1 Samuel 11:1-7 KJV
I. The Threat of the Serpent-King (v. 1)
II. The Terms of the Serpent-King (vv. 2-3)
III. Beholding God’s Chosen King (vv. 4-7)
1 Samuel 11:1-7 KJV
I. The Threat of the Serpent-King (v. 1)
II. The Terms of the Serpent-King (vv. 2-3)
III. Beholding God’s Chosen King (vv. 4-7)
Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” 2 So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. 4 And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him.
5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” 6 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.
8 Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. 9 And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. 10 When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” 11 And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12 And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant” (1 Samuel 27).
Saul has recently sought David’s life yet again in the land of Israel. David knows that he must flee to Philistine territory to escape death (v. 1). David has not lost faith. God has said that Saul is going down and David is going up. David knows that. And he also knows Saul will not stop pursuing him if he remains in Israelite territory.
David heads to Achish king of Gath with his six hundred men and their households. As David anticipates, Saul no longer pursued him.
Eventually, David appeals to Achish attempting to leave Gath and take up residence in the country towns. Achish grants David’s request, giving him Ziklag.
David lived 16 months among the Philistines. While doing so, he made raids against various peoples. He would leave neither man or woman alive so there was none to bring back news to Achish of what David was doing.
David’s actions were not unlawful, but an act of faith and obedience to God. David is the anointed king of Israel, and he was continuing the conquest of Israel even while in exile. God has already said that the Amalekites, both men and women, were to die. David, here, strikes the Amalekites, which is what God had already commanded.
David was shrewd in his communication with king Achish. Achish developed the impression that David was fighting Israel and becoming a stench to them. David was happy to leave him with such an impression.
Even while David moved out of Israelite territory, he moved toward the throne of Israel. Even while living in exile among the Philistines, he conquered God’s enemies. God advances His conquest by sending His people into exile.
What David experiences here is not uncommon. Scripture reveals a pattern of exile and return. Abraham’s offspring had to go down to Egypt before returning to that Promised Land. And that there-and-back-again story involved Israel plundering the Egyptians. Likewise, Christ Himself was hidden in Egypt while a worldly king sought his life. When King Herod died, Jesus returned to the land. In just a few chapters King Saul dies and David returns to the land. Israel also went into exile in Babylon. Eventually, while in exile, they were nearly annihilated by Haman’s plot. But in that very exile they ended up destroying their enemies. In the New Testament, Christians were made to flee Jerusalem. Acts 8 tells us that a great persecution against the church arose such that they were scattered abroad through the regions of Judea and Samaria. And verse 4 adds, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” The apostle Paul had to escape to Rome when the Jewish leaders sought his life. And his exile was designed to spread the good news in that godless land. When God gives you a pattern, you ought not be thrown off when He does it again. Now we say, “But I thought that when we prayed ‘Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” things would get better!” Well, they will . . . but you’re going to need to buckle up.
We can see the pattern: conquest through exile. But what exactly is exile? There indeed would not be any exile had sin not come into the world. But, it does not follow that we can draw a straight line between our sin and our exile. Israel’s Babylonian exile was certainly due to their sin. But, Israel had to stay in Egyptian exile until the sin of others, the Amorites, was complete. And exile does not exactly mean to be “away from the Lord.” Joseph was in Egypt, and Genesis repeatedly emphasizes that the Lord was with him. Exile is, however, being away from normalcy. There were familiar customs and traditions in Israel. Things were different among the Philistines. It also means being away from safety. To be within the walls of Jerusalem was to benefit from their protection. But when Babylon leveled those walls, the danger could no longer be kept out. Exile also signals a movement away from comfort. You can see Job’s experience as one of exile. And he did not have to go to it, but it came to him. He lost the comfort of his home, his children, his wife, his health.
Exile is the dark night, the burned down house, it is Bilbo in Smaug’s lair. It is Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund in the White Witch’s winter. It is the doctor telling you your wife has cancer. It is the death of a child. It is the crumbling of law and order. And the rewriting of the dictionary. It is something that a host of God-fearing Christians are feeling right about now.
The question is, of course, why would God send His people into all of that? Why exile? Well, the Amalekites need to be defeated. Ever since the rebellion in the Garden, there have been dark places in the land. They need the light. There are evil places and they need to be purged of that evil. The white witches winter needs the warmth of Aslan’s breath. And He has told us to go and preach good news. So we have to enter the dark, the cold, the danger, the trouble, and the pain. We have to take up the cross like our Savior did.
Mark the pattern. When exile comes, don’t think, “How could God?” Rather, anticipate exile, and trust God to do in it what He has always done in it: Advance His kingdom.
When the bottom drops out of things, peculiar temptations come. We see David valiantly resisting many of them in this passage. He is a model for us.
In exile, there is temptation to despair. Everything seems turned upside down. Everything seems different than before. How easy would have been for David to complain, “I can’t rely on the things I relied on before. I can’t operate the way I used to operate before.” His cook says, “How I am supposed to cook a meal when this kitchen is all turned around and half of my supplies are missing?” Someone jumps in and says he’s going to run to the supply store and fix all the problems, but then he realizes he doesn’t know where one is in Ziklag. He finally finds one only to discover there’s supply chain issues in Ziklag. When exile comes, you can just want to sink in despair. But the despair doesn’t actually come from the exile, it is revealed by the exile. The despair comes from trusting in self rather than trusting in God. And thanks be to God, He teaches us to avoid just that sort of thing. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”
Along with despair, we are tempted to apathy in exile. We just give up caring. The kingdom feels far away. And hey, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The chaos of the times makes us think that we may sow and not reap, and seeing that is the case, we decide to take some days off from sowing. One might say, “Look, I’m not worshiping Dagon, god of the Philistines. I’m still going to church every now and then. I’m not given to whole-hog worldliness. I’m just not as vested as I used to be in the ways of Christianity.” That is called the drift. That is called being asleep. And it is easy to do when exile comes. Hebrews 2:1 provides the remedy, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Then there’s division. Moving a band of over 1,000 Israelite men, women, and children into Philistine territory would have come with its challenges. The situation is ripe for schism. In exile, a lot is up in the air. More decisions have to be made, tougher decisions, costlier decisions. There is less time to make the decisions and it’s likely tougher to get accurate information. In times like these, remember where divisions come from. The Apostle James says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” So, in times like these, be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Perhaps the most pressing temptation on the church today, as we experience increasingly exilic conditions is that of retreat. David did not enter into Ziklag and ask himself, “How can I make sure I don’t get caught?” From man’s perspective, what better time is there for David to just slow down, play it safe, head for the hills? You are literally in the enemy’s territory and therefore surrounded by them. But, David takes the approach of the Marine Lewis Puller, who once famously said to his men when they were surrounded by the enemy, “Well, they can’t get away now.” And so we are told that David went up and made raids against the enemy. The church in America must awake to the realization that our nation is in the mess it is in because the church has been in a long retreat in the same direction. We have been in retreat mode for some time. So long in fact that we no longer realize that we are retreating.
We need to relearn the lesson that Mr. Beaver taught Lucy when she heard that Aslan was a lion, “‘I’d thought he was a man,’ says Lucy, ‘Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion. … ‘Safe’? said Mr. Beaver .. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Well, there’s nothing safe about that.
So, here you are, saints, in exile. And the message is: No retreat. Burn the ships. Go, go, go. Advance. Sing, pray, worship, love your families, confess your sin, do good to the saints around you, and speak the truth in love to those lost in the darkness. And far from having a spirit of fear or timidity, you’ll find yourself thankful that you get to run raids with David behind enemy lines.
As we go about this exilic conquest, there are certain principles to keep in mind.
First, remember it is the conquest of Christ. The conquest is from Him, through Him, and to Him. David’s exile was not ultimately about David. We like to read stories with man at the center. I had to go down or else I would never have learned lesson (fill in the blank). And there is truth in that as far as it goes. But this story is not about David “finding himself” in exile. It is not about David turning over a new leaf, or starting fresh. It is about David going wherever God led and fighting the battles of Jesus there. Your story matters, but it matters because it is nested in God’s story. David slayed Goliath, but that is nested inside Christ slaying His enemy. You must conquer in exile, always for the purpose of Christ’s conquest.
A second and related principle is this: We are in this exilic conquest as kings. By which I mean, we are in it for the covenant people of God, not ourselves. David was not operating as a mere individual. He was operating as the anointed king of God’s covenant people. He was not killing Amalekites for his own reputation or his own safety. He did his work for the community, for the people of God. American life is so infected with individualism that we can slip into it constantly. We forget that we are a part of a people. We are a baptized people. A people at the table of the Lord. As the Apostle Peter has said, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). That “Ye” in the text is plural. Therefore it speaks to you all. You all are kings. And that means that you live, you fight, you labor each day in your station for the good of the saints; for the good of baptized Christians everywhere, that beautiful visible church which is the kingdom of God. When you live for the covenant people of God, you find yourself not caring or worrying about what happens to you, you don’t care how hard it is, you do it all for the sons of Abraham, the Israel of God.
A third principle for conquest in exile is that the whole operation must be done in faith. David is not out randomly killing people. God had told Israel to conquer the Promised Land. David was the Anointed King with the right and obligation to conquer the Promised Land and defend Israel against God’s enemies. David conquers by trusting God’s Word. David is included in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11. And that chapter says that David put armies to flight and subdued kingdoms by faith. As he lived by faith, he actually evidenced the promise of God. This is a glorious point.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Now think about that verse. “Things not seen.” By definition, you cannot see them. And yet faith is the evidence of things not seen. Do you want proof that David will sit on the throne of Israel? Just look at him conquering by faith in exile. And faith is so beautiful and critical at this very juncture because it is in exile that everyone wants to start doubting the promises of God. “I know David is anointed to be king and all, but have you heard he is in the land of the Philistines?” And people today say the same, “You tell me Jesus reigns? You tell me His kingdom is coming upon earth? Have you seen our situation, buddy?” Ah, but look at the saints at Christ Church in Moscow. By faith, they conquer. And by faith, they evidence the things unseen. Do you want proof that the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ? Look to the saints exercising faith, for faith is the very substance of things hoped for.
And what is our faith in? Our faith is in the Greater David, Jesus Christ—the One who went into exile: He, the righteous one, came to the land of sinners. He who was One with the Father cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The light of the world was covered in darkness. The friend of sinners was betrayed. Life Himself went to the grave. And in that terrible exile, He conquered all of God’s enemies. He triumphed over sin, death, and the devil. For God made Him to be sin who knew no sin; that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. So “thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ in every place . . . be it within the walls of Jerusalem or within the land of the Philistines.
The Lord has been blessing our congregation in many striking ways. We have been growing in remarkable ways, and an essential part of this growth entails the inevitable growing pains. Quite a few of you just moved to our community within the last year, and it may seem to you that you have jumped into the middle of a conversation that has been going on for forty years. But some of you newcomers might be puzzled over something else. Where you came from felt like a wilderness to you, and so you would devour all kinds of things that would come out of Moscow, and then when you arrived here, you found yourself more checked out about what is going on than some of the people who have lived here for years. Life is funny.
“And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Sam. 7:9–12).
On the threshold of battle, the prophet Samuel interceded on behalf of Israel, with a sacrifice and intense prayer, and the Lord heard him (v. 9). In the very moment of offering up the ascension offering, or whole burnt offering, the Philistines approached the Israelites to do battle (v. 10). But the Lord responded from heaven with loud thunder, so much so that the Philistines were thrown into confusion and Israel overcame them (v. 11). The men of Israel seized control of the situation and drove the Philistines back as far as place called Beth Car (v. 11). In response, Samuel in his gratitude set up a monument stone, and named it Ebenezer, saying that the Lord had helped them to “this point” (v. 12). The word Ebenezer literally means “stone of help.”
Earlier in the narrative, when the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines, they took the ark from the place called Ebenezer to their city of Ashdod. This lost battle was a humiliation to Israel, and an indicator of their idolatrous faithlessness. Twenty years later, Samuel called Israel to return to God with all their hearts (1 Sam. 7:3), which they did. God granted them this victory, which Samuel memorialized, and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel (1 Sam. 7:13).
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’ve come
(Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)
I would like this message to serve as an introduction for our “new members,” and a reminder for our old timers. Our congregation is alive and thriving, and there were many occasions when it all might have gone otherwise. Thus far the Lord really has helped us. We have no right to still be here.
We believe that the most important thing that any of us can do in the course of a week is to appear here before the Lord. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve [worship] God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28–29).
But worship is not a disconnected important thing, like a diamond in a load of driveway gravel. Rather it is central and connected to absolutely everything else we do—the way the engine is central to the function of the car. “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). We believe that all things in the universe are related to one another, and they are related in Christ. In fact, the only reason why the universe can even be a universe is because of Christ. God is sovereign and therefore Christ is Lord.
Self-government—which is the fruit of regeneration—is foundational to every other form of God-given government. Those three other governments are the government of the family (Gen. 2:18), the government of the church (Eph. 4:11-12), and the government of the state (Rom. 13:1-2). The state is the ministry of justice. The church is the ministry of Word and sacrament. The family is the ministry of health, education, and welfare. Among other things, this means that you and your family all belong here at worship.
We are followers of Christ alone, and so it may seem odd to describe one of the attitudes that we are seeking to cultivate by using the names of two of the Lord’s more notable servants. But that is all that it is—odd. “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). Joy is not just an attitude we have going into the fray. That joy is one of our most formidable weapons.
If there is one most noticeable thing that is missing in our lost generation, it is the fact of identity. They have had almost all of their old established (and idolatrous) identities smashed, and now are reduced to making up their own ad hoc identities as they go along. To this we answer, not with “traditional values,” but rather with the message of the crucified and risen Christ.
He is the risen one, and therefore the Lord of all. He is Lord extensively, and He is Lord intensively. There is therefore nothing in this cosmos that He did not extend His scepter over. Our task is to fan out and claim it.
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Ecclesiastes tells us in a number of different ways that ending well matters. in fact the implication running through the book is that starting well is easy; ending well is much more of a challenge: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
1 Samuel 16 is a transition point in the history of Israel. Samuel’s life and ministry is coming to an end and David’s kingship and the Davidic kingdom is just beginning. 1 Samuel 16 is an ideal lens to look closely at the end of a matter (Samuel’s life and ministry) and the beginning of a matter (David and his rule).
1 Samuel 16 is the last recorded event in Samuel’s life and ministry before his death in 1 Samuel 25:1 (aside a brief appearance in ch.19).
The way 1 Samuel 16 is carefully crafted in the context of all that has gone before suggests that it serves as a subtle rebuke/humbling of Samuel, one that has been building throughout the narrative.
1 Sam. 2:18-26
1 Sam. 3:2ff
1 Sam. 9:6-20
v.9 David is the ‘youngest’ of Jesse’s eight sons and has been left watching the sheep while Jesse and his sons attend the sacrifice arranged by Samuel
What about 1 Chron 2:15?