David continues his discipleship journey in I Samuel 26. My first reaction to this chapter was ‘what?’, what are you wanting me to see. David spares the life of Saul AGAIN, and Saul lies to David AGAIN. The only difference I could see between this chapter and chapter 24 were the setting (cave vs. open camp) and what David took (piece of Saul’s clothing vs. Saul’s spear and water).  I had two reactions: Why did David call out to Abner instead of Saul, and why did David even bother sneaking into the camp and risking his life if he wasn’t trying to kill Saul? Did he really think he was going to change Saul’s mind? Nothing had worked so far, so why not accept the reality of the situation. 

But I knew God had this in His Word for a reason. Then the Spirit led me to Psalms 54.

When the Ziphites went and told Saul and said “Is not David hiding among us”:

Psalm 54:1-7 O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

I was thinking about this, and the Holy Spirit struck my heart with the phrase, “they do not set God before themselves, Selah”. And in a moment I thought, somehow this is related to the teaching of Psalm 1.

So I mentally cross-referenced the major characters of I Sam 26 with Psalm 1, and lo and behold, I knew the Discipleship Lesson of 1 Sam 26.

Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

1 Samuel 26 is a study in contrasts, the contrasts between men who set God before themselves, and men who do not.

Just as Psalm 1 is a Psalm of Contrasts, contrasts between a Blessed man and a Wicked man, so I Samuel 26 is a Story of Contrasts between Disciples of Jesus Christ and men who are not.

Look at the Characters in Psalm One and the Characters in 1 Samuel 26:

In Psalm 1 you have:

  1. Blessed Righteous Man
  2. Ungodly Man
  3. Ungodly Counselor Walk
  4. Sinful Way Stand
  5. Scornful Seat

In 1 Samuel 26 you have:

  1. David
  2. Saul
  3. Ziphites
  4. Abishai
  5. Abner

Psalm 1 and 1 Samuel 26 are about a man who became a Blessed, Righteous and Mighty Man because he always set God before Him. The Blessing is because of God’s Unfailing Love and Mercy (hesed) applied to his life, Mighty because he stands in the Justice (mishpat) of God’s Word, Righteousness (tsedaqah) because of his decisions of whom to sit with.

The other man has become Ungodly because he turned his focus away from God’s mercy by following his own wicked counsel, and fails in the judgment because he refused to stand in the Justice of God, and becomes worthless chaff because he chose to sit and scoff at the Righteousness of God’s Word.

Psalms 54 says that David observed that these strangers risen before him did not set God before themselves. That meant they set themselves before themselves. Whatever they did they always had themselves in view, even if they did anything for God.

In Psalm 1 we know that God was always set before the Righteous man him because of what he delighted in and meditated on day and night – God’s Word! He was constantly setting God before Him through his meditation on the Word. That also translated into obedience, regardless of the cost.

We see the importance of Setting God before us in a concrete, visible and intentional way: Set means to have purpose. There is a Reason you are doing this.

Two examples in the Old Testament illustrate what it mean to Set the Lord before You.

Moses

Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

Samuel

1 Samuel 7:12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”

David made a decision to set God before Him day and night through the Word of God.

The Characters of 1 Samuel 26

A. Blessed Righteous Man

David represents the Righteous Man. We know this because in everything he does, he prospers. (verse 3) And in the last verse of our text, King Saul Blesses David, and says you will do many things and will succeed in all of them.

  • David is the Righteous Man because of what he sets before him – God!

B. Ungodly Man

King Saul represents the Ungodly Man. We know this because the ungodly will not stand in the day of judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Saul admitted that he had sinned (in verse 21), and he lied about not seeking to do any more harm to David. He was right about making a big mistake. His big mistake was in not setting the Lord before him, nad as he knew and Samuel had told him, the Lord had left King Saul, and no longer went with him. Saul was nothing to God, just as the wicked is like the chaff of the wheat, driven by the wind.

  • Saul is the Wicked Man because of what he sets before him – himself!

To see this, I want to take you to 1 Samuel 13.  The Prophet Samuel had passed his torch of Leadership to young Saul. He had told him to wait in Gilgal til he came to offer sacrifices and bless his reign. Meanwhile, the Philistines were on the warpath, with serious firepower. They had 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen and footsoldiers too numerous to count. The Israeli’s were so fearful that they hid in caves, in tombs, in cisterns, and many made the dangerous crossing of the Jordan to get away.

Saul had only 600 soldiers, none of them armed except him and his son Jonathon. The Philistines did not allow blacksmith’s in Israel, so there was no way to make weapons unless they went to Philistia and paid the Philistines exorbitant prices.

The Jews who did not hide or run away followed Saul to Gilgal, trembling, the Bible says.

So the pressure was on Saul to do something, or the Nation of Israel would be lost. Samuel was late, the pressure was on, so Saul acted. He told someone to bring the burnt offering and the peace-offering to him, and they did.

King Saul then proceeded to offer the burnt and peace offerings to the Lord. Just as he finished, Samuel walked up. Saul went to greet him just like nothing was wrong. Immediately Samuel said, What have you done? And Saul starts giving excuses. The people were afraid, and I needed God’s blessing, so I offered the sacrifices.

Samuel said, you are a fool, for you did not keep the command of God. Saul was not a Priest. He had no authority to offer a sacrifice. By seeking the Lord’s favor contrary to God’s Word, He lost God’s favor. Samuel pronounced that Saul’s kingdom would not last, for God found a man after His Heart to establish the Kingdom that someday God’s Son would inherit.

Saul set himself before God. Saul was an ungodly man, even though he was King, even though he was Jewish, Saul was a wicked man. God later withdrew himself from Saul.

An ungodly man sets himself up as the standard for his life. An ungodly man can believe in God, and prayed the sinners prayer. But a godly man becomes ungodly when  he sets himself before him, and not what God commands.

C. Ungodly Counselor Walker

The Ziphites are the ones doing the Wicked Counselor Walk. David was hiding in their land, the Ziphites were so intent on doing wrong to David that they walked 30 miles or so to tell Saul that David was hiding in their hills. They were brothers to David, in so much as they were of the tribe of Judah. Yet they wanted the favor of a wicked man so much that they were willing to walk all that way simply to give Saul their counsel.

What determines wicked Counsel. How do you walk? You walk by sight! Wicked Counsel is determined by what your eye is focused on. The Ziphites were focused on favor from the King. David had done nothing to them, but their eye was on themselves and what the King would do for them.

Ungodly Counsel is any counsel that does not set it’s eye upon God and His Word.

We are not talking about good or bad advice. We are talking about God’s Word and whether you are walking by sight or by faith. Wicked counsel doesn’t come from just really evil men. It comes from anyone, saved or heathen, that does not Set God and His Word before them.

A Disciple does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. A Disciple does not do the “Ungodly Counselor Walk”.

Two Types of Counsel in this World.

  • There is man’s counsel, and there is God’s Counsel. (Not a mixture or perversion)
  • If a Disciple is to keep on the path to Jesus Christ, he must walk according to God’s Counsel.

What is Counsel that Leads to Righteous Man Walk?

Jeremiah spoke to God’s chosen people these words in Jeremiah 7:23-24:

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

When we disregard God’s Word because it interferes with what we have our eye set on, it will produce an evil heart that is blind to God, and will produce backward walk.

Paul indicated something very powerful as he addressed the Ephesians for the last time:

Acts 20:26-27 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

This was the church that 35 years later John would write: You have left your first love, and now you need to repent. You are still doing great works, but you are doing it for the wrong reason, you are doing it for yourselves. When you abandon your first love, you no longer set God before you in everything. You set yourself before you. Ephesus had changed the “Whole Counsel of God” into the counsel of man, counsel that leads Disciples away from God.

David had a solid understanding of the “Whole Counsel” of God. In Psalms 33 he wrote:

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

The Counsel of God stands forever, it never changes. His Counsel is in His Word, and it will never be changed.

Paul revealed what that Counsel is to a church divided and acting like the world because of a (self) fleshly focus.

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The Counsel of God becomes the Wisdom of God for our life when we seek it. Proverbs says we must seek after wisdom. But God says you don’t seek the Wisdom and Counsel of God with you eyesight. You seek it with your heart. (Give me your heart Prov 23:26)

The Counsel of God before the Foundation of the World was the Cross of Crucifixion.

There are several “Before the Foundation of the World” statements in the Bible.

  • Jesus came to reveal the secrets that had been hidden before the foundation of the world.
  • We will reign with Christ in a Kingdom that had been prepared before the foundation of the world.
  • The Blood of the Prophets was shed before the foundation of the world.
  • We were chosen to be in Christ before the foundation of the world.
  • God knew Jesus would die before the foundation of the World.
  • All believers have had their name written in the lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world.

Matthew 13:35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:   “I will open my mouth in parables;  I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Luke 11:50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love
Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,   “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ”  although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
1 Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
Revelation 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  

Paul says you don’t find the wisdom of God until you embrace the Cross. You lift up the Cross. You Glory in the Cross! You proclaim to a selfish people that your God is a crucified God. He was made a spectacle to the World, and now, anyone who wants the Counsel of God, the Blessing of God, the Power of God must come and kneel before the Cross, and then lift that Cross up before the World, and willingly bear its shame.

The Cross when lifted up in Evangelism will cause most people to run away. Too many times the gospel is presented with “Me” in view. What do I get out of it? Ticket to Heaven? Sounds Great, Jesus come into my heart, but leave my life alone. I want you to stay in my heart, but don’t ask me to hold up this cross thing before me. Don’t ask me to surrender my comfort, my common sense for some bloody foolish cross. I’ve got to keep my eyes on myself. This is America after all!

Application

How has Jesus Christ impacted your life since you asked him into your life? Are you trusting in Him? Are you setting Him before everything you do, everything you decide? Are you lifting up the Counsel of God, His Cross, and dying to what you want and putting what God wants first?

Are you walking in the Counsel of the Ungodly? Are you walking only by what you see, and not by trust in God’s Word?

We take a step backward when we set ourselves before us. We take a step backward when we fail to set God before us and obey His Word. God wants every believer to set Jesus Christ before us in every situation we face. He wants us to no lean upon our own understanding, hold on to nothing of our self, but to lean completely upon Christ. We have Him alone.

D. Sinful Way Stander

This one may surprise you, but Abishai is Sinful Way Stander. True, Abishai is one of the Mighty Men who faithfully served David. But Abishai stood over King Saul and begged David to let him kill him. He said, I will not need to strike twice.

Sinful Way Standers can be Godly men, Christians. Psalm One says Blessed is the man who does not stand in the way of sinners. Abishai was with David in the cave. He heard him say not to strike God’s anointed. But here he was standing in the way of sinners, wanting to do what a sinful man would do.

The characteristic of Sinful Man’s Way is Standing, which refers to your Back. To stand with sinners for very long you have to put your back into it. Sinners stiffen their neck to what God says to do and stiffen their back and say, nope, that doesn’t apply to me. Walking in the way of sinners usually happens as you set your back to do what you want, even if it is contrary to God’s Word.

Abishai was doing that, stiffening his back and saying, lets kill this guy. It will solve all our problems. But David stopped him, for it was contrary to God’s Word.

Have you ever wondered about the term backsliding? You think it means sliding backwards, and yes it does have that idea. But how did you start to backslide? What led you to doing what sinful way stander does? You did not humble your self to God, you stiffened your back and said, No I will not bow to your ways.

Your Back will prevent mishpat (God’s Justice) from growing in your life. To set your house in order, to bring God’s Justice into your life, yu must prostrate yourself before the cross of Christ!

Sinful Way Stander turns away from God and His Word and His justice in Christ, and does what he wants. He not only sets himself before himself, but he turns his back on God!

Application

Do you know what it means to put your back into it? Have you put your back into your love of God and His Word? Are you kneeling before Him so that you can Stand upon Him? Are you kneeling before Him so you can Stand on the Promises?

Is your back sore? Do you suffer from back pain. Instead of going to the chiropractor for an adjustment, check to see if you are standing in the way of sinners, stiffening your back to God’s Word. The Godly Man stands upon the Word of God and his back grows straight to the Son, developing wonderful leaves and fruit to hand out to those who need it. His leave doesn not wither, and he does not fear the drought or the heat of summer. Whatever he does he prospers in.

The best cure for back pain is to humble yourself before God, confess your pride and your stubbornness and your selfishness, and then bow your back before Him.

E. Scornful Seater

This is Abner. I wondered why David was yelling at Abner! David says, “Are you not a Man? Why did you fail to keep watch over the King? Someone came into camp that could have killed Saul.

Abner had failed to protect his King. He had committed a sin worthy of death.

SCORN: lûs, ‏לִיצ‎ liys, ‏לֵץ‎ lēs: A verb meaning to boast, to scorn, to mock, to deride, or to imitate. This Hebrew verb is frequently found in the book of Proverbs (Prov. 9:7, 8; 13:1; 20:1), and means to deride or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people (Prov. 24:9) and contrary to the Law of the Lord (Ps. 1:1)[1].

How had Abner scorned his King. The word scorn conveys the picture of one whose words or actions express utter contempt. It could be a snide comment, a roll of the eyes, a back-stabbing move, and yes, falling asleep on the job. Abner’s actions conveyed his contempt for Saul and David saw it and called him on it! Abner was sitting in the seat of the scornful and falling asleep.

Proverbs 24:9 The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

David himself was later to understand what it meant to scorn God.

2 Samuel 12:14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.”

David’s actions with Bathsheba and her husband were treating God with utter contempt, and their baby bore the wages of David’s Scorn. A scornful Sitter is has his eye set upon himself, his back turned against God, and his butt firmly planted, scorning God and saying, Look, I have a right to make up my own mind by what I think is right.

A scorner is content in his own righteousness, and even justifies what he has done.

Abner never said he was wrong, but only questioned David’s right to address them. He revealed his heart as being scornful. Usually scornful people reveal themselves in things they say and do. They may act all Godly and Christian, but eventually their heart will be revealed.

APPLICATION

Are you sitting in the seat of the scornful? Have you defied God’s anointed? Have you said some things or done some things against God’s anointed. You have revealed the scorn of your heart, and you need to repent. Scorn is death to your spiritual walk and growth.

David was a man after God’s heart, and he refused to scorn or even strike God’s anointed, the one God had put in position over him.

We need to abolish the seat of the scornful, we need to confess and repent, and we need to humble ourselves before our merciful God.

Conclusion

Are you a Godly man or woman? Is God always before you? Do you meditate on His Word day and Night? Is your eye set upon Him and what He can Do? Is your back strong in Him and the power of His Might. Are you enjoying success that comes from giving out fruit – witnessing to others, encouraging others, or are you sitting on your butt complaining to others and scoffing at whats going on.

Whether or not you are believe you are a Christian, if God is not set before you, you are ungodly. You are chaff, you will not stand in the day of judgment, you will not be seated in the congregation of the righteous. Your way will perish.

The Lord knows the way of the Righteous. That means he attends to and provides for their way. But the way of the ungodly will perish.

The choice is yours.

As a Disciple you must choose who you want set before you. Do you choose to set God and His Word before you? Do you choose to trust Him and believe He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him? Do you want to obey His commands to witness and minister unselfishly to the needs of our community? If so, He will be here, and He will provide.

If you chose to set yourselves before the church, before God’s Word, and walk in fear without faith in Almighty God, stiffening your back to the Commands of His Word, and scoffing at the righteous and scorning His anointed, then you will not grow as a Disciple, but will become chaff to God, and you will not stand in the day of Judgment.

Christianity is determined not by a prayer. It is determined by your heart, your eye, your back and yes, your butt. It is determined by your life!


[1]   Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 546.

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Comments
  1. mantle of sorrow says:

    john 3:5 = acts 2:38

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