1 Samuel 21:10-15

Sermon preached on July 5, 2009 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

I love some of the videos they have on America's Funniest Home Videos and other shows like that. I especially find fascinating the videos that show people doing really stupid things. I remember one where a guy was riding a motorcycle and he had a huge ramp set up and the idea was to go up in the air and land in an area that was all cushioned. There was no ramp on the other side or anything—both he and the bike were to land on a whole bunch of foam or mattresses, something like that. But he went too fast up the ramp, went way up in the air, overshot the soft landing and crashed beyond it. It was painful to watch. There was another one with a guy planned to ride a bicycle off a flat roof, and I'm not sure if he was going to go through a ring of fire or something like that—but there was fire involved. The idea was to get up enough speed to fly off the roof and land on some mattresses. But things went wrong, he caught fire, didn't get up enough speed and landed short of the landing area, all the while being on fire. There was another where a fairly big woman sat on a swinging chair. When she saw that she was on video she started bouncing up and down to show them that the chair was strong enough to hold her. But sure enough the chair gave way and she and the other person on the chair went crashing down.

The reason I like find them fascinating is not what you probably think—that I like laughing at people. The real reason I like them is because they show me that I'm not the only one who has done something really stupid. There's thousands of these videos and when I see one of them it actually gives me some satisfaction that I'm not the only one in the world who has done something incredibly stupid.

One of the things I did once when I was in university involved leaning back too far on a chair. Thankfully there's no video of it but you can probably imagine what it looked like. I was in the university library studying. You know how quiet libraries are. I was at an isolated desk at the end of some rows of books. I tilted the chair back and put my feet up on the desk and proceeded to read one of my schoolbooks. I don't know why I stopped paying attention to how far back I was leaning, either the book I was studying was intensely interesting or incredibly boring. At any rate I suddenly found myself falling back and there was an incredible crash. The worst thing about it was that there were two girls studying nearby and they came running to see what happened and when they saw me they couldn't keep from laughing. They tried to suppress it but they couldn't. I don't know what was wrong with them. I was really glad I didn't know them. I was so embarrassed. What a stupid thing to do.

So seeing those videos of people doing stupid things gives me a little consolation. I'm not the only one.

In our text we read about David doing something incredibly stupid. David's life is in danger and he is fleeing from Saul. He's desperate. So what does he do?

David goes to Gath—the city of Goliath!

This is incredible. There was no city on earth where David would have been more unwelcome. This was a Philistine city and verse 4 of 1 Samuel 17—the chapter which describes David's victory over the giant Goliath—tells us that Goliath was from Gath. David decides to go there! Goliath surely had relatives who would seek to avenge his death—brothers, father, uncles. But even if Goliath had no relatives it would have been extremely dangerous for David to go to any Philistine city. After all, what had David been doing since he entered Saul's service—he had been killing Philistines. (1 Samuel 18:27,30; 19:8)

Wow. I wouldn't have thought that going to Gath was a possibility. What in the world was David thinking? I mean, Gath of all places? That would be the city where David would be most hated. And going there with Goliath's sword? What was David thinking? Surely it would be recognized. It would be impossible to hide such a distinctive weapon.

We're not sure why David went to Gath. Perhaps he thought that that would be the last place Saul would look for him. That would certainly be true. But it would seem like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

David's going to Gath seems to make no sense. It seems a most foolish thing to do. It reminds me of
Rudolf Hess' flight to Scotland in the middle of World War II. Rudolf Hess was one of the top men in the Nazi Party, being Deputy Fuhrer. On May 10, 1941 he made a surprise flight to Scotland and parachuted near the Duke of Hamilton's home. He made the journey supposedly to negotiate peace with the British. He thought he could convince the British that German victory was inevitable and that if the British would allow Nazi Germany to dominate Europe, the British Empire would not be threatened by Germany.

But that was crazy. If Hess thought that Churchill was going to make peace with Hitler he was gravely mistaken. Hess was arrested, reckoned to be mentally unstable and was imprisoned for the rest of his life, until he died in 1987.

Hess' trip to Scotland was a disaster for him. He was never a free man again. The Russians hated him so much that when overtures were made to release Hess they always insisted that he remain in prison, even when he was a very old man.

In the same way, it's very surprising that David escaped from Gath with his life. Going to Gath was a very foolish thing to do. The first thing that happens to David there is that he's arrested. The Philistines took David into custody. That's implied in our text. Verse 13 tells us that David,

'was in their hands…"

It's made clear in the heading to Psalm 56, which was composed by David,

"When the Philistines had seized him in Gath."

The Philistines put David in custody and It seems that many of them wanted to put David to death. Verse 11 tells us that the servants of Achish said to him,

"Isn't this David,
the king of the land?
Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances:
'Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands'?"

At that point David became very much afraid. He knew what they were getting at.

David's going to Gath bring to mind a line from the movie, "
What About Bob". I forget the exact scene, but at one point Bob does something really stupid and of course it doesn't work. After he does it, he chides himself and says,

"That was not smart. That was not smart.'

I think that after David left Gath he was thinking something like that.

Now what does this passage teach us?

The main lesson we should learn from this is that

God will protect and save us in spite of our stupidity.

God watched over David at Gath and did not let the Philistines kill David. David was safe in the most dangerous place he could have gone. God protected him.

This is clear from Psalm 34, which was written right after this incident. Psalm 34 is a great psalm of praise to God and David thanks God for delivering him. David didn't attribute his escape, his preservation in Gath to luck, or Achish's gullibility—but to God's protection. In verses 1-3 David says,

"I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together."

Then in verses 6-7 David wrote,

"This poor man called,
and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him,
and he delivers them."

Verse 17 says,

"The righteous cry out,
and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles."

Verse 19 says,

"A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;"

God watched over David and saved him. David praised God for His great deliverance. God saved David in spite of his foolishness.

This is a theme that we see in many places in Scripture. David wasn't the only Christian who did something incredibly stupid and was saved in spite of it.

Consider Peter. Peter denied Jesus three times. The first two denials were bad, but the third denial was way beyond stupid. The first two were simply denials. But the third had a lot more to it. Verses 70 and 71 of Mark 14 tell us that when some people standing around Peter suggested that he was one of Jesus' disciples because he was a Galilean, Peter responded very badly. We read,

"He began to call down curses on himself,
and he swore to them,
'I don't know this man you're talking about.'"

He called down curses upon himself. That's about as dumb a thing as you can do. How incredibly stupid. Yet Jesus did not treat Peter according to his folly. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He saved Peter in spite of his folly.

Another example of incredibly dense behavior is
Jonah. When God told him to go to Nineveh and warn them Jonah tried to run away from God. Ha! That didn't work! How in the world did the prophet ever think that he could get away from doing what God wanted him to do? Jonah suffered for his folly, but God certainly dealt much better with him than his folly deserved. Jonah was thrown into the sea. A fish swallowed him and for three days he was inside the fish. Then it vomited him out onto dry land. Even after all that and he went and preached to Nineveh and Nineveh repented, Jonah had still not learned his lesson. He became angry with what God did. He was incredibly asinine.

We have another example of someone being completely asinine in Mark 9:21-23. A man had a son who was demon possessed. The man brought his son to Jesus' disciples to drive the demon out—but they couldn't. When Jesus arrived the man told Him about his son. Jesus asked how long the boy had been like that. The man answered,

"From childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire
or water to kill him.
But if you can do anything,
take pity on us and help us."

Did you catch the incredibly stupid part? Jesus repeated part of his words back to him. Jesus said,

"If you can'?"

Jesus was shocked at his lack of faith, his unbelief.

Isn't that incredible that he said to Jesus, "If you can do anythingÖ" He was talking to the Maker of the universe and he didn't have much confidence in Him. How incredibly stupid the man was. Yet Jesus drove the demon out of his son.

Another example of incredible stupidity has to do with
Jacob deceiving his father Isaac by pretending to be Esau and stealing his blessing. He lied to his father. That was wrong. That was incredibly stupid. It was risky in so many ways. First, it was risky in that Isaac suspected something was fishy and if he had discovered the deception, he might have cursed Jacob. Isaac came close. He thought it was Jacob's voice. Not only that, but it was risky in the sense that it incensed Esau against Jacob. Esau made plans to kill Jacob and Jacob had to flee to escape death. Jacob's deception worked—but it was incredibly stupid.

Another example of incredibly stupidity is found in the book of Revelation. You'll remember that in Revelation 19:10 the apostle John, overwhelmed at the incredible things the angel was showing him, fell at the angel's feet to worship him. The angel rebuked him and told him that he was just a fellow servant and told him to worship God. That was bad enough. But three chapters later we see that John makes the same mistake. We read, (Revelation 22:8-9)

"I, John, am the one
who heard and saw these things.
And when I had heard and seen them,
I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel
who had been showing them to me.
But he said to me, 'Do not do it!
I am a fellow servant with you
and with your brothers the prophets
and of all who keep the words of this book.
Worship God!'"

The way that we human beings are—we can forgive someone who does something really stupid. It's hard, but we can do it. But when the same person makes the same thing again—and repeats the same stupid error—wow. That's when we give up on them. But God didn't give up on John. God forgave his stupidity.

Another example of incredibly dumb behavior is found in Mark 9. (See also Luke 9:46) Jesus had been telling His disciples that He must suffer much and be rejected. (verse 12) He told them, (verse 31)

"The Son of Man is going to be
betrayed into the hands of men.
They will kill him,
and after three days he will rise."

How did they respond to that? It's almost unbelievable. They started arguing about which of them would be the greatest. (Verse 34) Can you imagine?

We see the same thing later in Luke 22:14f when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. He was telling them about how He was going to be betrayed, how He was going to suffer, telling them how the broken bread represented His body and the wine His blood and how His body was going to be given for them.

How did they react? Verse 24 tells us,

"a dispute arose among them
as to which of them
was considered to be greatest."

Jesus is teaching them about His work, His suffering, His great sacrifice on their behalf—and they close their eyes to it and think in terms of their greatness! How utterly inappropriate.

One might expect that at that point Jesus would throw up His hands in the air, say,

"They're not worth it,"

and leave us ungrateful and self-centered sinners to our misery. But He didn't. He was absolutely committed to them in spite of their stupidity and foolishness.

Now what about you? Have you done something incredibly foolish in the past? Do you sometimes think that that stupidity makes it so that God can't really love you? Do you feel worthless because of some of the really dense things you have done? Banish all such thoughts. Do you see the point of all these examples?

God doesn't just love the beautiful people, the smart people, people who don't mess up very much—God loves us and is still committed to us even in the middle of our messing up. God loves us in spite of our faults, in spite of our stupidity.

Imagine what David looked like here. Here he's not like he was when he stood before Goliath, shining for God, resting confidently in His protection, declaring His praises in front of the Philistines. No. Here, David acts like he's mad. He lets his saliva run down from his mouth. He's an object of scorn and derision for the Philistines.

I believe that David sinned here. He's afraid. His faith is weak. He's acting just the opposite of what He should have been like. He was God's anointed. He was God's chosen ones. It was so inappropriate for him to be acting like he was insane.

John Calvin writes, (on Psalm 34)

"I answer, that although God sometimes delivers his people, while at the same time they err in choosing the means, or even fall into sin in adopting them, yet there is nothing inconsistent in this. The deliverance, therefore, was the work of God, but the intermediate sin, which is on no account to be excused, ought to be ascribed to David. In this way Jacob obtained the blessing by the favor and good pleasure of God; and yet the subtlety of the mother, with which the obtaining of it was mixed up, was, we know, sinful on her part. It may then sometimes happen that the event shall be brought to pass by the Spirit of God, and yet the saints whom he may employ as instruments shall swerve from the path of duty."

God delivers and saves His people in spite of their stupidity, foolishness and sin. How true the words of Romans 8:35f are. That passage asks what shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. It says,

"Shall trouble or hardship or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"

Stupidity isn't mentioned—but it's covered in what Paul writes next,

"No, in all these things we are
more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us
from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Praise God for that. He delivers and saves us in spite of ourselves.

Something further we should note from our passage about God delivering us from our stupidity is that

God sometimes does it by defeating the wisdom of our opponents.

Achish's counselors weren't stupid. There was wisdom in their words. They knew that David was a threat to them and should have been killed. They came to Achish and told him that David was the one that they sang about in their dances, (verse 11)

"Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands."

These counselors were shrewd and wise and they wanted Achish to put David to death.

But there was more than wisdom in their words—there was prophecy. Notice how they referred to David. They said, (verse 11)

"Isn't this David, the king of the land?"

Dale Davis writes, (p. 218)

"Achish's counselors call David 'the king of the land'. (v. 11). Fokkelman [The Crossing Fates, 365-66) notes that they do not call David, 'king of Israel,' which would have been literally untrue. He suggests that Achish's men used somewhat ambiguous terminology to make Achish uneasy. The biblical writer likely had another purpose in view; he portrays even the Philistines as witnesses to David's future. When they call David 'king of the land' they are merely confirming Yahweh's word. The Philistines have become prophets who speak far better than they know;"

But Achish doesn't get the meaning of their words. He dismisses their advice and berated them for suggesting that he even bother with David. He said, (verses 14-15)

" Look at the man!
He is insane!
Why bring him to me?
Am I so short of madmen
that you have to bring this fellow here
to carry on like this in front of me?
Must this man come into my house?"

God often acts that way.

You'll remember the wise advice that
Ahithophel gave to Absalom when he rebelled against his father David? Ahithophel told him to pursue David immediately and attack him while he was weary and weak. He told him to just kill him and that then all Israel would rally to him.

It was excellent advice that would have worked. Absalom and all the elders of Israel loved the plan. It seemed like David was doomed.

But what did God do? He had Absalom summon Hushai the Arkite. He asked him what he thought. Hushai said that Ahithophel's advise was not good, that David would not spend the night with the men but would hide in a cave and they would never be able to find and kill him. And that if David attacked his men and started a rout, Absalom would be doomed. So Hushai suggested that Absalom wait, gather a great army and go after David with overwhelming force. Absalom thought that Hushai's advice was better so he followed it. But it was disastrous advice for Absalom and led to him being defeated by David.

Why did all that take place? Whatever possessed Absalom to call for Hushai when he Ahithophel had already given them the plan that would succeed? The answer is found in 2 Samuel 17:14,

"Absalom and all the men of Israel said,
'The advice of Hushai the Arkite
is better than that of Ahithophel.'
For the LORD had determined
to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel
in order to bring disaster on Absalom."

God often saves us from our stupidity by defeating the wisdom of our enemies.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, what you should understand is that unless you go to Jesus,

you're going to pay for your stupidity.

Not going to Jesus for salvation is the most stupid thing in the world. For people to reject the only One that can save them from their sins, from hell's eternal fires—is so asinine that it's almost incomprehensible. Yet if you're not a Christian, that's what you're doing.

Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one. There's another prophecy, that's not in our text, but that's in Psalm 34 which David wrote in response to this incident. And just as Achish's advisors uttered a prophecy that would be fulfilled, in Psalm 34 David uttered a prophecy about another great King, would could come 1000 years after David. David wrote, (Psalm 34:19-20)

"A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken."

In John 19 we read that after Jesus was crucified, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, so they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. We read, (verses 32f)

"The soldiers therefore came
and broke the legs of the first man
who had been crucified with Jesus,
and then those of the other.
But when they came to Jesus
and found that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs.
Instead, one of the soldiers
pierced Jesus' side with a spear,
bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
The man who saw it has given testimony,
and his testimony is true.
He knows that he tells the truth,
and he testifies so that you also may believe.
These things happened
so that the scripture would be fulfilled:
'Not one of his bones will be broken,'"

In his suffering David prophesied about Jesus and His sufferings. John Woodhouse writes, (p. 416)

"The book of Psalms points us to these experiences of David as the context for much of the pain and suffering expressed in the psalms. Jesus and the New Testament point us to the psalms to explain that Jesus is the Christ and that he had to suffer and rise from the dead."

Jesus is the Messiah. You need to go to Him. Go to Jesus. Turn from your sin. Ask Him to save you. Do that now.