Last week Pastor Harry covered a lot of ground as he raced us through the book of 1 Samuel. He talked about the life of Samuel and showed how the account of Samuel shows that God still speaks in times of failure. He showed that even though there was There was Failure in the Home of Samuel (failure in the home), in God’s servant Eli (failure in the Church), and in the children of Israel (failure of a nation) and concluded with the call and challenge to heed the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
Today we will pick up where he left off as we look briefly at the fall of King Saul’s kingdom and King David’s blessing and fall. We will see how both responded and note how they are very important in the O.T, narrative to help us understand God’s holiness and our need for a savior.
Saul became king when he was 30 years old, and he reigned as king forty-two years. However, he became Israel’s king not because he was the right man for the job, but because the people of Israel demanded a king to rule over them. Saul was chosen because he was the son of an influential man, “the most handsome man in Israel”, and he was by far the tallest man in the nation. Put more simply, Saul was the total package. Good looks, rich, and of kingly stature. He was perceived as a strong leader because of his outer appearance. Unfortunately, as king he was not the most obedient king. In 1 Samuel 13, we read that Saul disobeyed God by offering a burnt sacrifice to Him when Samuel specifically told him to wait (1 Samuel 10:8), resulting in Saul’s kingdom coming to an end. We do not read of any repentance from Saul for his transgression.
1 Samuel 15:10, “Then the LORD said to Samuel, ‘I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and refused to obey my command.’ Samuel was deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the LORD at night. Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, ‘Saul when to town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.’” When Samuel told Saul about God’s rejection of him as king he responds, “But I did obey the LORD… I carried out the mission…” to which Samuel replies, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience in better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
1 Samuel 16:1 – 7
Vs 1: Once Saul was rejected by God, the LORD tells Samuel to go to Bethlehem to find a man named Jesse and God will select one of his sons to be king.
Vs 6 – 7: When Samuel comes to Jesse, he went through all his sons to anoint one of them to be the next king. One by one Samuel inquires of the LORD as to which son it was. Finally, God says, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have reject him (Eliab the first son). The LORD doesn’t see the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Vs 13: David is chosen by God and anointed king and the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on.
2 Samuel 7:1 - 17
Several years later and after the death of Saul, King David inquired of the prophet Nathan and said he wanted to build a house for the LORD. He said, “Look, I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!” David wanted to bless God by building a house for the LORD, and God’s response was a gentle rebuke and a blessing.
The rebuke: God essentially says, “Do you think you can build a home for me! I am the LORD ALMIGHTY. I have never asked for a house, nor do I have a need for one.”
The blessing: David wants to bless God, but God says, “No! I will bless you. You want to build me a house, but I will build you a house… not a physical home but a dynasty of kings!” God gives a promise to bless David and establish his kingdom forever. However, this kingdom will not be merely an earthly kingdom, it will be an eternal kingdom. This promise is what is known as the Davidic covenant. The LORD promises to send the chosen one of Israel, the Messiah, through David’s lineage. His kingdom will be eternal, and his throne will be secure forever.”
Isn’t this typical of God? David seeks to bless him, but God instead blesses him. A summary of the covenant promises are…
2 Samuel 11
God was faithful as he blessed King David’s kingdom and life even while King David did not remain faithful. Unfortunately, in 2 Samuel 11 are witness to a dark blot in the life of David as he commits a sin of colossal proportions.
We are told David was out on the rooftop relaxing one evening while the men of Israel were out fighting the war. After his midday rest, he was out looking over the city and he noticed a beautiful woman bathing, he inquires as to who she is and his servant tells him her name is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. His gaze turned to lust, and his lust overtook him and ends up sleeping with her, we are not told if this was a mutual affair or not, nevertheless it does not matter because it still wrong and sinful no matter how you look at it. Eventually he finds that she has become pregnant with David’s child, and this is a problem for him because she was a married woman.
It is at this point where David’s sin gets the best of him as David tries to cover his sin by plotting a scheme to cover up his sin.
The problem… You cannot hide your sin from God. Nathan the prophet knows of David’s sin and confronts him with the truth.
Both kings sin greatly against God, but as stated before their responses were very different. Saul tries to justify his sin while David acknowledges and responds appropriately to his sin.
Psalm 51:1 - 12 – David Response
This Psalm is written by a broken, guilt ridden and repentant man whose transgressions were immense. The author, David, tried to scheme with all his might to cover up his sin but his sins were not hidden from God, and he was called out for his wickedness. What we learn early on in David’s transgression is… If you continue in a sin long enough, it will catch up to you.
In this Psalm we are witness to four pleas of a broken and guilty man
Vs 17: Pleasing Sacrifices to God - David comes to the realization that his cleansing and new life does not come through rituals and sacrifices (as Saul did). Many people in David’s time knew that if they sinned all they needed to do was go through the rituals of cleansing and then they would feel right with God. This is the ritual of religion… trying to do something for God and not really doing anything to changing or guarding ourselves from happening again. David realizes what God truly desires of him. In repentance God desires…
David longed for that which you and I have today. He was awaiting a Savior, one who would take away the sins of the world and establish a new covenant with his people. He longed for the intercessor (Jesus) to come and stand in His place so that his relationship would be made right with God.
Jesus, Repentance & Forgiveness
In our time together it is important for us to acknowledge and know that we are privileged to as believers in Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus we are…
“All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Is this a statement found in the Bible or is it a commentary of our world culture today? It is, in fact, both. This phrase is the final statement at the conclusion of the Book of Judges. It seems the more we read through the Bible that throughout history things haven’t changed very much. Violence, war, rebellion, immorality, and disregard for God are not modern problems or current issues… They have been problems and issues since the beginning of time. These issues point us to a truth; humanity needs a rescuer and savior.
The book of Judges shows us that the Bible is not a book of virtues. It is not intended to be one that highlights inspiring stories that moves its readers to becoming superior contributors of society, nor is it an instructional manual that directs us to becoming moral individuals in an immoral world. Judges is about God’s love, mercy, and patience with the nation of Israel and how he continually works in and through his people despite their continual rebellion and sinful practices. Timothy Keller in his commentary JUDGES FOR YOU sums up the book of Judges as, “despicable people doing deplorable things.” And as “Trashy tales about dysfunctional characters.”
The book of Judges is a fascinating book that recounts darker days of Israel’s early history in the Promised Land from the point of Joshua’s to the time when Israel demands a King to rule over them. It picks up right where the book of Joshua leaves off. Judges begins in the first two chapters detailing life in the Promised Land up to the time when Joshua dies at the age of 110. We learn that the generation after Joshua grew up and did not acknowledge God as their Lord and did evil in the sight of God. Naturally this angered God because the culture of Israel was a time of spiritual pluralism. This means that the Israelites dwelt among the nations who worshiped and served various gods. The Israelites were called to be a people who are holy, consecrated, and obedient to the one true God, they were his chosen people to represent him to the nations. So, when they entered the Promised Land, they had choices to make; either follow God and be obedient to him or follow the pagan spiritual practices of those dwelling in Canaan. Unfortunately, they chose the latter. The sin and decadence were so bad that God turned the Israelites over to their enemies, resulting in God raising up judges to rescue them from their enemies. The book is named after the group of these twelve individuals who served as leaders to the nation of Israel. These were men and a woman who were commissioned by God to lead the rebellious nation of Israel back to Him. During this time God was the ruler of the nation and it was a time of national decline because of Israel’s rebellion towards God and affinity for worshiping false Gods. It is easy to notice the cyclical and distinct pattern (or a spiral effect) that runs throughout the book.
The judges were principally the “saviors” or “deliverers” of the people from their enemies. It is important to note that these judges did not take the place of God, they were simply military and civil leaders with judicial functions.
Judges 4:5 – Deborah would sit under a palm, and she would settle disputes among the people.
The LORD is the true judge of his people, and it is he who delivers the people from their oppressors, and it is he would appoint the judges to lead in the deliverance. It is his Spirit, coming upon men equipping them to do the tasks at hand.
Judges 2:17 - God was with the Judge he raises up and saves them from their enemies all the days of the Judge. So, if the Judge who God has called to bring the nation back to Israel was alive the nation was in good standing with God. The book mentions 12 judges (Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah/Barak, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Izban, Elon, Ablon, and Samson) and from this list of judges you may recognize the names Gideon and Samson. Most judges have unique stories…
Gideon – An ordinary man called by God
Judges 6:1 – 6: The story of Gideon begins in Judges 6, and we see the spiral effect in full swing as the nation of Israel did what was evil in the sight of God and He gave them over to the hand of the Midianites to oppress them. The Midianites and Amalekites were kind of like school yard bullies to Israel. The Israelites were afraid of them so they would build their homes in the mountains and grow crops but when harvest time came the Midianites and Amalekites would come and take their lunch money so to speak by overpowering them and taking all their crops. The people of God cried out to the Lord for help and the Lord sends a prophet to tell them it is because of their unfaithfulness to him is why all this is happening.
This reminds me of how many people are like this today; they spend their lives ignoring God, his commands, and doing what they please, but then when something bad happens they cry out to God for help. In Judges we see God’s patience and mercy in action because he continually sends aid to the rebellious people through the Judges. This remains true for us today as we see God is faithful to hear us when we cry out to him even when we have not been faithful to him.
6:11 – 16: An Angel of the Lord comes and commissions a man named Gideon to save Israel from the hands of the Midianites. Gideon’s response to his call is much like that of Moses when he says, “I can’t do this, I am of the weakest tribe (Manasseh) and I am the least of my father’s family…surely you must have the wrong guy.” The Angel of the Lord says, “No, I have the right guy. God is going to be with you and stop calling me Shirley.” (Ba da bum dum). This is often the response of a humble servant of God. He/she knows that they are not qualified to do the task without God being with them. The angel of the Lord tells him that God will be with him in this task and he (like many of us) responds in reluctant obedience.
Gideon says, “If this is true then please show me a sign that this will be as you say.” The angel complies and performs a miracle to show that God will be with him. That very evening Gideon was commanded by God to destroy his father’s altar’s that were built to Baal. God is calling Gideon to take hold of his own faith and forsake the faith of his father. Gideon is afraid to do this because he does not want to anger or disrespect his father, but he also knows God is calling him from this dead and empty religion of Baal worship to serving the one true living God.
This may not seem like a big deal but when you look at what God is telling Gideon to do is a very big deal. I would imagine the last thing he wanted to do was to disrespect his father or tear down the altar’s that his father built with his own hands. However, he knew and feared the one true God and he had to make a that evening… Will he ignore God’s call on his life because he doesn’t want to hurt his father’s feelings or is he going to be obedient and destroy this abomination before God? He chooses obedience. I am reminded of the various of people I meet who know that God is calling them to greater and better things but refuse to be obedient because they are more faithful to something other than him. They are more faithful to their church, their denomination, the congregation, or pastor than to God. They are fearful of what people will say about them or do to them. Gideon proclaims loudly who he serves just by his obedience to God. Was he scared? Most likely. Did he think he was going to hurt his father’s feelings? Maybe. But we see obedience to God outweighed obedience to man. The result was his own father forsook Baal after he had seen what Gideon’s God could do.
Gideon and the Fleece
Next, The Lord tells Gideon he will defeat the Midianites and he seeks God’s reassurance by laying out a fleece (twice) to make sure God was going to do what he promised. Many look at these “tests” as Gideon not having faith in God. According to theologian D.A. Carson, “It was common practice in the ancient world to seek last-minute confirmation of divine support before a battle was joined.” It appears Gideon didn’t believe God so he sets up a fleece and asks God that if he is with him then in the evening when the dew comes have it settle on the fleece and the ground around it be dry and then he will know it is from God. God did as he asked, and Gideon still wanted to confirmation that God was with him, so he asks God to do the opposite and he does. Again, I see the patience and mercy in God evident in this account. He already told Gideon he was going to be with him and accomplish great things, but it seems that was not enough, Gideon sought more proof. It would have been easy for God to say, “Well forget it! Obviously, I have the wrong person for the job.” But he doesn’t and shows great restraint and compassion by complying to Gideon’s request.
There have been times in my life when I did almost the same as Gideon. There have times when I am faced with really difficult decisions, and I want to be in God’s will; so, I “set out fleeces” or I try to bargain with God to reassure me that I am doing the right thing. Have you ever set a fleece out to God and said or thought, “Lord if you want me to do this then you need to do this to assure me, I am doing the right thing?” Is it wrong to set out fleeces? I don’t really know. Apparently, God was ok with it since he did what was asked of him. HOWEVER, I do think if we do choose to set out fleeces that we do so with extreme caution. Because I do not believe God will always respond the way He did with Gideon and/or sometimes we put more faith in the fleece experience than we do in the God who has called us.
Lastly, when Gideon received confirmation from the Lord, he called together the men of Israel to form an army. Thirty-two thousand men showed up to fight! The Lord says to Gideon, “There are too many men present. If you go to battle and win then the men can take credit for the work that I did.” So, the Lord instructed Gideon to tell all the men who were scared and trembling to go home, resulting in 20,000 men leaving the camp. Ten-thousand men remained. God said, “Still too many.” He instructs Gideon to take them to the water and those who lap the water like a dog shall go home and those who drink by putting the water to their mouths were to stay. Nine-thousand seven hundred men were sent home. Three hundred men remained, and God said, “Now that’s a number I can work with.”
Judges 7:7 – 8: Now comes the odd part to the story. God informs Gideon that the 300 men and he will defeat the Midianites without shedding any blood. They were going to defeat them by trumpets and voices (think back to Jericho). Not surprisingly, God does exactly as he promises. Due to the lack of time, I would encourage you to read the account in Judges 7:19 – 25 to see how Gideon and his three hundred soldiers defeated the Midianites.
Judges is filled with many accounts of God working through his people. My purpose in today’s message is to remind us that in the eyes of God we are all significant in the part we play in his overall plan. No matter how large or small our roles may be in this life during our lives they are all important in the grand scheme of God’s glory. Before I conclude I want to leave you with three applicable points for us from Judges.
 Keller, T., 2013. Judges for you. [Purceyville, VA]: The Good Book Co., p.9.
Today we are continuing our God’s Story from Beginning to End series. The purpose of this series is to gain a bird’s eye view of the Bible and how we can understand that it is a continuous story about God and his work through and among his chosen people. Up to this point we have seen God’s work in creation, covenant, deliverance, the Law, establishing worship, and the wilderness. It is important for us to understand that the Bible reveals God’s calling, character, curse, covenant, and conciliation in and of all things. These revelations may seem simple and elementary, but the realities of the stories are complex as we observe a perfect God working among and amid an imperfect people to accomplish his perfect will. Sometimes, often, these biblical stories are messy and disastrous, but we see throughout that God takes the ugliness, disorder, and misfortune and restores with beauty, order, and opportunity through Jesus Christ.
We are picking up in the book of Joshua. This book is titled after Moses’ right-hand man, military leader, and protégé Joshua, and it tells the story of the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant given in Genesis 12:1 – 3. This account begins shortly after the death of Moses. Previously in Numbers 27 Joshua was commissioned by God and Moses to pick up where Moses left off in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. He was a unique person whom God used tremendously in establishing the nation of Israel post wilderness. His story is essential because had not Israel entered the Promised Land there would be no story of the judges, prophets, or kings to tell.
In his life God (with the assistance of Moses) was preparing him to become the leader of the nation of Israel after the death of his mentor. It’s no surprise that Joshua had some big shoes to fill. We read in the life of Joshua, that God had his hand upon this man, militarily, in his management, and in his ministry. Joshua did have some enormous shoes to fill but Joshua served an infinite God who can and does do all he had set out to accomplish through him. He was a man of great faith, great vision, and great leadership.
As the tradition has been for the past few weeks, I believe it would benefit us all to look at the background of Joshua so we can have a good perspective of the man who was next in line to lead the nation of Israel in this pivotal point in their history.
Joshua was distinctive in various ways but chiefly in his loyalty and obedience to both God and Moses. He is the kind of person that every leader (or Christian for that matter) desires to have in his or her life. He shared a relationship with Moses that none (other than God) could or ever would have, which ultimately led to him to having the special and unique kind of relationship that Moses had with God.
Joshua’s story is interconnected throughout the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), but his epic accounts are found primarily in the book of the Bible that is titled after him. Joshua loved Moses and he was devoted to his mentor. In taking a brief overview of his life, we see that he faithfully served as a spy in the land of Canaan, he was a mighty military leader who fought and won great battles, and he was a great leader who shepherded the nation of Israel into the Promised Land.
Here are some key components of this man’s amazing life.
Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
Today we are going to park for a quick second in Joshua 6 as we look specifically at a story that, I am sure; you are all familiar. If you have ever gone to church, Sunday School Christian School, or Bible camp then you have heard this story. Here, Joshua, Caleb and their army are standing before the Promised Land and God gives Joshua the “go ahead” to proceed into the city and overtake it. I sometimes wonder what those men were thinking as they were standing before the city preparing to storm the walls of Jericho. I can tell you one thing they were most likely NOT thinking was that they would overtake the city by simply marching around the wall, blowing horns, and shouting at the top of their lungs.
God gives Joshua some very unusual and specifics as to how they are to take the city.
Joshua 1:1 - 9
Here is the plan…
This is an unusual military plan. If I were in the military and I heard this as the battle plan I would think the commander had been smoking something funny. However, Joshua, Caleb and the army had faith that God had something greater than military strategy or a well thought out battle plan. They had something greater… They had God on their side.
This is a large part of the story and to the success in their battle. Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” This passage was written thousands of years after the battle of Jericho but I am sure this mindset and reality of this yet unwritten verse was in the forefront of Joshua’s mind. So, if it was applicable and true thousands and hundreds of years ago, it is certainly remains true for us today.
We face trials, hardships, or “walls” that seem to be looming before us. We can look at our situation and see no logical or realistic way out of or through this difficulty. We begin to question God, or we may not trust he will pull through for us. We often use the word BUT to discredit what God is doing. We say, “I know God says he will never leave or forsake me, but I am not sure he is going to pull through for me on this.” Or we may say, “I believe God is calling me to do some outrageous things for His purpose BUT I don’t think I would have enough courage or faith to do what He is asking me to do.
Joshua was a loyal servant, assistant, and successor to Moses. However, he was not just loyal to Moses he was a loyal and dependent leader of God (just like his mentor). Joshua was a leader who was a faithful servant and faith-filled man of God. When we read accounts of his life, we notice that as a leader, Joshua had a full plate both as a Spiritual and military leader. He had to make some tough decisions regarding sin in the camp of Israel, and when he faced some interesting challenges placed before him that required a faith that seemed extraordinary.
There are four key distinctions about Joshua I would like to note about him that made him the faith-filled leader he was.
We serve a big God! There is nothing that is too big or too small for him. We have seen in this short time together that no matter what we face God has called his people to partner with him to accomplish his will. I realize the story of Joshua is unique to him, but this does not mean that what God did in his life he won’t do in your life. We can look at the distinctions of Joshua and apply them to our lives. We should be men and women of our word, men and women of faith, learn how to make hard decisions, and pray BIG faith-filled prayers.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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