Archive for December, 2011


My dad was not always a godly man. It wasn’t until his early 30’s that he started going to church. My mom was the ‘religious’ one. Even when we switched churches when I was 14, his religion was more of a Sunday thing. Our Christmases were as secular as the next door heathen families.

When I was planning for college, Dad seemed to change. He wasn’t religious anymore. God wasn’t a Sunday thing anymore. All of a sudden, it was Jesus Christ. All of a sudden everything he did was all about Jesus. Jesus owned everything he had. Christmas was about Jesus Christ. I liked it, because Jesus had become real to me as well. I was going off to Bible College. It was as I was getting ready to leave that he came to me and with tears in his eyes (my Dad never cried) he said that God was giving him a second chance. In fact that became one of my Dad’s favorite sayings, that God is the God of second chances. Anyway, he asked me to forgive him for not being a good father to me.

Holding Benjamin

Just 3 ½  years after that, I fould myself with a one month old baby boy, back at home celebrating Christmas with my family and my 18 year old wife, Lydia.

That Christmas morning was overwhelming, as my Dad read the Christmas story by candlelight. Here I was, a new daddy, holding my baby boy as my Dad read the story of Mary and Joseph becoming new parents. So let’s join my Dad as he and Mom listen in as I now read the Christmas story with you.

Luke 2:1-38 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Most people stop the Christmas Story here, but Dad kept on reading…

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Dad read the part of Simeon holding the baby Jesus and proclaiming Jesus is the light of revelation to the Gentiles, I understand that Jesus had revealed that light to my Dad, and now my Dad wanted me to see that light, so that I could be a good father to my son, Benjamin. The greatest gift I ever received from my Dad is the light of the reality of Jesus Christ. That light burns in my heart and life today 37 years later, and it burns in the heart and life of the son I held in my arms that morning.

Did I make mistakes? Too many to count! Has the light always burnt brightly in my life? No! But the Light was always there drawing me into His presence. Is my family perfect? No, but the Light of Christ is at work in my family, and I pray He is at work in yours.

I only remember a few of the gifts my parents gave me. But I will always remember the gift my Dad gave me that Christmas, the Light of Christ from his life to mine, to guide me as I fathered my children. He had passed that light to me, and now I am passing it on to my children and grandchildren.

When the magi visited the infant Jesus, they presented gifts to Him, treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The amazing thing about those gifts, is that this morning, Jesus is re-giving them to you and me. That’s right, the greatest gifts you will ever receive at Christmas, are not sitting under a tree, but they are here, in this Bible and they come from Jesus Christ.

Matthew 2:10-12 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

I know in American culture it is customary for us to give gifts to the one whose birthday we are celebrating. But in may cultures (Asian, Burmese), if it is your birthday, it is a day for you to serve or buy a meal or give gifts. The more you serve and give the better your next year will be. Jesus is going to have a great year next year, because He is giving us some amazing gifts.

Let’s open OUR presents from Jesus this morning.

Gold

The first gift that Jesus gives us is gold, pure gold. Pure Gold represents the pure unfailing Love that Jesus loves us with. Gold is a good representative if Christ’s Love, because Gold is almost impossible to destroy. It is impervious to most acids. Gold is very dense and heavy, a massively solid material. Just a 3 x 3 cube would weigh over 36000 pounds. Yet as solid and dense as Gold is, it can be stretched and used to cover anything. It can be beat on thousands of times until it is microscopicly thin, yet it is still Gold. Paul prayed that we would know the height and depth and length and breadth of the Love of Christ. His love is so solid that it can dash any problem, so yielding that it can take any thing we can throw at it, so flexible that it can cover any sin we could ever commit. His love is never failing.

This Gold was in the Garden of Eden, in the land of Havilah, and the river Pishon flowed around it. Pishon means spreading, and is a picture of the Holy Spirit taking the Love of God and spreading it throughout the world.

Havila means stretch of sand. Abram in Genesis 13:2 was described as being rich in gold.  God promised him a house with descendants as numerous as the grains of sand. Certainly the unfailing love of God extended to every descendant of Abraham. The Love of Christ knows no limits. It knows no boundaries. The love of Christ seeks every sinner, no matter how great their sins. The love of Christ, symbolized by the gold, comes from the ‘hesed’ of God, the mercy of God. When God instructed Moses in how to build the Tabernacle, as God’s House on the earth, he told him to construct the innermost room covered in Gold. This room, the Holy of Holies, is where the High Priest would offer the sacrifice as atonement for the sins of all of the Jews. The ark was covered in gold, which formed the “mercy Seat” Here the offering would be presented before Holy God in utter darkness. Everything in the room was covered in gold, picturing the mercy and love of God. God would see the sacrifice, and His love and mercy would flow upon the Jewish people. The reason His love and merices could flow is because God knew one day, His only begotten Son would hang upon the cursed cross on Mt Golgotha, and there, Jesus would demonstrate His unfailing love for all the sinners of the race of Adam, as He would become their sacrifice, and take upon Himself all their ghastly and dastardly sins. There on Mt Golgotha, the golden love of God was poured out upon the sands of mankind, as His Son satisfied the Holy demands of God’s Eternal Law!

The veil before the Holy of Holies was forever rent in to, from top to bottom, showing the world that God’s unfailing love was now upon the world, because of the forever sacrifice of His Son.

God’s Holy Spirit calls whosoever will to come to the Cross of Salvation, and humble yourself before this unfailing Love, pictured by the purest of Gold! Only at the cross can you receive this gift of forgiveness, right standing and Hope of eternal Life in Jesus Christ.

The spirit of Babylon has corrupted this gold. Indeed, many choose the gold itself instead of the love and forgiveness it represents. One day, Babylon will fall…Jesus Christ who reigns in Heaven above, is clothed in a golden sash across His heart. He will judge the world on the basis of His pure Love. Anyone not found in His heart, anyone not found in His Golden Love becasueof their rejection of Him, will live for all eternity without His Love, in a place where there is no love! They have followed the spirit of Babylon, which decieves with a false gold, a false love:

Revelation 17:4-6 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

This Golden Gift of Christ is Salvation, the New Birth, the True Wealth that only God gives to those who have Faith to Trust Him!

All those who receive the Golden Gift of Christs Love will one day walk in a city whose very streets are pure gold. We will forever walk held up by the unfailing Love of Jesus Christ

Glory to God in the Highest! God’s Hesed is everlasting!

Frankincense

The next gift that Jesus gives us is  Frankincense. Frankincense is tapped from the scraggy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. Frankincense trees have the ability to grow in extremely harsh environments. They can even grow directly out of solid rock. How they can do this is still unknown, but the Boswellia trees that grow on rock develop a swollen disk like trunk which prevents it from being torn away from the rock during violent storms. The tears from the trees which grow on solid rock are considered superior for their more fragrant aroma.[1].

  • Frankincense comes from the Hebrew levonah, meaning “white”.[2]

Frankincense was the main ingredient in the holy incense used in the Tabernacle and Temple Worship of Jehovah.

The altar of incense was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It was situated in the Holy Place near the curtain before the Most Holy Place. The high priest burned incense when he tended the lamps (Exodus 30:1-9).

Once per year, on The Day Of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and burn incense there before The Ark Of The Covenant.

Frankincense was used in the grain offering (Leviticus 2:1, 2:16, 6:15, 24:7), but was strictly excluded from the sin offering (Leviticus 5:11)

Incense was used to symbolize or accompany prayer (Psalm 141:2, Luke 1:10, Revelation 5:8, 8:3).

Jesus is our High Priest, ever living to offer prayers on our behalf.

Every morning and evening the sacred incense was burned. (Ex 30:7, 8; 2Ch 13:11) Once a year on the Day of Atonement coals from the altar were taken in a censer, or fire holder, together with two handfuls of incense, into the Holy of Holies, where the incense was made to smoke before the mercy seat of the ark of the testimony. (Leviticus 16:12, 13.)

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 7:24-25 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Through His Intercession, Jesus secured our Justification!

Jesus gives us the gift of His Justice, secured by His stripes, His blood, and His tears. He is interceding daily for us before His Father. His prayers are being offered even now for us, that we would honor God’s House, that we would continue His work and build a House that honors God!

Through the Frankincense of Christ, our sins, though they be a scarlet, are “white” as snow.

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

and being made white as snow, we are brought into God’s House of Justice. Frankincense is never used in the sin offering, for Frankincense is the Holiness of God’s Justice, secured by the blood of Jesus Christ. For by His stripes we are healed.

This incense was placed upon the golden Altar of Incense by the High Priest to be burned before the Lord. It was to be a sweet odor unto the Lord. Through Jesus the stench of our sinful life is converted into a  beautiful fragrance before God.

Myrrh

Myrrh is harvested from the Commiphora myrrha tree in a process similar to frankincense. The myrrh is the hardened resin produced from the taps of the bark. Myrrh means “bitterness”. It was used in perfumes, but most of all it was used to embalm the dead. It also had a numbing effect so was used as an antiseptic and pain killer.  A cousin tree  produced the famous “Balm of Gilead”.

Myrrh gum is commonly harvested from the species Commiphora myrrha, which is native to Yemen, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia. The related Commiphora gileadensis, native to Eastern Mediterranean and particularly the Arabian Peninsula,is the biblically referenced Balm of Gilead.[3]

Myrrh is much different from the valuable gold and frankincense gifts. Myrrh symbolizes suffering, trials, tribulations, and afflictions. The church of Smyrna is known as the “Suffering Church”. The name “Smyrna” comes from myrrh. Suffering and persecution is something that Jesus experienced from the beginning of His life, from the flight into Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod, to the end of His life, to His wrongful crucifixion. In fact we are told that suffering was such an integral of Jesus’ life that, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus never escaped the myrrh, the persecutions, throughout His entire life. No one has suffered more unjustly than He. And just as He was given the gift of myrrh by Wise Men, so we too, along with the gift of gold (salvation), and the gift of frankincense (holiness), are to receive the gift of myrrh (suffering) from the hand of the Lord, the wisest of men. It is not done to destroy us, but to teach us obedience. Suffering, trials, tribulations, persecutions are a natural part of this life. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). “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 12:11)

The sufferings of Jesus produced Righteousness for all who come to Him. Indeed, we cease from sin as we suffer with Him.

Of these three gifts, only myrrh is mentioned at the beginning and end of Jesus’ life.

“Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19:39-40).

Gold – symbolizing the (hesed) unfailing love of God which leads to our being born again, is a one time gift.

Frankincense – symbolizing the (mishpat) justice of God applied to our life-our justification-is given to us all at once when we are born again.

But myrrh – symbolizing (tsedeqah) righteousness, must be experienced all our life. Our righteousness is in Christ, but only as we learn to die to sin and to Satan and to the flesh, and that will be a life-long journey.

As we experience the myrrh of life, we will have the gold of His unfailing love sustaining us, and the frankincense of His intercessory prayers encouraging us.

The end result is that we step forth clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ for all eternity! We walk forever on streets of the Golden Love of God, forever in His House, living and developing as His children!

These three gifts that we have unwrapped this morning are Christ’s forever gifts! But just as He has re-gifted them to us, so we should re-gift them to others!


[2] Klein, Ernest, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English, The University of Haifa, Carta, Jerusalem, p.292

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Christmas time can be a very gloomy time for those who have lost a loved one recently. I saw a woman today that had just lost her husband to cancer. She has fallen apart, and doesn’t know how she can go on. She told me she feels so empty inside. I know other people who are feeling ’empty’ this Christmas, for they have lost a husband, a wife, or a child this year. I am about to do a special Christmas sermon this Sunday, wearing my Christmas pajama’s. I shared last Sunday to those who might have been offended at this, the reason for doing so. It is because of the most meaningful Christmas I ever had, a morning when my Dad read the Christmas Story in his pajama’s.

My Dad did not know the reality of Jesus until late in his life. Until Jesus became real to him, Christmas was just another secular holiday. My Mom made sure Jesus was mentioned, but He was pushed over to the side, crowed out by all the toys and gifts. When Dad discovered the reality of Jesus Christ, his whole life changed. Everything, his home, his business, his life, his hopes, became centered around Jesus.

My Dad reads the Christmas Story

Jesus made a difference in the way he related to me. I was a young man of 18 headed to college when he came to me and said with tears in his eyes, “Son, God has given me a second chance”. He then asked me to forgive him for not being a good father. It was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. I was so touched by his embrace and tears that this memory is constantly with me. Christmases were different after this. The emphasis was upon Jesus Christ. Presents were secondary. Little did I know that just three years later I would be home, with my wife and one month old son, celebrating Christmas with my family. As I held my son, I thought, how can I ever be a good father to him? I didn’t know where to begin, or what to do. Fears overwhelmed this young father of 21. As I sat on the couch holding my son Benjamin, my pride was overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy.

Then it was time. The candles were lit, lights turned off, and in the early morning dawn of Christmas Morn, 1974, my Dad read the Christmas story from Luke. I thought of Joseph and Mary, charged with the responsibility of raising the Messiah, the Son of God. How inadequate they must have felt. I thought of Joseph, and how he loved Mary so much that he endured the criticism of his friends and married her. What drove him to do such a thing as to marry a woman whom the Law said to stone? What drove a young betrothed girl to submit to having God’s son when she knew it would cause such problems?

Simeon Holds the Messiah

Then my Dad read the reaction of Simeon, who took the Baby Jesus and held him up, saying, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:30-32) The light seemed to come on, and I realized that God had been very real to Mary, Joseph and Simeon. So real that they believed what He said. Mary believed the Word of God, Joseph believed the Word of God, and so put God’s will before their own comfort and concerns. Simeon believed God’s Word, and so every day lived with the Hope of seeing the Messiah before he died.

The Light of Jesus Christ had become real to my Dad, and now he lived with the real Hope of Jesus Christ. I did not know how to be a good father at the age of 21. I was scared, but I did have a Hope. I realized that morning that the Hope of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is what guided Mary and Joseph, sustained Simeon, and now made my Dad the father that God wanted him to be. If I was to be a good Dad to my son, my Hope would have to be in Jesus Christ, and not in myself!

The Engraving Congratulating the New "Grandpa"

"Big Daddy" Holds Benjamin

Did we mourn and grieve? Certainly? Did we feel an emptiness? Definitely? Did we feel helpless? Never! Did we feel Hopeless? Not in the least! The Hope of Jesus Christ that had become real was also our Hope! Jesus was real to my family because of the influence of “Big Daddy”!

My heart goes out to those who are struggling this Christmas with the emptiness that losing a loved one can cause. My prayer is that you will discover the Hope of Jesus Christ, just as my family has. He transforms emptiness into fullness, helplessness into hopefulness! This has become a life verse for me, and it is based upon the Hope I have ever before me, the Hope of Jesus Christ:  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my GodPsalm 42:11

Is your faith and hope in GOD? If not, allow me to introduce you to the Living Hope, Jesus Christ. It is through Him that my Dad was changed, it was through Him that my family was changed. It is through Him that your life can become rich and full, even when you have suffered a devastating loss.

Benjamin really enjoys Big Daddy Reading

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:20-21

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

PS: Benjamin is a grown man with a family of his own. He and his wife have two beautiful young girls. My son has established his family upon the hope of Jesus Christ as well. I know Bid Daddy is very proud of you, Ben!


David Discipleship…

  • Begins with a Heart Decision
  • Grows from knowing the ways of God
  • Develops as we practice mercy, justice and righteousness

In a short period of time, David faced Goliath, King Saul, Doeg and Achish. God had David on a fast-track course of discipleship. It began with his decision to give God his whole heart, and seek to know God’s heart. It grew as he diligently applied himself to knowing the ways of God. But through his trials with Saul, Doeg and Achish, David developed into a Mighty Man of God. David developed because David paid attention and learned.

The lessons that God wanted David to learn and live he recorded in three Psalms that David wrote after those experiences.

I believe one of the greatest gifts you can leave your children and grand-children is a record of the discipleship lessons God has taught you. Do you keep a record of what God is teaching you? Do you take notes? If you are not paying attention to what God is teaching you, He will stop teaching you. Thank God David paid attention. The three lessons David learned after Saul, Doeg and Achish were recorded in Psalms 34, 52 and 56. Those three lessons parallel the three things God most delights in and wants His disciples to know and understand – hesed, mishpat and tsedeqah.

1. Fear God Above All

David realized that he must fear God above man. His heart was firmly fixed upon God. His heart feared God when everyone around him feared man. David knew the hesed (unfailing Love) of  God would keep Him in God’s care.

Psalm 34:9-11 Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

2. Depend Upon God Above All

Early in his youth David learned that God’s House is a special place, and saw how God designed His house to be a certain way. David desired the justice of God’s house to be in his life, and to be in his house. To know God’s justice, David learned to depend upon God above anyone or anything in this world, including himself.

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Psalm 52:8 But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.

3. Magnify God Before Everyone

David learned that God would provide His righteousness for Him. David learned that God was His hope and his righteousness, and that he must exalt Him before everyone, that they might know the hope of his heart.

Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Psalm 52:9 I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.

Let’s see how these lessons are demonstrated in I Samuel 22 & 23.

Last week we left David at Nob, where Ahimelech gave him the Holy Bread and the sword of Goliath. After enquiring of the Lord, the Lord said to go to Gath and seek help from Achish, King of Gath. I assume God told him, because God wanted David to learn not to fear. David may have thought he might get some respect from Saul’s enemy, especially since David had killed their great warrior. Instead, King Achish seized David, and would have killed him, but David started acting like he was insane.

1 Samuel 21:12-13 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.

Jewish tradition says that Achish had a wife and daughter who were both ‘crazy’ and that is why he reacted the way he did:

1 Samuel 21:15 Don’t you think I have enough crazy people to put up with as it is without adding another? Get him out of here!”(MSG)

David’s House Grows

A few miles away David sought a hiding place in the caves of Adullam. It was close to his home in Bethlehem, and so his family came to see him. Word got out about David, and around 400 men sought him out.

1 Samuel 22:1-2 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 (māṣôq), and everyone who was in debt נָשָׁא‎ (nāshâ), and everyone who was bitter in soul (mar nephesh), gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.

  • māṣôq: A masculine noun meaning distress, anguish. It refers to hardships and anxiety (Deut. 28:53, 55, 57; Jer. 19:9); especially brought on from disobeying the Lord but also from general social and political conditions (1 Sam. 22:2). The psalmist suffered anguish, relieved only by following the Lord’s delightful Law (Ps. 119:143)[1].

In four of those times, the King James translates it “straitness”, and in each of those four times, it is talking about the kind of distress a person will experience when they are in such a horrible time of famine that they would have to actually resort to eating their own children (Deut. 28:53,55,57; Jer. 19:9).  It describes people who are so desperate that they will do anything.

Psa 119:143  Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.

Deuteronomy 28:53 And you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.

  • נָשָׁא‎ (nāshâ) lend on interest or usury[2] – people who were in great debt, being charged high interest by fellow jews, which was contrary to the law.
  • mar-nephesh, “bitter of spirit,” used of Hannah, deprived of a child, in 1:10, and of David’s soldiers, whose women and children the Amalekites had seized (30:6). Cf. also 2 Sm 17:8. David becomes a hero for those who have endured loss or deprivation.

These men were bitter in their soul, feeling cut off from the mercy of God.

These men were overwhelmed with debt, that because of unlawful interest rates, made it impossible to repay. They had been taken advantage of by unjust men. Now they couldn’t provide for their ‘house’ – their families.

These men were in distress due to circumstances beyond their control. Their hopes had been dashed and they felt there was no place to go.

So these men needed to know mercy (hesed), they needed to experience justice (mishpat) and they needed to know the hope of righteousness (tsedeqah).

They needed a leader to restore the love of God to their heart, to restore justice to their house, and to bring rightness and hope back to their disillusioned lives.

“Herein David became a type of Christ, the Captain of our salvation, who cried, ‘Come unto me, all ye that are weary.’” (Trapp)

I believe God called these men to David, because God saw some great things in them. He saw what they could be, if they only had someone to show them. They needed a captain, a Captain that could teach them through his life. David was indeed a man on the run, but he was a man after God’s heart. And in so following and learning from David, these men were transformed into “Gibbor” – “Mighty Men”

Discipleship develops Kings, Priests and Mighty Men!

Jesus came to this earth to reach exactly the kind of men that flocked to David:

Luke 4:18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

These men were poor, they would have been held captive because of debts, and they were oppressed by circumstances.

Remember These Men. We Will Draw Some Truths From Them, But First We Have To Get To The Rock!

David took his family to safety in Moab:

1 Samuel 22:3 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.”

Verse 3. “Mizpeh” signifies a watchtower, and it is evident that it must be taken in this sense here, for it is called “the hold” or fort (1Sa 22:4). The king of Moab was an enemy of Saul (1Sa 14:47), and the great-grandson of Ruth, of course, was related to the family of Jesse.[3] 

Abiathar son of Ahimelech, Joins David

1 Samuel 22:20-23 But Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, escaped and fled to join David. He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. Then David said to Abiathar: “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your father’s whole family. Stay with me; don’t be afraid; the man who is seeking your life is seeking mine also. You will be safe with me.”

With me, you are in a guarded place! I can see Him who is invisible, and as long as I fear Him more than man, He will guard me…If you are with me, He will guard you as well.

Psalm 34 “In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him…Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need…Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD”.

Would anyone in their right mind believe they would be kept safe simply by staying with the most wanted man in Israel? David had such a trust in God that he could boldly profess God’s protection. His men began to trust David as they saw God work!

David Demonstrated That The Fear Of The Lord Keeps Us In Safety

David was settling down in Moab. God wanted these men to be pushed to the limit as far as trust in God was concerned. He wanted them to trust  Him even in the midst of evil and danger. So God sent a prophet to tell David to leave Moab and return to Judah.

1 Samuel 22:5 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.

God did not want David to remain outside the country of Judah. God wanted to demonstrate His power to David and to the men who were with him. God knew that all of Israel would be watching. God wanted them to see His power! God was telling David, “it is too easy to protect you so far away from Saul. That’s not much of a testimony of my Greatness! Come on back to Judah, where Saul has thousands of spies to tell him where you are at. This will give me a great opportunity to show you how I can protect you and keep you”.

In fact, 1 Samuel 23:3 reveals that David’s men really needed to learn this: They told him, “we are afraid here in Judah”. They were not worthy of being called “Mighty” yet!

David Demonstrates His Total Dependence Upon God

David did so by always inquiring of the Lord!

Verse 2:  Therefore David inquired of the LORD,

Verse 4: Then David inquired of the LORD again.

Verses 10, 11 & 12  Then said David, “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.”

Finally, when things got really heated, and Saul was close on his heels, David did what we all must do, he went to the Rock!

Verse 25:  And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon.

Every time David needed direction, he inquired of the Lord. His fear of the Lord was so great, that he did  not want to do anything counter to His will. His dependence upon the Lord was such that He would not make a move without clear direction from God.

To those men who said “we are afraid here in Judah”, what kind of testimony did that provide them?

Here is a man of obvious cunning and skill, and yet he is always asking God what to do! David demonstrated that he trusted God in everything, trusted enough to ask God what God wanted before he did it!

A Visit from Jonathan Strengthens David

Even David’s need Jonathan’s!

1Sa 23:16  And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.”

Strengthened – chazaq – to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore.  The form in Hebrew is a “Piel” stem, meaning an “intensive” form.  He really, really strengthened David.

The Writer of Hebrews used similar words to strengthen the heart of the Jewish Christian in Rome. He said: Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

It is a reference to the promise God gave Joshua just before he crossed over the Jordan to enter the Promised Land:

“as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage…Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Jos 1:5-9)

When things get scary, even overwhelming, cry out to Jesus Christ. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid. David, the man who feared God rather than man, sent a message loud and clear to his men – as long as we depend upon and follow God, we will be safe. We have nothing to fear.

  • God is greater than King Saul.
  • God is greater than his armies,
  • God is greater than all the spies.
  • God is a Rock that is higher than anyone

So we find 1 Sam 23:25: “When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock”.(NLT)

I’m sure David had this in mind when he wrote Ps 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I“.

David Declares His Hope and Magnifies God

1 Samuel 23:26-28 tells us what happens next:

Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men, an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again. So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape. (NLT)

You can see David there, his men all frightened, and David looking heavenward and praying out loud: “Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me”. Psalm 31:2-3

When they hear Saul’s army leave, the men heard David shout:

 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation! Psa 18:46 

The Rock of Escape is the Hebrew word: Sela-hammahlekoth which is the combination of two words. Joined, they are actually translated “Rock of divisions”

Jesus is our Rock.

Paul declared that Jesus is our Rock, and He is typified by the rock from which water flowed after Moses struck it. 1 Cor 10:4  “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ”.

Peter declares that Jesus is a rock, but a rock of offence: 1 Pet 2:8  And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

Most pictures of Jesus birth have him in a wooden manger. Archaeologist have discovered many stone mangers (or feeding troughs) from the time of Christ. Due to the abundance of stone and scarcity of trees around Bethlehem, it is most likely the manger Mary placed Jesus in was made from stone. It would be God’s doing if that rock came from Sela-hammahlekoth. For truly the manger represents the “Rock of Division”. Even our Calendar is divided by the manger. The very year we are in (AD 2011) means this is the 2011th year since the birth of Jesus “anno domini”. The day before was BC or “before Christ”.

I believe the manger was made of rock, whether in a cave or the lower level of a home, or a corral behind a home. I believe the manger represents this “rock of Division” that God used to rescue his beloved on.

Rock of Division

There is a Rock of Division that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments.
  • There is the Rock that Abraham climbed with his son Isaac. The rock that divided Abraham from trusting in God or trusting in himself. The rock upon which he placed Isaac in obedience to God.
  • There is the Rock on which Moses stood to receive the Law from the hand of God. The rock that divided his people from the world and separated them unto God.
  • There was a rock, a cornerstone, that the builders rejected and hung upon a cross, on the rock called Golgotha. That rock divided two men, one died in his sins and is burning in Hell even today. The other man trusted in the rock, and joined Him that day in Paradise!
  • There is a rock that was rolled away and a Triumphant Jesus Christ stepped forth. That rolling rock meant that Satan had been conquered, and sin and death could hold us no longer.  That rolling rock meant that no grave will hold us, no demon of hell will grab us, for we have trusted in this Risen Savior!

One day there will be a mighty stone cast upon the earth, and it will destroy the great whore Babylon, and all those who worshipped her. He that judges will cast Satan and all those who rejected the cornerstone into the lake of Fire for all eternity.

One Day a building made of precious stones will descend rom Heaven, and all those who have trusted in the Chief Cornerstone will find a mansion to live in for all eternity.

Yes Jesus was placed on a rock of division. He was not just a baby. He was not just “the reason for the season”.

Jesus Christ is the very Rock of Division. He is the Divider of Mankind.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

This Christmas, everyone you meet, every family member you hug, is on one side or the other of the Rock of DIvision. They are either clinging to the Rock, or they are clinging to something else, or trying to make it on their own. They either trust the Rock for their salvation, or they are lost and on their way to Hell. There is no in between, no purgatory, no second chance. We all face the rock of division. We either see the Rock of Jesus Christ as our only Hope, our only righteousness, and our only salvation, or we have no protection, we are trying to walk on sifting sand, sand that is slowly sifting to Hell.

Hurting Men became Mighty Men

David had a group of men whom the world had rejected. They were hopelessly beaten down, drowning in debt, and broken in soul. They came to David, a man whose Heart was given totally to following God. A Man building a House whose Foundation was God’s Word, and a Man whose Hope was in the Righteousness of God. As these men followed David, there lives were changed, they became alive to God, to trusting in God, and David called them his Gibborim, his Mighty Men!

They became followers of  El-Gibbor – The mighty God.

Mighty Men:

Fear God Above All – Heart

David taught them to fear the Lord above all I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Depend Upon God Above All – House

David built his house with men who became mighty because their strength came from Mighty God

Magnify God Before Everyone – Hope

Psalm 52:9 I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.

Do You want to be a Mighty Man or Woman? Do you want to get on the winning side of the Rock? Do you see your need for a Savior?

1. Come as you are.

  • Are you in distress over this life?
  • Do you realize you owe a debt you can never repay? Jesus died for your sins, sins that meant you deserve condemnation in Hell. He redeemed you, paid the price to free you from your sins. You owe Him a debt you can never repay. Come to Him.
  • Are you carrying a heavy weight in your soul. Has life been so unjust that you ache.

2. Come to the Son of David, Jesus Christ

3. Come and bring your Sword!

  • Jesus is building an army of mighty men and women willing to take on the world! Discipleship is never passive, but always offensive!

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 654.

[2] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “1424: ‏נָשָׁא‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” nāshâ“.

[3] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 SAMUEL”.


I am not against dogs. I love dogs. My only use of ‘dog’ when it comes to “Doeg” is for ease of remembering and to gain an understanding of how David felt as he realized he was now a wanted man, being pursued by “Doeg’s”. Everyone who desires to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ, must realize there are “Doeg’s” that will work to cause us to stumble from the “way of a disciple”. David encountered Doeg in 1 Samuel 21. Let’s see what lessons on Discipleship can we learn.

The very first lesson God taught fleeing David took place at Nob. He had an encounter with a ‘Dog’ (Doeg). (This is not to condemn “Dog the Bounty Hunter“). He is a just a scary looking “Dog” and he pursues relentlessly.

After David left Jonathan at Gibeah, he fled to Nob, the place of the Tabernacle, the city of Priests. Thus began his ‘life as a fugitive’ from Saul, a period of ten years during which he was ‘public enemy number one’ in all of Israel! (1 Sam 21:1-29:11).

God used this time of forced exile to develop David into the Disciple worthy of the Kingdom, in fact, a Disciple worthy of leading the Kingdom. God wanted David to face various tests of his faith, trust and hope. God wanted David to lay the foundation of a Kingdom that one day His very Son would rule over. So that foundation must not be in anything of man, or man’s working. The Foundation of the Kingdom of Christ must be in His Justice and His Righteousness. Therefore David had lessons that God wanted him to learn, lessons that would develop David into the Disciple worthy of establishing the Kingdom of His Son!

The Psalms that David wrote during these 10 years offer insight into David’s Discipleship. While it’s difficult to determine the background of every psalm, it’s likely that David’s fugitive years are reflected in Psalms 7, 11-13, 16-17, 22, 25, 31, 34-35, 52-54, 56-59, 63-64, 142-143[1].

God Wanted David to Rely Solely on Him

Psalm 18 is the Psalm he wrote when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. It reveals the Diploma David earned after 10 years of extreme Graduate School!

He began his Psalm of praise with a strange statement coming from a “mighty warrior” who had eluded Saul’s vast army for 10 years. This is not the kind of thing you would hear today from a WWE champion like ” Triple H” aka “The King of Kings”.

 “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies”. Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV)

Becoming a Disciple is about learning not to rely on your own strength, but to rely on the one who is greater than everything!

David’s Experience with Doeg

 Then David came to Nob <means fruit[2]; Nob was in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives >[3]. to Ahimelech <means ‘my brother is King’ [4]>, the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David trembling and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?”

Nob was known as the town of Priests. The Tabernacle was here and because of David’s relationship with Samuel, he thought he would be welcome here. It was also the responsibility of the Priests to keep provisions on hand for those in need. It was an hour and half walk from Gibeah. It probably took David longer for he had to travel at night, without light, to escape those seeking him. It was the morning of a Sabbath when he suddenly presented himself, alone, unarmed, weary, and faint with hunger before the high-priest.

Ahimelech was frightened to see David looking so, without his usual delegation.

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.

He may or may not have been aware of the conflict between David and Saul. But certainly he thought something was up. However, David had reasonable answer’s for all of his questions. The King’s business had been so pressing and secretive that David was forced to leave without adequate provisions and weapons.

David Needed Mercy in the Form of Provisions

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.

David was on the run, homeless, penniless, and had likely been three days without food. He came to the place where he had prayed to so many times. He needed mercy from God. He didn’t need a lecture or a sermon. He needed God’s mercy!

This little incident allows us to evidence the decay into which the priesthood and offerings of the people had fallen. The fact that there was nothing to offer David except the shewbread reveals the poverty of the priesthood, and the neglect of such by the people. If people would have been offering sacrifices, there would be plenty of food.

The Table of Shewbread

When you walk into the tabernacle you enter a door that leads to the holy place. The priest had at his right hand the table of shewbread or also referred to as the table of the presence. It was made of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold. Its size was 2 cubits (3 feet) in length by one cubit (1 1/2 feet) in breadth and a height of 1 1/2 cubits (2 1/4 feet). Around the table was a border of gold and then a little further in, on the table top, an additional border which would hold the contents in place. The table had four legs, and two gold-plated poles were inserted through golden rings attached to the legs for transporting.

  • “And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.”

The purpose of the golden table was to hold 12 cakes of bread made of fine flour. They were placed there in two stacks (or rows) of six, each loaf representing one of the tribes of Israel (Lev. 24:8).

  • Lev 24:5-9 And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute.”

Significance of the Bread of Presence

  • Fine Flour (from the earth)
  • Baked (agony and suffering)
  • Unleavened (nothing artificial)
  • Sprinkled with pure frankincense[5]

Bread Sprinkled with Pure Frankincense

Frankincense was given to Baby Jesus, and symbolizes His office as High Priest, offering prayers of intercession before the Father for us. Here, sprinkled upon the bread that is to be always before the face of God, it illustrates the truth of what Jesus declared in John 6.

I AM the Living Bread

John 6:51-58 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven– not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

When David ate the Shewbread, he was prophetically eating a symbol of the Savior that he hoped in, and who offered his body a broken sacrifice for him. That broken body is ever before the face of God, offering prayers on our behalf! This is a picture of how our Hope is not in our own strength, but the strength that comes from the Bread of Life!

Recent studies by an international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, have indicated that burning frankincense resin helps to alleviate anxiety and depression. The University of Munich found the anti-inflammatory properties of frankincense very effective as a treatment for joint pain and arthritis[6]

 2000 Years Later, Jesus faced a similar situation:

Jesus is walking with his disciples through a corn/wheat field. It was on a Sabbath, and they were very hungry. So they plucked the grain and ate it. (I’ve eaten freshly plucked wheat, so I know they must have been very hungry to eat it). Some Pharisees watched and immediately cried “law breakers’!

According to the Pharisees, the disciples reaped a crop. They threshed it by rubbing the berries in their hands and breaking the hulls off. Then they winnowed it by blowing the hulls away. By doing so, they were guilty of preparing a meal.

Jesus said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: (4) how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (5) Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? (6) I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (7) And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (8) For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1-8 (ESV)

Jesus deliberately drew attention to one of the Sabbath’s main purposes: It is a day of mercy and not a day of sacrifice.

Christ’s referred to 1 Samuel 21-when David ate the showbread. He wanted the Pharisees to understand that the Sabbath is to benefit a mercy needing man. David benefited from the Mercy of Ahimelech in giving him the showbread at a time when he was starving and weak. Mercy for the weak and hurting trumped the Law. Christ is always about Life, not Death.

The Pharisees didn’t understand Jesus. They did not see the Life He offered.

The Sabbath is a Day of Mercy for it is a Day of Hope!

David was about to learn the need for Hope!

The Doeg

Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD. His name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen.

It so happened in the Providence of God, that on this special Sabbath, one of Saul’s principal officials, the “chief over the herdsmen,” was in Nob, “detained before Jehovah.” The expression implies that Doeg was obliged to remain in the sanctuary in consequence of some religious ceremony—whether connected with his admission as a proselyte, for he was by birth an Edomite, or with a vow, or with some legal purification. (22:22)[7].

Doeg’s presence at the tabernacle is a mystery. He was an Edomite and whose presence would not normally be welcomed. He was “detained before the Lord” at the sanctuary (1 Sam. 21:7). Perhaps he had become a Jewish proselyte and was following the Hebrew faith in order to hold his job. As Saul’s chief shepherd, Doeg could easily have become defiled so that he had to bring a sacrifice to the Lord.

David knew that Doeg would report to Saul what he had seen at Nob and that this would mean trouble.Perhaps that is why he was not being honest with Ahimelech, so as to insulate him from the wrath of Saul.

Doeg Tells Saul

1 Samuel 22:6-19 reveals the Destructiveness of Doeg

(6) Now Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. (7) And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, (8) that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day.” (9) Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, (10) and he inquired of the LORD for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” (11) Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob, and all of them came to the king. (12) And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” (13) And Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” (14) Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house? (15) Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.” (16) And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.” (17) And the king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the LORD. (18) Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. (19) And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword. 1 Samuel 22:6-19 (ESV)

Doeg, wanting to gain from Saul, (Saul had just mentioned what he could give people), told about David being offered help by the Priests in Nob. He did not reveal that David had gained the help by misleading Ahimelech. He knew his information would better him at the expense of the Priests.

When all of Saul’s servants refused to go against the Priests, Saul turned to Doeg, and he not only killed all the priests, but he went to Nob and killed everyone there, boys, girls, mothers, even infants. He totally wiped the city of Nob from the face of the earth. Doeg was not only a Doeg, but he was a Destroyer.

Doeg is a Disciple killer

David had faced Goliath, and defeated him with a single stone. David’s heart was so united with God’s that there was nothing of this world that could defeat him. Now David was on the run from his authority, the anointed King of Israel. David had the love of Jonathan, and a few servants, but no one else to aid him, except God. So he came to the Tabernacle for food, provisions, and to inquire of the Lord for guidance. There he encountered Doeg, and David knew he was evil, but he had no idea what would happen. Perhaps he had an inkling, and that is why he did not tell Ahimelech the truth.

As a David Disciple you will encounter Goliath’s, you will encounter Saul’s, and you will encounter Doegs.

Doegs are very dangerous to Disciples, for they lurk in the shadows. They don’t come directly at you. Often they are an unseen enemy. But Doegs are very deadly. Doeg is derived from the Hebrew ‏דָּאַג‎ (dāʾag). It is a verb meaning to be anxious, to fear. This word describes uneasiness of mind as a result of the circumstances of life[8].

Doeg represents the fears and anxieties that lurk in our mind as a result of the circumstances we are in. Those fears and anxieties threaten to kill our trust and hope in God!

David described how his sin made him ‘dāʾag

I confess my iniquity; I am troubled (dāʾag) by my sin. Psalm 38:18 (NIV)

 Jeremiah used the word ‘dāʾag’ to illustrate how Disciples are to be:

He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious (dāʾag) in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8 (ESV)

Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. One poignant moment immortalized by Rembrandt depicts Jeremiah grieving over the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. Tradition has him in a grotto just outside the North Wall of Jerusalem. It is under the hill called Golgotha. He wrote the five poems of Lamentations near the  place where our Savior was crucified.

Jeremiah’s sermons and prophecies were ignored and scoffed at by the leaders of Jerusalem. Jeremiah (in a message from God) encouraged the soldiers to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar to save the city. They threw him into an empty cistern in the King’s palace prison and he sank in mud up to his armpits. They left him there to starve to death, hoping to silence him. Still he kept on preaching the Word of the Lord. Fortunately an Ethiopian man, a court official, persuaded the King to release Jeremiah. It took thirty men with ropes to pull Jeremiah out of that mud.

As much as Jeremiah was despised. As grief-stricken as he was when he wrote this:

How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. Lamentations 1:1 (ESV)

Jeremiah did something totally crazy:

While he was imprisoned, Jeremiah received a visit from his cousin Hanamel. Hanamel wanted to sell Jeremiah a piece of land in their hometown of Anathoth. It was a foolish request, for the land was already in control of the Chaldeans and Nebuchadnezzar. Furthermore, Jeremiah was in prison for treason, and unable to use the land. Jeremiah bought the land in front of many witnesses, saying:

‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’ Jeremiah 32:14-15 (ESV)

In spite of his grief and despair over the circumstances he was in, Jeremiah never lost his Hope in God.

Jeremiah discovered a Hope that is greater than all our fears:

  •  The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:22-25 (ESV)
  • There is hope for your future,” says the LORD. “Your children will come again to their own land. Jeremiah 31:17 (NLT)

Jer 14:8 Calls out to the Hope of Israel – its Savior. Then He reveals the coming Hope:

Jeremiah’s Hope – The Lord our Righteousness

“For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Our Righteousness.’ yehōwāh tṣid̠qēnû (from tsedaqah) Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NLT)

 Fear versus Hope (Doeg vs the Lord)

Discipleship is all about knowing the ways of God, embracing and understanding all that He delights in. He delights in hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah. (Jer 9:24)

The hesed of God strengthens our heart to defeat Goliath. The mishpat of God enables us to endure the injustice of Saul, as we focus on our responsibility to build our house by reaching out to the lame and lost.

The Tsedaqah of God allows us to conquer the Doegs of life by focusing on the Hope we have in Christ, and His righteousness.

The Psalms that David wrote after these encounters reveal that David learned this exact lesson:

David wrote Psalm 52 when he learned of Doeg’s murderous actions

The Steadfast Love (hesed) of God Endures: To the choirmaster. A Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”

(5) But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah (6) The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, (7) “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” (8) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. (9) I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. Psalm 52:5-9 (ESV)

God told David to go to Gath (when he inquired of Ahimelech), for God wanted David doubly learn this lesson. God wanted David to never forget!

After Being Seized in Gath

Psalm 34: “Of David, when he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away”.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears…In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles…For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need…Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD. Psalm 34:4-11 (NLT)

Psalm 56: In God I Trust “To the choirmaster:. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath”.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4 (ESV)

David learned that the fear of the Lord conquers every other fear (vv. 9-16). When you walk in fear of the Lord, you walk in His Righteousness. When you walk in His righteousness, you are no longer walking in fear or anxiety. Doeg can never push you from the discipleship path!

How are you handling the Doegs of Life? Are circumstances getting to you? Is fear lurking in the corners of your mind? Have you been hoping in something that has let you down? Perhaps it is time to follow David, and learn the fear of the Lord, learn that Jesus is your Righteousness! Life is never meant to be up to us. There are too many “Doeg’s” that lurk in the shadows. Fear is a discipleship killer. There is no fear of man when we walk in fear of the Lord, when we walk in the Righteousness of Christ!


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – History, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 264.

[2] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “5011”.

[3] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 SAMUEL”.

[4]Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under:  “אֲחִימֶלֶךְ ’aḥiymelek̠”.

[7] Alfred Edersheim, Bible History Old Testament, (London: Religious Tract Society, 1890), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “CHAPTER 12”.

[8] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “393: ‏דָּאַג‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “‏דָּאַג‎”.



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[1] 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.

4.   Jonathon stripped himself and gave everything to David

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)

7.   Saul retreated into his own jealous world

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)

14.  David seeks Jonathan’s Help

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.

Jonathan’s Covenant

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

Psalm 44:15-19 provides insight into David’s character

(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)

“ …Is there no one still left…to whom I can show God’s kindness?” – 2 Samuel 9: 3

  • 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:

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honour.

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.

Discipleship Insight

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?

Covenant Love

  • Comfort in time of Confusion and Uncertainty
  • Encouragement when things are going against us
  • Refuge in the midst of a Storm

Covenant Love

  • Sees us through the injustices of Life
  • The bridge to a forgiving heart
  • Enables us to Endure

Covenant Love

  • 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[2]

Remember the Forgotten Children of Eritrea living in the Mai Ayni Refugee Camp.


[1] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3083”