Sermon preached on July 12, 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.
A few months ago I saw an episode of the PBS TV show, "Connections". In it British science personality James Burke showed that many ideas and inventions in today's society are not here by chance but are the result of many interconnections. It demonstrated that different discoveries, ideas and historical events built off one another in a interconnected way to bring about much of modern technology. One episode showed the relationship between the introduction of a particular type of Dutch cargo sailing ship (the fluyt) and the invention of plastics.
Information like that is fascinating. It helps us see the bigger picture.
The same thing is true in God's dealings with us. We should see the big picture because the big picture shows us the overall sweep of God's providences and can help us exercise great faith when things look dark.
The text before us invites us to see the big picture and should be a text that encourages us to trust in God more.
The first thing I want you to see in our text is
the magnificent and wise plan that God laid out for the protection of David's parents.
The connections here are incredible. David knew that his parents were in danger in Judah. At this point in time Saul was so unstable that there was not telling what he would do. So David went to the King of Moab and asked if his parents could stay with him until they could be safe in Israel. The king of Moab agreed and sheltered them.
Why would the king of Moab shelter David's parents? I think it most likely because of the Moabite connection that David's family had. We should recall that David's great-grandmother was from Moab. Ruth came from Moab with her mother-in-law Naomi. She was Ruth the Moabitess. It is probably that David mentioned this to the King of Moab when he asked him for protection for his parents. Events that happened about 100 years before this were crucial in the protection of David's parents. Dale Davis writes, (p. 222)
"Yahweh plans his kindnesses long beforehand. He directed circumstances long in advance in order to bring a ray of relief in David's present distress. It was not something David set in place; it was a gift. Yahweh 'arranged' it long before."
Now there's a great lesson for us here.
Think of Naomi. She and her husband had left Judah with their two sons because of a famine and went to Moab. Her husband died and her two sons married Moabite women. But her two sons then died. So she went back to Bethlehem with Ruth. When she came back to Judah her old friends couldn't believe it was her. Naomi told them not to call her Naomi, (Ruth 1:20-21)
"Call me Mara, because the Almighty
has made my life very bitter.
I went away full,
but the LORD has brought me back empty.
Why call me Naomi?
The LORD has afflicted me;
the Almighty has brought misfortune
Yet the Lord had good in store for Naomi and her family. The great king who would rule Israel would be her daughter-in-law's great-grandson, David. God had plans to bless Israel and the whole world through Naomi and her sufferings. Kings were to come from Ruth. Yet it was not God's plan that it would be through Ruth's first husband, Naomi's son,—but rather through Boaz, her close relative. From Boaz and Ruth would come Obed, then Jesse, then David. And from David would come the long awaited Messiah, the Savior of the world. Could Naomi have imagined it? Not only that, but could she imagine that her connection with Moab, which she thought was entirely 'bitter', would one day be such a blessing to her grandson, Jesse, and her great grandson, David? I'm sure that Naomi had no idea that her suffering would bear such fruit so many years later. So often we look on our suffering in isolation, totally missing the connections that God has in them. What a mistake. We need to consider the big picture and the connections that God has in them.
We Christians should take to heart the great truth that God knows what He's doing in His providences toward us. God's plans for His people are often complex and mysterious. They are beyond our understanding. As God said in (Isaiah 55:8-9)
"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,'
declares the LORD.
'As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"
But we should realize that they are sure and true. God has a purpose in whatever happens to us. We should trust God in everything. God has a plan. It's a glorious and wonderful plan for His people—a plan to bring them to glory. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 29:11,
"'For I know the plans I have for you,'
declares the LORD,
'plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.'"
All this also brings to mind what the apostle Paul wrote at the end of Romans 11. (verses 33-34)
"Oh, the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!"
Now what this means for you Christians is that we should recognize that God has a plan for you.
In that respect we're just like David. We're in God's hands and God's purpose for our lives will be fulfilled. In Acts 17:25-28 Paul spoke to the philosophers of Athens and said of God,
"he himself gives all men
life and breath and everything else.
From one man
he made every nation of men,
that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he determined the times set for them
and the exact places where they should live.
Christians God has a plan for you. In a certain sense it is like His plan for David. God promised David he would be king over Israel. God has promised His faithful ones that they will reign with Him. In Revelation 3:21, in the message to the church at Laodicea, Jesus said,
"To him who overcomes,
I will give the right to sit with me
on my throne,"
Yet the way we get to that throne is also a lot like David's way—through hardship and suffering. In Hebrews 11 we read about the heroes of the faith. Verse 38 says of them,
"the world was not worthy of them.
They wandered in deserts and mountains,
and in caves and holes in the ground."
So often Christians are told that the way of Jesus Christ is a way of health and prosperity for all who follow Him.
But that's not what Jesus taught and it's not what the Bible teaches. Jesus told Peter about a great hardship that would result in his death, the death that John said was, (John 21:19)
"the kind of death by which Peter
would glorify God."
Then Jesus said to Peter,
God has a plan for His people and the way of that plan is suffering before glory.
Paul and Silas also told their converts that this was the way of Jesus Christ. When Paul and Silas returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, they strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. They said to them,
"We must go through many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God,"
Never doubt that God has a plan for your life and that it is significant. In Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus said to His disciples,
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
apart from the will of your Father.
And even the very hairs of your head
are all numbered.
So don't be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows."
So Christians, be faithful to God in suffering. Do your duty and trust God to work out His plan. As the apostle Paul encouraged us in Romans 8:28
"And we know that in all things
God works for the good
of those who love him,
who have been called
according to his purpose."
Trust God to work out His plan. And remember the big picture.
There are connections in what you do, connections between you and past generations, and connections between you and future generations.
Remember Jonah? He was swallowed by a great fish and for three days he was in the belly of the fish. I suspect that at first all he was thinking about was that he was there because of his own fault, his own sin of running away from the Lord. But Jonah 2 contains Jonah's prayer from the inside of the fish—and it's a prayer of faith and of acknowledgment that salvation comes from the Lord.
But who would have thought that Jonah's time inside the fish was pointing to the Messiah's time in the tomb—that that three days pointed to Jesus' death and resurrection? What a marvelous connection God made! As Jesus said in Matthew 12:39-40
"A wicked and adulterous generation
asks for a miraculous sign!
But none will be given it
except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For as Jonah was three days
and three nights in the belly of a huge fish,
so the Son of Man will be three days
and three nights in the heart of the earth."
What a connection.
Or think about the connections in the story of Job. Have you ever been comforted or taken hope from the experience of Job? If you've gone through any type of suffering I suspect that you have. Millions and millions of the faithful throughout the ages have draw strength and comfort from the story of his suffering. Yet he couldn't see a purpose in it at the time. He looked at it in isolation. He didn't see the connections. But what connections were there. The apostle James speaks of these connections in James 5:11. He wrote,
"As you know, we consider blessed
those who have persevered.
You have heard of Job's perseverance
and have seen what the Lord
finally brought about.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
Now the connections that God has for your life may not be as well known as that of Jonah or Job. But nevertheless there are important and deep connections in what you go through. We are told of connections like this in 2 Timothy 1:5. Paul wrote to his son in the faith Timothy and said,
"I have been reminded of your sincere faith,
which first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice and,
I am persuaded,
now lives in you also."
Lois was a woman of faith. There was a connection between her and her grandson Timothy.
Don't minimize these connections. Michael Boland tells the story of Luke Short, a New England farmer who lived in the 1600's and 1700's. He reached his 100th birthday without having sought peace with God. One day as he sat in his fields reflecting on his long life, he recalled a sermon he heard in Dartmouth, England as a boy before he sailed to America. The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed on him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ 85 years after hearing John Flavel preach.
So Christians, trust God. Be like David. Expect God to fulfill His purpose in your life.
David expected God to fulfill His purpose in him. In verse 3 of our text David said to the King of Moab,
"Would you let my father and mother
come and stay with you
until I learn what God will do for me?"
David was expecting God to do certain things for Him. He had certain promises from God that he knew would be fulfilled. Samuel the prophet had anointed him to be king over Israel and David expected God to fulfill His promise.
David knew that God had a plan for his life and that He would fulfill it even though in seemed, that from an earthly perspective, there was no hope for him.
In verse 1 we learn that David,
"escaped to the cave of Adullam."
In the Bible caves are often associated with death. In ancient Israel caves were used as tombs. (Peter J. Leithart, A Son to Me, p. 117). It's associated with the place of the dead. It's the place to go when you have nowhere else to go. Lot and his daughters went to a cave when the world around them seemed to be coming to an end.
So David fleeing to a cave suggests that he had been driven from the society of men and had nowhere to go. It's telling us that from an earthly perspective things were hopeless. David was as good as dead. He was alone in the place of the dead. David wrote Psalm 142 when he was in this cave and David makes it clear in that psalm that, from a human point of view—his situation seemed hopeless. In verse 6 he said to God,
"Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me."
In verse 2 he refers to his situation there as,
In verse 7 he refers to the cave as,
And in verse 4 he makes it clear that he is most alone. He wrote, (HCSB)
"Look to the right and see:
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me."
Yet in spite of the seemingly hopelessness of his situation,
David trusted in God.
David put His hope in what God would do for him. David knew that his life was in God's hand and that whatever happened to him was the result of God's providence. David also wrote about this in Psalm 57. Verse 2 of Psalm 57 tells us of one of David's prayers while he was in the cave. He said,
"I cry out to God Most High, to God,
who fulfills [his purpose] for me."
David knew that God had a purpose for his life. Through Samuel the prophet God had promised David that he would be king over Israel. David was confident that God would fulfill His plan for him. As David wrote in Psalm 139:16,
"All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
Be faithful. Do your duty trusting God to work out His plan.
Trust God. He has a plan. The connections between you and His future kingdom are there. They were there with David. David didn't know it, he was going to be one of the ancestors of the Messiah. The Messiah was going to come from the line of David. Not only that, but David's kingdom was going to point to the future kingdom of the Messiah. (Isaiah 9:7) So David didn't have to worry. He did not have to be dismayed. He was in God's hand and God had glorious plans for him. Yes, there were difficulties to be endured—but God was going to surely bring David through them.
What connections were through David. David had to enter a cave yet he was going to emerge to rule Israel. His great descendant, Jesus, was going to be put in a cave and then emerge to rule as well. Trust God. Trust His plan. You are safe in His hands no matter what your situation looks like.
Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians. What you should see from our text is that
you need to go to Jesus.
Look at the ones that went to David. They were the ones who were in trouble, in debt, who were discontented. David accepted them.
In the same way, you should realize that you're in trouble. You're in danger from your sin. You have a debt that you can never pay. You should be discontented because you're a slave to sin. You need to go to Jesus. He's the only One who can set you free. Go to Him today.