1 Samuel 22:6-23
Sermon preached on August 16, 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.
Tara Bish story. Doing the opposite of what you should be doing.
In our text we see King Saul and his men doing the opposite of what he should have been doing. As far as King Saul goes, he orders the death of the innocent priests of the Lord. As King, he should have honored and esteemed them, but instead he despises them and wants them slaughtered.
We also see Saul's soldiers doing the opposite of what they should have been doing. They stand by and do nothing while Doeg kills the priests of the Lord. As soldiers of Israel they should have protected the priests of the Lord. But they allowed them to be killed. This was a great sin on their part. You'll remember earlier when Saul was determined to kill Jonathan because he ate unknowingly ate honey against his father's orders. In that instance, Saul's men stood up to him and protected Jonathan. They told Saul that Jonathan was not going to die and they prevented him from killing him. (1 Samuel 14:45) That's what they should have done here. But they didn't stop Doeg the Edomite from striking the priests of the Lord. Even though they didn't directly do the work of Satan—they let that work be carried out. That was a great sin.
We must remember that sin consists not only of doing bad things—but sin is there when you fail to do the right thing. The sin of the soldiers here was a sin of omission. They failed to do their duty of protecting the priests of the Lord. Because of that the priests perished.
Thus one of the great lessons we learn from this passage is that
you must to do all of your duty, especially the duty of standing up to evil.
You need to do all the work that God has for you to do. You must not leave any of it undone. You are not only to refrain from doing evil, but you are also to do all of the good that you can. You are to stand up to evil. The old saying is true,
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
You are not to sit idly by when evil rears its ugly head. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 5:11-18 where he wrote,
"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,
but rather expose them.
For it is shameful even to mention
what the disobedient do in secret.
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for it is light that makes everything visible.
This is why it is said: 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.'
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish,
but understand what the Lord's will is."
Do you expose the deeds of darkness? Are you making the most of every opportunity? According to Ephesians 2:10 God prepared our good works to do beforehand. The question I ask you is:
"Are you walking by those good works without doing them?"
Are you doing everything that God wants you to do? Are you standing up to evil? Are you standing up for what is right?
It's easy not to take a full stand against evil. You'll remember the case of Eli the priest. (1 Samuel 2 & 3) His sons were wicked. They had no regard for the Lord. They treated the Lord's offerings with contempt and they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Eli rebuked them, but that was all he did. He didn't remove them from their positions like he should have.
Yes it was good that he rebuked them. But he shouldn't have stopped there. He didn't do all of his duty. You'll remember the message of the Lord spoke to him. God said, (1 Samuel 2:29)
"Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering
that I prescribed for my dwelling?
Why do you honor your sons more than me
by fattening yourselves
on the choice parts of every offering
made by my people Israel?"
By not removing his sons God told Eli that he was sinning greatly. He did not fully stand up to the evil that was in his sons.
You Christians are to be the light of the world. In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus said to His disciples,
"You are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness,
how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven."
The great challenge facing the church and Christians today is being that light.
The world today wants us to be like Saul's men, to idly stand by while they do what they want. They don't want us to be a light and to expose the evil deeds that they do. They want us to be quiet and let them do what they want. They don't want you to call sin, 'sin'.
For example, have you noticed that when two people who aren't married live together today, you'd better not call it, 'Living in sin,' as it was called a generation ago? If you call it that, you'll get treated like you're a hateful, narrow, insensitive and unkind person. You're just supposed to call it living together. Indeed, you're not supposed to even think that there's anything wrong with it. CNN had an article on living together this week called, "Is It OK To Live Together Before Marriage". It was a very pragmatic article, there was nothing about morality in it. It basically said that it was a good thing to live together before marriage. The author wrote,
"You never really know someone until you live with them,"
and likened living together before marriage to taking a car on a test drive before you buy it—that it's a good thing to do and that it would be foolish not to do it.
This can create a problem for Christian parents. As a Christian, how will you react if your child tells you that he is going to start living with someone? Are you going to be like Eli and honor your child more than God? It's surprising but you see some parents do that.
Christians, honor God. Be a light to the world. Expose the evil in our society. Stand up against it. Make sure you love God more than your family. Make sure you're not one of the people that Jesus' spoke about when He quoted the prophet Isaiah and said, (Mark 7:6)
"These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me."
The world today wants you to accept their sin, they don't want you to call it what it is, but to use their words for it. I also heard this week that some people are saying that you shouldn't refer to euthanasia as euthanasia, because that term is so negative. Terms like, "Death with dignity" are much better in their eyes. In the same way, most people don't refer to themselves as being 'pro-abortion' but as being 'pro-choice'.
This week Newsweek had an article on how some people are promoting polyamory. It's interesting that they,
"define their movement in terms of the moral principle of 'ethical nonmonogamy,' defined as 'engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person -- based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved."
It's like the 60's free love only they call it, 'ethical'.
Christians, don't give in to society's pressures. Remember that you're supposed to be a light to the world. Remember that the world has it exactly wrong and if you're going to be effective in living you need to point their mistake to them. As we read in Isaiah 5:20,
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
Christians, don't be taken in by society's norms. Stand up for what is right.
If you fail to do this you're in effect helping the cause of the anti-Christ.
Because his men didn't resist Saul they aided him in his evil work. Saul has here become an anti-Christ. He is fighting against God, against God's appointment, against God's order.
Christians, you are in a war. You can't make a truce with the one who opposes you.
According to the New Testament there is a great and terrible antichrist who will come at the last time. We read about him in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
"He will oppose and will exalt himself
over everything that is called God or is worshiped,
so that he sets himself up in God's temple,
proclaiming himself to be God."
The antichrist will come just before the end. He is someone who is opposed to Christ and His kingdom. In 1 John 4:3 the apostle John wrote,
"every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus
is not from God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist,
which you have heard is coming
and even now is already in the world."
There is the antichrist and the spirit of antichrist. In other words there are other minor antichrists who will come before the main antichrist. As the apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:18
"Dear children, this is the last hour;
and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming,
even now many antichrists have come.
This is how we know it is the last hour."
But even in the Old Testament we see certain people who exhibited characteristics of the antichrist and fought against God's people and His kingdom. The Pharaoh who ordered all the male new-born Hebrew children thrown into the Nile was one of them. Haman in the book of Esther, who sought to destroy the Jewish people, was another.
One of the great characteristics of the antichrist, besides the false teaching of denying Christ—is seeking to crush God's people. Daniel 7:21-22 tells us about a beast that Daniel called the 'fourth beast'. We read,
"As I watched, this horn was waging war
against the saints and defeating them,
until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment
in favor of the saints of the Most High,"
The spirit of antichrist seeks to destroy God's people. We see this theme in Revelation 13:7-8 as well. We are told about the beast out of the sea,
"He was given power to make war
against the saints and to conquer them.
And he was given authority over every tribe,
people, language and nation.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast
—all whose names have not been written
in the book of life belonging to the Lamb
that was slain from the creation of the world."
So it is quite clear that in our text King Saul exhibits the spirit of antichrist.
The same principle is at work in our society. It's not neutral. It's not going to stop and allow a peaceful co-existence with Christianity.
This is a war—a war between right and wrong, between Christ and the anti-Christ. Are you going to stand for Christ?
Now, if you're on Christ's side, if you've decided to take your stand with Him—what do you need to do?
One of the main this is that
you need to stop thinking in terms of yourself, your earthly interests.
The opening sentence of Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life is excellent. It reads,
"It's not about you."
What a great line. It's so true. In Luke 9:23 Jesus said,
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Saul's soldier's stood by because they were afraid they'd be killed if they resisted. They were thinking of their short term, earthly interest. We see that in Saul's appeal to the men of Benjamin when he's urging them to take his side. It's a bad appeal. He said to them, (verse 7)
"Listen, men of Benjamin!
Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards?
Will he make all of you commanders of thousands
and commanders of hundreds?"
He's appealing to their self-interest. He's putting earthly things before them. Saul's arguments to them have nothing to do with what's right or wrong. They make no reference to the word of God. Saul is appealing to their base interests.
If anyone ever argues with you that way you need to put your guard up. Remember that that's not the way of Christ. In the way of Christ you think what's best for the kingdom—that's what you're to seek first. Remember what Paul said to the Corinthians who were going to the secular law courts against each other? (1 Corinthians 6:7)
"Why not rather be wronged?
Why not rather be cheated?"
We see this same self-centered focus in Saul.
One of the great problems here is that Saul is self-absorbed. If you look at his words you'll see that it's all about him—he says, "MeÖmeÖme." In verse 8f Saul said to his men,
"Is that why you have all conspired against me?
No one tells me when my son
makes a covenant with the son of Jesse.
None of you is concerned about me
or tells me that my son has incited my servant
to lie in wait for me, as he does today."
We see the same thing in his words to Ahimelech in verse 13. He said to him,
"Why have you conspired against me,
you and the son of Jesse,
giving him bread and a sword
and inquiring of God for him,
so that he has rebelled against me
and lies in wait for me, as he does today?"
It's all about him.
Christians, recognize that the more you focus on self, the less you will focus on Jesus and His kingdom. The more you focus on self, the more likely you will be drawn into doing the work of antichrist.
Saul had it so wrong. You'll remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,"
You'll also recall John the Baptist's words in John 3:30, referring to Jesus. John said,
"He must become greater; I must become less."
In Mark 9:35 Jesus said,
"If anyone wants to be first,
he must be the very last, and the servant of all."
In Christian living you have to get rid of any self-centered attitude. Philippians 1:21
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Christians, live for Christ and don't be afraid. Be like Esther who said, (Esther 4:16)
"I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.
And if I perish, I perish."
If you're ever standing up against evil and find yourself afraid, think of Jesus' words in Matthew 16:25-26
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me will find it."
Christians, if you don't resist the work of the antichrist you'll be doing the work of the antichrist.
You may think,
"A Christian couldn't possibly do the work of the antichrist."
But remember Jesus' words to Peter in Matthew 16:23,
"Get behind me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to me;
you do not have in mind the things of God,
but the things of men."
You'll also remember what the apostle John said about Diotrephes in 3 John 10,
"he refuses to welcome the brothers.
He also stops those who want to do so
and puts them out of the church."
You may be urged, either by outsiders, or by your own sinful nature, not to fight against the evil you see. Perhaps another Christian has hurt you, betrayed you, cheated you. You may get the idea,
"Well, I'm going to work against them."
Or you may say,
"I'm going to stop working in the church."
No. No. No. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 the apostle Paul said to Christians,
"Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that
your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
Finally, for those of you who are not Christians, there are two lessons for you here.
the hopelessness of fighting against the Lord.
There are two things here that show us this.
First, Saul killed Ahimelech and in doing so he was merely fulfilling God's purposes. In killing Ahimelech he was doing evil. Yet the Lord's curse against Eli's family was being fulfilled. So in one sense, in fighting against the Lord, and His will, Saul was only bringing to pass God's righteous judgment against Eli's descendants. Dale Davis, (1 Samuel, p. 228)
"Even in opposing God's kingdom God's enemies only bring to pass God's Word."
Psalm 2 tells of the foolishness of opposing God and tells you what you need to do.
"Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.
'Let us break their chains,' they say,
'and throw off their fetters.'
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
'I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.'
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, 'You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.'
Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him."
Kiss the Son. He can save you.
In this regard it's important to note that Abiathar escaped. Abiathar's escape shows that God always preserves His people in the midst of destruction. Dale Davis writes, (1 Samuel, p. 232)
"Abiathar then stands as a witness to the way Yahweh insistently preserves a remnant of his people. The priests of the Lord may be destroyed, but not completely destroyed. The people of God may often be put down but never put out. Abiathar's escape does not mean that all God's servants are immune from the world's butchery but that the world's butchery can never wipe out all of God's servants. The Lord does not promise that we will never die for the kingdom of God but that the kingdom of God will never die."
Indeed, those who die for the kingdom, for Christ, are not the vanquished, but the victors. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8,
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,
and the time has come for my departure.
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge,
will award to me on that day
—and not only to me, but also to all
who have longed for his appearing."