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”.

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  1. […] The Rock of Divide Makes Mighty Disciples (mudpreacher.org) […]

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