Lessons from 1 Samuel 24-31
24:1-22 - Saul recognized that David was a ‘righteous’ man to whom ‘the kingdom’ would be given (17,20). There is a vital connection between godly character and fruitfulness in God’s service. We dare not imagine that we will be fruitful for God if we refuse to give ourselves fully to Him. There is no short cut to God’s blessing which by-passes the dedication of our hearts and lives to Him. We learn this lesson from David. A man, ‘raised up to be king’, he was - first of all - ‘a man after God’s heart’, a man who would ‘do all God’s will’ (Acts 13:22). It was great that Saul recognized David’s righteous character and spiritual potential. It was sad that this made no real difference to the way in which Saul lived His own life. He continued to ‘play the fool’, going his own way rather than God’s way (26:21).
25:1-44 - Forewarned is forearmed. Know where the trouble’s coming from before it hits you and knocks you off your feet. This is the message of verse 25. Nabal was well named - Fool!. He is described as ‘that wicked man’, ‘this ill-natured fellow’, ‘this worthless person’, ‘this man of Belial’. We need to be on our guard with people like this around! In 2 Corinthians 6:15, Paul uses the word, ‘Belial’. It is another name for Satan. It’s hardly any wonder that Nabal was a trouble maker. He was a man of Satan! Be on your guard against Satan. He doesn’t always come ‘as a roaring lion’. Sometimes, he ‘masquerades himself as an angel of light’ (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14). It’s better to be forewarned and forearmed than to have to say, with the benefit of hindsight, ‘I wish I had known then what I know now’!
26:1-25 - Saul and David were very different. David was wise. He had respect for ‘the Lord’s anointed’ (11). This was grounded in ‘the fear of the Lord’ which ‘is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10). Saul ‘played the fool’. He ‘erred exceedingly’, choosing the way of self rather than the way of the Lord (21). This is not only the story of David and Saul. It’s like looking into a mirror. In David and Saul, we see ourselves. We are at the cross-roads. We must choose. God promises blessing - ‘The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness’ (23). This promise is full of challenge. Choose ‘righteousness and faithfulness’. Choose Christ. Keep on choosing Him. ‘O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God... That vow renewed shall daily hear’ (Mission Praise, 499).
27:1-28:2 - What a difference there is between fear - ‘I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul’ - and faith - ‘The Lord will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine (27:1; 17:37)! These words were spoken by the same man - David. There is a battle going on within each one of us - a battle for faith, a battle against fear. How do we overcome fear? How do we grow strong in faith? - ‘Perfect love casts out fear’. It is God’s love which gives us the victory - ‘We love, because He first loved us’. Strengthened by His love, our faith grows strong, and we say, ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith... Jesus is the Son of God’ (1 John 4:18-19; 5:4-5). ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’ (Isaiah 43:1). Let faith grow strong and fear be banished!
28:3-25 - Saul sinned against the Lord. He brought God’s judgment upon himself: ‘Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord... the Lord has done this thing to you this day’ (18). ‘Saul disguised himself’’ - he thought he could get away with his sin. He was wrong: ‘Be sure your sin will find you out’ (8; Numbers 32:23). There is no hiding from God - ‘Before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do’. God’s Word warns us: ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. Do not ‘trample the Son of God under foot, treating His blood as an unholy thing and outraging the Spirit of grace’. Don’t fight against God. You will be the loser! Don’t ‘shrink back’ and be ‘destroyed’. ‘Believe’ and be ‘saved’ (Hebrews 4:13; 10:29-31, 39; Acts 16:30-31).
29:1-30:15 - ‘David was greatly distressed... But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (30:6). Things are going badly. What do you do? Do you start feeling sorry for yourself? That won’t do any good. God’s Word says, ‘Be strong, and let your heart take courage’ (Psalm 27:14). In times of difficulty, where does your strength come from? - ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield... The Lord is the strength of His people...’ (Psalm 28:7-8). How are we to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God? We must remind ourselves that God is in control: ‘The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as King for ever’. This is the way in which ‘the Lord gives strength to His people!’.This is the way ‘the Lord blesses His people with peace!’ (Psalm 29:10-11). Let us be strong in the Lord
30:16-31:13 - Here, we have tragedy and triumph - the tragedy of Saul (4), the triumph of the Lord (23). What we are, in ourselves, is tragic - ‘all have sinned... the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This is not the full story of our life. There’s something else: ‘what the Lord has given us’ - ‘they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’: ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (23; Romans 3:24; 6:23). This is the triumph of the Lord. It is not something that we achieve for ourselves. ‘This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes’ (Psalm 118:23). We give all the praise and glory to the Lord: ‘Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph. Let us ‘spread the knowledge of Him everywhere’ (2 Corinthians 2:14).