David: Man After God's
Part III: How the Mighty Have Fallen
A sermon by Dr. Jim Somerville, Pastor
Richmond’s First Baptist
June 24, 2012
2 Samuel 1
This is the third Sunday in our summer story telling series,
and the reviews have been mixed.
The children are loving it. They
can’t wait for the next story in the series.
We had some visitors this morning who were more accustomed to sitting on
uncomfortable pews and listening to dull and boring sermons who were not so
sure. “What was that?” they said.
“What are we supposed to do with that?”
Well, I can’t tell you what to do with it, but I do believe these stories
have a power of their own. They get
inside you and they begin to live and grow and move and breath, and sometimes
even days after you’ve heard the story it comes to you, maybe even in the night,
with a message. I believe that if
we will prepare the soil of our hearts, the seed of God’s word will fall and
take root and grow. So, get your
soil ready for the third installment in this series.
When Samuel went down to Bethlehem to
anoint David as the new king over Israel, Saul, the old king, didn’t know a
thing about it. It was a secret
anointing. Saul didn’t know and if
he had known, he wouldn’t have liked it one little bit.
But the Lord knew, and the Spirit of the Lord who had rested on Saul
began to rest upon David which left Saul with only his own troubled spirit
sometimes so troubled that his advisors began to say to him, “My Lord, the King,
let us seek out for you someone who is skillful in playing upon the Lyre, so
that when your spirit is troubled he might play for you and your spirit might be
at peace.” If music sooths the
savage beast perhaps it can also sooth a savage king.
Well the idea seemed good to Saul, and he said, “Who did you have in
mind?” And one of his advisors
said, “I know a young man, a son of Jesse from Bethlehem, he’s good looking,
he’s well spoken, he is fearless in battle and skillful in playing upon the
lyre. Let us get him and bring him
to the palace, and then when your spirit is troubled, he can play for you.”
And so they went and brought David, the son of Jesse, to Saul’s palace
and when Saul’s spirit was troubled, David would play upon the Lyre,
beautifully, skillfully Saul’s spirit would be at peace.
He became very fond of David.
Some would even say that he loved him.
Some would say that David loved Saul.
But that was before Goliath.
You remember what happened? The
story of David and Goliath, how this shepherd boy came from Bethlehem with only
a stick and a sling and single handedly killed this Philistine giant, struck him
down, cut off his head. When he
did, all of Israel fell in love with David, and first among them was own son,
Jonathan. He and David were two of
a kind. Jonathan was also a mighty
man of valor, a fearless warrior.
You may remember that he routed an entire Philistine garrison single handedly
one time. Well, not single
handedly. He had his armor bearer
with him. I’ve been trying to think
what an armor bearer would look like, and the best I can come up with is that he
would be something like a caddie, you know, who follows a golfer around the golf
course handing him the appropriate club at the appropriate time.
So that as Jonathan climbed up hand over foot to this rocky crag where
the Philistine garrison was stationed, he might say to his armor bearer, “Um,
let’s see, I’m going to need my, uh, my, my driver.”
And then he would use it to strike down Philistines, twenty of them in
the space of about thirty yards, a Philistine with every other step while his
armor bearer came along behind and dispatched the wounded with what, a putter,
maybe. Anyway it threw the whole
garrison into a panic and they began to surge back and forth.
The army of the Philistines began to spread out across the hill country
of that region and the Israelite army followed them.
They gave chase and cut down Philistines by the hundreds, by the
thousands. It was a great day in
battle, and at the end of it Jonathan was a hero.
But that was nothing compared to the day David stepped out onto the
battle field with just his stick and his sling and brought down a giant.
When Jonathan saw it, his heart exploded with admiration and every little
piece that fluttered to the ground had David’s name written on it.
The Bible says that his soul was knit to the soul of David, and he made a
solemn covenant with him. He said,
“From now on, no matter what happens, you and I will be friends and our families
will be friendly to one another no matter what happens.”
And he gave David his royal robe, his armor, his belt, his bow, his
sword. It was as if he were saying,
“You are the one who deserves to be the next king over Israel, not me.”
That day as they made their way back to the palace, David went with Saul
and Jonathan. And the women of
Israel came out from their villages and lined up alongside the road.
They shook their tambourines.
They batted their long eye lashes and began to sing a song that went
something like this. “Saul
has slain his thousands, but David tens of thousands”.
And Saul looked at Abner, his general and said, “Did you hear that?
They’re saying that I’ve slayed my thousands, but David his tens of
thousands. What will it be next?
Will they give him the kingdom?”
From that day forward Saul had his eye on David.
In fact the very next day, David was in the palace playing skillfully
upon the lyre for Saul’s troubled spirit.
But Saul’s spirit became even more troubled.
In fact he became enraged with jealousy, and he took his spear and hurled
it at David, nearly succeeding in pinning him to the wall.
David dodged the spear, recovered, picked up his lyre, began to play and
don’t you know Saul through the spear again and again almost pinned David to the
wall. He didn’t want to have
anything to do with him anymore, didn’t want to see him, couldn’t stand the
sight of him, so he put him in charge of a thousand soldiers and sent him out to
do battle with the Philistines or whomever.
David would go out into battle and come home triumphant, and he would go
out into battle again and come home victorious.
Everywhere he went he had success, more success than all the other
servants of Saul, and every time he returned the women of Israel would line both
sides of the road, shaking their tambourines, batting their long eye lashes and
singing, “Saul has slain his thousands,
but David tens of thousands.”
It made Saul furious especially when he found out that one of the young women
singing this song was none other than his own daughter, Michael.
She loved David. All of
Israel loved David, but she loved him like no other.
She had seen him in the palace, had noticed how strong and handsome he
was, how fearless he was in battle and she loved the way he played the lyre.
When he strummed those strings, her heart went
zing, zing, zing.
“Ah!” she said, “Daddy, get him for me.”
Saul began to see how he could use this situation to his advantage.
He called David in and said, “David, my boy, my daughter, Michael, is
quite taken with you. In fact she
asked if she could marry you, and I thought well why not except for that one
small detail and that is you are so poor.”
And David said, “Well you’re, you’re right about that, your majesty.
I, I, I’m nothing but a poor little old country boy from Bethlehem.”
“That’s true,” said Saul, “You are nothing, nothing, but a poor little
old country boy and yet if you could bring me the bride price for my daughter, I
think we could strike a deal.” And
David said, “What, what is the bride price?
Tell me, anything. I’ll do
it.” And Saul said, “Bring me one
hundred Philistine foreskins.” Now
there’s something you need to know about Philistines and that is that they are
not usually eager to give up their foreskins without a fight.
Saul knew this. In fact he
was counting on it. He thought if
David has to fight one hundred Philistines surely one of them will prevail
against him and strike him down and kill him and my troubles will be over.
So he sent David out. And
David came back with two hundred Philistine foreskins.
Saul had to give him his daughter’s hand in marriage.
He was, after all, a man of his word.
It was a big wedding, just the kind you would expect when the daughter of
a king is married, and David and Michael went off on their honeymoon.
When they got back, they moved into a little house just down the hill
from the palace and David went back to work leading his thousand out into battle
and bringing them home again victorious so that the women of Israel lined up on
both sides of the road shaking their tambourines, batting their long eye lashes,
singing, “Saul has slain his thousands,
but David tens of thousands.”
It made Saul furious. One day not
long after that David was down the hall from where Saul was sitting and he was
picking out tunes on the lyre. He
must of played one that sounded a little too much like that tune because Saul
stomped down the hall with his spear in his hand and he hurled it at David and
almost pinned him to the wall so that David jumped up from where he was sitting,
left the palace and went down the hill to his house.
He went inside, slammed the door, shut behind him and locked it, said to
his wife Michael, “Your father is trying to kill me.”
And she said, “That’s impossible.
My father loves you like a son.”
And David said, “Just take a look out the window.”
And she did and here came the palace guard down the hill toward David’s
house. They did not look happy, and
Michael said, “Maybe you’re right.
Quick! Go out the window.”
And David jumped out the window.
Michael made sure that the door was locked.
She went over to the corner of the bedroom where there was an enormous
idol. Don’t ask me what an idol was
doing in a home of a faithful Jew, but there it was.
She dragged it over. She
heaved it up onto the bed. She
dressed it in David’s clothes. She
put goat’s hair at the head to look like David’s hair and then she pulled up the
covers. There was a knock at the
door. The palace guard was there.
They said, “We’re looking for David.”
And she said, “Oh, David is not feeling well.
He’s, he’s sick. He’s in
bed, here, you can see for yourselves.”
And she opened the door just a crack and they looked in and there on the
bed was something, someone, might have been David, could have been David.
They went back up to the palace and told Saul, “David is not feeling
well. He’s, he’s sick.”
And Saul said, “You go back down there and bring him to me even if you
have to bring him to me on his sick bed.
I will surely kill him. And
so they went back down to David’s house and this time they weren’t so polite.
They burst open the door.
They threw back the covers and found this idol dressed in David’s clothes with
goat’s hair at its head. They
brought Michael back up to the palace.
She stood before her father trembling, and Saul said, “Where is David and
what have you done?” And she said
“Well, he told me that if I didn’t help him escape he would kill me.
You wouldn’t want that would you, Daddy?”
David had escaped to Ramah where Samuel, the judge, lived and he said to
him, “Saul, the king you anointed over all Israel, is trying to kill me.”
Samuel knew just enough about Saul to know that this was probably the
truth, and so he and David went up to Naioth to spend a few days lying low.
But Saul heard about it. He
came to Naioth looking for David.
David slipped out the back door, circled back around, took the long way home to
the palace and spoke to Jonathan.
He said, “Jonathan, your father is trying to kill me.”
Jonathan said, “That’s impossible, my father loves you like a son.”
David said, “He is trying to kill me and I can prove it.
Tomorrow is the festival of the new moon.
Your father will be expecting me at the dinner table.
When he sees that my place is empty, and when he asked you about it, you
tell him that I went down to Bethlehem to offer sacrifices with my brothers.
If he says well and good then it is well and good, but if he becomes
angry then you will know that he is trying to kill me.”
So they made that arrangement, but then David asked, “How will I know
Jonathan? How will I know that your
father is pleased or angry?” And
Jonathan said, “Here’s what we’ll do.”
And he conceived the most elaborate scheme that has ever been conceived
to convey information from one person to another.
He said, “On the third day, I will come out to the field.
You hide yourself beside the rock.
I will bring my boy, my bow, my arrows.
I will shoot three arrows into the air and if things are well, I will say
to the boy the arrows are on this side of you.
But if they are not well, I will say to the boy go, the arrows are beyond
you. And if he goes beyond you then
you will know that things are not so good at home, and you can run for your
life. Got it?”
David said, “Got it. Got
it.” And that’s what happened.
The very next night at the feast of the New Moon, there was David’s empty
chair. Saul looked at it for a
little while and then turned to Jonathan and said, “Where is this son of Jesse?”
And Jonathan said, “Well he’s gone to Bethlehem.
He asked permission to go to offer sacrifices with his brothers and I
gave him permission to go.” And
Saul stood up from his seat. He
banged his fist on the table. He
said, “You son of a perverse rebellious woman, don’t you know that as long as
David is alive you will never be king over Israel, never!”
And then Saul took his spear and hurled it at Jonathan trying to pin him
to the wall. Jonathan left the
palace that night in a state of fierce anger, and the next morning he got up
early, got his bow and his arrows and the little boy and went to the field.
And with his heart breaking, shot three arrows into the air and sent the
boy to fetch them. The boy ran
through the field toward the rock, and Jonathan shouted after him, “No!
The arrows are beyond you.”
That was the signal, and when David heard it, he knew the truth and his heart
broke. Jonathan gave the bow and
arrows back to the boy, sent him to the palace and then David came out from his
hiding place. He and Jonathan
embraced and they wept and the Bible says that David wept more than Jonathan.
Jonathan reminded him of their covenant, that they would always be
friends no matter what happened and their households would always be friendly to
each other, but finally David had to say goodbye.
And he left Jonathan that day not knowing if he would ever see him again.
He went down to the wilderness of Judah, and he began to round up
everybody who was in debt to the king, everyone who was disgruntled or
discontent. He put together four
hundred merry men, and like Robin hood began to roam around in the wilderness of
Judah not exactly stealing from the rich and giving to the poor but having
adventures which you can read about in the book of first Samuel.
Eventually, however, King Saul heard about it and got news that David was
hiding out at En Gedi, and Saul went from the palace all the way down to the
wilderness of Judah. And let me
tell you, there is not one rest stop along the way.
So that when he got there, he had to turn aside, if you know what I mean.
He turned aside into a cave, the same cave in which David and his four
hundred men were hiding, and the men said to David, “This day the Lord has
delivered your enemy into your hand.
Go and do what seems good to you to do.”
And so David crept forward to the mouth of the cave where Saul was
squatting down, and David took out his sharp sword and in one swift and silent
stroke he cut off the corner of Saul’s cloak.
And then he crept back into the depths of the cave.
Saul, when he had finished his business went out of the cave and then
David stepped forward and said, “My Lord, the king.”
Saul turned around and saw him there and when he did a shudder went
through him realizing how close he had come to death.
But David said, “My Lord, why do you persist in believing those who say
that I have it in for you? I could
have killed you just now, but I didn’t.
Look what I have.” And he
held up the corner of Saul’s cloak.
When Saul looked down and saw that it was missing, he realized that David could
have just have easily been holding up his head.
And he said, “David, my son.
My son how I have misjudged you, and now I see that you do love me and I do
believe that you will be the next king over Israel.
Go, and may God bless you.”
And Saul and his three thousand men went back to the palace where they stayed
for a few days, maybe a few weeks until Saul heard one of his hand maidens down
the hallway humming that old tune.
It made Saul furious and he rounded up his three thousand and went back
down into the wilderness of Ziff where David was hiding, and he went and camped
on the hill of Hakilah and that very night David and his men came close.
David looked around and said, “Who is it who will go with me into Saul’s
camp under the cover of darkness?”
And one of them, one of the sons of Zeruiah said, “I will go.”
And they crept into Saul’s camp, and they found Saul, himself, stretched
out on the ground sleeping under the stars with his spear jabbed into the ground
near the head and his water jar.
And the son of Zeruiah said, “Oh, my lord, give me leave.
Give me leave. I will pin
him to the ground with his own spear.
I will not strike twice, just once.
Give me leave, my lord.” But
David said, “Who can lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be blameless?
But, here, you take his water jar and I’ll take his spear.”
And they sneaked out of the camp, down into the valley, up the hill on
the other side and then David called back to Abner, Saul’s body guard, “Abner!”
“Yes, who is that?” “Abner,
are you not Saul’s body guard?”
“Yes, who is that?” “Shouldn’t you
do a better job of guarding Saul’s body?
Look what we have, his spear, his water jar.”
And that’s when Saul recognized David’s voice.
He said, “David, my son, is that you?”
And David said, “I was right there, Saul.
I could have killed you easily, but I could not, would not lift my hand
against the Lord’s anointed. I have
counted your life as precious.
Count my life as precious, too.”
And Saul promised that he would, and he blessed David.
And the very next day went back to the palace.
Saul and David never saw each other again.
But it wasn’t long after that that the Philistines came up from the coast
and gathered together for battle in the Valley of Jezreel.
There were so many of them.
They were like the sands of the sea shore.
You couldn’t count them. And
Saul mustered the armies of Israel and they came against the Philistines in the
Valley of Jezreel. There was a
terrible battle, and they began to give chase to the army of Israel, chased them
into the mountain of Gilboa, and it was there on the mount that the fighting was
at its thickest and Jonathan, the son of Saul, was struck down and killed and
his two brothers, also.
And Saul, himself, was mortally wounded by the archers until he said to
his armor bearer, “Take your sword and run me through.”
But his armor bearer said, “ Who am I to lift my hand against the Lord’s
anointed?”, so that Saul had to take his own sword out of its sheath, put the
hilt on the ground, the tip of the sword just under his breast bone and there on
Mount Gilboa Saul fell on his sword and died.
That day in battle, Saul died, his three sons, most of his men, when
David heard about it, he tore his clothes and wept, wept for his dear friend,
Jonathan, but wept also for Saul, the king.
There had been a time when Saul loved David and David loved Saul.
David wrote a poem. He set
it to music and taught it to all the inhabitants of Judah.
He wanted them to sing this song maybe so that it would replace that
other song. It goes like this, “Your
glory, Oh Israel, lies slain upon your high places.
How the mighty have fallen.
Tell it not in Gath. Proclaim it
not in the streets of Ashkelon or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice.
The daughters of the uncircumcised will exault.
You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you nor
bounteous fields for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of
Saul, anointed with oil no more.
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did
not turn back nor the sword of Saul return empty.
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely, in life and death they were not
divided. They were swifter than
eagles. They were stronger than
lions. Oh, daughters of Israel,
weep over Saul who clothed you with crimson and luxury, who put ornaments of
gold on your apparel. How the
mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle.
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you my brother, Jonathan.
Greatly beloved were you to me.
Your love to me was wonderful passing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished.”
We’ve been talking about David, a man after God’s own heart.
As we prepare to sing our hymn of invitation, I would ask you to examine
your own heart, to think about what part of it you have not yet given over to
God and this day and this place, give it over.
Give yourself to him whole heartedly.
Become one of those like David whom the Lord loves. Will you stand as we
sing together hymn 477 and come forward on this day as you feel led to do so.
—Jim Somerville © 2012