October 7, 2007

The Blessing of Grace

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: 1 Samuel Scripture: 1 Samuel 18:1– 19:24


The Blessing of Grace

1 Samuel 18:1-19:24
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Pastor Randy Smith

A variety of factors influence our lives to help shape within us a belief system. And our belief system determines our perspective on every issue, especially those issues in life which are most complex.

Is there a God? Who is Jesus Christ? Is there an afterlife? Where will we go when we die? What makes us happy? What brings satisfaction? What is our source of strength? For what reason were we created? Who is most important in our lives?

Ask around, almost everybody will hold firm convictions on these issues - convictions determined by their belief system.

Last week we studied two very influential individuals. What appeared on the surface to be a clash between their military power, actually, behind the scenes revealed a clash between their belief systems.

On one side was Goliath. He believed that his glory was paramount. The world revolved around him. His gods existed to make him great. He trusted in his own strength and battle attire. On the other side was David. He believed God's glory was paramount. His world revolved around God. David existed to display God's greatness. He trusted in God's might and God's promises.

Two belief systems diametrically opposed.

Goliath represented everything this world esteems. He represented the humanistic thinking we have been fed. He represented the might and independence we desire. He represented the self-glory our flesh craves. Worshipped by his people, feared by his enemies and served by his gods. In the eyes of the world, this mountain of self-sufficient sovereignty is the hallmark of success adored by many.

David, on the other hand, represented everything God desires. And leave it to God to use a humble shepherd boy to bring this proud giant and his belief system crashing to the ground.

The story of David and Goliath teaches us that true victory only comes from submitting to a belief system derived from whole-hearted allegiance to the Word of God. And this belief system is totally contrary to world's.

For example: In God's economy, up is down and down is up. Dying is the way to life (2 Cor. 6:9). Leadership is through example (1 Pet. 5:3). Love for others is the preeminent virtue (1 Cor. 13:2; 16:14). Grace is given to the humble (Jas. 4:6). The brokenhearted and the contrite are God's delight (Psm. 51:17; Isa. 57:15). He looks to those who "tremble at (His) word" (Isa. 66:2). Throughout the Beatitudes He promises to bless those who mourn over their sins (Mt. 5:4) and hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mt. 5:6). He promises to bless those with a pure heart (Mt. 5:8) and a broken spirit (Mt. 5:3). God has chosen to use the weak things of this world (1 Cor. 1:27) to show "the surpassing greatness of the power (is from Him) and not from ourselves" (2 Cor. 4:7). In God's economy, He is our adequacy (2 Cor. 3:5). When we are weak, we are strong (2 Cor. 12:10). Grace apart from our own works initiates salvation (Eph. 2:8), and His grace, not our own sufficiency, sustains us like rocket fuel to live a victorious Christian life (Gal. 3:3).

According to the Bible, our life as Christians should be in humble submission to the Scriptures. And when we live in total submissiveness to God, we have the promise that He will flood our lives with grace. "For God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5).

Last week we witnessed David's humility, producing zeal for God's name. He announced the goal of his victory was not his own glory but rather "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel" (1 Sam. 17:47). Like John the Baptist, David's desire was to decrease so that God might increase through Him (John 3:30). For this is the meaning of life and pathway to true blessings.

This week, as we prepare for the Lord's Table, we will get a larger picture of the grace that flooded a humble man by the name of David.


I am calling the first point, "The Blessings We Often Expect."

As we read chapter 18-19 of 1 Samuel there can be no doubt that the hand of God's blessing was upon David. Permit me to make a few observations.

David was Esteemed

First we see that David was esteemed.

When the grace of God comes over an individual, a heart transformation takes place. The person is changed internally, progressively returning to the beautiful image of God once marred by the Fall (2 Cor. 3:18). This work of God in an individual's life enables him or her to "put off" the filthy deeds of the flesh and "put on" the communicable attributes of God. Jealously, bitterness, lewdness and selfishness begin to fade and prudence, humility, goodness and gentleness begin to increase. And though most will not agree with one's commitment to God, most will admire these traits of piety within an individual. They make the person attractive. They make the person loveable. They make the person winsome to others.

Jonathan, Saul's son immediately took notice of David. He saw something special in David and desired David's friendship. 18:1 says, "The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself" (cf. 20:17). There is something magnetic about Spirit-filled people. We like to be around them. We desire them as our friends.

If anything, David should have been the last person Jonathan esteemed. Jonathan was the heir to his father's throne. Why would he wish to esteem the most successful man in the land? Back then you did not befriend these people; you sought to eliminate them (cf. 20:31)! Yet we see in verse 4 that "Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt." To the meek shepherd boy, Jonathan was willing to give all, even the right to his throne.

Furthermore in the first five verses of chapter 19, Jonathan goes to bat for David. He risks his own life to defend David by standing up to the murderous intentions of his father.

This Jonathan-David relationship is just one example, but this theme is seen throughout remainder of chapter 18. Verse 16, "All Israel and Judah loved David." The end of verse 30, "His name was highly esteemed." The repeated emphasis intended to make point that the hand of God was upon David making him a beautiful person.

The world calls us to esteem ourselves. People are starting to realize that the self-love, self-esteem movement is a dead-end operation winding up in futility, loneliness and self-absorption. God on the other hand calls us to esteem Him and then permit Him to transform our lives whereby we might be esteemed by others. Then ultimately that respect should not go to our heads. Rather, the likeable personality and credible testimony (1 Tim. 3:7) enables us to make attractive the gospel of Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:10)!

David was Protected

Second, David was protected.

This theme is highlighted throughout chapter 19. Though it is mostly accomplished through the events of everyday life, we see God providentially using means to protect David's life.

First in 19:1-5, Jonathan pleads with his Father to spare David. Verse 4-5, "Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, 'Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you. For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?'"

The result? Verse 6, "Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan, and Saul vowed, 'As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.'" David was protected.

Second, in verses 9-10, God used David's own quickness. "Now there was an evil spirit from the LORD on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night."

This was the second time David experienced this threat. It is also recorded in chapter 18, verses 10-11 that David avoided the flying spear of Saul. David was protected.

Third, though she used deception, David was protected by his wife, Michal. And let's remember that this was Saul's daughter and the very woman that Saul intended to be a snare to David (18:21)! Saul's enemy will once again be protected through the help of Saul's own family members. In verses 11-17 she covered for him to buy some time and secure a safe departure. David was protected.

Finally in verses 18-24, we see David run to Samuel for safety. Yet even in the company of the prophet Samuel, Saul sent his henchmen to take David's life. But when David's aggressors arrived on the scene, the Spirit of God came upon them in such a way that they were unable to capture the so-called fugitive. Instead of seizing David, they were seized by God. David was protected.

All this testifies to the way that God protects His people. Saul's murderous threats were no match for the will of God. David made God his refuge and found shelter under His mighty wings. We need not fear death or the threats of man. We are all immortal until the time comes for God to call us home. Like David, God will keep us until all that He has ordained for us to do is accomplished. We must remember that David's God is our God. And that should bring us great comfort.

David was Prospering

So David, as the recipient of God's grace, was blessed with esteem from others, protection and lastly, prosperity. This is not prosperity in the worldly sense of having a larger home or a nicer wardrobe but rather the opportunity to be used by God in greater ways.

In chapter 18, verses 5-7 we read, "So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants. It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.'"

In verses 13-14 we read, "Therefore Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. David was prospering in all his ways."

According to verse 30, "Then the commanders of the Philistines went out to battle, and it happened as often as they went out, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul."

Why was David doing so well? Chapter 18 makes it crystal-clear. Verse 12, "For the LORD was with him." Verse 14, "For the LORD was with him." Verse 28, "Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David."

Recap: David had a heart for God. He desired to live for the Lord's glory through self-demotion. God blessed this humble spirit with the outpouring of His grace.


Now, as we move to the second point of this message, I want to briefly share with you the blessings we least expect.

In our natural state we all live to avoid pain. We seek to minimize it at all costs. Our joy in life is often correlated to the absence of suffering we experience. We measure God's blessings based on the comfort we receive. We assume that difficulty is not part of His plan or something we should ever expect or receive.

This thinking only reveals how sub-Christian our belief systems have become. Peter told the Christians in Asia Minor, "Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Pet. 4:12). According to the Bible, trials are not to be avoided, but received with joy and endurance (Jas. 1:2-4). Tribulation brings perseverance, proven character and hope (Rom. 5:4). And persecution brings blessing (Mt. 5:10; 1Pet. 4:14).

I often think our times of prayer differ little from the requests of unbelievers. When is the last time we heard someone share a praise like the Apostle Paul? "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). I think the belief system of the Apostle Paul, moreover Jesus Christ, would be considered "out of this world" or even "alien" (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:11) if they attended most contemporary churches.

Far from all our problems going away, often they intensify once we give our lives to Christ. Before salvation I never dealt with persecution, temptation or the burdens of God's people. As a matter of fact, the Bible basically makes it clear that those who seek the hardest after God will experience hardship (2 Ti. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:20-21). Hardship should not be an indication that we are on the wrong track. It should be an indication we are on the right track, for God uses suffering to stretch our faith, bring maturity and demonstrate that He and He alone is our source of total sufficiency.

Think about it like this: If God did not spare His choicest saints and even His own Son from suffering, why should you and I think we are exempt? This is the pathway of God's servants. This is part of grace. This is the Christian gospel. Philippians 1:29, "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (cf. Rom. 8:17). Acts 14:22, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."

David is a prime example before us this morning. We already made it clear that David sought the Lord. We already made it clear that the Lord was with David. Yet in the midst of the blessings we expected, we encounter numerous blessings we least expect. David, though in favor with the Lord, encountered tremendous affliction.

He encountered Saul's jealousies (1 Sam. 18:8-9, 15; 19:9-10), which lead to numerous attempts where he tried to take David's life (18:10-11; 19:15). Twice Saul ordered his henchmen to knock David off (19:1, 11). Saul reneged of his offer to give David one of his daughters (18:19) and then gave David his other daughter so "she may become a snare to him" (18:21). Saul also tried to get the Philistines to kill David (18:17, 21, 25).

Why did the man so blessed by God experience affliction greater than anything any of us have been called to endure? I suppose Job's comment to his wife was correct! "You speak as (a) foolish women. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity" (Job 2:10)? Do we really believe God uses hardship for our good? Do we really believe God's grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9)? Do we really allow affliction to accomplish its intended purpose?

I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong:
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I'd never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

Ray Boltz, Through It All

As Jerry Bridges rightly said, "Trials always change our relationship with God. Either they drive us to Him, or they drive us away from Him. The extent of our fear of Him and our awareness of His love for us determine in which direction we will move" (The Practice of Godliness, p. 179).

Have we truly surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ? Are we putting Him first in everything? Are we humble and allowing Him to fill our lives with grace? Are we joyfully receiving the blessings of grace that encourage us and cause us to grow in our dependence on Him? Is our belief system from the world or is it from the Word?

Last week we witnessed the conflict between two belief systems. Goliath represented self-will, self-reliance and self-glory. David represented a humble desire to see his God glorified. The outcome of the conflict was no contest. The shepherd boy with God on His side was victorious.

This reminds me of a greater conflict between a humble Jewish carpenter and all the forces of evil. Satan, who was already made low because he opposed God (Isa. 14; cf. Jas. 4:6), mustered all is forces to defeat Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus Christ for the thirty-three years He walked on this earth demonstrated an utter dependence on God the Father. He lived the life of humility. He received God's favor. "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased" (Mt. 3:17; 17:5). He experienced suffering that we could never imagine. And though He faced great difficulties, His response was always, "not My will, but Yours be done" (Lk. 22:42).

"For this reason," says the Bible, "God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).

God's way through humble faith in Christ and reliance upon His Word is the pathway to abundant and victorious life.

other sermons in this series

Dec 9


A Contrast Between Two Anointed Ones

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Samuel 30:1– 31:13 Series: 1 Samuel

Dec 2


The Unhappy Medium

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Samuel 27:1– 29:11 Series: 1 Samuel

Nov 25


Turkey or Godly

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Samuel 26:1–25 Series: 1 Samuel