I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God… 1 Kings 5:5 (ESV)
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1 (RSV)
I Samuel 16-20 reads better than any soap opera on television. Imagine this script for the Young and the Restless…
Our show is set in beautiful Jerusa City, where Victor Saul has established himself as the King of the enormous Newman Cosmetics Empire. He is losing his mind slowly, and his son Jonathan is questioning his authority openly among the staff. Victor Saul sees a promising young man in Jack David Abbot, and takes him under his wing. Immediately Jack David lands Goliath Industries, the largest cosmetics account in the company’s history. Everyone is buzzing about the heir apparent to Newman Cosmetics.
Victor Saul, his mind turning inward, starts to question everything Jack David does. He even gives him impossible tasks to try to humiliate him. However, every time young Jack David accomplishes the tasks in spades, and his fame within Newman Cosmetics grows. Indeed, people throughout Jerusa City are singing his praises.
Victor Saul becomes more jealous, and his twisted mind begins to see Jack David as his worst enemy.
Jonathan, oldest son of Victor Saul, sees what is happening to his father, and his heart goes out to Jack David. The two become best friends. Jonathan gives Jack David his office and a key to the executive bathroom. He assures Jack David he will always have his support, and he will always have a top management place at Newman Cosmetics.
Meanwhile Victor Saul’s mind is getting more confused and paranoid. The medicine fails to work. He tries to kill Jack David not once but twice. Jack David, the trusting loyal employee that he is, refuses to see what is happening. Victor Saul even tries to kill his own son, Jonathan. Finally, Jack David realizes his only option is to flee Jerusa City and hide among the vagabums of Sin City. But before he goes, Jonathan and Jack David make a pact to always have each other’s back, and Jonathan, knowing that Jack David will someday become President of Newman Cosmetics, makes Jack David promise to always care for his children and grand-children.
Far from being a story line for a soap opera, this actually happened in the life of David. Before we examine the Scriptural account in detail, we must clear a hurdle of understanding about the ways of God.
Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and an evil spirit ⌊sent⌋ from the LORD began to torment him, 1 Samuel 16:14 (HCSB)
Most people stop here. They do not understand how God could send an evil spirit. That isn’t what God is supposed to be about, is it?
Understanding comes when we examine the Hebrew meanings.
(14) Now the Spirit <rûah – breath> of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit <raʿ rûah, ‘bad breath’> from the LORD tormented him. (15) And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. <bāʿat(h), makes you afraid (wake up bathed in sweat)>…(23) And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed <rāwah – A verb meaning to breathe freely> and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:14-23 (ESV)
King Saul had been cut off from God because of his sin, pride and presumption. Samuel told Saul that God departed from him, just as Saul had turned his back on God. God still uses our conscience to communicate with us, and Saul’s conscience was troubled. His sleep was haunted by fears, regrets, and pressures. The breath of God that is normally sweet to one who lovingly listens, becomes toxic and troubling to one who has turned away. God has “bad breath” and as such Saul was tormented as he would try to sleep. I believe Saul was having ‘panic attacks’ and may have suffered from “Panic Disorders”.
Saul Suffered from Panic Disorder
God assures us in His word, that when we consciously turn away from Him to do evil, He will bring our fears upon us:
I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:4 (ESV)
Saul, when confronted with his disobedience by Samuel, admitted that he had fears:
“I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 1 Samuel 15:24 (ESV)
Saul confessed he was given to fears. Without God’s Spirit in our lives, we lose our peace of God. We are then left with our fears. All God has to do is whisper in our ears, revive guilt, revive hurt, and our fears start to overtake us. We have troubled sleep. We have panic attacks. Those attacks can develop into panic disorder. Our fears grow more intense. We are more withdrawn. We retreat from the outside. We drive away those who seem to trigger the fears. I believe this is what happened to King Saul.
I have talked with people who have suffered through panic attacks. They are not fun. You cannot breathe; you think you are going to die. I believe the evil Spirit was just the whisper of God to an evil conscience, a conscience racked with fears. The sweet breath of God became bad breath, for the peace of God had left Saul.
Somehow, the playing of David would quiet Saul, and he could breathe freely. Therefore, he could sleep.
Modern Medicine can be the Spirit of Babylon
One way that the Spirit of Babylon (modern medicine) has worked against God is by allowing people to cope with their guilt and sin through drugs. If God troubles our sleep, we just go to a Doctor and get a drug. There is no need to repent and humble ourselves before God. There is no need to go to someone we have offended. There is no need to heal a family rift. We simply take pills to sooth our conscience and mask the bad breath of God.
I realize that many Christians take sleeping pills or something to help them sleep at night. However, I firmly believe in the power of the Word of God.
- … He gives His beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 (NKJV)
- Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
- (31) Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (32) For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. (33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV)
Instead of first seeking a medicinal solution to your troubled sleep, seek God and the sleep He gives to those He loves. Perhaps there is something between you and someone else that is blocking this love. Relationships with people cause us to sleep outside the love of God, and open our hearts to fears.
If anyone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)
Restless Sleep is often a signal that there is a strained relationship, a secret sin, a lack of trust that is causing a rift in your fellowship with God. Instead of going to the Doctor, and popping a pill, James gives us this advice:
… Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 (ESV)
Sweet Breath vs Bad Breath
Without the Holy Spirit in your life bringing the sweetness of God to your heart, God has bad breath <raʿ rûah>. His breath upon you brings your fears to mind. He awakens our conscience to torment us. Only when we LOVE Him does His breath turn good and sweet! Romans 8:28 is a conditional promise. The condition required for all things to work together for god is that you LOVE God!
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
Romans 8:28 is a promise to those who love and submit to God. If you view the events of your life without Scriptural Glasses, things will not make sense. You will live a hurt and bitter life. God’s Glasses given to those who love Him will allow you to see how He is working things for your good!
I do think Saul had some serious problems. His mind was scrambled to the point he forgot who David was. Even though Saul knew who David’s father was (read I Samuel 16:18-23) King Saul had to ask:
As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” 1 Samuel 17:55-58 (ESV)
For some reason King Saul could not remember who David was, even though in Chapter 16 he had sent to Jesse for permission to have David stay with him. Saul failed to recognize David. So he asked him, whose son are you?
David’s Humble Response
David, with blood still on his hands, the head of Goliath over against the wall, holding the giant sword, could have done a goal line dance and said, It don’t matter whose son I am, because Samuel anointed me the next King of Israel! I am coming for your throne! But no, that was not David, for he was after the heart of God. He simply, humbly and proudly declared himself the son of Jesse, Saul’s servant.
As we looked at David’s battle with Goliath, we saw a young man zealous for God. A young man whose very heart was bound up with the reputation of God. He simply could not tolerate Goliath treating His God that way.
Right away, we understand that we must plan to face Goliath’s if we are to be disciples for Jesus. Goliath is the World, the Flesh. Goliath is Babylon… Goliath is Satan condemning us, trying to humiliate us and render us defeated. Goliath represents everything this world will use to try to defeat you, or to turn you away from discipleship. Fame, Money, Strength, Status…Goliath wants to destroy your heart’s desire for God. Goliath wants you to fear, distrust, and doubt the power of God.
To conquer Goliath, we must be armed with the Unfailing Love of God. We must be so in love with God that His desires strengthen our desires.
David defeated the Giant of the world, and proved that his heart remained bound to the heart of God. David never saw the next Battle coming…
Saul is Coming
The Next Discipleship Hurdle we encounter is the one you never see coming. Goliath, sure, but Saul? God knew that things were going to get worse for his young disciple. He knew that David would need something more to get him though his troubles with King Saul.
We Need Jonathan to Face Saul
Yehônātān- from (Yehovah) and (nathan); Jehovah-given Jonathon was Jehovah-Given.
David was about to experience the worst imaginable betrayal. He was going to experience the gross injustice. Most men would crumble in the face of what David was to experience.
But for now, God gave to David Jonathon…
The Justice of God is about building His House, His Temple. One day Christ will reign on earth, and mishpat will be known throughout the world. The house of the righteous will flourish.
But for now, God gave to David Jonathan…
Injustice reigns in this world. The cries of orphans, of persecuted, of enslaved ascend to heaven. The house of the righteous is crumbling. The kings of this world have lifted their fist at God and said we do not need you. Justice is corrupt and only for the favored. Who will reach out to the oppressed, the forgotten?
But for now, God gave to David Jonathan…
I want to look at the Scriptural accounts of David and Jonathan, and perhaps we can discover how God used this relationship to effect mishpat, and in so doing build David’s House. From 1 Samuel:
1. Jonathon’s Soul was knit to David
18:1 The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2. David was placed under the Authority of Saul’s House
18:2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house.
3. Jonathon made a covenant with David
18:3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
18:4 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.
- Jonathon was commander of Saul’s army. (13:2) By giving his ‘robe’ to David, he was making David the commander of the Army.
5. David had success in battle
18:5 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.
6. Saul began to eye David and treat him badly
18:9 And Saul eyed David from that day on. (10) 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. (11) And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice. 1 Samuel 18:9-11 (ESV)
18:15 And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. (16) But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them. 1 Samuel 18:15-16 (ESV)
8. Saul devises a plot to do evil to David
18:21: 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 18:21 (ESV)
9. David responds
18:27 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.
10. Saul makes David his enemy
18:28 But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, (29) Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually. 1 Samuel 18:27-29 (ESV)
11. Saul decides to Kill David
19:1 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. 1 Samuel 19:1 (ESV)
12. David finally flees to the Priest.
19:18 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. (19) And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 1 Samuel 19:18-19 (ESV)
13. David flees to Jonathon
20:1 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 Samuel 20:1 (ESV)
20:3 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.” (4) Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” 1 Samuel 20:3-4 (ESV)
15. Jonathan & David Covenant Together
20:13 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. (14) If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; (15) 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.” (16) And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David’s enemies.” (17) And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. 1 Samuel 20:13-17 (ESV)
16. Saul Makes his Deadly Intentions Known
20:32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” (33) But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. (34) 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. 1 Samuel 20:32-34 (ESV)
17. David and Jonathan say Farewell
20:41 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. (42) 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. 1 Samuel 20:41-42 (ESV)
Application for Disciples
Who Does Saul Represent?
Saul was the King, but a King under the curse of sin. Therefore, Saul represents all those people we will encounter, who because of their position and their actions, would cause us to doubt the power and provision of God. Saul represents the Injustices of the World!
One day Jesus Christ will reign and justice will be throughout the world. But until that day, we are faced with living in a world that is under the curse of sin. That curse means that we will encounter injustice, even from people in authority over us.
You will be hurt by parents, by teachers, by administrators, by employers, by family, by Pastors. Injustice will try to kill your love for God. Injustice will depress, will defeat, will trip you up to the point of giving up.
Imagine young David, a hero in the mind of most of his brothers, anointed by Samuel to be the next King, having to flee Jerusalem to save his very life. The one trying to kill him is his King, the Lord’s anointed. He flees to Samuel, and Samuel cannot do anything.
Saul represents the injustices a young disciple will encounter as he sets out to follow God. Saul was protected in his position by God’s word. David, fearing God, could do nothing but run.
Along into this Injustice came Jonathan. He was Given to David by God.
Who Does Jonathan Represent?
Jonathan was a gift of God. He knit his soul to David; He gave up his robe, his reputation, his everything for the sake of David. He gifts to David. Those five gifts are a picture of grace, grace given to endure the injustice David was about to experience.
So who do you think Jonathan represents? Yes, Jesus Christ.
Jonathan is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (NIV)
Sometimes the trials of life become so great that we begin to doubt the power of God. We wonder if He really cares about what we are going through. When the ones who are causing the pain are one who are supposedly Christians, or parents, or children, or relatives, we want to give up on this God who obviously doesn’t care to set things right.
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. 1 Samuel 20:14-17 (ESV)
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. 1 Samuel 20:42 (ESV)
What Discipleship Lessons Does David Teach Us?
1. Don’t Turn Away
(15) My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, (16) For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. (17) All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. (18) Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; (19) Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
Though David was sore broken in the place of dragons, he never forgot God, he never turned back, he always kept his feet on the path God had for him! How many modern day Christians can say the same!
2. Build Your House With the Forsaken
David did not allow the injustices of Saul to turn him away from God’s love and promises. The love of his friend Jonathan was a constant encouragement during the dark time of his flight from Saul. The words of David’s Covenant were never forgotten, and provided motivation to endure until God fulfilled His promises. Once justice was restored to David’s life, he immediately returned to building his house and honoring his word!
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1 (ESV)
- Ziba, the servant of Saul’s household, is brought before David and asked who is left of Saul’s family. He replies that there is someone, a man by the name of Mephibosheth.
- He was born “Mireb Baal” meaning “opponent of Baal.”
- Now his name was different. Mephibosheth meant “Son of Shame” all because that one day when everything changed.
“He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan ['s death] came from Jezreel”. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth” – 2 Samuel 4:4
There are a great many people like Mephibosheth. They have been injured by someone else’s stumbling. They have been injured by injustice, by a Saul.
(The lameness we inflict may not be physical. It may be spiritual or emotional. Sometimes we injure without knowing what we have done to someone else.)
Ziba tells David that Mephibosheth is living in Lo Debar (literally “Place of no pasture”), far beyond the River Jordan.
David shows HESED MISHPAT & TSEDAQAH
David has Mephibosheth brought before him and then begins one of the most beautiful exchanges of the Old Testament:
David said “Mephibosheth!”
“Your servant,” he replied.
“Do not be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table”
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
DAVID: He says, “Do not fear…” (Ever heard that phrase before?) The three promises include the man, the land, and the clan. When David did so, he was practicing the three things in which God delights (Jer 9:24)
- HESED: The Man: David will show loving-kindness (unmerited favor) to Mephibosheth because of David’s relationship with Jonathan.
- MISHPAT: The Land: David will restore to him all the land that Saul’s house owned.
- TSEDAQAH: The Clan: David will treat him like his own son, including him in his family and allowing him to eat at his table.
These were all unconditional promises. Mephibosheth did not ask for them; they all came out of the goodness of David’s heart.
Conquering Saul is Done by Building Your House
Consider the Poor, David says.
Psa 41:1-2 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
Consider Your Children
Psa 37:28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
Don’t Let Saul Give You An Excuse to Turn Away
Psa 119:121 I have done justice and righteousness: Leave me not to mine oppressors.
Understanding that God provided a friend who has brought you into his house, so that he might help to make things right in a messed up world. Then, when you are made right through His love, it is your job to bring someone unfortunate into your house, and make things right for them.
Jesus came into this sin-sick world and called out: Is there anyone left to whom I can show the kindness of God?
Then He sought out the poor, the broken, the blind, the lame, and the needy. He brought them into His house and showered His love upon them through His death upon the Cross. Now He is in Heaven, building many mansions, calling to us: Is there anyone left who can show the Kindness of God to a lost and dying world?
- Comfort in time of Confusion and Uncertainty
- Encouragement when things are going against us
- Refuge in the midst of a Storm
- Sees us through the injustices of Life
- The bridge to a forgiving heart
- Enables us to Endure
- Seeks to provide Justice where there is injustice
- Opens our Heart to the Lame and Undeserving
- Enlarges its House with the poor and needy.
Jesus knit His Soul with ours. He wants us to reach out for His Lost Children
A trucker was yawning as he passed through rural North Carolina on Interstate 95. Only two more hours of driving, and then a good meal, some TV, a call home, and a warm bed. Most days on the road were like that–not quite as glamorous as some Country-western singers suggest. A brown sedan entered the highway just ahead and began weaving back and forth between lanes, causing the trucker to throw his rig into a lower gear. At first he thought it was a drunk, but as the trucker came closer, he saw it was an older man shaking uncontrollably. The trucker was wide awake now. The car swerved violently, whipping its CB antenna like a fishing rod. “That’s it,” thought the trucker, “the CB.” So he called in, “You in the brown Chevy, if you can hear me, pull over. Pull off the road!” Amazingly, the car slowed down and pulled to a stop alongside the road. The trucker pulled up behind him and jumped out of his cab. The elderly man staggered from his car and fell into the trucker’s hands. On a rock on the side of Interstate 95, the older man poured out his story of months of fear and pain that accompanied the illness of his only daughter. He was returning now from the hospital where she had revealed that she had decided to cease any further treatment. In the hospital, each put on a face of stoic strength. But out on the road, it had suddenly come over him, and waves of tears and grief overwhelmed him. The encounter was over in less than an hour. Wrenching sobs gave way to serenity, to a warm embrace, and to a new resolve to share pain rather than deny it.
The trucker offered a simple prayer and they resumed their journeys. For 50 miles they traveled in tandem, the young trucker using the CB to voice words of encouragement to his new friend. Finally, the trucker announced his exit was next. The trucker said farewell, and asked if his friend could make it the rest of the way. Suddenly, a third voice could be heard across the airwaves. “Breaker 19, don’t worry, good buddy. Go your way. I’ll see him home!” Glancing in his rearview mirror, the trucker saw a livestock truck move into the exit lane behind the brown sedan. –From a sermon by Norm Lawson
Remember the Forgotten Children of Eritrea living in the Mai Ayni Refugee Camp.
 James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3083”