Friday, 23 September 2016

Loyalty from delight(1 Sam. 19)

‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end.  And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you yourself keep it.  But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word, Frodo … We are horribly afraid – but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds’ (Lord of the Rings)

Can’t you see that sort of loyalty in the friendship between Jonathan and David?  Don’t you aspire to such loyalty in your friendship with Jesus?  I think that this passage tells us why Jonathan was so loyal to David, and shows us how we can become loyal to Jesus.
Jonathan had met this man who was after God’s own heart, and it resonated with his love for God.  Jonathan was inspired as he saw David so passionate for God’s glory that he steps into battle with Goliath.  Jonathan celebrated David’s victory and saw that God was with him.  I believe that it was God who knit Jonathan’s heart with David, and caused him to love him as his own soul.  Jonathan gladly handed David his robe and sword.  Now we read that Jonathan was fond of David (1b).  This can be translated ‘Jonathan delighted in David’ (ESV).  Everything that Jonathan saw and experienced with David caused him to delight in his friend.  That delight was at the root of his loyalty, even when his dad put the pressure on.
Has what we have seen in the Son of David caused us to delight in him?  Have we seen that how his heart is sold out for his Father?  Have we witnessed him stand up to the plate and win the victory so that we can be free from the tyranny of sin, death and the devil?  Have we allowed God knit our soul to Christ—that we might love him as our own soul?  Have we bowed to his authority and surrendered our ambition to rule our lives?  Do we ponder his beauty in such a way that causes us to delight in him?  This is the key to remaining loyal to him! 
Loyalty remembers that Christ has been good to us (1-7)
Becoming a follower of Jesus has implications for all of our relationships.  All over the world people have displeased their parents by chosen to love God’s Messiah.  Jonathan’s love for God’s chosen king would become of bone of contention between himself and his dad.
Jonathan reasons with his father: let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.  For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel.  You saw it and rejoiced (4-5).
Isn’t this the message that we bring to all of Christ’s enemies?  ‘Don’t sin against God’s anointed, because he has not sinned against you.  He took his life in his hand when he faced death for you.  Through him the Lord has worked a great salvation for all.  Look to him and rejoice.’  That’s a message that should inspire us to be loyal!
Loyalty to Christ is God’s gift to us (8-17)
Saul takes David back into his presence for the last time.  Again David is granted victory over the Philistines.  However, Saul’s hatred for David comes back to the surface and he throws a spear at him.  Just as it was not the accuracy of David’s sling shot that resulted in Goliath’s death, it was not the lack of Saul’s spear throwing that saved his life.  God was David’s shield.
In Psalm 59 David speaks of God being his refuge, fortress and shield.  The title of that psalm tells us that it was written when Saul’s men went to watch David’s house in order to kill him.  This incident is both humorous and troubling.
It is humorous because when Saul’s soldiers come to kill David they are turned away by Michal’s explanation that David is ill.  They are not there to ask him out to play.  They are there to kill him.  So why would they turn away when told he is sick?  Saul has to go himself to get the job done.  This story is troubling because Michal is far less than truthful and there is mention that there was a household idol at David’s home.
How do we read Psalm 59?  We can read it remembering that God rescued David.  We can read it with Jesus in mind, seeing how God spared him from his enemies until the time came for him to lay down his life for us.  We can read it remembering that Jesus is our fortress, refuge and shield.
The fact that God is our refuge and shield does not mean that we will be spared from persecution.  Jesus warned his followers that there would be a time when, you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death.  You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.  But not a hair of your head will perish (Luke 21:16-19).  Some will even be martyred for their loyalty to their anointed one, yet not a hair of their head will be touched!  How does that work?  Our bodies may perish, but God will be with us, and nothing can separate us from his love.  In the time of trial he will give us the strength to remain loyal.
You can be a loyal subject now or else a reluctant subject in the future (18-24)
David flees to Samuel in Ramah.  Saul finds out and sends his servants to take him.  They come across Samuel and a band of prophets and the Spirit of the Lord overpowers them.  They had come with murderous intentions, but now they are caused to speak words of praise.  When Saul turns up the same thing happens to him.  He too ends up prophesying.  Then Saul is stripped of his clothes and lies naked all day and night.  Saul’s kingdom will be removed from him like his clothing being stripped away.
Compare Saul and Jonathan.  Jonathan loved David as his own soul, gladly handed David his robe, and delighted in the Lord’s anointed.  Saul was consumed with jealousy, did everything to keep himself on the throne, and was humiliated as his kingdom was stripped from him.  One day every knee will bow, and acknowledge that the Son of David is God’s chosen king—the question is, will we bow in delight or with reluctance?
Why was Jonathan willing to remain loyal to David, even when his father put such pressure on him?  He was loyal to David because he delighted in him.  He had seen David’s heart, celebrated his victory, had his soil knit in friendship and bowed in submission.  Like Jonathan we say to the enemy of God’s anointed, ‘he has not wronged you.  He has won a great victory for his people.  Why then did we do wrong and kill an innocent man (for we would have been in that could crying crucify)? We should see it and be glad’.
The early Christians were hated in the Roman Empire, in part because of their refusal to sacrifice to romans gods.  Around 160 AD, Polycarp, the bishop of the church in Smyrna, was sentenced to death.  He was an old man, at least 86.  He was bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him.  When the governor had asked him to deny Christ he had replied, ‘for eighty-six years I have served him, and he has never done me any harm, how then can I now blaspheme my King and Saviour?’
May God grant us such loyalty as we delight in his anointed!

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