Archive for the ‘David Discipleship’ Category


The First Century Church Experienced the Power of Grace and Touched the World with the Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They did so because they were not ashamed of the Cross of Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed of following a God who had been cursed on the unspeakable Cross of Crucifixion. They were not ashamed because they were LIVING PROOF of the Power of the Cross over the corruption of the flesh. Jesus Christ was not only Savior of their Souls, He was the Savior of their LIVING! 

Church must emphasize a 24/7 devoted living in Christ and His commands, not just a segregated devotional (quiet) time.

Church must emphasize a 24/7 praying life not just a prayer time.

Church must direct Disciples how to bring their spiritual existence into touch with the physical reality of living.

Church must lead Disciples to put into daily practice what Christ commanded and taught.

Church is a Community of Love in Christ centered around a Grace Missional purpose to bring the lost and hurting into the reality and power of Christ.

Church builds Disciples not motivated by guilt but empowered by forgiveness and redemption.

Church builds Disciples who Share Christ with friends and neighbors because they Love and Trust Jesus Christ.

Church builds Disciples who Give because they Love and Trust.

Church is Powerful to the Community when it is a Powerful Community of Love that empowers people to Break Bad Habits (Spirit conquers Flesh).

Church is Powerful as Disciples grow past guilt to productive change built upon Confession and Abandonment to Jesus Christ.

Church preaches Repentance to Abandon the fleshly world and live in the Spirit of Grace

Church leads Disciples to Abandon themselves to God’s Grace and God’s responsibilities for them.

Church leads Disciples to Greater and Growing Trust in God, because mistrust leads to sin.

Church leads Disciples to the Dominion of God’s Kingdom over their own Kingdoms.

Church that Grows and Develops Disciples will constantly Apply the Truth of Redemption to the Disciple’s Life.

Church will constantly strive to bring ALL lives into Christ’s Life.

Church will Grow from a Growing Relationship with Christ’s Life.

  • Church can change if there is a goal that can be accomplished with specific steps of action.
  • That goal is to build Disciples who experience and share the Reality and Power of Christ’s Life in their daily living.
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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.


David is a great example of a man who becomes a mighty disciple of Jesus Christ. Sure, I love Peter, Paul, Andrew, Timothy, but no one had their life exposed like David. No Disciple ever had his failures exposed like David. He is a man I can relate too. I hope you can relate to him as well.

Discipleship does not depend upon how much you know about the Bible. You can know all the numerology, all the Theology, all the Eschatology, even all the Soteriology and be dead in your walk with the Lord, and even be dead in your sins.

For Discipleship begins with your eyes being open to the reality of this invisible God. It Grows as the Word of God becomes your source for life, it develops as you learn to depend upon God as you encounter Goliath’s, Saul’s, Doeg, caves and today, a Fool.

Once you have begun your Discipleship Journey by giving your entire heart to God (because Faith has opened your eyes to see this Real Invisible God) then things will be actively at work in your life-hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

I know it is crazy to keep using the Hebrew, but did you know we will speak Hebrew in Heaven? God’s law is in Hebrew for a reason, and I believe when we speak it in praise to God, we will use the original language.

Hesed is unfailing love, the love that seeks us out, that strengthens us, that propels us all because of God’s covenant relationship with us.

Mishpat is God’s justice based upon His Word, becoming the justice of our life, and spreading to our House. Jesus Christ restored the Justice to this world when he was crucified and then resurrected. The Justice of the Cross becomes the justice of my heart and my house.

Tsedaqah is the righteousness that God wants to build in my life. The Justice of God in my heart will always seek to become the righteousness of Christ in my outward life. Righteousness is of Christ, but is in constant battle with our flesh, and this world. It is the righteousness of Christ that is constantly warring with the spirit of Babylon.

A Disciple must always be careful how he battles, for in the battle we can lose our walk with God.

  1. Discipleship truly develops when we deal with people. David’s Discipleship developed as he dealt with people.
  2. Discipleship also develops as we make choices.
  • Goliath chose to worship his strength and mocked God. David chose to exalt God’s Name rather than the fear of man.
  • King Saul chose his pride and arrogance and disobeyed God. David learned to humble himself under the wings of God rather than follow what his men or his emotions told him to do.
  • Doeg chose a selfish reward destroyed God’s servants.
  • David learned that the mercy of God means Justice and Righteousness come as he learns to trust God in the darkness of the cave, or on the side of the Rock.

Discipleship grows as we learn to deal with all kinds of people. In addition, as we encounter people, either our love of God will grow or it will weaken. This is where we find David this morning. He has an appointment with a Fool, a real Jerk, and David is going to develop as a Disciple through this encounter.

Lesson from Charlie the Janitor

In “They Call Me Pastor: How to Love the Ones You Lead”, H. B. London tells about his church janitor named “Charlie”. Charlie was a great cleaner. However, he was so frustrated by the people and how they left the church, that he would have been happier cleaning a hermit’s cave. He complained constantly to the Pastor. To Charlie, the church would have been a perfect place without people. He was constantly harping to the pastor to remind the people to keep the church clean and picked up. He even wanted the pastor to make a statement from the pulpit. However, Pastor London thought about it and realized that the church is not just made for people, it is the people.

“Let’s remember that Jess, Mary, Tony and Erica are the reason the church exists. Mrs. Carter, Mr.Jengling and Susie Mae are also part of the fellowship. Meeting human needs or providing a product is what helps businesses make a profit and defines the purpose of every profession.” It is true for us as pastors as well. Every Kingdom effort is intended to help someone.

The old business model was to focus on making a profit. Focus on the shareholders. The new “Apple” business model is to focus on bringing value to the customer. Give them a product that adds value to their life, and they will grow your business.

The focus is outward on the needs of the customer, not inward on the bottom line.

A church will grow as our neighbors learn we have a product that will add value to their lives. However, if the church focuses on their own bottom line, and wants to cater only to the members (or shareholders) the church will not grow. Our church is not about us, it is about “them”. We must not avoid outsiders; in fact, we must seek to bring value to their lives as we interact with them.

David Discipleship Brings Value

Look at David. He brought value to his men as he openly brought the reality of God into every situation he faced. Look at his interaction with Saul in 1 Samuel 24. David confronted Saul, waving the skirt of Saul’s robe in his hand, and said, see, there is no evil in mine hand. He lifted up God to Saul in verse 15: May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.” 1 Samuel 24:15.

David brought the value of God before Saul. And for a moment, Saul responded to the mercy shown him.

1 Samuel 24:19-20 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.

Discipleship is embracing the Value of Jesus Christ for all of your life, and then exalting Him every chance your get. As you do, God will build your House, and your righteousness will be evident to others.

I. David Encounters a Fool

Remember-much of discipleship development occurs as we learn to react to others. God wants us to react to others in mercy, in justice and in righteousness. But underlying all of our dealings, there must be humbleness before God.

When David encountered a Fool, he forgot the humility part, until God sent a very special woman into his life.

A.  The Story – I Samuel 25

Samuel died. Israel mourned, and David went to the desert area of Paran.

The wilderness of Paran — stretching from Sinai to the borders of Palestine in the southern territories of Judea. Like other wildernesses, it presented large tracts of natural pasture, to which the people sent their cattle at the grazing season, but where they were liable to constant and heavy depredations by prowling Arabs. David and his men earned their subsistence by making reprisals on the cattle of these freebooting Ishmaelites; and, frequently for their useful services, they obtained voluntary tokens of acknowledgment from the peaceful inhabitants[1].

Here David’s men provided protection for the men shearing the 3000 sheep owned by Nabal. His men did not demand any food or payment, they simply stood guard. Normally Nabal’s men would have sustained losses, for roving bands of thieves are prevalent when it is shearing season.

David, in accordance with hospitality laws ingrained into the Jewish and Eastern culture, sent his men to request food and provisions in return for their protection. This was nothing unexpected, and Nabal, who was likely informed of the protection, refused proper hospitality. Not only did he refuse, he insulted David. He insulted his father. He implied he was a runaway slave, and said he would be stupid to take food meant for his shearers and give it to someone he did not know where they came from.

The insult was obvious, and David recognized it at once. As soon as he heard the report, he said, Get your swords on Men, were not going to take this insult sitting down. He left 200 men with the stuff, and he and 400 men left to kill Nabal and his men.

Balaam had a similar reaction to his Donkey

Numbers 22:29 and Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”

Was David justified? I believe so. David could not let this insult go unpunished. Nabal rewarded David’s good with evil, and it was David’s desire to bring justice to Nabal. (Only it was David’s idea of Justice).

King Saul was a different matter, for He was in God’s office. But Nabal was simply a churlish fool.

In this day and age, we cannot take justice into our own hands. There were no police in David’s day. There was only honor and insult. An insult required action, or there would be no honor.

Discipleship is about Mercy, Justice and Righteousness being in balance in our lives. David knew Nabal’s actions reflected a man who had no righteousness. He was foolish and evil, and David was going to deal with him.

Now surely David knew the command “Thou shalt not kill”. Did Nabal’s foolishness outweigh God’s command?

B. Abigail Intervenes

To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development:

1. Abigail appeals to David with hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah in view.
  1. Justice (for his House) – because that is what David was taking into his own hands. (vs. 28)
  2. Mercy, Unfailing Love – Reminder that David is bound up and held by God (vs. 29)
  3. Righteousness – David will one day rule as King, and there will be no grief or blood guiltiness. (vs. 30-31)

1 Samuel 25:28-31 (28) Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. (29) If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. (30) And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, (31) my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.” ”

2. Look at the Special Qualities of Abigail
  • She was respected (25:17).  The servant knew to go to her.
  • She properly reacted to anger (25:33, 35).
  • She had great faith in God (25:26ff).

She is presented as a woman familiar with God. Her confident trust in God allowed her to remain a saint even though she was in a miserable marriage. Her words to David reveal that her faith was very practical in her life (25:26, 27).

  • She was assertive and decisive (25:18ff).

The situation was urgent and Abigail moved in a decisive way to prevent harm. She knew what needed to be done and did it the best she could. She approached David in the customs of the day but she made sure the task was done (25:24). She did not hesitate to tell David that his desire for revenge was wrong. Later she confronted Nabal and told him how foolish he was (25:37).

  • She cared for the safety of her household (25:31).

Abigail’s first priority was the safety of her home. She did whatever was necessary to assure that her family honored God and was safe.

  • She was humble and meek (25:41, 44).

As she approached David, she demonstrated humility. Humility characterized her entire conversation. –Woman of meek and Quiet Spirit

  • She brought Joy to David’s heart. (25:32).

Indeed, her name meant “My father’s Joy”

II. David Discipleship Lessons

Discipleship Definition

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ” Discipleship is simply gaining by trading

Here was David, perfectly just in taking action against this insult. But would this have been a Discipleship Development Moment? Not if he killed Nabal. Disciples submit to God and His Direction.

Even though David did not know Jesus Christ, he was about to learn a lesson, for David is a type of Christ.

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

A. Fools are People who say “God is Not”.

Both Psalms14:1 and 53: begin with this statement. The fool (nabal) hath said in his heart, “There is no God”. Young’s Literal translation reveals what the italicized (There is) mean: “God is not”[2]. The “There is” is implied, but not in the Hebrew. You could also translate ‘êyn ‘elohiym as simply “No”. A Fool is someone who realizes there is a God, but denies that He has any importance or rule over his life.

There are others…who, while they profess to acknowledge both (God and his governance of the world), deny him in their heart, and live as if they were persuaded there was no God either to punish or reward.[3]

  • Nabal showed he followed his namesake by refusing to acknowledge David, refusing to be hospitable, refusing to share God’s providence.
  • Nabal’s pride was set against God’s right to govern and judge.
  • Terrell Suggs showed he is a fool by saying the Baltimore Ravens do not need God on their sidelines.
  • Our great nation has been playing the fool as we continue to deny God’s right to govern and judge.
  • “The Harbinger”
  • Preachers can be fools

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

  • Fools say No to God because they refuse to admit his way is wrong

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

B. Fools are Dangerous to Disciples.

We saw how David dealt with Goliath. We saw how he responded to King Saul. With both he trusted in the Lord! Even in the cave he exalted God, and said, God, you have your way. David faced these huge obstacles and trusted God more and more.

1. David Lost His Cool

Has that ever happened to you? You handle crises and major battles with grace, and people are amazed how you handle things so well, trusting God!

But face a fool, and you lose it! You get all upset, you blow your top and say some choice words!

2. We have all encountered fools like Nabal.

They are usually overbearing, contemptuous, hardheaded and hard hearted. We have all had our:

  • Kindness met by harshness
  • Service unrecognized, unappreciated.
  • Motives Questioned

3. Has this ever happened to you?

  • Your neighbor (you know the one) complains about your dog pooping in his yard for the 90th time and you go ballistic.
  • The bumbling server who has ignored you all night finally brings more drink and spills it all over you.
  • Your boss says one more snide remark and you blow your top.
  • Your friend says one more nasty comment about your kids and you rip into her.

We can put on our Christian Superman Suit to handle a sickness, or the death of a loved one, and everyone says, wow, he really trusts the Lord!

  • God forbid some fool follows too closely on the highway.
  • God forbid some fool keeps his brights on as he drives toward you.
  • God forbid some fool makes a snide comment about your personal hygiene.
  • God forbid some fool disrespects you and the job you are doing.

Fools can get under our skin; they can elicit emotions of revenge, yes, even of murder.

C.  Fools Threaten our House (God’s Justice)

As Abigail said to David:

1 Samuel 25:28-29 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.

1 Samuel 25:32-34 And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

1. David would have troubled his house

If David had taken this action, justified in the sight of men though it was, it would have brought blood guiltiness upon his house. He would have “troubled his house” by seeking man’s justice, and not God’s.

Proverbs 11:29 Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.

2. We must be wise in our Heart

The other half of this verse says that if you want to conquer the fools of this world, you have to be wise in your heart.

Fools strike without warning. We often react in the heat of the moment. But if our heart is wise, we can deal with them the way God wants us to deal with them. Abigail was wise in her heart. She was a picture of the Holy Spirit, who brought wise counsel to the heart of David.

She could have said: David, don’t be stupid! Don’t you know that God says thou shalt not kill! Don’t ruin your life by killing David! While it carried the right message, it would not have been well received. David would have perceived it as additional bitter judgment.

Instead, Abigail reached his heart by reminding David about his House, and how David’s Life was bound in a bundle held by God! David’s life was bound up in the one who held his life! Just as Christians, when we enter into salvation with Jesus Christ, from that moment on, our life is bound up in His life! We become a precious bundle to Jesus Christ. From that moment on our life reflects on His life!

David’s life was a precious bundle to God, for David’s life was bound up in God! Therefore, Abigail reminded David that God had a responsibility to take his enemies and sling them away as if slung from a sling. Abigail reminded David of Goliath, and how if David could trust God to deal with Goliath, he could trust Him to deal with Nabal!

3. David’s House and Inheritance was at Stake!

Isaiah 57:13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off; a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.

4. Wrong Reactions to Fools Will Trouble Your House

Just check the news out to see how people’s lives are ruined by the way they react to fools.

  • A man burnt down a topless coffee shop in Maine because his ex-girlfriend worked there.
  • In Louisville KY, Lequan Washington, 35, started punching his mom in the face when she refused to get him some Kool-Aid. Mom told him to get his own Kool-Aid. Washington told Police that his Mom fired a gun at him.
  • January 4th, a 32 year old man gouged his 62 year old uncles eye’s outs. His uncle was a fool, and finally did something to make the man snap.
  • You can go to YouTube and watch fights in restaurants, fights at school, and fights at the Subway.
  • People get beat by McDonalds Employees.

D.   God Is Best At Handling Fools.

If we can trust God with Goliath’s, with King Saul’s, with Doegs, with the darkness of Caves, we need to trust Him to deal with Fools!

1 Samuel 25:36-38 And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.

David needed to be patient. Why ruin his House over a Fool? In treating the injustice of Nabal with more injustice, he would have failed his House, and taught a devastating lesson to his Men.

Luke 12:16-21 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Proverbs 27:22 You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.

E.  Disciples Become Fools when they say “No” to God.

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

F.  Disciples Hear and Heed the Holy Spirit

Abigail is a perfect example of the Holy Spirit. Her name meant “the Joy of my father” and is exactly the impact of the Holy Spirit! As she humbly plead softly David, reminding Him of God and David’s relationship and potential with God, David’s heart became soft, his emotions more reasoned and he committed Nabal to God.

  • 1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Abigail UNDERSTOOD the Ways of God

Think about Abigail just a moment. Here she was married to a Fool, and instead of despising God, or becoming a fool herself, she became a gracious woman, known for her beauty and wisdom.

She is a picture of the Grace of Jesus Christ, who said in John 16:33,  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Disciples do not have to lose our cool to fools. We simply have to follow the Holy Spirit.

1. God’s Loves the Unlovely, but He resists the Proud.

Jesus loved fools. They surrounded him. They were drunks, thieves, tax collectors. He loved Pharisees, but he had a hard time with their arrogance. Even though he was stern and direct with His rebukes, most refused to repent of their pride.

They should make Christians walk humbly before God, for the truth is we are only one step away from being a Pharisee. That is how dangerous pride is. When pride rears its ugly head, we push God to the side and say, “No God” I know what is best, I can figure this out on my own. As soon as we do, the Holy Spirit starts to whisper in our ear, “you fool!”

2. How did Abigail wind up with Nabal?

It could have been an arranged wedding. He could have been charming at first, and then became more in love with wealth.

Regardless, Abigail displayed total respect for her husband, at the same time appealing to David.

There was no betrayal, no selfishness,

3. Why did she intervene?

What do you do if you are married to a fool? When you are reviled, you revile not, but you commit yourself to Him who judges righteously. Do not take justice into your own hands, but appeal to God and patiently wait for him to bring his justice into your house.

A fool give full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. – Proverbs 29:11

Matthew 7:26-27 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

III. Holy Moments

David Discipleship is a “succession of holy moments in which we count on His grace and strength to get us through”. Alan Redpath

Most people come to church needing a Holy Moment. We do our best with singing and preaching, but church is not the place for holy moments. Holy moments take place as you encounter fools, and Goliath’s, your friends, your spouse, and your children. Holy Moments happen when in the face of someone or something that causes you to rear up in pride or revenge, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit whispers in your ear, and you humble yourself to submit to the Will and Word of God. A Holy Moment takes place when your will is set aside so that you may be set apart for the purpose of God!

David was puffed up with pride. He was owed something, his name had been disrespected, and his sword was drawn, ready to exact justice.

Along came the Holy Spirit in the form of Abigail, meaning ‘my Father brings Joy’ and what she said and did brought David into a Holy moment, where he was reminded once again that Discipleship is practicing God’s mercy, God’s justice and God’s righteousness.

Abigail brought a holy ‘unfailing love’ moment to his heart, reminding David that he was a precious bundle whose life was held by God. So this Holy Moment brought a change to David’s Desire.

Abigail brought a holy moment into his House, by reminding him that his pride was about to bring dishonor to his house, a house that God had great plans for. Who cares what a fool thinks of him and his house. As she reminded David:

1 Samuel 25:28 … the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD…

David must stand upon the justice of God, and fight the battles of the Lord. That requires humbleness, not pride. Therefore, this holy moment was beneficial to David’s descendants.

Abigail then brought a holy moment to David’s hope, reminding him that God was able to sling his enemies like a rock from a sling. That holy moment brought a decision that resulted in David’s development as a Disciple, a Mighty Man of God.

Esau and Jacob

Did you ever wonder why God chose the wimpy, liar, deceiver and thief Jacob to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel? Why not Esau, a man’s man, a hunter, a skilled fighter? He would make an excellent leader for the Jewish Nation.


God hated Esau and loved Jacob, because the one sin that God despises most in man is his pride and arrogance. God could work with a liar and a thief, but he could not work with a proud man. God saw Jacob transformed into a man who leaned on Him. That never would have happened with Esau, for he was too puffed up. Hebrews 11:21 says that Jacob blessed his sons while leaning on his staff. He had learned that he nust depend upon the Lord God for every aspect of his life. So he blessed as he leaned on the Lord!

Are you on a Discipleship Path this year? Do you desire to Develop into a man of God? Then let this mind be in you which was in our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though He deserved to be treated as God, he deliberately laid everything aside, humbling Himself to Death, even the death of the Cross.

Do you desire Holy Moments in your Life? Then lay aside your rights, your pride, your comforts, and your reputation. Humble yourself to the Holy Spirit, and trust in God to grow you and develop you into the man of God He desires.

As Isaiah wrote: “he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain”.


[1] 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”.

[2] Psalm 14:1 A fool hath said in his heart, `God is not;’ They have done corruptly, They have done abominable actions, There is not a doer of good. (Youngs Literal)

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Psalm 14”.


I would like 2012 to be a significant year in the life of our church. I want us to get serious about Discipleship. I want discipleship to be discussed in every class room, every committee meeting, every get together. I want the question that is asked most of each other, “How are you developing as a Disciple of Jesus Christ?” I want each of us to have a clear picture of how we are to develop as disciples of Christ. It will not happen right away, but over the next 18 months, as we look at every aspect of our church in light of Discipleship, we can make the proper adjustments in how we do ministry, and develop a clear-cut road to discipleship, Biblical Discipleship.

This will not come without some difficulties. Discipleship is difficult, for the way is blocked with Goliath’s. Saul’s and Doegs. But if we continue to kneel before the Cross, and desire to follow the Holy Spirit, Christ will do an amazing work in this church and in your lives.

Many (if not most) Christians Live in a Cave

We need to ask ourselves “Are we walking in the Light?” (If you are not daily in the Word of God how can you think you are walking in the Light?) I believe many Christians are living in a cave, but they may or may not realize it. Their profession of faith in Christ may have been real, but they have stopped walking by FAITH. They walk by sight. And sadly, when you walk by sight, you are blind. You are living in a Cave. The danger is that living in a cave will produce eyes that no longer see the light. They can no longer walk by faith. They can no longer see Him who is invisible. When you become used to the darkness of the cave, you don’t realize how much ‘light’ you are missing. Isaiah wrote about the Lord:

Isaiah 42:5-7 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

When Jesus began His public ministry, he proclaimed:

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

The Jewish people thought they were walking in the light. But in actuality they were held in prison by the perversions of the Law perpetrated by the Pharisees. Jesus opened many eyes to the true Light of the Gospel, but the religious Leaders remained blind, because “we just don’t do it that way”. Jesus did not fit into the mold formed in the cave of their minds and they rejected Him. In fact, they crucified Him, for they refused to follow His light.

Discipleship is difficult, for you follow Christ, not a religion, not a list of man-made rules or traditions. Discipleship requires an ongoing growth and development of a relationship with an invisible Savior. Discipleship requires Faith, for only Faith imparts the ability to see Him who is Invisible.

Jesus proclaimed that He was coming to give sight to the blind. But in order to receive sight, we must be willing to submit to His leadership and commands. Any resistance on our part places us right back in the darkness that Jesus came to free us from.

I.   David Discipleship Involves:

A. Involves Growing Faith, Or It Is Not Discipleship.

1 Samuel 23:29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.

David leaves the Rock of Escape and goes down to the Dead Sea, to find refuge in the Strongholds of EnGedi. EnGedi is a great hideout. Plenty of hide-outs, fresh water, a veritable oasis. EnGedi is the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea.  The springs here have allowed nearly continuous inhabitation of the site for 4000 years. The abundant springs and year-round temperate climate provided the perfect conditions for agriculture in ancient times. Solomon compared his lover to “a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of EnGedi,” an indication of the beauty and fertility of the site (Song 1:14).

Even though there are many springs around the Dead Sea, most of them have a high salt content. EnGedi is one of only two fresh water springs located on the western shore of the Dead Sea and, because of the greater availability of land for agriculture at EnGedi, it is the best spring by which to settle.

EnGedi means literally “the spring of the kid (goat).” Evidence exists that young ibex have always lived near the springs of EnGedi. One time when David was fleeing from King Saul, the pursuers searched the “Crags of the Ibex” in the vicinity of EnGedi.

David could have settled here and hoped in the natural strongholds that were there in EnGedi. He may not have become content, but he and his men could have resumed more normal lives. They could have still worshipped God, do an occasional good deed, and been safe. That is what a stronghold is, a place of safety due to its position or protection.

But this would not produce the Discipleship that God required of David, nor would it serve to transform David’s crew into Mighty Men. God wanted them to grow in their faith.

So God allowed King Saul to find David. God lead Saul into David’s Stronghold.

 1 Samuel 24:1-3 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.

 His Men are urging David to Kill Saul

1 Samuel 24:4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’ ”

Perhaps David had told his men of a promise God had given him, a promise of deliverance similar to Abraham. His men believed in David, and when Saul came to them, excitedly they exclaimed that “Deliverance is Here”! Perhaps David identified with Abram, when God delivered his enemies into his hand:

 Genesis 14:17-20 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Encouraged by his men, the Scriptures record what happened next: “Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.” His men must have been shocked. Why didn;t he kill him. Their troubles would be over. They could go home. David could be King. But God wanted each of them to learn a valuable lesson. 

1.  Disciples that desire safety and comfort usually end up in the dark as far as God is concerned.
2.  In the cave of safety, our self-centeredness prevents us from seeing the light of Jesus Christ
3.  In the cave of safety we often resort to solving our problems with our own short-sighted vision.

God wanted David and his men to look to Him in the darkness of the cave, not to their own resources. Here was a struggle of conscience pre-ordained of God that would lead these men into the very presence of God!

As John Piper told his church:

But if we do what David did, and follow the call of God—hazards and all—then we will come to this place week in and week out with a sense of deepening reality and power.

That’s essential number one: if God’s blessing is going to be on this place, as a place of real worship, then those of us who gather here must gather as a kind of haven between hazards. Not as a haven instead of hazards but a haven between hazards. True worship will come from the impulse to hazard things for the name of God.[1]

B. Involves Growing Worship, Or It Is Not Discipleship.

Most people associate worship with something you do when things are going OK. We associate church with worship. We go to church when things are normal. I have discovered that when things get “abnormal” that folks don’t really feel like worshipping at church. When we are overwhelmed with house guests. When we experience the loss of a loved one. When we have a tragedy strike us. When we are stricken with a deadly disease.

One thing very obvious about David is His worship of God, especially when things were “abnormal” And David’s worship wasn’t confined to the Tabernacle of the Temple. David worshipped God anywhere and everywhere. But David especially worshipped God when things were “abnormal”, because Worship was what David lived for.

When David found himself in the cave, with Saul but a breath away, followed by his 3000 trained killers, David was justifiably afraid. It was dark, he was trapped, here was Saul, his men outside. David’s men wanted to kill Saul, but David feared God much more than he feared King Saul. Since he was the anointed King of Israel, only God could remove him. It was not within David’s power. Even if Saul was dead, what would the 3000 armed men do when they discovered he was dead?

No, this was problem too great for David. His men needed to learn what David already knew, that God had great power to deal with dangerous or perilous situations in our life. We can see David’s heart response and message to his men in Psalm 57:

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam (instruction). When he had fled from Saul into the cave. 

Psalm 57:1-11 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!


David cried out to God to fulfill His purpose in his life. If God’s purpose was to be accomplished by David’s death, then so be it. But David had a promise from God that he would be King, so David cried out for that purpose to be accomplished.

  • David asked God to send out His “hesed” (unfailing love) and his faithfulness
  • David asked that God be exalted regardless of what happened.
  • David affirmed that his heart was fixed upon God.
  • David promised to give thanks to all the people, regardless of the outcome.
  • David worshiped one more time and exalted God.

Because David’s heart was fixed upon God, David always worshipped God in the midst of his problems, and in fact exalted God in the face of his problems. No matter what David faced, he always said “God, this is for you to handle. You be exalted, and however you work this out, I will praise you before all the people”.

We will see this over and over in David’s life. Because his heart was given to God, David sought to see God’s justice in every situation he faced, even in the unjust ones.

Application:

Are you overwhelmed with a certain situation? Do you struggle with what God is doing in your life?

  • Confess to God your sinfulness for not giving Him your heart, and for not fixing your heart upon Him.
  • Confess your lack of worship and then bow humbly before Him, and ask Him to fulfill His purpose for your life. Ask Him to be exalted in the situation you are facing. Then bow before Him and say, whatever you want for my life, I accept it and I want it. I want you to be exalted in this situation.

II.  David Discipleship Requires:

A. Requires Humble Submission to God’s Ways, or there will be no Discipleship

There was a mom with a young pre-teen who was neglecting his chores to play his new video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. His room was a disaster, and Mom had enough. She marched into his room and holding her preferred form of politically incorrect discipline, exclaimed “Get up and clean this room or you will know the wrath of Vladimir Makarov!” He knew what that meant, so he jumped up and started cleaning his room. You could tell his heart was not in it, however, and soon he said, “I may be cleaning my room on the outside, but inside I’m playing Modern Warfare 3 and I’m blasting away! He was submitting to a greater force, but only because he had to. But that is not David’s heart in the Cave.

Three things in Psalm 57:1 show a disciple’s (David) submission before God.

  • He cries for mercy. He sees his need from God for mercy and grace. 
  • He cries out for a refuge. He is vulnerable before his enemies, he sees his need for God’s provision. 
  • He calls his refuge the “shadow of God’s wings.” David, the mighty warrior, the anointed of God, says, “In the shadow of thy wings I will take refuge.” In other words, “I am a little chick. And I need the covering of my God.” Submission to God requires humility.

Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me”.

Discipleship requires you to submit your will to God’s purpose for you. That took humility for David, especially in front of 600 manly vagabums. But it also requires something else, something that most American Christians stumble at:

B. Requires the Desire for God’s Glory above Our Own Concerns, or there will be no Discipleship

  • Psalm 57:5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
  • Psalm 57:11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
  • Psalm 57:7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!

No matter what happens, I want you to be exalted. If it means my death, or my imprisonment, that will be your purpose, and You will be Exalted.

You must be willing to accept poverty, homelessness, sickness, disease, rejection, betrayal, injustice, abuse, anything, as long as it exalts God. A Disciple never says I don’t have to put up with this. A Disciple exalts God to where His glory is between you and any problem you may be having.

Jesus did just that:

1 Peter 2:20-24 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

We have become a Nation that focuses so  much on our Individual Rights, that we place our supposed rights before our responsibilities. That philosophy has infected our church to the point that we put our rights before our responsibilities as a Disciple of Christ.

  • We want our discipleship to be comfortable, but Jesus says I don’t even promise you a bed to sleep on.
  • We want our discipleship to fit our schedule, but Jesus says let the dead bury their dead.
  • We want our discipleship to be convenient, but Jesus says if you put your hand to the plow and then look back at those conveniences, you are not fit for the Kingdom of God.
  • We don’t want our discipleship to make us so different that we’ll be embarrassed, or laughed at,  , or be embarrassing, but Jesus said “whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory”.
  • We want our discipleship to not be too costly, but Jesus says if you are going to follow Him, you must give up everything by dying to self and taking up His cross for you!

We always say that our primary purpose as Christians is to give Glory to God, but what we mean is that we want a nice comfortable life that portrays the good side of God. How dare Him make us suffer! How can our suffering bring glory to Him? I can do so much more for God when I am affluent and generous! Right?

I was reading about the injustices going on in Eritrea. Evangelical Christians are imprisoned, some for life, for simply bowing their heads in prayer over a meal. They are imprisoned in stifling hot shipping containers or underground bunkers. They are never given baths or showers. There are so many forced into a small place that to lay down and sleep they must sleep on their side. The stench is intolerable. They are given one glass of water a day. They get bread if they are lucky. The prison officials do not care if they live or die. Some are executed. Most are tortured. When a new prisoner come, the first thing anyone says to him, “Did you smuggle any razor blades” because they want to kill themselves. Some are given the opportunity to leave if they recant their faith. Most do not. They cannot, for they are Disciples of Jesus Christ. They knew what it would cost them when they gave their lives to Him!

One young woman who was caught with a Bible was arrested and tied with her hands and feet tied to opposite limbs behind the back. Her captors told her, “Jesus will save you now.”[2]

Jesus did not save her. She eventually died. Did she march up to Jesus in Heaven and say “How could you forget about me? How could you let me endure such suffering that I died of dehydration?” No, she wakes up in the arms of Jesus, and when she looks into His eyes, she says, Jesus, I would do it all over again, for your wonderful glory!

Watch Videos Describing the Torture of Christians going on in Eritrea TODAY!

That is what Discipleship is all about. We develop as Disciples as everything in our life, our good, our bad, our successes, our failures, our joys, our sadness’s are laid at the Cross and our only cry is “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” My life is inconsequential to your Glory, but I dedicate it to you, for your use in whatever will bring you Glory!

Psalm 112:1-7 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

A Disciple is never afraid of bad news. He is not afraid of a diagnosis of cancer. He is not afraid of hearing of a loved one’s tragic death. His heart is firm, always trusting God, no matter what the news.

David wrote another Psalm while he was in the Dark Cave:

Psalm 142 -A maskil (instruction) of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

Psalm 142:1-7 With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.


When Surrounded by Darkness, in whom do you trust?

  • Do you trust in yourself, doing what you think is best?
  • Do you trust your friends, to get their help?

If David had done either of those, we wouldn’t be studying his life.

David cried out to God, knowing, that

  • “When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!”
  • “You are my refuge, my portion!”
  • “Bring me out of the darkness of this cave, and I will give thanks to your name!”
  • “You deal bountifully with me!”

David turned to God when he was backed into a corner, deep in the darkness of the cave!

What lessons of Hesed, Mishpat and Tsedaqah are in this experience of David’s?

Hesed, Unfailing Love-was in his heart as he refused to kill King Saul. His love for God and trust in Him was stronger than any feeling of hate that might have welled up and led him to take vengeance into his own hands.

  • As a result those men with Him saw the Mercy of God in David’s actions.

Mishpat, justice, was brought into David’s House as both he and his men realized that God must be trusted even in perilous situations where you are tempted to do things your own way. God’s Justice must reign in your response to every situation, good or bad.

  • His men saw that, and the House of David grew strong in the ways of God that day.

Tsedeqah, righteousness, was David’s Hope as He agreed to wait upon God. Even though that meant years of struggle and hardship, it was worth it because David’s Hope was to be in God and His strength, and not in himself. Temporary relief would have brought eternal damnation.

  • His men saw David’s Hope, and would learn to trust God!

Then ask God to grow your Faith to see Him in the Darkness.Do you want to Grow to be a Mighty Man or Woman of God in 2012? Do you want to draw closer to Christ than ever before? Do you His love to be sweeter than ever before?

  • Worship God more faithfully and He will give you more reasons to worship Him.
  • Humble yourself to being a little chickie, needing the protection of His wings.
  • Desire God to be exalted in whatever you face this next year.

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

2 Samuel 22:29-30 For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

Psalm 18:28-29 For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

Isaiah 50:10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

When surrounded by Darkness in Whom Do You TRUST?

Isaiah 50:10 … Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.

How are YOU developing as a Disciple of Jesus Christ?

Overflow through Me!

In days of barren darkness,
I need a light to encourage, refresh,
bring life – God’s word, and grace, and peace.

In a dark and barren world,
God’s Spirit lives within me to be a Light,
abundantly stretching forth, bringing life for all.

Lord, fill me with your light – allow it to shine through me!


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