Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Delight yourself in the king (1 Sam. 18)

On 30th September 1974 Elvis was singing at a concert in South Bend, Indiana.  His attention is caught be a girl holding up a sign.  ‘What is that honey?  What is that?  It’s a sign – I can’t see it.  Wait a minute.’  Seeing that it declares that Elvis is the king he explained, ‘Oh, thank you darling, thank you very much, oh thank you.  The thought is beautiful dear, and I love you for it.  But I haven’t been caught up in this thing; I can’t accept this kingship thing, because for me there’s only one – which is Christ.’

This morning we are thinking about our response to God’s chosen king.

Jesus is God’s chosen king
Now if this is your first time listening to this series on David you might wonder what David has to do with Jesus, and why we are seeing a shadow of Jesus in the life of David.  The reason we are doing this is because Jesus told his disciples that the whole Bible pointed to him.  Earlier in the story we saw that David referred to as God’s chosen king and he was anointed by the prophet Samuel.  The title Messiah/Christ simply means God’s anointed king.  So there are aspects of David’s life which give us a picture of the greater christ to come.
Submit to God’s chosen king
Jonathan’s love for David is truly amazing.  He could have been jealous of David’s rising popularity.  He could have been filled with a competitive resentment towards David’s military successes.  He could have feared that David would one day take his place on the throne.  After all, Jonathan is the eldest son of King Saul and may have expected to one day replace his father.  But I think that we can detect the hand of God in the knitting together of David and Jonathan’s hearts.  Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved himself as himself (18:1).  A more literal translation reads, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (ESV).
Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt (4).  It is not clear whether Jonathan knows, at this stage in the story, that it is God’s will that David will be the next king.  He soon will acknowledge that fact.  Is that what he is doing as he takes off his robe and gives it to David?  This act certainly seems to foreshadow the fact that Jonathan will surrender ambition to be king.  Soon he will declare to David, ‘You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.  Saul my father also knows this’ (23:17).    
What Jonathan models for us in these chapters is the appropriate response to God’s chosen king.  God wants to knit our soul together with Jesus in a deep bond of friendship.  Jesus says, ‘Greater love has no-one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants … I have called you friends’ (John 15:12-15).  That friendship expresses itself in joyful submission.  Like Jonathan we must surrender our claim to the throne and acknowledge him as God’s rightful king.  We want to rule our lives and set our agenda, but knowing Jesus involves letting him tell us how to live.
At the beginning of every year Methodists say the following prayer: ‘I am no longer my own, but thine.  Put me to what Thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.  Put me to doing, put me to suffering.  Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.  Let me be full, let me be empty.  Let me have all things, let me have nothing.  I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.’
Delight in God’s chosen king
Jonathan’s delight for David is shared by others.  All the people were pleased that Saul gave David a high rank in the army.  The women of the nation sang joyful songs about David’s triumphs.  The whole nation loved him because he led them in victory.  Doesn’t the whole scene flow with joy?  We are to delight in God’s chosen king! 
Last week we were reminded that our chosen king, Jesus, has won the defeat over guilt, death and the devil.  There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  Death has been swallowed up in victory.  We are to delight in the freedom our champion has won for us.  We can delight in the one who loved us and give his life for us.  We love because he first loved us.  Love is the happiest of emotions, and loving God’s anointed king is to be our most wonderful pursuit.  But we are very foolish.  We come together and delight to sing, yet we go home and let the business of life crowd out this pleasure.  Don’t miss out on the daily opportunity to delight in the victory of our friend and king!
Serve God’s chosen king
But while this chapter is filled with love and rejoicing there is one person who is miserable.  The prophet Samuel had told Saul that God had rejected him as king on account of his persistent disobedience.  Saul knows that there will be another king coming to replace him.  But Saul jealously holds on to the throne.  He might have been thankful that David had stepped up to the plate and rescues the nation from Goliath.  Instead he hates to hear people singing David’s praise.  He will soon try to kill David and send him to the front lines in the hope that the Philistines will do away with him.
Earlier we read that whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service (14:52).  After David’s initial victories we see that from that day Saul kept David and did not let him return to his father’s house (2).  One preacher I was listening to suggested that there is a danger that we do the same thing with God’s chosen king.  That we seek to keep Jesus to serve our purposes!
God is generous beyond compare.  He delights to bless the friends of his son Jesus.  He loves to answer prayers that are prayed in the name of Jesus.  But at the end of the day becoming a Christian is not about getting Jesus to follow our agenda.  Perhaps this attitude is most callously seen in the prosperity gospel, where Jesus is enrolled as the guarantor of our health, wealth and earthly success. 
When we wake up in the morning’s we say to Jesus, ‘help me do all that I have to do today.’  But have we asked our king what it is he wants us to be doing?  If you take some time to sit down and ask God in what ways he wants you to follow the example and commands of king Jesus it will not be long before he shows you what he commands you to do.  If we read our Bible’s with a desire to be lovingly challenged to a life of delightful obedience it will not be long before you hear him speaking to you.
We march with our chosen king
One of the great things about serving King Jesus is that one day it will be seen that we were on the right side of history.  This chapter has many references to David’s successes.  God’s chosen king inevitably goes from victory to victory.  Our chosen king will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  He will make many people his friends and subjects.  When he returns even those who have rejected his rule will have to admit that he is king of kings.
I hope that all of you claim to know Jesus as both your friend and king.  But I wonder if we are letting that reality shape our lives.  King Jesus calls us to joyful submission.  He is the one who gives us reason to delight.  We love because he first loved us.  Look to the cross where your friend gave his life for you.  If we love him we will obey him.  He has our good at heart and our delight is found in living under his rule.  The more we let him set our agenda the more we will experience the delight of being one of his subjects.  Eric Liddell said, ‘you will only know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.’

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