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Looking on the Heart - 1 Samuel 16

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However we choose to define depression, both its frequency and its disruption of normal life are staggering. The World Health Organization named depression the second most common cause of disability worldwide after cardiovascular disease, and it is expected to become number one in the next ten years. In the United States, 5 to 10 percent of adults currently experience the symptoms of major depression, and up to 25 percent meet the diagnostic criteria during their lifetime, making it one of the most common conditions treated by primary care physicians. At any given time, around 15 percent of American adults are taking antidepressant medications.
Studies of religious groups, from Orthodox Jews to evangelical Christians, reveal no evidence that the frequency of depression varies across religious groups or between those who attend religious services and those who do not. So, in a typical congregation of 200 adults, 50 attendees will experience depression at some point, and at least 30 are currently taking antidepressants.
Yes, depression and despair is a problem in our country. It is also a problem in the church. It can be debilitating, paralyzing, and agonizing. It can keep us from our responsibilities, our work, our studies, our family and friends, what the Lord has called us to do…a closed door from the people we love and care about. How long will this go on we cry? Our light is still dark, our bones are in agony, and we flood our beds with tears. But as Christians, God’s people, we are not supposed to be depressed…right? We are not to be in despair, we are to be always rejoicing… right? We have so much to be thankful for, we have so much to hope for, we all have so much ahead of us, it seems we should not be in despair. But the reality is… many of us are. Either we are or we know people that are. The jarring thing is… for many of us, as to why we are in depression, is because the answer is not what we were looking for. We are given scripture and that does not help or it’s not what we are wanting to hear. Yes I agree… our future looks great, but what about now? I know that in the end it will all be ok, but I’m not worried about the end, I am worried about tomorrow. But the truth is… we have reason to rejoice today! We think we know what we need… but we have a really bad habit of making bad judgements about it. Or, misperceiving things. This is the reason why we cannot break out of despair. Have you ever felt this way? Know of some who are going through this right now… know why scripture just does not do the trick all the time? Today we are going to see the reality of what is happening to us when we can’t get free… is there hope? Yes. We will find out today.
Studies of religious groups, from Orthodox Jews to evangelical Christians, reveal no evidence that the frequency of depression varies across religious groups or between those who attend religious services and those who do not. So, in a typical congregation of 200 adults, 50 attendees will experience depression at some point, and at least 30 are currently taking antidepressants.
Last week we witnessed the sobering truth of obedience being better than sacrifice. Saul as king was now rejected by God and living with false repentance in his heart. And now, Samuel is in tremendous grief over the rejection of Saul.
Samuel was totally depressed. He lamented the rejection of Saul so much so that the Lord had to question him as to when he was going to snap out of it. “Look get up, I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem for one of his sons will be the next King that I have chosen for myself.” But Samuel asserted that if he goes Saul will surely kill him if he hears of it. Go to Bethlehem and make a sacrifice and anoint the one I instruct you to anoint. Though many people in the land trembled at Samuel’s arrival; for why would he be here? Did we do something wrong? Samuel said… don’t worry. I am here to sacrifice and I want you elders to join me with Jesse and his sons. When Samuel saw Eliab, he thought for sure this would be the one. But the Lord said that it was not him. Do not judge by looking at outward appearances, I look at the heart. All 7 sons were presented to Samuel, but the Lord had not chosen any of them. Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Well there is the youngest who is out in the fields tending sheep. We will not eat until he comes! When David arrived, the Lord told Samuel that this is the one. He anointed David and the Spirit of Jehovah rushed upon Him and would remain from that day on.
1 Samuel 16:6–7 NLT
When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.
Debilitating Despair
The Wrong Things
Our Hope Upon Hope
The first thing we will look at today is the paralyzing effects of despair and depression and why we struggle snapping out of it…it is Debilitating despair. Second, we will see how our judgements are based on factors that are not aligned with what the Lord sees, in sin we constantly look at the wrong things to set us free. Finally, we find that our ultimate hope is found in what we would see as the wrong thing…David did not meet the normal standards for a king, and neither did Christ, yet He is our hope upon hope.
Thesis: Though in sin we despair because of the various effects of sin in life and though we make wrong judgments in life, because we judge appearances, it is our Lord and Messiah who did not have the right appearance, but held the very heart of God, who now holds us.
I. Debilitating Despair
- The Word of the Lord is right, rejoicing the heart. Does it snap us out?
A. Samuel was really depressed. It was a dark time for him. Think about it. His despair was so great that the Lord had to finally step in to reprove him. Now the Lord is not blaming him for the mourning, but of the excessive mourning. “Samuel… enough already! Come on. Get up.”
B. Samuel was morning over Saul. But why? Was it because of his own failure some-how? Everything that he had devoted his life to had just come crashing down. Was it lamenting fulfillment in ministry? I just wasted my life. No, actually... It was lamenting for Saul. Yes for Saul personally, but the people had now had a rejected king. Would this spell disaster for the people of Israel? Is this the end of it all?
C. Samuel is lamenting...There is no judge. There is now no king. What is to happen to the people? They will fall into disorder, chaos. Their enemies will overthrow them. He was in despair, but it was the word of God that snaps him out of it. It is the Word of God!
D. But we can still learn something from the grief of our prophets. They were able to snap out by the Word of God. Their grief came from failure of kingdom realization, not their personal ministry failure. Not worried about personal successes, but the building of the kingdom of God. They suffer when the kingdom suffers. But it is the word of God that snaps them out of it.
E. Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and got word that Jezebel wanted to kill him. He went into despair sitting under a broom tree. He was not afraid of being killed by Jezebel. He was in despair because after all that he had done, nothing changed. The Kingdom was not saved. The people still desire rebellion and wickedness. But it was the word of God that snaps him out of it.
F. Look… I get it. Depression is a real issue in our country today. Despair is real. I know that even some of it is clinical. Due to irregularities in your brain, for whatever reason, depression is a reality that should be medically treated. But all cases of despair is not this way. But the Word does not snap us out.
G. The question is… what is the honest reason for our depression? A hard and abusive PTSD life is one thing. But many times it is failure to achieve or receive something. These things have nothing to do with building the kingdom of God, but building our own kingdoms. Many times we are in depression because we cannot get something that if we are being honest with ourselves is really something that we do not need, or should not have, and will probably be a distraction, and is at its core; a sin.
H. You know I’m not lying. We fall into depression because we did not achieve our life goals, our immediate goals, we feel as if we just wasted our lives, we made mistakes that we now have to live with, in despair because the back to the future time machine is not real. Speaking of back to the future… We at one time believed… that you don't need money, don't take fame. Don't need no credit card to ride this train. It's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes. But it might just save your life. But we have come to believe that there is no power of love.
I. What is love to you? Where are we looking for love? We fall into despair and depression because we are disappointed that we do not have the white picket fence, our Eudimonia (Aristotle) or our happily ever after. We love the world and it does not love us back!! I wasted my life chasing a love that is not there. What have I done! DEPRESSION.
J. How do I know that is the cause of my depression? Not withstanding clinical depression, if we do not snap out of it with the word of God, then our depression is misplaced.
K. The despair of our forefathers cleared by the word of God. So will ours… that is why it is preached and declared here. The word of God is truth. It is shaper than any two edged sword. It is what we live on. It is our source. Our foundation. More precious than gold.
Psalm 19:7–9 NLT
The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.
L. It rejoices the heart. Why? Because our purpose here on earth is to glorify the Lord and to enjoy him. If that is our goal, then think about it. Does not the promises of the Lord revive our hearts? Or does sin revive our hearts instead?
II. The Wrong Things
- Judge with a right judgement
A. The Lord provides hope for Samuel and for His people. But it was very unexpected. When Samuel arrived he immediately saw Eliab . We got another choice here… Israel first chose the Ark… boom. They chose a king… boom. Now Samuel was about to choose … potentially… a boom. But the Lord chose.
B. Now we can’t really blame Samuel here. Eliab was the obvious choice. Why? Because we all tend to make decisions based on appearance. Don’t we. We all probably would have chosen Eliab. This is how we figure we will get through our depression. We think we know what we need. We all do this everyday. But God searches the heart of a man. He chose different.
C. This is a picture of the discernment that we lack. What are we looking for? How do we define success? Leadership? Potential? We have a huge weakness here… impressed with external appearances. This is why we remain in despair. Why we can’t snap out of it. We just cannot get away from it. It is our shiny object. It puts us in a trance. It’s why the Word does not help… we want what it does not promise. By nature, You would rather have …A pastor who is in great shape and good looking… I know, but you looked at the heart. Thankfully.
D. I have been privy to many decisions that are made by church congregations all over the US. Externals hold a huge share in the decision process. Lot’s of times what God wants is set aside… or glossed over. When we make judgments we should make a right judgment.
John 7:24 NLT
Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
E. In pastoral search committees … Ralph Davis states: What we seem to want are the movers and shakers, the aggressive extroverts, the pushers who meet people well and sell the church in a community, who are smooth in the pulpit.
F. But what should we be looking for? Prayer life? Honesty? Is his household in order? Is he able to instruct in sound doctrine. Is he faithful to the gospel and the scriptures? Does he even love God? What the Bible asks for.
G. But back to the text… how funny is this. David was so not even close to being in the running that he was not even invited to the party. He was tending sheep. Samuel and Jesse were puzzled after the Lord rejected his 7 sons. I am sure the Lord said it would be one of your sons? You got anymore? Yeah, but you cannot be thinking its David?
H. Davis writes. “This is the one.” Again we see God’s strange and refreshing way of trampling on human standards. Again we see how Yahweh chooses the most unlikely people to do his will and how he frequently stands human logic on its head. Our God is not a slave to our conventions.”
I. David did not meet any of our obvious standards for kingship, but it does not matter. He had all that mattered… he was a man after the heart of God. It was all that mattered, because it is what matters to God.
J. Like Samuel and Jesse… We do this don’t we? How many times in life have we done this? We make our decisions based on what we see in front of us. How many times have we been fooled by appearances? Thinking the outward appearance is perfect so therefore it is the right answer, we do not look deeper into the person. Did you know that “A mule dressed in a tuxedo is still a mule.” Focus on who he is and not what he looks like. This is all of life! This is why we stay in depression. Why the Word of God does not snap us out of it. We judge wrongly.
K. In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, "Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship." "We were thinking of something more substantial than that... perhaps a building," the woman replied. In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford!
III. Hope Upon Hope
- David did not meet any obvious standards for kingship. Neither did Christ.
Mark 6:3 NLT
Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Matthew 27:41–44 NLT
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.
Matthew 27
A. But what a King He is. And what glory He brought to the Father. And what hope He has given to us. The hope of the gospel. Hope Upon Hope. Though we sin, yet shall we live! This is why we can rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.
B. Though we despair because we cannot achieve or receive the sinful things we desire, though we tend to judge on appearances to our sinful demise, it truly is the work of Christ that brings us life and life more abundantly.
C. How far have we fallen in sin, deserving condemnation for our sinful and selfish ways and yet because of the work of Christ on the cross where he was mocked and ridiculed. We judge the cross on appearances… we see it as foolish on the surface. He has made the foolish things of the world to shame the wise! There is hope for us. This is the gospel. When we get this, the Word of God will snap us out of it. It is not our successes that we desire, we desire Him to be glorified. We desire His Kingdom. Hope upon hope. This is the Gospel.
D. Jesus died for our sins and he was buried ...
E. If you are hearing this for the first time...
The Gospel of Jesus
H. How long will you despair over your life because of sin and death? How long will you despair over the guilt and condemnation that you feel deep inside? How long will you look at all that the world offers and be drawn to its impressive appearances?
I. I. How long will we continue to look at the appearances in the world for answers? How long the Lord asks? Rejoice today for I have selected my Son to be King. And now he is sitting on the throne of heaven at my right hand. Now we will not judge how He appears, but worship who He is.
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