Preached by Dr. Gene Scott
December 25, 1977
“For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek
after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.
Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold
my soul. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off
in thy truth. I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise
thy name, O LORD; for it is good. For he hath delivered me out
of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.”
WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT DAVID’S LIFE again today. We have been mixing it with the direction and strength that we have gotten from Ezra and Nehemiah and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, but today we will stay with David. We read David’s psalms because he lived in circumstances that we can identify with. You can read one psalm and see him hit the crest of the wave and hit the bottom of the wave.
In studying the history of revival movements since the 1900s, I praise God for their emphasis on deliverance and a renewed attention to the benefits we can receive from God, particularly those related to physical healing. But when I reviewed the history and studied their message, I had the same feeling that I had while growing up in the church: what does all this have to do with the day-to-day problems that I face as a Christian on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, every week? And what does all this have to do with the real task that Jesus came to accomplish? Jesus came to fill that part of Heaven that was vacated when Lucifer, the crowning cherub in the mountain of God, turned against God and was cast down along with the angels following him. What is all the excitement about revival? I take nothing away from those who are healed and from those who are baptized and have a glorious experience that provides the start of a walk in the Spirit. But this revival still has to deal with the day-to-day task of making up a bride, and with the day-to-day task of walking worthily of the vocation wherein we are called.
The book of Ephesians begins with that which excites: we are seated in heavenly places with Christ. (Ephesians 2:6) By faith, we are already on that throne; and that is something that legitimately leaves room for having an outbreak of joy when we realize our hope. And by this hope, we purify ourselves. (1 John 3:3) There is legitimate reason for joy over being healed in the knowledge that the burden of sickness is lifted from us; that is joy in something we can see and feel. There is legitimacy in getting excited about the substance of God’s nature making His abode in us and the gifts of the Spirit flowing through us. We can rejoice in breakthroughs of that boiling-over of the Holy Spirit that take us beyond ourselves and give us those moments we can look to as transcending every experience. But the real job of the church is still the bringing forth, on this earthly stage, of saints perfected who can rule and reign with Him. Someone has drawn the analogy that the narrative, the story, the history and the experience are like a scaffolding: it will be torn aside one day and the real structure will remain.
I am driven to continue on in the frame of learning what God’s business with us is really about. He gives us the hope with His promise. His promise is a word declared, and “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89) That is not something that is hanging up in Heaven somewhere that we, when we get up there, will find. It means that when God says something, that starts the motion there; and it can be true here, if we will but seize it and make it true. When He gives His Word, that is the hope, that is the plan, and that is the design. Between here and its realization, God is shaping, forming, making, leading, training and transforming us. Even in the midst of the terrible pressures that are on us, which can make us think that the objective is to get out of our valley and to solve the problem, may God help us to realize that He has a much higher purpose for all of us. He is using each circumstance to bring forth in us what will qualify us for that which “Eye hath not seen,” neither has it entered into our hearts to imagine what God has in store for those of us who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9) That is why we are preaching on David.
He was a king; so are we. We are kings and priests today. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:10) We remember that the King of Kings moved into a tent of human flesh wrapped in swaddling clothes, which was but the promise to David carried out. I want you to realize what God accomplished through the lineage of David, because God had so promised and ordered it through His Word. Jesus came onto the stage of history and the church was born; and today we see the results of that promise carried out. But keep in mind, as we look at the narrative of what David was going through, how harrowing, how risky and how unlikely such a fulfillment of promise appeared. Let that bring hope to us today as we seize on God’s promises. God will carry out His promises, if we will hang in there no matter what.
David was God’s king. In order for God’s purposes of the promised Messiah to be carried out, David had to sit on that throne and survive. But look at what he was facing. In 1 Samuel 23, we read, “Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshing floors.”
You will begin to see a pattern take shape in chapter 23 that became the norm of David’s life ever after: “Therefore David enquired of the LORD. . .” You are going to find it again in verse 4, “Then David enquired of the LORD.” It took the very pressure that David was under to drive him to this point of absolute dependence upon God’s direction. He goes beyond just performing a simple ritual; he goes beyond simple obedience to God’s laws. He moves into that sphere of a personally maintained, constantly disciplined, direct relationship with the Lord; and he enquires of the Lord before he makes any move.
Let’s briefly look back over David’s history. Having been anointed king, his life was changed by God’s selection. He then becomes favored by Saul. David slays Goliath. Then, after winning victories in battle against the Philistines, the ladies sang his praises: “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then, jealousy came into the heart of Saul, turning his favor into hatred and murderous intent, and he began to continually hunt David. Here is the anointed king fleeing for his life, barely escaping from his own home as his wife warns him to get away. (1 Samuel 16-19)
We left David, in the previous message, at the “stone of departure” where he had argued with Jonathan, Saul’s son, concerning Saul’s intentions. Jonathan was to go back to the house of Saul and feel the pulse for his father’s intent. If David was right, that Saul had murder in his heart, Jonathan was to become God’s voice of direction to David. By the way Jonathan shot his arrows, David would know what direction he should take.
David waited by that stone for the prearranged message. If Jonathan shot the arrows short of the stone, all was well: David could return to the house of Saul to friendship, acceptance and a natural life. Now, there are some who want a church that settles down to a comfortable day-to-day routine. It seems, however, that the true church must constantly be under threat, harassment and unexpected challenge. When those arrows were unleashed, they shot past David. And that signal drove him from friends, comfort and naturalness, into the unknown. David made his choice, and he had to depart.
As he fled from Saul, David begged the priest at the tabernacle for bread and for a sword. With the sword of Goliath the Philistine, David went to Gath, which was the home of the Philistines. One of the psalms would indicate that he was taken captive by them. “He feigned madness, spit on his beard, and
scrabbled on the walls” until Achish the king of Gath said, “I don’t want a mad man around.” (1 Samuel 21) He fled from there into another wilderness place, and he continued to run. Until we come to chapter 23, David is still running. As we have seen in chapter 22, David went to the cave Adullam, and God gave him 400 men who were debtors, distressed and discontented. We looked at some of the psalms that he wrote in that cave at his darkest hour.
Now, there comes a break in the dark sky and David has a chance to become a rescuer. Remember, David was “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) He had weaknesses, but when the chips were down, he came through every time. Here is the man who has been forsaken, who has been abused, who has been denied what God had promised him. He has no support anywhere. The only friendship he is going to find is from people who are in trouble. Now there is a need. They told David, “Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshing floors. Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines?” Saul wasn’t doing anything for them. “The LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” (1 Samuel 23:1-3) He really had himself a choice bunch, didn’t he? And they pressured him to keep hiding out.
“Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.”
For a brief time, he was in respite. Behind the walls of this city, he was their king for a moment; he had saved them. Can’t you just hear their plaudits and their praise? Then, “Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. And David knew that Saul secretly practiced mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.” The ephod was where they kept the Urim and the Thummim, where the priest received their messages from God. David was calling the prophet to try to get a word from the Lord.
“Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, they servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.” I want you to put flesh and blood on this episode in David’s life, before we go to a psalm he wrote, because it is so easy for us to think that these people didn’t face the kind of things we face. He had followed the arrows; he had sat in that cave Adullam and had written those wonderful psalms, including 34, 56, 57, and 142.
God sent David to deliver the people at Keilah; and Saul, his old nemesis, is coming after him. David enquires of the Lord again, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.” Those scoundrels; they were the very people David had delivered!
“Then David and his men, which were about six hundred. . .” David’s band had increased by 50 percent, from 400 to 600. David and his men “arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go.” Underline the word whithersoever. I want you to see a saint of God in this condition: here is God’s anointed king going “whithersoever he could go.” Will you tune in on that desperate
condition, as we come to a new year facing us? You could not have a better example of someone coming to the end of the line and having no direction.
“And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth. And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.” Saul hunted David like an animal in the woods. The best that God could do for David, it seems, was to keep him from being caught, to keep him from going under. There is not one note of offensive action.
“And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. And Jonathan, Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” But even Jonathan would not stay with David. This is the last time that David is going to see his best friend, for we read, “They two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.”
Look at Saul for a moment. He was head and shoulders above God’s people. We read that when he was called by God, the Spirit literally entered into him and he had a new heart. (1 Samuel 10:9-10) Nobody can question the genuineness of Saul’s beginnings; he was God’s king. He did have God’s Spirit. He was anointed of God to lead. But in the path of jealousy and self-will and resentment, he reaches a stage where he becomes perverse. The Scripture says that Saul knows that David is God’s king, but Saul still hunts David to kill him. There are some people you will never get through to. Accept it. As God’s people, you will come under attack. There is no reason, no explanation, no communication that will ever pierce their armor. Your best friends may leave you. Jonathan strengthened David, but then went back to the camp of Saul; and David was left alone.
When we study the psalms of David, we see the music that will be squeezed out of a man after God’s own heart in times of trial. Let it speak to those trainees of God today. We saw that a multitude of psalms gushed forth in the cave Adullam. David wrote Psalm 54 when his best friend left him in the wilderness. He wrote Psalms 27 and 31 while he stayed in that wilderness.
We read in 1 Samuel 23:19, “Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying . . .” and they reported where David was hiding. The heading of Psalm 54 says, “. . . when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?” Write in your Bible, down alongside the margin of 1 Samuel 23, that out of this experience, David wrote these three marvelous and wonderful Psalms. On this last Sunday of the year, when we can look back and see that God was faithful, I want us to seize upon the words reflecting the attitudes and spirit of this man after God’s own heart in time of trouble, and I want it to steer us in the year ahead.
Let’s look at Psalm 54. David lost his best friend, and the Ziphites betrayed him. He has nothing left, so his first prayer to God is the honest prayer about his enemies. “Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.” The best translation of Selah is “think of that.” Write it in the margin of your Bible. Not only had he suffered the jealous rejection of Saul, and not only had he suffered the animosity of those in Gath who could remember that he had killed Goliath, but now, with no reason at all, even strangers are risen up against him. Think of that.
Well, what are we going to do about it? Now, everything we are teaching today is worthless without the knowledge of the end of the book. David made his declaration in faith. We know that God delivered this man who turned to Him in his time of trouble. “Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” David reminded himself of the truth. God “shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.” That is a statement of faith.
You and I have 10 times as many promises of God as David had. Today, whatever we are facing, it cannot be worse than what David faced. Make this your prayer all through the week and for the new year. Read it every day. Whatever problem you are facing, engraft this psalm into your soul. Memorize it if you can. And every time the pressure comes on, pray this prayer.
Look at the enemies. Take into account the unreasonableness of the pressure. Think of it. The pressure is there; it’s coming in on us, but the promise is, “God is mine helper.” Let the enemies line up like ducks in an arcade; they are going to get it. So for three verses David focuses on the enemies. Then, for two verses he talks to himself about God. He talks about himself in relation to his enemies; he talks bout himself in relation to God. With that done, he turns his attention from the enemies and from himself, and then starts talking to God about God.
There are laws in the spiritual world as operational as laws in the natural world. My prayer is that in these studies, while we are looking at diverse circumstances, a certain thing is leaping to the surface. Again and again the same thing is being said. It is okay in your trouble to cry out about your need; it is okay in your trouble to invoke God’s aid. But somewhere that ought to bring you to a stage where, having said it and put it in God’s hand, you can then turn your attention to Him. “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.” David is declaring, “Strangers besieged me. I’m under pressure. But God changes not.”
Take a look a verse 7. David is still in the wilderness of Ziph; he is still under pressure, but he doesn’t say, “God is going to deliver me.” David puts it in the past tense, and I want you to do it today: “He hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seem . . “
In this psalm, we see how David has grown. There is no question in his mind of God’s deliverance. What if David had said to the Lord, “I enquired of You if I should go to Keilah and You said, ‘Go, save those in Keilah.’ Then, I asked You if those scoundrels in Keilah I had delivered would betray me, and deliver me up to Saul, and You said, ‘Yes!’ Don’t You know where You’re leading me? I didn’t want to come here. I enquired of You, and You put me here. Why is this happening to me?” Sometimes we ought to knock some sense into our heads, because when the Lord has led us, God’s Word still says that if we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:6)
So what if you are in a mess? You will be in a mess this coming year, more than once, because God is using the scaffolding of that experience to shape us into that which makes us worthy to rule and reign with Him. And if any circumstance can make us take our eyes off of God, we are not fit to rule and reign with Him. Pressure must drive us to God. It’s okay to say, “O save me, Lord!” It’s okay to claim all of God’s help. But there comes a serenity when you turn to Him, and to Him alone. It is a law of the Spirit.
May God help those who are forever reacting to God’s presence instead of tuning in to God’s reality. Let God have the chance of reacting to our sacrifice of praise to Him and our commitment to Him because we trust Him to carry out His Word. David says, “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O
LORD; for it is good. For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.” (Psalm 54:6-7) David turned his enemies over to God.
I want you to say with me the prayer of verses 6 and 7 of this psalm. On this last Sunday of the year, make this the commitment on which we will hang our body in the coming year: “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good. For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.” How about that? Can you say with me, “Praise the Lord?”
I want us to have these promises. Psalm 27 opens with, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” The proof of the pudding is in the eating. David didn’t look like a king, but we celebrate the birth of his Greater Son because God took David through. I have news for all our enemies: if we keep this spirit of David, God will see us through whatever we are facing today.
Reprinted with permission of Pastor Melissa Scott
January, 2013 News Notes
Well, here we are, a new year and a new beginning. First of all, we want to thank everyone who sent birthday and Christmas cards, plus all the encouraging letters throughout the past year. And I want to especially mention and thank the ones who tithed and made offerings from their small prison salary. This is precious to God and of much value in His sight (see Mark 12:43-44). We feel blessed to have this work and to see the Spiritual growth and the love you all have shown us.
As everyone knows, this has been a tough year and we have been looking forward to the end of it. But before the year could end there were a few more trials that came our way. God will not put anything on you that you cannot bear, so He must have known that we could handle this, too. Even while He tests us, He knows the end already.
Jay’s mobile home burned down the day after Christmas. Thankfully he wasn’t at home when this happened, and no one was hurt. But he lost everything. He is now staying in Brian and Gail’s basement. He will have to stay there until we can clean up the mess and find something else for him to live in. Of course we will make sure his needs are taking care of. Our neighbors across the road have given him clothes and furniture and other people in the community have helped with food and money, as well. Jay is taking it well. He accepts things easily, and I know that God is pleased with his attitude and with his acceptance of things. This is Jay’s home and satan can roar all he wants to. God is still in control and nothing happens that He does not allow.
You all ask about Brian a lot. He is getting some excellent therapy several times a week. But a stroke is life changing event for everyone here, especially Gail. We hold on to the faith that he will get better as time goes by. He is now able to stay home alone while Gail goes to work, and he knows that he can call one of us for help, if he needs it.
Shirley is doing well. She has been busy driving Brian to rehab.
So all is well on the mountain and we still feel very blessed. We look forward to a good year in 2013 and wish all of you a Happy New Year!
Prayer Reqeusts for January, 2013
For Willie Harper (Joliet, Illinois) who is having stomach problems.
For Cody Campbell (Florence, Arizona) who has been dealing with a serious throat infection. He also has a hernia problem not being treated.
For Jacob Cota (Prescott, Arizona) who has back problems (Sciatica nerve).
For Bob McDaniel (Rodney’s Dad) who has been in and out of the hospital several times the past month. He has been diagnosed with Horton’s disease and is struggling to become stable.
For Paul Jones (Pontiac, Illinois) who wants to be united with a loved one.
For Frederick Gray (McAlester, Oklahoma), that he is transferred soon.
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for health. Also, William just lost two close family members.
For Joseph Runge’s (Centralia, IL.) Mother, Mavis Runge. She recently suffered a stroke due to blockage in her carotid artery (same situation as Brian).
For Willie Clark (Lubbock, TX) who is being treated for cancer and should be released from the hospital soon.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who has to have another heart surgery.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who has diabetes. His feet hurt.
For Michael Small’s step-mother Suzanne (Illinois) who is being treated for vision problems.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for a lower custody level.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). He is awaiting another court ruling.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread, especially for Jay.
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