When we doubt God’s Word or when we fear others more than we fear God, we fall into a world of dangers. One of the dangers is that fear and doubt affects how we think––how we think of ourselves, how we think of God and how we think of others.
How do you think about your identity? Do you let fear and doubt shape who you are, what you believe, the decisions you make? Or do you trust God for your thinking and your decisions?
In 1 Samuel 27-28, both David and Saul go awry. It starts with fear and doubt and goes down hill from there. In 1 Samuel chapters 27-28, both David and Saul experienced the dangers of giving in to fear and doubt instead of trusting in God. We can avoid the dangers of giving in to fear and doubt by trusting in God.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageGood morning church and Happy Memorial Day weekend. We’re happy to be with you this morning! We are continuing our series through the book of First Samuel. We began this series last Spring. We went through the first fifteen chapters last year, and we picked up at chapter 16 earlier this year. We’ve worked our way up to 1 Samuel 27 and 28 today. That’s where we’ll be studying today.
In 1 Samuel 27 and 28, both David and Saul give in to fear and doubt. Both of these men experience what we’ve entitled, “The Dangers of Fear and Doubt.” When you give into fear and doubt, instead of trusting God, you’ll often encounter these dangers. We have learned this: when we fear other people more than we fear God or when we doubt God’s word, it will often result in us making bad decisions or thinking wrongly about things.
We’ll think wrongly, first of all, about ourselves, because fear and doubt becomes our motive. We’ll think wrongly about someone else or even about God. As you consider thinking wrongly about yourself, what you’re dealing with is your own identity. The question that we ask is, Who am I?
I was reading a book recently by Tim Keller; it’s his book, “Making Sense of God.” In this book, Keller describes three paths towards discovering your identity; three ways that people answer the question, Who am I? (1) Some look outward for identity: “These are the traditional people who look to their duty and role in the community to find a self. You are your duties, and your self-worth depends on the honor that is bestowed upon you by your community for discharging them.” Many from the World War II generation, what’s been called the G. I. Generation, or the greatest generation, valued honor and self sacrifice. They got their meaning from community and from those around them, so they looked outward. The families around them, the church around them and the country around them gave them their identity. That’s the traditional way; the outward view . (2) Some look inward. “You are your individual dreams and desires, and your self-worth depends on the dignity you bestow on yourself, because you have asserted your dreams and desires regardless of the opposition you may have had from the community. They are no freer than members of traditional society, for they must take “their happiness, and even their own selves, at the quotation of the day.” This is the new way to answer the question, Who am I? We look on the inside, we look at our own dreams, desires and our own inner voice and we say, Well, that’s who I am. Some would call this the Disney generation or, as I’ve termed, the Elsa Generation, the new Generation. We sing the song, “Let it go.” Notice some of the lyrics in the song, “Let it go:” “It’s time to see what I can do to test the limits and break through. No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free.” And so, this person says, I’m not going to let the outward define who I am. I’m going to look inside. I’m going to look in the mirror. I’m going to define my own identity. (3) Some few look upward. “What if we were created by a personal God and given a personal mission and calling? Then neither does the individual take precedence over the group (which can lead to social fragmentation), nor does the community take precedence over the individual (which can lead to oppression). What matters is not what society says about me, nor what I think of myself, but what God does.” This third path is the one that very few choose. It’s a narrow path. It’s the upward path to look upward to God and say, Who am I? You tell me who I am; You made me. I believe this to be the superior path to knowing who you are, to discovering the answer to the question, Who am I?
If you go with the outward path only, the traditional path, often you’ll suffer oppression. Everybody wants you to look just like everybody else and there’s no room for diversity. If you go with the inward path, you go to even worse brokenness and disunity and you create divided families, divided houses and divided nations. You go on a road to destruction. Both of these paths lead to bad results.
The best way to find your identity, I’m convinced, is to find it in God. Fear and doubt have a lot to do with which path you’ll choose because, if you’re making your decisions in life based on who or what you’re afraid of and what you believe about God, it will determine a lot about which path you’ll take.
In these two chapters, both David and Saul go awry. David’s been doing really well up to chapter 27, but Saul has already been on the wrong path and he just takes it farther on down the road. In these two chapters, they will experience the dangers of giving into fear and doubt instead of trusting God. I believe today we can avoid these dangers that come from fear and doubt by trusting in God.
As we look at the text, we will be looking at three dangers that come out of having doubt and fear as the way we live our lives rather than trusting God. Let’s look at these two chapters. Take note in chapter 27, that it might be the only chapter in first Samuel that no mention of the Lord God is named. You’ll see David going on his own. Chapter 28 is more about Saul and we’ll see where his road leads.
1 Samuel 27-28 (ESV) 27:1 “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. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” 2 So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And Davidlived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. 4 And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. 5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” 6 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months. 8 Now for life.” 3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. 4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. (Commentary – Pastor Gary Combs: We have two heart responses. Here we have David, in verse one of chapter 27, “David said in his heart.” Then, in verse five of 28, we have, “When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and in his heart trembled greatly.” Both of these I would describe as responses of fear and doubt.) 6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. (Commentary – Pastor Gary Combs: You will remember that the Urim is located in a pocket in the Ephod of the high priest, which was the breastplate that had 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Judah on it. There was a pocket that had the Urim and Thummim, which were a means for the high priest to inquire of the Lord. But, there’s a reason that Saul can’t inquire of the Lord using that. He doesn’t have it anymore. All of the prophets and all the priests have gone over to David because Saul had killed the priests. One priest had escaped and he took the food with them.) 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.” (Commentary – Pastor Gary Combs: Remember he had sent him all the way in obedience to the Torah, to the mosaic law. He put them all out. So now, he’s going to have to go outside of Israel to get to a medium. This is how far Saul has fallen. That name, “En-dor,” has been used in modern times. It was used by the T.V. series, “Bewitched,” to name the mother of Samantha. Her name was “Endora.” I was told, after the first service, that the name of the planet in Star Wars where the “ewoks” lived was Endor. I would say that’s kind of a mark of our modern day that we’ve fallen into the same path that Saul did.) 8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, ”Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” 9 The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” 10 But Saul swore to her by the LORD, (Commentary – Pastor Gary Combs: That’s the only way he talks to the Lord, by the way, is only when he’s swearing. It’s the only time he ever uses God’s name.) “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” 11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” 13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” 14 He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage. (Commentary – Pastor Gary Combs: This is in the bible. You can’t get bored reading the bible. This is amazing stuff.) 15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.”16 And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” 20 Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. 21 And the woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Behold, your servant has obeyed you. I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to what you have said to me. 22 Now therefore, you also obey your servant. Let me set a morsel of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.” 23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he listened to their words. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. 24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it, 25 and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.” This is God’s word. Amen.
There are three dangers of fear and doubt we can avoid by trusting in God. This is an unusual sermon. It’s an unusual passage; as I said, chapters 27 and 28 have no mention of God. The only mention of the Lord in the right respect is when this man, Samuel, is raised up from the dead to speak. Often, when we read scripture, it’s either something that we can follow or something we can avoid. As I’m looking at these two chapters, it looks more like something to avoid. How do we avoid these dangers that doubt and fear cause?
Three dangers of fear and doubt we can avoid by trusting in God: 1. Faulty thinking. We can avoid faulty thinking by trusting in God rather than giving in to fear and doubt. Both David and Saul gave in to fear and doubt. Verse one of chapter 27 said, “Then David said in his heart.” In other words, he said to himself, Self, what are we going to do? I’ve got a good idea; Let’s get out of here! That’s what self will almost always say, Run away! Notice who he’s not talking to; he’s not talking to God. Who else is he not talking to? He is not talking to his fellow soldiers. He is not talking to his wife, Abigail, who preached that great sermon to him a couple of chapters ago, saying, You will be king and there’s no way Saul is going to stop you.
David is going against the council of others and going his own way. Doubt has so clouded his thinking that he can’t remember who he is and he can’t remember what God has said about him. To be fair to David, he’s been on the run from King Saul, living in caves, in mountains and in the wilderness for some seven or eight years now. Let’s give David some grace. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. When you get tired or you get sick, you feel like you’re on your own. Everybody can have a “Monday morning,” right? You can have a “Monday morning” when you say, “I quit.” You can have a “Monday morning” when you say, like David did, Saul is going to kill me; I’m going to die. Do you ever talk to yourself like that, just completely demolishing yourself, just looking in the mirror and calling yourself names? You are a loser. There’s no way you can ever do that. That’s what David is doing. He doubts what God has said. He doubts what Samuel the prophet said to him. He doubts what Abigail, his wife, has said to him. He doubts what his best friend, Jonathan, the crown prince, has said about him. He doubts even the enemy, Saul, who has said, You will succeed one day. You’ll be king. David even doubts his own self, because on better days he preached a better sermon about what God’s going to do for him.
On this day, he’s got faulty thinking. Have you ever had that, where you just lie to yourself. “Self talk” is a thing that you really have to watch out for; it usually lends itself to worry. That’s what worry is; it’s self talk,it’s sinful. Jesus said, “Do not worry.” This kind of “self talk” is not so much worry as it is doubt. I doubt God. Therefore, I’m going to take it into my own hands. I’m going to run away. That’s what David does now.
What about Saul? If we look at verse five of chapter 28, we see how Saul feels in his heart. “His heart trembled greatly,” it says in verse five. He’d always struggled with fear and doubt his whole life. If you read about King Saul from the first time he was called, when it was time for Samuel to introduce him, Samuel couldn’t find him because he was fearfully hiding among the baggage. It says that he buried himself in the baggage. He was afraid of others. Every time Saul did something wrong, Samuel would say to him, Why didn’t you obey God’s word? Saul would say to Samuel, I was afraid of the people. He was a people pleaser and his fear turned into paranoia over time. He feared David when he should have been fearing God. He feared people when he should have been fearing God. Saul had gotten into a worse condition; he sees the enemy and he’s afraid. The bible warns us that when we don’t honor God, it leads to faulty thinking. Look at what it says in Romans 1:21 (ESV) “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” You see our minds are affected when we don’t honor God. When we, instead, respond to fear and doubt and we doubt God and we doubt His calling, it affects the way we think, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can give our thought life to God.
What does that look like? In the book of Romans, chapter 12, it says this, Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) 1 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable . This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If you want to know God’s will, you will need to get a new way of thinking. How do you do that? Give your mind, your thought life and your body to the Lord. Say, Come and live in me. I want to think Your thoughts rather than my thoughts. I want You to rewrite my “hard drive.”
That word, “transform,” is from the greek word where we get the word “metamorphosis.” I want you to completely change my way of thinking so that I think the thoughts that you want me to think. I want to think like you, Lord. The mantra of computer programmers is described by the acronym, GIGo; “garbage in, garbage out.” Computers are only as smart as the stuff you put in them. If you make a mistake, it makes a mistake. That’s a good mantra to remember for our minds, believers; What are you putting in your head? Is it self talk? Is it the talk of your peers or are you putting God’s word in your thinking, in your mind? And so, it’s important that we have our thinking transformed. We don’t have to let fear and doubt shape our thinking. Will you give your thought life, your mind and your way of thinking to God?
Here’s the second danger:
2. Faulty decisions.
Here’s the second danger; faulty decisions. One follows the other. If you have faulty thoughts, you’ll make faulty decisions based on that way of thinking. Both David and Saul are letting fear and doubt affect their thinking, which also affects their decisions.
David says in verse one, I I think it would be good if I escaped to the land of the Philistines. I mean, think about it for a second. You killed their champion Goliath, right? So that’s the perfect place to go. Yeah. To the city of Gath, where Goliath of Gath was from. I don’t know what David is thinking, but that’s what he does because he’s thinking that that’s the last place Saul will look for him. This must be what he’s thinking. The worrisome thing is, he’s been there before; remember, right after Saul threatened his life, David ran away. David’s wife, Michal, let him down out of the window and disguised the bed. She put some things in the bed to make the people think he was still asleep. David escaped; the first place he fled to was Gath, to “Achish, king of Gath.” That “top 10” song was still on Jerusalem radio. That song where Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his tens of thousands. (By the way, my son, Stephen, has been working on that song ever since. I made fun of that song a few weeks ago. He’s got this heavy metal sound. I don’t know the song , but everybody was singing it.
And so, King Achish asks, Aren’t you Saul’s champion who killed Goliath? David started seeing how it’s going the wrong way. He let saliva run down his mouth and acted like a madman; he wrote funny things on the gate and ran away.
Now, David is back at Gath again. I can’t follow his thinking, but listen, that’s how it works. When you have faulty thinking, it leads to faulty decisions. He goes back and the king of Achish accepts him this time. David is different this time. He’s been on the run for seven or eight years. He’s like a viking. He’s like a rebel. They’ve heard that David has become a pain for Saul, plus, he doesn’t show up by himself. This time, he shows up with 600 warriors who’ve been living in the wilderness and all of their wives and children. Around 2000 people show up in Gath. King Achish accepts David. David asks, Can I move to the country? Do you have a place in the country where I can stay? King Achish gives him Ziklag. You see, David’s a country boy. I don’t know if we’ve got any country boys in the house, but country boys just don’t like it in the city. David wanted to live in the country.
When we start to talk about place names, what do we have to do? We have to put a map up. Let’s put the map up. David’s been over here in the wilderness of Judah. He’s been living for seven or eight years in this area, in the desert around him. He has been living in caves and living in the wilderness, but he says, I’ve had it.” And so, he heads up to Gath to visit with King Achish and asks for some land in the country. King Achish gives him Ziklag.
David and his crowd move to Ziklag. So this is where he’s at, this whole area right here belongs to the Philistines. It’s under their control. Saul stops trying to chase after David. Now, David was right about one thing; Saul stops chasing him. He has a season of peace from Saul, but it’s not a pretty season. It’s a season of deception, where he’s constantly lying to King Achish. David is having to lie. He’s gotten himself into a mess. This is where the faulty decision has led him now.
Where has it led King Saul? King Saul’s fear in his heart has caused him to go against God’s word. He knows God’s word, because he had actually done a good job of following this command and he had removed and kicked out all the mediums and all the necromancers. And so, he was going to have to leave the nation of Israel to find one.
A necromancer, as I mentioned before, is someone who communes with the dead. A medium is someone who is between the physical world and the spiritual world, and their claim is that they can go back and forth between the two. Saul has kicked them all out in obedience to the Mosaic law. Now though, he really doesn’t care that much about God’s law. He only cares for that which works for him. He says, Well, God won’t speak to me. Remember that said that God wouldn’t speak to him? I think it’s in verse six of chapter 28. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him. Well, no wonder God didn’t answer him. Saul had killed all of the priests, except for one who ran to David with the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate. He killed prophets and ran off prophets . He didn’t have anybody else to talk to him. And even if he did, he’s already gotten this stigma of when God tells him to do something, he does the opposite. But on this day, it says, he’s inquiring of the Lord. But then he says, Well, if you won’t speak to me, I’ll just take it in my own hands and I’ll go to a witch.
Saul goes to the witch of En-Dor, he goes to a medium, a necromancer, to bring up Samuel because he’s thinking, You know, Samuel always told me the truth. I’m gonna wake him up, bring him up. I know what you’re thinking, Did this really happen? Well, apparently so, because of the way this story falls. Let’s look at a couple of details.
This woman did not want to do this because she knew that maybe they were trying to trick her. She had suspicions about it. Here’s the other thing; sometimes a medium or someone who claims to be able to do this is just a charlatan. They’re just doing it for money. They’re going to “rip you off.” They have a guy in the back, shaking chains, wiggling tables and stuff. They are just going to try to trick you. I think, maybe, that was normally what she did. Now, why do you think that, Gary? It is because whenever Samuel comes up, it scares her to death. Maybe, that’s the first time this has ever happened.
Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up?” in verse 11. Saul said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” We don’t read that she said incantations. We don’t read that she rubbed any crystal balls. The next verse is when the woman saw Samuel. She cried, “Samuel,” with a loud voice, like it scared her.
Now, why did this happen if God is not for it, if He has given us commands against it? I think, in spite of everything, God still wanted to give a word to solve even the way Saul was doing it, which was wrong, wrong, wrong. He brings Samuel up and scares the woman to death. She immediately recognizes Samuel and she says some weird stuff. “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” What did he look like? He looked like an old man wrapped in a robe. Saul said, “That’s him” and he fell flat on his face on the ground. Samuel says, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” This is some spooky bible stuff here. So, Saul says, “I’m in great distress, for the Philistines are working against me and God has turned against me.Tell me what to do. What should I do?” Do you know what Samuel does? This is another reason I’m convinced that this really is Samuel because he reminds Saul of what he told him when he was alive. He says, “You didn’t do what you were commanded to do with the Amalekites. Instead, you feared people instead of God and God has turned against you and given your crown to David.” Samuel was telling Saul the same stuff that he already knew from God’s word. He already knew this.
But then, Samuel tells him something new, “Within 24 hours, , you and your sons will join me, you’ll be dead.” When Saul hears this, he falls flat on his face. I think he suspected it already, but now, Samuel confirms it. And now, Samuels is gone.
Now, I want to say something here, that’s really kind of a “sidebar.” Can we add a “sidebar” to my sermon? Let me just show you a map first because I can’t resist whenever I get a chance to show you a map.
Here’s where Saul lives. He lives in Gibeah, but he has to go all the way out of his land. He has to go into a land that’s out of the control of Israel, up to Endor. He goes all the way up here. The next day, he will be in a battle at Mount Gilboa; here’s where all the Philistines are coming from. The five kings are from Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza. These are the five kings of the Philistines. They all come up here and this is where the battle will take place. Not this week, but it’s coming. That’s how far Saul travels, to go see this witch at Endor.
Now here’s the sidebar that I wanted to bring out. It’s wrong for believers to look in these kinds of places for God’s will in mediums, spiritualists, horoscopes, ouija boards, etc. You fill in the blank. These are pagan methods that God has forbidden we use. Is it because he doesn’t want us to possibly lose money? Are they fake or are they real? They are mostly fake but some are real. The fake ones are just charlatans to “rip you off.” That’s the majority. It shows something about you; it certainly shows something about Saul. It shows that fear and doubt was ruling his heart, not God. Saul was willing to do anything and he got off track. What about the ones that are real? How are they real? I believe that they’re demonically inspired or possessed, that there are real fallen angels that the bible refers to as demons. They are enemies of God and they can often give false powers that make it look like something real. It’s dangerous to mess around with this and it’s forbidden.
God’s word says this in Leviticus 19:31 (ESV) “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I amthe Lord your God.” So, don’t mess around with that stuff. Don’t do it, believer, whether it’s fake or real. If it’s real, you definitely don’t want to be near it.
You might be thinking, Well, Gary, what does the New Testament say about it? Here’s something that Paul said to the church at Corinth. He said, 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 (NLT) 19 “What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? 20 No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons.” These idols are to these false gods, like the gods of the Romans and the Greeks, whatever their names were going by at the time, Odin or Thor or whatever. Paul says, I’m not saying they are real. That’s not why I’m telling you not to go to these idols and to worship there. It’s not because they’re real gods. They’re not. It’s because they might be demonic and I don’t want you messing around with that. So, that’s my sidebar from the Old and the New Testament.
Saul knew better and he went there anyway. But even out of God’s grace, He still gives him a true word. That doesn’t mean it’s a method you should use but God was still speaking.
I was speaking to a Christian recently who spoke of how they longed to hear from God and to know His will. I often have someone come to me and say, Will you pray with me? I need to know God’s will for my life… I have a hard time discerning if God is speaking or not. I want Him to speak to me. I have a hard time discerning if He is. I asked him, Do you read the bible? Do you have a habit of reading the bible ? He said, No, I have a hard time reading the bible.I don’t really read the bible. He found it odd that the two were connected, that a failure to read what God had already said and to discern that was somehow impacting their ability to discern God’s voice when He spoke.
Here’s the thing, God will never tell you to do something contrary to His written word. If you will read God’s word, He will often tell you what to do and He will often use His word to tell you what to do. Some people ask me, How much should I read and how often? Well, I think it’s a good way to start every day by reading God’s word. Read until God speaks. If you are just starting out, sometimes you may read one verse and “boom.” Okay, you don’t need to read anything else. You need to probably journal that a little bit and pray that and walk that out today. Sometimes you might have to read a chapter or two, but read until God speaks. God still speaks and He speaks through his written word. And He also speaks through his living word, which is the spirit of Christ in us. And so, He still speaks.
It says in James 1:5-8 (ESV) 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Believe, read God’s word and ask God to speak to you.
I have often been able to make important decisions where I would ask God to tell me what to do. I would hear something. You may be wondering what that sounded like. Well, it sounded like it was my voice in my head answering and I would ask, Is that You, God? Is that You talking to me God or is that me talking to myself? Often for me, what He’ll do as I say, God, is that You? I’ll go read the word and He’ll confirm it in His word. That’s just the way my brain works. And when I read God’s word, it points to the fact that what He told me is true. Sometimes I’ll hear God calling me to do something and then like, within 24 hours or the next day, someone will just randomly say something to me that answers the question I was praying about. And so, often God will speak to me through others. But more often than not, it’s through His word.
If you want to know what the bible says, if you lack wisdom, ask God. Ask God. God still speaks well.
Here’s the third danger:
3. Faulty results.
We’ve said faulty thinking and faulty decisions, which lead to faulty results. Faulty thinking leads to faulty decisions and faulty decisions lead to faulty results in both of these guys. David and Saul got themselves in a mess. David’s been living in a foreign land for 16 months In verse seven of chapter 27, “a year and four months.” David has brought all of his people with him. People often say, Well, I’m not hurting anybody. I’m not affecting anybody else. David’s taking 2000 people over there with him. All of them are living away from God. All of them are living in a foreign land. You see, we often lie to ourselves when in fact we’re dragging our families with us. Be careful about that kind of lie.
David is there and he’s there much longer than he probably thought he would be. And he’s making raids against these people and then lying about it.
I’m going to pop the map up, just quickly, one more time. Here is Ziklag. David is going down and he’s hitting the southern areas. It’s this group right here, which are the old enemies from Moses and Joshua’s time. Strangely enough, God had told Saul to handle the Amalekites and he didn’t do it. But, here’s David; he’s like a second Joshua, he’s actually doing what God had commanded to be done. He’s taking these areas on. But then, when he reports to the King of Achish, who asks, So where have you been raiding lately? Where have you been plundering lately? David goes over here with the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites. The Kenites are descendants of Moses’ father in law. He was a Kenite.
David says, I’m down here in the Negev, in this Israeli area. Achish says, Man, that’s good. You’re becoming a stench to those Israelites. You’re going to be my bodyguard now. The thing is, David’s lying. He’s doing the right thing, in a way, but he’s lying about it. And so, now, he has gotten himself, as I mentioned before in chapter 28, in a cliffhanger. David is going to actually fight against his own people. It looks like he’s being pulled into a situation here.
What’s he going to do? Like a beautifully written piece of literature, a cliffhanger, we’ll find out what David does. David’s in a mess. He has gone “from the pot to the frying pan.” What about Saul? Well, Saul has completely given up hope. He has fallen on his face. He won’t eat. Is it too late? I don’t think it’s ever too late. But Saul really needs to repent. He needs to take off his crown because, apparently, his crown is more important to him than his soul. He needs to take it off and say, David, you’re the king. Just let me live my old age out serving God. But no, we never hear that from Saul. We never hear it. He never repents; he loses hope. He’s like a dead man walking, just waiting for his life to end. He falls on his face. They’re beginning to reap what they sowed.
In Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV) 7 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. David stayed in the wilderness for 16 months. David could have stayed in the wilderness 16 more months and avoided this “quagmire.” God had cared for him for seven or eight years. He has lost hope and he goes over to the enemy. Now, he’s in a difficult situation. And as the rest of first Samuel unfolds, you’ll see even more dangerous results come out of that faulty thinking, faulty deciding. David puts a lot at risk, but God still protects him.
Some of us are here today. You would admit that you probably should have died several times over because of your faulty thinking and faulty decisions. Someday we’ll get to heaven and there will be an angel who walks up and says, You wore me out trying to keep you alive. That’s David; David’s not doing the right things, but God is still protecting him. David’s going through a bad season.
Here’s something that Elizabeth Elliott said that’s worth writing down , “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” On that Monday, when you’re talking nonsense to yourself, don’t make any important decisions.
In a couple of weeks, I’m getting ready to have my other knee replaced. I will be “the bionic man” soon, so try to keep up with this old feller. One of the things that the doctor tells you before you leave as they’re putting you on some medication and they make you sign something that says that you won’t operate any heavy machinery or make any important decisions. I think on a day like David was having, when he was talking nonsense to himself, he should have stayed away from heavy machinery and making decisions. He should have taken a break from life. Some of us just can’t seem to help ourselves. We dig up in doubt what we planted in faith and we forget what God has said to us.
The ultimate results for David and Saul are yet to be seen. We’ll see them in later chapters, but David is definitely going to need God’s grace to get him out of this pickle. Will Saul ever turn back to God?
Will you turn to God? That’s the best question. We’ll find out what happens to David and Saul, but what’s going to happen with you? Will you turn your life over to God? Give Him your life, so that He gives you a new way to think, a new way to to decide who you are and what you will do with your life. Are you letting fear and doubt make your decisions for you? Are you planning to make a decision right now because of fear and doubt?
It says in first, Samuel chapter four, that God sent Himself into exile and the Ark of the Covenant went away with the Philistines. Do you remember that from last Spring? Now, David has exiled himself. Nobody told him to go to the enemy. He exiled himself in a foreign land, yet God protected him.
There is one Who is called the Son of David. His name is Jesus, the Christ, Who exiled Himself from heaven, He came down to this earth and He exiled Himself on the cross by taking our sins upon Himself. He cried out to his Father in heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And so, He took our exile so that we could come home. See all of this, as messy as it is, still points to Jesus. He became exiled, taking on our sin, our suffering, our death, our separation from God, so that we could become His righteousness, so that we could become sons and daughters of God, so that we could receive eternal life. He exiled himself, that we might come home.
Will you come home? Will you come home and give your life to Jesus? That’s what these two chapters are ultimately about, that we can trust Jesus to protect us from the dangers of fear and doubt.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for Your word. We thank you, even for a difficult word, like the one we’ve read today. I pray for the one that has never given their life to Jesus. Is it you my friend? Would you do it today? You can do it right in your seat. Maybe you’re watching from home or online. You can do it right where you are. It’s a matter of talking to God and praying like this, you can pray along with me right now, if it’s your heart’s desire. Dear Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’ve been living according to my own thinking, but today I give my life to You. I believe You died on the cross for my sins. I believe that You were raised from the grave and that You live today. Come and live in me. Forgive me of my sin and make me the person You want me to be. I want to be a child of God. I want to think the thoughts You would have me think and do the things You would have me do. I give You my life as Lord and Savior. If you’re praying that prayer, believing, He will save you. Others are here today and you believe in Jesus, but you’re making some decisions right now out of fear and doubt. Would you turn back to Him? Would you give Him that decision and say, I’m not going to listen to my own voice. I’m not gonna listen to others. I’m gonna listen to You, Lord. I’m going to do what You would have me do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.