This morning we are in chapter 11 of the Story. This is the Story of young David becoming King of Israel. Once again, this covers a lot of biblical material. Lots of exciting stories to choose from. I think I could preach for 6 months... from chapter 11 alone... You know I could.
But this morning I have chosen to preach... the Cave. If you have read your chapter, before coming this morning, you know which cave. Let me set up the story of the Cave...
--David has been anointed by Samuel. The youngest of Jessie’s 10 sons, David is chosen because of his heart. Samuel’s horn has poured the oil on David’s head. David knows he is to be king... someday.
--David has become famous for killing Goliath. David marched into the valley of Elah and smacks Goliath in the head with a rock. The giants are not as tough as we fear they are, when YHWH is with us.
--David becomes the King’s son-in-law by marrying Saul’s daughter; Michael. David becomes close to his new brother-in-law; Jonathan.
--David is given command of an army... he does missions for King Saul. David becomes even more famous.
--But a song ruins everything...
“Saul has killed his thousands.
But David has killed his... ten thousands.”
--Saul becomes jealous. Everything goes downhill. Saul, in a jealous fit, attempts to stick David to the wall with his spear. David is forced to become a fugitive. He gathers 600 rebels who become the heart of David’s army. As the Cave story begins David is on the run.
The Cave story is found in 1 Samuel 24.
1 Samuel 24:1-3 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi." Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.
Saul has learned, from his spies, that David is hiding out in the Judean Desert in the rocky fortresses above the oasis of Engedi on the west bank of the Dead Sea. David's men are in a rock formation known as the Crags of the Wild Goats, a natural stronghold, honeycombed with caves, that is easy to defend against attackers.
Saul is chasing David and his band or outlaws. But, instead, David finds Saul... all alone... even Saul’s bodyguard is not around. A coincidence? I think not. This is an amazing opportunity. Surely, YHWH has given Saul into David’s hand. Once in a lifetime; no one would ever know; a simple act; no one else needs to get hurt; just do it; you know you want to... one knife thrust and all David’s problems are over.
This is what his men argue...
1 Samuel 24:4 And the men of David said to him, "Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.” Then David arose and stealthily...
David sneaks up behind Saul, as Saul is completely unprotected. I wonder what is going through David’s mind as he is stands quietly behind Saul in the cave with a knife in his hand...
--David remembers a scene years ago when Samuel pours the oil on his head. “Maybe, this is the moment Samuel anointed me to become king. Did God intend for me to become King by taking Saul’s life?”
--David remembers Goliath. “Saul should have been the one going up against Goliath. He is king. His job is to protect Israel. He is a coward, but does he deserve a coward’s death?”
--David remembers his wife Michael. Saul sent me to kill 50 Philistines by myself. Saul thought I would get killed. He has always wanted me dead.”
--David remembers Jonathan, his best friend. “Saul alienated his own son because he wants to kill me.”
--David thinks of his own innocence. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I have only and always done exactly what Saul has asked. Saul repays my loyalty by making me a criminal.”
--David remembers the spear that almost made him a fly on the wall.
--David remembers his men; the guys on the run with him. “Many of them are under Saul's death sentence. I could save my men and their families.”
--"This would be an easy, bloodless way to become King. I could convince Saul’s soldiers to follow me as their new King. It would be an easy coup.”
There are hundreds of reasons to slit Saul’s throat. These reasons had to have run through David’s mind as he stood behind Saul with a knife in his hand. But, there is one reason not to...
1 Samuel 24:4 Then David arose and stealthily... cut off a corner of Saul's robe.
“What? God gave Saul into your hand to make it easy and you just pick up his robe and cut off a corner and sneak back to your guys and let him go? Seriously? You have no problem with killing... remember the last line of your song... “But David has killed his ten thousands.” Surely, one more guy is not going to cause you to lose any sleep.”
But it does. David’s conscious begins to bother him for even cutting off the corner of Saul’s robe... what?
1 Samuel 24:5-7 And afterward David's heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe. He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD's anointed." So, David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
What David actually thought about, as he stood quietly behind Saul in the cave with a knife in his hand, was of a different horn of oil.
1 Samuel 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him and said, "Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.”
David refused to kill Saul for one reason, only... Saul is the LORD’s anointed. Saul was chosen by YHWH to be King and that meant something. Rebellion against Saul, was in David’s mind, the same as rebellion against the LORD!
What kept David from killing Saul in the cave had nothing to do with revenge, or justice, or love or compassion... but an understanding of who Saul was, as King, despite Saul deserving to be kilt. David did not kill Saul because of who Saul was... the LORD’s anointed.
Wow, this is close to the small point I made last week.
If you were here last week, you might remember the people of Jabesh-gilead. The people of Jabesh-gilead remembered the good Saul had done for them. Instead of writing Saul off because of all his sins, the people of Jabesh-gilead honored Saul for the good he had done for them by retrieving his body off the Philistine wall. Instead, of remembering Saul for his failures, they remembered his good. We learned from the people of Jabesh-gilead to look for the good in people...
--“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
-- Instead of focusing on the glitches in others, we look for God’s beauty in them.
--The only normal people you know... are the ones you don’t know very well. We have compassion because none of us are normal.
-- We tend to think of everyone as either idiots or maniacs. When the problem may be us?
David is doing much the same. Instead of piling up all the justifications; all the rationalizations, for what he “should” do to Saul; that he even had the right to do to Saul... David remembered who Saul was... Saul was the King. Saul was the anointed one of God.
This morning I want to advocate much the same point I did last week when I said look the good in people. But, this week, I want to add the motivation. We need to be like David in the cave by remembering who people are. Wait, wait... who we are.
When Jesus came to this world, he was The Anointed One. The Anointed One brought anointing with him. This is an amazingly connective thought.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Those who are in Christ have been anointed by the Spirit. We are sealed to be kings...
Ephesians 1:19-21, 2:4-7 ...and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come... 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Because of God’s rich mercy we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. We are anointed kings sitting with The Anointed King of Kings! Bam!
So... so... SO... we must be Cave People toward each other...
--Before we think of any revenge... we treat each other as the anointed of God.
--Before we sulk with our passive-aggressive ignoring of others... We recognize the LORD’s anointing.
--Before we justify our snarkiness toward each other... we are dealing with kings anointed by God.
--Before we slander another... we realize we are slandering God’s anointed.
--Before we gossip... you get the concept.
We are Cave People because we know who people are.
Let’s finish our Cave story...
1 Samuel 24:8-11 Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, "My lord the king!" And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of men who say, 'Behold, David seeks your harm'? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, 'I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD's anointed.' See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it.”
David waits to confront Saul until the king and his bodyguards are some distance away. Then he prostrates himself before the king. He waves a piece of the king's robe, showing he could have killed Saul except for his own conviction that he would not harm the LORD’s anointed!
1 Samuel 24:16-22 As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, "You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the LORD put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So, may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house." And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
Because of the honor David paid to Saul as the LORD’s anointed... they left in peace. I know it didn’t last long before Saul was chasing David again. But even the next time, and the next time, David would not harm the LORD’s anointed. David did not kill Saul in the Cave because of who Saul was... the LORD’s anointed
For us to live in peace; for us to be the community we all want to be; we must live as Cave People!
March 25, 2017
Los Alamos Church of Christ