1 Samuel 26:19-22

Sermon preached on February 6, 2011 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, 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.

Last week I mentioned how good it was that one of the neighbors stopped me from doing something bad—from mowing the lawn in a dangerous way. It's good to stop someone when they're going to do something dangerous. It's also good to stop someone from doing something bad. All such things are commendable.

But the opposite is true as well. How evil it is to stop someone from doing what is good and right. We have many example of that is Scripture. When Jesus was healing on the Sabbath the Pharisees and the teachers of the law told him not to do it, but rather to heal people on other days of the week. When parents were bringing children to Jesus, His disciples tried to stop the parents, thinking that Jesus didn't have time for children. When Job was in the midst of his difficulties, having lost many of is possessions, his children and his health—he was struggling. But he was doing well in handling his hardships, maintaining his composure and his faith in God. You'll remember his wife said to him, (Job 2:9)

"Are you still holding on to your integrity?
Curse God and die!"

What an evil thing to do. One of the most important things for you to do as a human being is not to contribute to the sins of others. We are not to encourage anyone to sin or cause anyone to sin. Your example is not to lead anyone to sin. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6,

"if anyone causes
one of these little ones
who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him
to have a large millstone
hung around his neck
and to be drowned
in the depths of the sea."

How careful we ought to be in this regard. We are to be a blessing to people, helping them to draw closer to God, helping them serve Him better.

But in our text we see that King Saul, (possibly, on the prompting of other men) was greatly hindering David and his walk with God. King Saul was trying to kill David. The result of it was that David had to flee from Saul's presence and become a fugitive. He had to hide in the mountains and deserts of Israel. What David confronts Saul, after sparing his life, one of the main things he complains about is that he has been cut off from the proper worship of God. He said to Saul, (verses 19–20)

"If the Lord has incited you against me,
then may he accept an offering.
If, however, men have done it,
may they be cursed before the Lord!
They have now driven me
from my share in the Lord's inheritance
and have said,
'Go, serve other gods.'
Now do not let my blood
fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord."

In David's day things were different regarding the worship of God. It's not like our day where we can worship God in many different places and there is no one place where we must worship God. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

In David's day, the worship of God was centered on the tabernacle. There were certain commandments regarding the worship of God that had to take place at the tabernacle. The tabernacle represented God's presence with His people. It was there that God met with His people. There He was primarily worshipped. It was there that the priests functioned. It was there that many of the animal sacrifices took place. The appointed feasts were held there. To be cut off from the worship of God at the tabernacle, was in a very real sense, to be cut off from God. That's what Saul was doing to David. Saul was, in effect, saying to David,

"Go, serve other gods."

What did David say about the men who incited Saul to do this to him? He said,

"may they be cursed
before the Lord."

The principle we learn from this is that

it is a heinous sin to hinder others in their worship and service of God.

It's the exact opposite of what we should be doing. In working for the Lord you have a great duty to help others worship and serve Him. Hebrews 10:24–25 says,

"And let us consider how we may
spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another—
and all the more as you see
the Day approaching."

Like David, you should greatly value the public worship of God. David loved the corporate worship of God! How it grieved him to be cut off from the tabernacle and the worship of God's people there. In Psalm 27:4 David wrote,

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house
of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple."

In Psalm 84:1–4 the Sons of Korah speak the same way. We read,

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you."

And in verse 10 of the same psalm we read,

"Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked."

How David was grieved when he was cut off from this public worship of God. In Psalm 42:1–5 he gave voice to how it grieved him to be cut off from the public worship of God at the tabernacle. He wrote,

"As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
Where is your God?
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

Do you value the public worship of God like that?

God intended the public worship of God to be one of the greatest experiences that you encounter in this life.

God intended it to be a place where you're fed from God's Word. He intended it to be a place where you're blessed by meeting with other Christians, enjoying their fellowship and having them use their gifts for your benefit and the benefit of others. God intended public worship to be a place where other Christians encourage you and help you to worship God and enjoy Him.

He intended it to be a place of great satisfaction for you in many way, but one in particular is that it is there that you have a great opportunity to use your spiritual gift and help others. Serving God like that brings great satisfaction.

The public worship of God is to be a place where you see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The joy that is to be ours. Here we are to see and hear of the love of God. Here we are to understand that we have the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Here we are to see the awesomeness of God— to understand that He is the great Creator, the Great Redeemer—who is holy, righteous and just. Here we are to understand that He hates sin, that it is an affront to Him and that we cannot think lightly of our sins.

What a time of blessing it is to be. In a way, the public worship of God is to leave us with the impression that Peter had on the Mount of Transfiguration. When he saw the glory of Jesus, and Moses and Elijah with Him—he said, (Matthew 17:4)

"Lord, it is good for us to be here."

If we could do church right—if all of us behaved and spoke as we should while we are here—if we all had a glimpse of the glory of God in Jesus Christ as we should—what a delight it would be.

Why is the public worship of God held in so little esteem in our society, even among many Christians?

Of course unbelievers don't value the public worship of God. Our age is all about freedom, doing what you want. In our society Sunday is not longer considered the Lord's Day. It's not a day given to the Lord and His glory. This is especially obvious today—Super Bowl Sunday. Millions will worship at the altar of sports.

Now I'm not saying that it's wrong or sinful for you to watch the game tonight. But what I am saying is that your main priority today should be on Jesus, on His worship, on His kingdom, on serving Him. Everything else should be secondary to that.

The problem with Super Bowl Sunday is that for many the football, the game, the parties, the celebrations—those things are primary and they push out all other concerns. There is no thought of God, of worshiping Him, of gathering together with His people to praise His name, to learn from His Word, to be a blessing to other Christians. You see, if anyone does that, football is their idol. Their example is horrible. They much prefer football to the truths about the love of God in Jesus Christ? How can that be?

Of course
Satan has blinded their eyes and hearts and they don't value the things of God like that should. But lots of non-Christians visit us and they don't come back. Part of the reason for that could be that we don't do the things I just mentioned in public worship in to a good enough degree. I believe that if we did these things in an excellent way all the other things for church growth would fall into place.

But the problem is not just that non-Christians don't feel the presence of God and don't come back—

many believers today devalue the public worship of God.

They think that private Bible study, private prayer—that private devotions can be an adequate substitute for public worship. It cannot.

Yet thousands of Christians don't go to church. Why is that? It's because they've been burned in the past. They went to church and they were treated so horribly that they were too hurt to return. It's because unkind and hurtful things were said to them. Such should never be.

I believe if we gathered together as we should, if we all spoke as we should—things would be much different. According to Ephesians 4:29,

"Do not let any unwholesome talk
come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful
for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen."

But Christians who don't attend church are also missing much of the point about spiritual gifts. How can one exercise your spiritual gifts in the context of Christian fellowship if you shun Christian fellowship? You can't.

One of the great goals of your lives is for you to use your spiritual gifts to help others. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says,

"Now to each one
the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for the common good."

In 1 Peter 4:10 the apostle Peter wrote,

"Each one should use
whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."

According to Ephesians 4:16 we the whole body of Christ grows and builds itself up in love,

"as each part does its work."

If you don't gather with other Christians, it will be impossible for the body of Christ to grow as it should.

Christians, help others serve God. According to Hebrews 10:24-25 we are to consider beforehand how we may spur others on to love and good deeds. We are not to come to church unprepared. Rather we are to give careful consideration how we can be helping others.

May God give us grace to do so. Amen.