the church who are still under the old covenant.  God, in their eyes, is still "stern taskmaster," and so they are only trying to "help" you, because they do not understand the covenants, and they think everyone is still under the old covenant.  They are only trying to help, but you are under the new covenant of grace.  Paul says to let no one disqualify you by insisting on man-made institutions and regulations.  You are dead to those things!  You are also dead to the source of such things, which are the elemental spirits of the world.  These are demons inspiring humans to add unbiblical teachings to a false gospel in order to keep you dead in your sins and lose your soul forever!  Paul instructs us to keep our minds on heavenly things and not earthly things, in order to combat these worldly teachings.  This sounds like more law, but these are laws of joy that come free and willingly to the one who is in the covenant of grace.  When Paul tells us to put to death our earthly desires in Colossians 3, he's telling us as people who have been justified in Christ, not as people of the old covenant.  So, if we go back to where Paul states the theme of his letter, we read the following:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:8-15)

The first sentence above summarizes the letter: don't let anyone add legalism to your gospel.  Then Paul tells us how to do this by reminding us of our justification.  In fact, most of the letter is a classic telling of the gospel.  We need to hear the gospel over and over, so that we can be spared false teaching within the church, teaching that is legalistic in nature and that leads us outside of the covenant of grace and back into the covenant of works where death lay.

Paul ends his gospel presentation by showing us two things.  First, Christ has eradicated the legal demands put upon us by the law and crucified it, destroying it forever.  Next, he asserts his authority over all of the unbelieving people in this world who would lead us astray by their authoritative false teaching. 

Legalism is the most pervasive false gospel in the church today, as it has been throughout history.  It is the element that keeps many would-be Christians forever outside the grace of God, because many, both in and out of the church, think it is the true working out of Christianity.  Jesus tells us that this could not be more wrong.  Read your bible and see for yourself.  The true gospel is one of grace, and good works are done for love of God and neighbor, not to appease a tyrant who may or may not save you.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Christian Bond

In 1 Samuel 20, we can see the covenant bond between David and Jonathan in action.  We can learn through the text about the bond between Christians that is stronger than any other bond in life.

Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”

1. Christians are persecuted by the world without cause.  Jesus is the one they hate.  We are just his representatives.  As it reads in John 15:25, "They hated me without cause." The persecution of Christians strengthens the bond between them.

And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.”

2. Sometimes we try to vouch for someone who is in the church but not of the church.  Just as Christians are to be in the world but not of the world.

But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him.

3. True Christians will respond positively to religious matters.  Worldly ones will respond negatively.

Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

4. When one becomes a Christian, he is taken out of his worldly family and brought into covenant with a new Christian family.  This family may contain members of your worldly family, but one cannot be in both families.  David is afraid that Jonathan's worldly family may supersede his covenant family.  As we saw in 1 Samuel 18:1-4:

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan is in a new covenant with the true anointed king, David, and Jonathan has divested all of his earthly right and inheritance for a new, heavenly inheritance.

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21)

And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.” And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

5. Although we are now members of the Lord's house, in a new covenant, we should continually pray for our old house, that the Lord will not forsake our natural family.  As we see later, David seeks out still-living members of Saul and Jonathan's household, in order that he might show grace and mercy to them, and he finds Jonathan's son and brings him to his table for the rest of his days.  Likewise, we pray to the Lord that he will spare our loved ones, that he will show grace and mercy to them before it is too late.

Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap. And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away. And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”

6. Christian communication is such that true believers speak the same dogmatic language.  They understand the true meaning of scripture by the grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Their methods of evangelism are in harmony.  They don't accept Paul and reject James, or vice versa; they understand that Paul and James are preaching the same gospel.  Their doctrine is compatible, and they don't in-fight.  They reject false gospels that come to them from outside and inside the church, and they embrace the true gospel in all its fullness.  They turn to God's word for its truth, and they pray to God continually for his guidance.

So David hid himself in the field. And when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite, and Abner sat by Saul's side, but David's place was empty.

Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David's place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king's table.”

Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”

7. This is an expansion on point 3. Remember, the true church will embrace true, biblical doctrine, and the false church will reject it.  The false church will also attempt to drag the believer back into his natural, unbelieving family, claiming that the natural, family bond is the stronger.  The worldly inheritance is promoted as being more valuable than the heavenly one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.

8. A true Christian identifies false gospels and false believers, and mourns for the persecution of fellow believers.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan's boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter.

9. Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. (Revelation 14:1-5)

And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

10. This is the most moving and powerful part of this passage, because, except for one brief encounter, David and Jonathan are never to see each other again. However, the bond between them is in the name of the Lord, who is between them and will be between their offspring forever.  This bond cannot be broken and is more powerful than the bond of blood.  We are all washed in the blood of the Lamb, and no matter what happens to us in this life, even if we are physically separated from each other in this life, we have that Christian bond that God sees.  It is the bond of the church, the bride of Christ, and being bonded in this way is indestructible and eternal.  It is the Lord's bond and can never be broken.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Foundations

In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord's throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face. (Psalm 11)

This is a psalm of David, when he was running from danger.  The danger could be Absalom in 2 Samuel, or it could be Saul in 1 Samuel.  Since we are looking at the danger from Saul this month, I thought I would look at this psalm here.

The first part is David responding to someone, a counselor maybe.  Apparently the counselor does not advise David to take refuge in the Lord, which is what David actually does.  Instead, the counselor advises David to flee like a bird to the mountain, because those bad men are going to get him!  They are pulling taut the bow to strike malice upon the pure in heart.  Then comes this very important line: "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

This counselor obviously does not have faith in a sovereign God who will not let David come to harm, but let's look at the word "foundations."  What are the foundations that must not be destroyed?

1. God. The first foundation is a God who created everything and who is ever-present for his children.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

2. Inspiration.  Next we have the scriptures, the Word of God, that reveal to us who he is in his very nature.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17)

3. Christ. In his revelation God reveals to us the only way that a sinner can be forgiven by a just God.

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34-43)

4. The Holy Spirit.  The fourth foundation, the Holy Ghost, transforms a man's heart into one that is capable of loving Jesus.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)

5. Faith. Once the heart is regenerated by the Spirit, a man is justified by putting his full faith in Christ. God now sees this sinner as righteous.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 11:1-3; 12:1-2)

6. Good Works.  Being one with Christ, we are motivated to change our whole lives and live for the one who redeemed us, out of gratitude.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

If any of these foundations are under attack, first we try to repair the one foundation that is crumbling, but if we struggle in that regard, we must always fall back on God himself, the first foundation, from where all the other foundations spawn.  This is what David does in the second half of the psalm, and this is what Peter instructs his readers in his first epistle.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19)

In the Lord we take refuge, and in his foundations!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Four Defenses of Christ

The four defenses of David in this chapter can be seen as four defenses of Christ, of the gospel itself, by Christians and by the Holy Spirit.

And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before. (1 Samuel 19:1-7)

The first defense is the verbal defense. Paul wrote that he was put here for the defense of the gospel.  Peter tells us to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us.  This may only be a link in the chain that will convert a soul to Christ, but each link is necessary, and we should always try to engage a hostile world in fruitful discussion about the truth as found in Jesus Christ.

And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. (1 Samuel 19:8-10)

Sometimes we forget that Jesus can defend himself! As we read in Luke 4, "When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away."  Nothing is going to happen to Jesus, because he is God's son, and God is sovereign.  Even Christ's death on the cross was planned from the beginning and was preformed for the salvation of the souls of God's children, because he loves us.  He is willing to put himself at disadvantage for our sakes, but God is always in control.  Not a sparrow falls without him knowing about it.

Saul sent messengers to David's house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats' hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats' hair at its head. Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’” (1 Samuel 19:11-17)

Christ is defended in the life of the church.  Through the service, the preaching, the sacraments, the love for the surrounding community, the church confounds the hating world by using the foolish things of God.

When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Acts 9:23-25)

Christ is hidden within the church, but once the church acts, he is revealed to all who seek him.

Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth. And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:18-24)

Finally, there's the defense of conversion by the Holy Spirit.  Ultimately, it is God's choice who "gets it" and who doesn't.  As the church, we cast seeds of apologetic before the world, which either will reject it or incorporate it into its understanding of truth.  In the end, the Holy Spirit is who changes the heart of the unbeliever into a spirit-filled believer.  As in Acts 9, Saul is breathing murder against the disciples, and in that time of hatred, he is dethroned from his own personal kingdom and Christ himself assumes the place of power.

In Acts 2, we have all four of these defenses at work: the Holy Spirit breathing life into the new believers, a well-reasoned defense of The Way by Peter, the fellowship of the church, and Christ's safe interceding from heaven.  The dynamic of the church, the truth, the Spirit, and Christ is such that we should never have qualms about sharing the hope that is in us.  Though faith, we can help Christ draw the world toward himself.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Last week we talked about the false church as embodied in Merab.  This week, we talk about the true church as embodied in Michal.

Now Saul's daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” (1 Samuel 18:20-21)

The fact that both Michal and David told Saul together shows that the love is mutual.  Think of the mutual love between Christ and the true church.  How is Saul going to make Michal a snare for David? Thanks to the love that David has for Michal, Saul can set an exorbitant bride price, which involves killing a hundred Philistines, and David should die in the process.  First, Saul has to get past the humility that David posed last time, when Merab was offered to him.

And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king's son-in-law.’” And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king's son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” (1 Samuel 18"22-24)

Now, Saul strikes with his insane hurdle for David to jump in order to be his son-in-law.

Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king's enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. (1 Samuel 18:25)

Obviously in order to get that flesh to Saul, Philistines have to die, and this will be a dangerous ordeal for David.  But this pleases David, and he is up for the task.

And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. (1 Samuel 18:26-27)

This is not the outcome Saul expected, and now the king is in a worse position than before.

But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David's enemy continually.  Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed. (1 Samuel 18:28-30)

Here's what we can learn about Christ through this passage:

1. The true church loves Christ.

2. Christ loves the church.

3. Christ came to his own, and his own rejected him.

4. His own turned him over to the Gentiles to have him killed.

5. The church consists primarily of Gentiles now.

6. Christ has made a new covenant outside of original Israel.  The new covenant is with the church, which is still "Israel" but now consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.

7. Christ does more then we even think or ask.

8. Christ is an enemy to the prideful who have made their own religion that centers on themselves.

How do we get all of this from the historical narrative?  If we take the foreskins to symbolize the covenant, circumcision, the precursor to baptism, everything becomes more clear.  The Jews turned Jesus over to the Philistines, the Gentiles, for execution.  The end result is Christ's victory on the cross, the tearing of the veil of the temple, so that the whole world is allowed to participate in a true relationship with God, an abundance of new converts that are part of the true church, Israel, children of the most high God for eternity.  The foreskins represent souls won for Christ, those who hadn't been included in the covenant but now were, those who have "died" to their old selves and are now a new creation, born again.

If we change the gathering of foreskins to baptism, the passage takes on a different hue: The king desires no bride-price except a hundred baptisms of the Philistines. Before the time had expired, David arose and went, along with his men, and "converted" two hundred of the Philistines. And David "tallied" their "baptisms", which were given in full number to the king.

This historic event becomes an example of the blessing of Abraham coming to the Gentiles, so that they receive the promised Spirit through faith and become part of the church, which in this historical context is represented by Michal.  Saul's bride price is not meant to spiritually lead us closer to Christ.  He is just setting up an insurmountable problem for David, because he wants him dead.  Saul is still acting the part of the devil in this case.  He is not attempting to have David "cut" a covenant with the Philistines by having him circumcise them.  He's not adding to the Abrahamic covenant, but what we know from the New Testament, this historic passage does prophesy what does in fact occur.  The Gentiles ARE brought into Israel, the church, Michal.  Her bride price is the symbolic bringing of the Gentiles into the church, hope for the whole world.

As it reads in John 1:11-13, He came to his own, but his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  As Paul writes in Galatians 3:27-29, For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Here's how God can turn something involving death and mutilation into something hopeful for the whole world of believers.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord's battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father's clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” But at the time when Merab, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. (1 Samuel 18:17-19)

Saul promises David something that he has no intention of giving him, because he is trying to kill David.  Likewise, the devil promises us things that he has no intention of giving us, because his goal is our eternal death.  Saul does not want David to die at his own hand but at the hands of the Philistines.  Notice that he tempts David with the prospect of fighting "the Lord's" battles, although the Lord has actually withdrawn his Spirit from Saul.  David responds modestly, and then Saul responds to David by giving the same daughter to another, in order to humiliate David.

This eldest daughter of Saul's can be seen as the false church.  Remember, the attack on the true church comes from two fronts: from without by the world and from within by the false church.  The latter of these two enemies is the more powerful and tenacious.  It is also the harder one to discern.  One of my wife's friends gave a testimony on social media.  The story was of a powerful, amazing vision this woman had received of Jesus standing beside her and speaking to her.  Then within the same testimony came false doctrine that would lead readers astray from the way of the cross.  Inspiring visions come straight from the false church, a tool of the enemy.  Remember, the devil appears as an angel of light, and sometimes we cannot tell the difference between Satan and the Lord.  However, the doctrine that comes along with the "light" needs to be biblical, in order for it to be true and come from God.

The devil does not kill Christ, but he sets up the situation so that the world will conmit the violence.  The world is the enemy of the true church through violence and persecution.  The false church is the enemy of the true church through distraction and obfuscation.  The world crucifies Christ.  The false church tells everyone that the crucifixion is insignificant.  Many times the false church doesn't mention the crucifixion at all.  The world wants to destroy the church.  The false church wants to lead the church to self-destruction.  Saul is essentially tempting David with the false church in order to lead him to destruction at the hands of the world.  When the false church tempts us to fight the "Lord's" battles, remember that the Lord the false church is talking about is different from the Lord of the bible.

David's response is humility.  He responds that he is not worthy to be the king's son-in-law.  His lineage is not worthy.  Likewise, the true Christian declares that he is not worthy of either the true church or the false church.  The true church promises everlasting life, of which we are not worthy.  The false church promises prosperity and worldly gain, of which we are not worthy.  The best way to stand in the face of temptation is in an unworthy pose.  Jesus said about himself, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. (Matthew 8:20)"  Jesus, God himself, emptied himself of all value and became the poorest of men, one called "least", and denigrated himself even to death on a cross.  Now he has been elevated to the highest place of honor at the table through that atoning sacrifice.  No greater love has one than that he lay down his life for his friends.  Think of others as better than yourself, for that is truly loving your neighbor.

Saul responds to David's humility by betrothing his false church to another.  Now, this is good news, in that the devil will eventually depart from us.  James 4:7 reads, "resist the devil and he will flee from you."  Resist the world and false church and they will cease attacking you?  Does this sound true?  Well, eventually they will cease their attacks, but it may be when Christ comes again and wins the great war that has been waged against his church.  What are we to do in the meantime?

Merab was given to Adriel instead of David, and we learn later that she bore Adriel five sons.  This is the prosperity of the false church for all to see.  The world sees this and either marvels or rejects all as a tremendous con job.  What is the true church to do in the meantime?  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 8:9 for us to know that for our sake, Christ became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich.  This is not material wealth but sanctifying wealth. Our sanctification, our ability to love our God and neighbor, is dependent on our deep faith in Christ as our substitutionary atonement.  We must meditate on his poverty and his death, which is only possible through an abiding faith.  Many don't want to think about death in general at all.  We keep our own deaths at a distance from our minds.  When we read the beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Think of them not as qualities that we should strive for but as qualities that Christ already has.  He has them perfectly.  He lived in poverty, he mourned for the state of the world, he was meek, righteous, and merciful, he was pure in heart and a peacemaker.  Finally, he was persecuted for righteousness' sake.  He experienced slow and agonizing torture and then one of the most painful executions possible.  All of that happened so that everyone who believed in him and had faith in his blood would have everlasting life.

The world and false church will not go away until Christ returns.  They will persecute and ridicule the true church.  Put your faith in Christ's poverty, put your faith in his death.  Hide under the shadow of his wing through the very end.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bridal Gown

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on.

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them. (1 Samuel 18:6-16)

The Old Testament is history.  It is also parabolic in that it tells the deeper truths about who God is, who we are, and what God has done to save us from everlasting death.  In this historic parable, we can learn many things:

1. The Church are the women of Israel, just as we are the bride of Christ.  We come out of our cities after Christ's victory and we sing to our Lord and Master.  In the passage the song is hyperbolic: David hasn't killed ten thousand yet.  What they are meaning is that David's one act of defeating Goliath has placed him in a higher standing than King Saul.  Likewise, Christ's defeat of sin, the devil, and death on the cross has placed him as our Lord over the wiles of the world, to which we had formerly been adhering. In Revelation we read

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:6-8)

We are the Bride of Christ, and we come out to meet our savior with songs of his righteous deeds.  Our own righteous deeds are only clothing--a bridal gown--with which we adorn ourselves to express our responsorial love to Christ's own love for us.  Our righteousness is a reflection of Christ's.  The women flooding out of the cities, singing, represent our rebirth as children of God and our praise of him who saved us.

2. Our sin rises up to attempt to pull us back into darkness.  As John wrote to believing Christians in his first letter,

If we say 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. (1 John 1:8-9)

As Christians, we sin, but as Christians, we acknowledge we sin and we repent each time we sin.  An unbeliever does not acknowledge his sin and, of course, he never repents.

3. Just as Saul represents our sin, he also represents the world.  When we become true Christians, the following verses become how we live:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

4. Christ himself tells us of the reaction of the world to our shifting allegiance:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:18-25)"

This is the life of the Christian.  In fact, it is good to remind ourselves of the hatred of the world, because it confirms that we are on the right course.  Also, knowing that it's not because of us that the world hates us, it is because of Jesus, takes away the sin of pride that keeps rising up to take us down and also comforts us to know that we are in the best of company.

5. Remember that God is sovereign over all the world, not just the Christian part.  He releases the unbelieving world to its sin.  He lets go his restraining hand and turns them over to their passions.  He "gives them up to their lusts," as Romans 1 reads.  Is this because he hates the world?  No, it's because he loves his bride, and the more the world is hostile to the church, the stronger and more worthy the bride becomes, not because of any merit in the bride herself, but, once again, because she is reflecting the righteousness of Christ on her surface, in her clothing, so to speak.  Remember, our righteousness does not come from within ourselves.  Christ has imputed his righteousness to us, and we wear it on our surface like a bridal gown, over our sinful bodies.  By responding to Christ's love in this way, we are returning his righteousness to him in gratitude.

As the last line of our Samuel passage reads, "And when Saul [the world] saw that he [Christ] had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. But all Israel and Judah [the Church] loved David [Christ], for he went out and came in before them.

This is an overarching aspect of the Christian life.