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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

The Lord is With Him (1 Samuel 16)

    This morning we’ll meet a person in the Bible who was a very important person; one of the most important in the Old Testament. His story and his writings take up a good portion of the Old Testament. His introduction here though, is humble in many ways, but even with his humble introduction, there are glimpses and hints of the greatness that God had planned for this man.
    Of course, I’m talking about David.
    We’ll be in 1 Samuel 16 today, and the chapter opens with Samuel mourning the loss of Israel’s king, Saul, and the friendship that they had at one point. God starts by basically telling Samuel that it’s time to dust himself off, pick himself up, and get over it. The Lord tells Samuel that he needs to go to Bethlehem to anoint the new king that God has chosen to replace Saul. He’s to go to Jesse’s house, because one of Jesse’s sons will be the chosen king.
    Before we go any further, I want us to understand who Jesse is. We went through the book of Ruth at the beginning of our virtual church services in April, so hopefully this will be familiar to many of us. I’d like to draw your attention to Ruth 4:17. Ruth and Boaz were married and they had a child, and this verse is about their child, “The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
    So Jesse is the grandson of Ruth and Boaz, making David, the future king of Israel, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz. It’s exciting to have this information because we can see what God was doing through the bold choices that Ruth made to honor Naomi and to follow Naomi’s God. He honored Ruth’s choices and gave her a hope for her family after her family had been devastated by death.
    Now, we don’t get much information about David’s early years, and I wish we did, but perhaps we can use our sanctified imaginations that have been developed by reading the Bible. My own grandmother just celebrated her 92nd birthday. She’s told me many times how much of a blessing it has been to her that she has been able to see her great-grandchildren. Not just see them, but actually get to be a part of their lives in a meaningful way!
    People live longer now, but both my parents and Jonny and I didn’t start our families until we were around 30. But, couples generally started families at a much younger age in ancient times, usually by the time a couple was 20 they had had many children. With that understanding, I can’t help but wonder if Ruth and Boaz got to see David as a child. They would have been well on in years, but it is a possibility. I wonder if maybe Boaz had gathered all his great-grandsons to him, David included, and told them the story of all that God had done when He brought Ruth to be Boaz’s wife. I wonder if Ruth and Boaz got the chance to tell Jesse how blessed they were to get to be a part of their grand-children’s lives. All this to say, that David was a child of blessing.
    He’s similar to Samson in that way, he came from a family that had made the decision to follow God, but there was something different about David that set him apart from Samson and the other evil judges, as well as King Saul.
    When Samuel got to Jesse’s home in Bethlehem, Jesse called all of his sons before him to see which son would be the one God chose to be anointed as the future king of Israel. His first son, Eliab, came before Jesse and Samuel, and we’re told that when they saw him, Samuel thought for sure that this was the one that God was going to anoint as the king. God had a different plan. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”
    Jesse and Samuel went through all Jesse’s sons and all of them were rejected. So Samuel asked, “Are these all your sons?” And Jesse says, “Well, no, there’s my youngest son, but he’s out with the sheep.” For some reason, maybe because he was the youngest, maybe because he was just the shepherd, but Jesse didn’t even consider that his youngest son, David, might be the one God was going to use.
    But the key to what set David apart was what God had told Samuel, that the Lord looks at the HEART. That’s your first bulletin blank this morning. The Lord looks at the heart. What was in David’s heart set him apart as different from all his brothers and even King Saul. What was in David’s heart? We’ll explore that a lot as we focus more and more on David in the weeks to come, but simply put, what was in David’s heart was love for God.
    David is anointed in the presence of his family, but it will still be quite a journey before he actively becomes the King of Israel. See, even though God has rejected Saul as king, Saul still sits on the throne. But David will become more and more prominent as God has chosen him.
    Let’s look at 1 Samuel 16:13, “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David…” Your second bulletin blank this morning is POWERFULLY. The Spirit of the Lord came upon David powerfully. Now that David is the anointed king, on his way to displacing Saul, chosen by God, it’s only fitting that the Spirit would come upon David. After all, David is going to need the Spirit’s help and guidance and power to be the king God needed him to be.
    Now look at 1 Samuel 16:14, “Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.”
 Just as the Spirit came upon David, the Spirit then departed from Saul. That’s your next bulletin blank, DEPARTED. God’s presence was no longer with Saul. He was not just rejected, but God took active steps to remove Himself from Saul’s life. This is certainly not a place I ever want to come close to being in.
    And what is this about an evil spirit from the Lord that tormented Saul? Does this mean that the Lord sent an evil spirit to Saul? Doesn’t that seem sort of contradictory to what God would do? 1 Samuel 18:10 and 19:9 give us a little insight into what this evil spirit was doing. “Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand.” Just after this, we’re told that Saul threw this spear at David trying to kill him. 1 Samuel 19:9 tells us that this spear incident with Saul trying to murder David happened not once, but twice.
    There are quite a few Bible scholars who think that these incidents, as well as others, may mean that what Saul was dealing with was some form of mental illness that to ancient peoples would have appeared very much like demon possession. But, it is possible that Saul was actually tormented by an evil spirit, just as we read. Not sent by the Lord, but allowed by the Lord.
    This is what we see throughout scripture, any time that an evil spirit or demon possession happens, it’s always because the Lord allowed it to happen. He doesn’t cause it, because to cause evil would be against His righteous character, but He allows evil because it is the consequence of sin. In this case, Saul sinned by not being obedient to the Lord, by not depending on God, and the consequence of that sin is the removal of God’s Spirit upon Saul, which left him open to being tormented by an evil spirit, or at best, developing a mental illness.
    The good news is that this kind of torment that Saul experienced was only possible because he did not have the Spirit on him. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,”
    When we receive Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. If we think about a seal, there’s two things this could mean. In ancient cultures, a seal could be something that was a sign of things yet to come. Think about the seals that must be broken in the book of Revelation. These seals are a promise of things that haven’t happened yet, but will happen. In that way, the Holy Spirit is a promise given to believers to assure us that we have eternal life, even if we aren’t experiencing eternity yet.
    But a seal also preserves things. A jar that has been sealed insures that the contents of the jar stay preserved, clean of outside dirt and bacteria. In this way, the Holy Spirit insulates believers against the contamination of the world’s sinfulness. Without the seal of the Holy Spirit, we are open to any sort of sin or evil that is known to man. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can hope to be free of that!
    So, without the Spirit upon him, Saul was open to any sort of evil spirit, to be tormented.
    Saul found that the only thing that would be able to soothe his disturbed state of mind is music.
    With that, the story shifts back to David. 1 Samuel 16:16 gives this idea to Saul, “Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.”
    They need someone who is a skillful harp player. Someone who is good, who knows how to play their instrument really well.
    Verse 18, “Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.”
    David just happens to be such a man. Look carefully at the description of David given to Saul. He is a skillful musician. He knows how to play his instrument really well. I want to come back to this to make my point today. But, David is also a might man of valor. This means he wasn’t afraid to do hard things. He wasn’t afraid to be put into situations that might be dangerous. He was a warrior, which is great if he’s going to be leading a nation’s army against foreign enemies. He was prudent in speech. That means he was a great speaker. We can see that clearly through the multiple Psalms that David wrote over the course of his life. He was a handsome man, too. Clearly a good choice for a king. But again, we come back to the most important of David’s qualifications, the Lord was with him.
    Without the Lord being with David, none of the other things matter at all.
    The same holds true for us. It doesn’t matter if we’re the absolute best at our talents. It doesn’t matter if our character is strong. It doesn’t matter if we’re really strong or great at physical things. It doesn’t matter if we speak well. It doesn’t matter how good looking we are. God can use all of those things, it’s true, but the Lord looks at the heart, and always chooses to work through those who love and seek Him over those who are the best at…whatever.
    But, we’re told in four separate verses that David was a great musician. He was so skilled at playing the harp that when he played, he soothed Saul’s delirious mind and Saul was given peace. David was really good! David was the best!
    The most important thing was that the Lord was with him, but David worked hard at being the best musician he could be. I’m sure he spent hours and hours, days, weeks, months, years, practicing his skill so he could take the raw talent and gift that God had given him and make it the absolute best it could be. And as a result, God used that talent to minister to Saul.
    That’s the amazing thing about our talents and gifts, that if we are living for the Lord, He takes what we have and makes it enough, makes it more than enough. But we have to offer what we have, and work hard to make it something great for the glory of God!
    David didn’t just sit around and think, “Eh, well I can play okay, and that’s good enough.” No! He took his talent and made it the best offering for the Lord that He could, not so David would be glorified, but so God would be glorified as He worked through David.
    Whatever you have, if you offer it to God, He will make it enough, He will use it. But how much more glory will the Lord receive if we take what we have and grow it as we offer it, so that what is offered is the best that we can offer.
    Jesus offered the same lesson to his disciples, and that includes us, in Matthew 25:14-30 in what we call the parable of the talents. A man was going on a journey, so he called his servants to him and gave them talents, coins. To one servant he gave five talents. To another he gave two talents. To another he gave one talent. Each servant was given according to his ability. The servant who was given five talents took what he had and gained five more talents. The servant who was given two talents took his and gained two more talents. But the one who had been given one talent, hid his, he didn’t grow it, he just saved it.
    When the master returned, he was pleased to see that two of his servants used what they had been given and grew it, and so he gave them more. But the one who had hidden his talent and didn’t grow it, he called that servant wicked and lazy and cast him out.
    What God gives us is enough, and He can use what we have been given, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that we can get away with not trying to grow what He has given us. He holds us responsible for using what He has given to the best of our ability.

1. We can sometimes be tempted to rely on our history, tradition, family, talents, etc. to be what defines us, but the most important thing is what lies in our hearts, and the presence of the Lord in our lives. What are you tempted to rely on?

2. Our talents and gifts aren’t to be neglected, but grown so we can offer our best to God. What talents and gifts do you have that can be grown to be used by God to minister to others?

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