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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


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. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants. (1 Samuel 18:1-5)

Many have speculated about the relationship of David and Jonathan.  What constitutes the love they shared?  Of course, in today's post-modern culture, some say that David and Jonathan became lovers.  Of course, this is nonsense from an historical sense and also from a grammatical one: sexual love in the Old Testament uses the verb "to know" where the Hebrew word used in our passage is "to love" in a truer, more full sense.  The question remains: what is happening here?

From the simplest standpoint, one so simple that it is overlooked in today's theological environment (but not during the reformation), what is happening is that David is replacing Jonathan as true heir to the throne of Israel.  Remember, David has been anointed king, God's chosen.  Saul is still physically on the throne, and Jonathan, as Saul's actual son, is destined to inherit the throne and be king.  What God is doing here is he is knitting the soul of Jonathan to the soul of David so that David becomes not only the supernaturally revealed heir to the throne but also the physical heir to the throne as well.  Jonathan makes a covenant with David, making this transfer of future power official, and he actually gives David the ornaments of his Lordship.  Jonathan does what Saul can never do.  Remember, from last sermon, that Saul is willing to bring David close to him in order to use David to further his success, but Saul is never able to submit to David as his Lord and King, even though David has been anointed as such.  Jonathan does just that: he submits to David as his Lord and King, just as we are to submit to Jesus Christ as our Lord and King.

Since the 80s there has been a movement attempting to deny the Lordship of Jesus.  The alternative to calling Jesus Lord is that we not become disciples in the true sense and merely give mental assent to Christ's salvation of our souls.  Belief without submission and obedience is not true belief, for a justifying faith will alter the behavior of the faithful one.  One with true faith may fail at keeping God's commandments, but he will TRY, and when he fails he will repent.  So, a true faith in Christ is one that acknowledges Jesus as Lord as well as savior.  Christ himself tells us many times that all of the elect have been given to him by the Father.  Christ is our owner, so he is our Lord and Master.  In the sermon in Acts 2, Peter says, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

Let's look at the covenant that Jonathan makes with David to understand our covenant with Christ.  Remember first that there is a knitting of Jonathan's soul to David's before the covenant, and this knitting is not an act of Jonathan's but an act of God.  This can be compared to the regeneration of the soul of the elect by the Lord that precedes faith.  Paul explains how all of this happens in Romans 10:5-13.

1. We are all born into a covenant of works, a righteousness that is based on the law of God, best expressed in the 10 commandments.  We are unable to keep this law.

2. The covenant of Christ (or faith) rejects self-salvation entirely.  No one is able to get to heaven on works of the law.

3. The covenant of Christ also rejects our atoning for another.  Because of our own sins, we are unable to die on another's behalf.  Our own sins stand in the way and must be taken care of first.

4. Faith seems to have two components: a heart component and a spoken component.

5. The Lordship of Christ seems to be the spoken component.  What does this mean?  It means that a true belief in the heart, a justifying faith, will reveal itself to the world not as a complicated explanation of the atonement but as a simple confession of Jesus being the Lord of our life, your owner, your master.

6. Justification is a matter of the heart, but this justification drives the outward confession of the Lordship of Christ.  This confession is a method of evangelism. Knowing that Christ has saved you will manifest into outward connection with others about Jesus as King.

This is why Paul and Peter both say that, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  When I preach, I could explain the atonement from all angles, but unless Christ has bought you with his blood and is your Lord, my words are meaningless. All of Paul's brilliant words in his letters are merely academic if God has not taken you out of the covenant of works and placed you in the covenant of faith.  We are not saved unless God has knit our spirit to his own, like Jonathan's to David's, and we have made Christ our Lord and savior.