Back to Gath - 1 Samuel 27
There was once a guy at a lunch with a dozen of his fellow workers. He noticed a bee found its way in, and after buzzing near him it landed on some food on the table. One of his colleagues a few chairs away took hold of an empty bottle of sparkling grape juice and put the mouth of the bottle near the bee. When she did that, He expected the bee to be startled and fly away for its own safety. Instead, without a moment's hesitation, the bee flew to the mouth of the bottle as if it had done this a hundred times before and climbed inside the narrow opening. Immediately my colleague put the cap on the bottle and screwed it shut. The bee’s flight for comfort and safety, became its prison.
Sometimes, for many of us, when we face difficult situations, we have a difficult time trusting in the Lord. What is interesting… we continue to falter in trusting the Lord even when we know the Lord brought us through other difficulties before. If He did it once why would He not do it again? What is more… when we look for protection in something apart from the Lord, many times it leads to compromise, which leads to deception, which leads to deeper and deeper sins. What is even more, is that sometimes our sinful pernicious path leads to protection even prosperity, yes, but then we find a dependence on that protection and prosperity that eventually becomes a prison. It once helped us, but now it holds us. It once defended us, now it detains us. It once sheltered us, now it shackles us. It once comforted us, now has chained us. We initially found comfort in an ungodly relationship and now we can’t get out of it. We once found solace in our career, not we can’t get away from it. We once found serenity in drugs and alcohol, but now we are addicted. We once found compassion with ways of the world and now we can’t help falling in love with the world. We found help with money and now we can’t stop loving money which is the root of all evil. Sometimes sinful and pernicious paths lead to protection and many times this protection leads to a prison. Have we found ourselves in this situation before? Still in prison? Can we be free from this today? You bet… and we will find out today.
We saw last week a bit of Déjà vu in that David had another opportunity to end all of the turmoil by killing Saul. The first time it was in the cave, this time it was in the middle of the camp of Saul’s best soldiers. Saul once again repented and David shared with him the Gospel. Though David forgave Saul he still didn’t trust him.
David could not get over the thought that Saul was going to get him and in his anxiety, he does the unthinkable. He decides to live with the Philistines, thinking that if he lives with Saul’s enemy, Saul will stop looking for him. He, his wives, and his 600 men went to live with Akeesh the king of Gath (Where Goliath was from). Once Saul heard about this, he stopped looking for David. The plan worked. Then one day, David said to Akeesh, they would like to move out to one of the surrounding country towns instead of live in the royal city. Akeesh gave him Ziklag and they lived there for 1 year and 4 months. While he was there, David and his men raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites killing all of the people and taking all the animals and clothing. When the King would ask David where he was, he lied and told him that he was attacking the southern parts of Judah. And because he killed everyone in the towns he raided, no one was left alive to tell the king where he really was. In all fairness, David’s mission could have been to continue to get the land that was promised to them. Joshua and the Israelites failed to get the Geshurites and Saul in chapter 15 failed to destroy the Amalekites. They were to kill everyone, but the problem was they were not to keep the animals and possessions. But David did. More compromise. David kept doing this the whole time he lived with the Philistines. Akeesh thought that by now the Israelites probably hated David bitterly, so he concluded that David would now stay with him forever. The Philistines mustered up their armies to fight another war with Israel. He told David that he expected him and his men to fight along with them and David agreed with the excitement that now the king will get to see what they could do. The king made David his personal bodyguard for life. The protection is now a prison.
But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
1. Pernicious Path for Protection
2. Protection to Prison
3. Prison to Paradise
The first thing we will look at today is the immoral behavior of David when he sought protection in unbelief… a bad example? Not really. The second thing we will explore is how many time we seek safety and protection from suitors of the world instead of the Lord and we end up in a prison instead. Finally, we will see how the word and work of Christ sets us free from the prison of sin into the paradise called the kingdom of heaven.
Thesis: Like David, our anxiety can lead us down an immoral/pernicious path of searching for protection away from God and, in the end, go from being protected to imprisoned... saved to enslaved. Yet, Christ has brought us freedom from prison and declares that someday we will be with Him in paradise.
I. Pernicious Path for Protection
- Why would David go down the pernicious path for protection? Does he not know better?
A. What happened? David panicked and made a rash decision because of the fear of Saul catching and killing him. Why? When Saul almost caught up to him, God brought the Philistines to attack so Saul would turn back. Saul just happened to go into a cave where David was hiding and he had the opportunity to kill Saul. The Lord caused the whole army (3000) to fall into a deep sleep where David could take Saul’s spear. So much has happened where the Lord protected David. How much more evidence did he need? He talked himself into doing something really foolish. He went back to Gath.
B. Are you kidding me? Gath is where Goliath was from. And the last time you went there you had to act like a madman to escape. You had to act the fool. But there was no real heat from the people, probably because everyone knew, by now, that David was an enemy of Saul. David’s plan kind of worked, Saul turned back and stopped the pursuit. (Again) So… David decided to go the Gath for safety, but was not safe in the long run. Why did he do this?
C. David sought refuge in a pagan land instead of the shadow and wings of the Almighty. This has never worked out for anyone in the Scriptures. He spent the whole time in Gath lying to the king Akeesh about the raids bearing false witness - flat out lying and secretly destroying a man who was showing him kindness. Why did he do this? Why the sin and deception? How could the man after God’s own heart do something like this? What kind of example is being displayed in this chapter? The pernicious path for protection? Was it worth it? How could David be so immoral in this instance?
D. There was a tract published by an atheist group who sought to expose the depravity of Bible heroes. Abraham was a coward to sacrifice wife to save self. Jacob was a liar and a cheat. Moses was a murderer. David seduces Bathsheeba and has her husband killed to cover the sin and consistently lies to the Philistine king. Why does God lift these men up with so much depravity? Even more depravity than many today. Well the Atheists are right aren’t they? Yes. These men are immoral in action. But this does not change a thing. Because our hope is not in the deeds of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David, but in the deeds and work of Christ.
E. This is amazingly true. It shows the Bible’s honesty as it exposes the sins of its hero’s, unlike other writings. But the sin of these men is for God’s glory and not His shame. Read the Bible right!! We see His glorious plan to bring sinful man into a relationship with Him calling them justified friends. The Bible declares the redemption of these imperfect men imperfect like we are imperfect. It’s not perfection, but salvation! Our hope does not rest in the perfection of our Bible hero’s, but in the perfection of the Messiah! Not perfection but salvation for us.
F. This is the glorious news of the Gospel. Again, the Scriptures are not about these men anyway, the true hero of the Scriptures is Christ. The true gift of the Scriptures is grace. The true power of God is shown in weakness. When sin abounds grace abounds even more and more and more. And when grace abounds God’s glory abounds. It is all about Christ and Christ alone.
G. But Shane, does not the scriptures state that we need to be imitators of these men. Yes, but not their actions, but their faith. Listen… any commendation of these men is always due to their faith in God. But commends these men for their faith. The Lord wants us to see the importance of faith. Faith is everything. Faith is what God desires! They radically trusted God. This is why! Their radical faith is what the scriptures will celebrate.
H. We can be so caught up with the things we do. We get so caught up with being like David, like Moses, like Joshua, books by the droves are written about following their exploits, their victories, their slaying of giants, pharaohs, Jericho. We are so enamored with what these men do, right or wrong. We exhaust of endless character studies. But in the end we easily miss what was really important. The important thing is not what they did, but that they believed. We can be so caught up with the things we do, when we should be concerned with what we believe. Because what we believe affects what we do! David showed this. We are so concerned about behavior modification that we miss the fact that we act like we do because of what we believe.
I. Our problem is not action, our problem is faith. We don’t do because we don’t believe and when we do, we are still sinning, because we don’t believe. Sure we can train and modify behavior and even be good at it, but I will take a man filled with the Spirit and full of faith, than one well trained by artificial methods of human wisdom. Hear me on this… You can have a man of upmost integrity and character who was a tremendous asset to the world because of all the good he did, but if he does not believe that Jesus is the Christ he is going to hell. It is not about what we do it is what we believe.
J. As Christians we do not do good in order to be accepted by God, we do good because we are accepted by God… do you believe it?
K. And yet we struggle with this, because we do not believe it. This is a concern… O ye of little faith. How many times do we do the foolish because we just don’t believe? So much ungodly behavior from us because we don’t believe. Same with the heroes. Just like David.
II. Protection to Prison
Sometimes the arms we run into for safety may not so readily let us go.
A. Because of David’s unbelief, he made a foolish decision that caused stepping out of the shadow of the Almighty and a life of continued lies and deceit. But that’s not all. David’s decision did protect him from Saul, but it did not protect him from Akeesh.
B. Because of all the raids in Israel, the king assumed that the people of Israel hated David with a passion and asked him to fight the war since David and men would now be the king’s servants forever. Now to kill his own people. And what was David going to say? The only thing he could say. I will make you proud. He was stuck. And then the king Akeesh made David his bodyguard for the rest of his life. He was stuck. Stuck. Like a prison.
C. David went from being saved to being enslaved. Once again, from being saved to being enslaved. What was David going to do? He was about to put himself in real danger if he refused the king of the Philistines. He will be hunted by not just Saul but the Philistines because of what he did. Saved to being enslaved. It backfired!
D. This is what happens when we try to find refuge or relief in things other than Christ. We get the relief, but eventually find grief. A great example of this is… addictions.
E. We get a moment of relief from the stress of the world when we take drugs, but eventually become a slave to it and the drugs are now the stress. We get a moment of release from the burdens of life in drunkenness, but eventually become a slave to it and the alcohol becomes the burden. We find salvation from affliction and hurt for a moment with pornography, but become its slave and now it becomes the affliction. We find a moment of comfort in the arms of another person, then find that you are trapped in an ungodly or abusive relationship… dependent or co-dependent and now we need comfort because of that person. From being saved to being enslaved. What a mess for David and what a mess for us.
F. We need to trust in the Lord find our safety and refuge in the Lord. Do not wallow in unbelief.
If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
G. Remember who He is and what he promised us.
From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Interlude
H. There is nothing for us in the shelter of the world and its promises. There is nothing for us in the refuge of godless pleasures and successes. There is nothing for us in the love of the world … that tainted love. You have to run away! You have to get away. There is nothing else that can provide true safety, but the hand of Christ. When we are anxious and recognize that we are struggling with unbelief, get our hands out of the world’s cookie jar and get our nose in the Scriptures. Faith comes by hearing! Let’s stop looking for love in all the wrong places.
III. Prison to Paradise
- Today we declare … in Christ, someday we with be with Him in Paradise.
A. All of this started with something at the very beginning which is the source for David’s sin and I can imagine our many sins. The Scriptures declare v.1, 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.
B. He said in his heart. He thought to himself. He kept thinking to himself. He kept wondering, second guessing, listening to himself reason it all out. This is a problem. His heart lead to the pernicious path for protection that led to prison.
C. Is this not what we do and we are told to do it by many in the world, motivational speakers, movies of inspiration, self help propaganda, your life coaches Christian and secular alike. “You do what your heart tells you to do. You do what you feel is right. Decide for yourself it is the only true freedom we have. Only do what your heart tells you to do. Let your heart be your guide, like Jack Sparrows compass. Sin tells us to Listen to your heart, when he’s calling for you.” This will lead us to the pernicious path for protection that will become a prison.
D. This is not what we do. As Jesus said...
For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.
No one lies to you more than your own heart. It’s true...
No one lies to you more than your own heart. It’s true. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” ()
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
E. Our hearts will not save us. We need to be saved from our hearts. That’s why Jesus did not say, “Let not your hearts be troubled, just believe your hearts.” He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God; believe also in me” (). We do not listen to our hearts, we listen to the Word of God. Believe and have Faith in Christ. Stop trying to find peace and rest in our hearts and minds. We find it in trusting God. No inner child. No deeper consciousness, No connection with the chambers of the human heart! This is the pernicious path for protection that becomes a prison
That’s why Jesus did not say, “Let not your hearts be troubled, just believe your hearts.” He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God; believe also in me” (). We do not listen to our hearts, we listen to the Word of God. Believe and have Faith in Christ. Stop trying to find peace and rest in our hearts and minds. We find it in trusting God. No inner child. No deeper consciousness, No connection with the chambers of the human heart!
F. We listen to the Word of God when we need safety. When we need salvation. And the Word of God declares our safety, salvation, release, freedom, and relief. It is called the Gospel. This is the shadow of the Lord!
G. There is forgiveness for our sins and protection from the wrath of God… it is called the blood of Jesus. And because of this we can be free from our prison. For Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures…
I. Do not listen to your heart, do not trust your own understanding… trust in the Word of God. Believe the Gospel of Jesus. Salvation is here today. The promise of God is here today. Christ the Lord is risen today!
J. The Lord has set you free. The Lord will set you free. His promises are yes and Amen. If you call upon the name of the Lord you will be saved. In Christ you will no longer be slaves to sin. We will be free. There is freedom in Christ. Christ will set us free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
K. Christ has brought us freedom from the pernicious path for protextion that led to a prison and declares that someday we will no longer be in prision, but will be with Him in paradise.