Thursday, November 20, 2008

David, the christ, Shows us Jesus, the Christ

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Study 18 --- 1 Samuel 21:10-22:23

The way to read the biblical material about David is to realize that he is the Lord’s anointed or christ. As the christ, David points to Jesus who is the Christ.

Jesus tells us that the Scriptures are about him! The Scriptures are not about America, as if America was God’s covenant nation. The Scriptures are not about how to be happy and prosperous in this life (although knowing God will lead to true and ultimate happiness). The Scriptures are not about becoming wealthy, (although they can bring us true riches). No, Jesus tells us the Scriptures are about him. For example, in Luke 24:25-27, Jesus explains the Old Testament to his very dull disciples: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Part of Christian faithfulness is to learn to read the Bible the way Jesus and his apostles taught us to read it. The Old Testament, says Jesus, is about the Christ’s suffering and glory. “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” says Jesus.

Sometimes we hear that the Jewish people at the time of Jesus were not to be faulted for failing to recognize him as the Christ, since they were expecting to see his glory and not his suffering. But if they would have paid close attention to their own Scriptures, they would have expected the Christ to follow the pattern of David, the christ. The fact is, David suffered before he entered his glory, so it was quite reasonable to assume that the Christ would follow the same pattern.

When we see in David this pattern of suffering and then glory as the christ, then this portion of 1 Samuel shows us much about Jesus, who is the Christ. Here are a few things we can learn about our Lord and Christ:

  • Christ is hated by the world. Just as David was opposed in Israel by Saul and his kingdom, and by Achish the king of Gentile Gath, so the world hates Jesus. This opposition by the world is seen most clearly at the cross, where the Jews and the Gentile Romans conspired to put Jesus to death.

    The apostle John defines the world, as we are using it here, as unregenerate humanity that has not yet bowed the knee to Christ. The world is characterized by pride and an idolatrous love of power, possessions, and pleasure. John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). Christ’s people share the Father’s love for his Son, but the world is characterized by a different love.

  • Christ is joined by those who love him and are willing to forsake the world. David was joined by a ragtag group of followers according to 1 Samuel 221-2: “David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”

    How similar this group is to the way Christ’s people are described in 1 Corinthians 1:

    "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

    The people who joined David, the christ, were people who were willing to forsake Saul’s kingdom with all its advantages. Saul and his kingdom offered some advantages, which he spelled out in 1 Samuel 22:7: “Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.” Who would you rather have been with in 1 Samuel 22: Saul or David?

    Jesus, himself, said it was difficult for the rich to enter his kingdom. When the world offers so many temporal advantages, it is difficult to join oneself to Christ and to share in his suffering. For “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 4:12, but see 10-11 also).

    Why then should we throw in our lot with Jesus Christ, when the world hates him and disadvantages his followers? There are many answers. For one, we love him. We also know that he will ultimately win and his kingdom will last forever.

  • Finally, notice the difference in character between the world and Christ. In 1 Samuel 22, Saul foreshadows the antichrist. The word antichrist refers to one who is opposed to Christ. Saul was opposed to David the christ. The world is opposed to the Christ.
    Saul has shown his hatred and venom by his six attempts on David’s life in previous chapters. He has also shown that he hates those who are loyal to the christ, i.e., David. He tried to murder Jonathan, and in this chapter he murders Ahimelech, along with all the priests of Nob and their families. Ironically, Saul, who refused to completely destroy Amalek, now is willing to completely destroy Israel!

    Unlike the destructive character of the world in its hatred toward the Lord and his anointed, however, notice how tenderly David cares for his family and Ahimelech. David’s servant-like character is entirely different than that of Saul. What kind of king would you rather serve, David or Saul? Christ or Satan?

I am sure that this brief look at David, the christ, and Jesus, the Christ, the nature of the world, and the insignificance of Christ’s ragtag followers, has been difficult to read. We in America especially, want the church to be relevant and powerful. We want to be part of something culturally significant. We do not want to be despised and hated. We want the advantages the world offers in terms of position, power, and possessions.

And so, the reality of Scripture comes to us as a shock. How can these things be? We don’t want to believe Jesus is really hated by the world. We don’t want to believe the church is made up of mostly people who are not at all the shakers and movers of society. We don’t want to believe that we may have to suffer if we truly follow Christ.

We are a bit like Jonathan in chapter 20, who cannot bring himself to believe his father is seeking the life of David. Similarly, so many of us cannot seem to bring ourselves to see the reality of the world’s hatred of Christ and his people, nor that Christians are called to be conformed to their Lord’s suffering.

If you have trouble believing these things, but you have truly committed your life to Christ, then your experience will soon show you the reality of these things. Like Jonathan, when the spear zips by your ear, then you will experience a reality check.

But I would also urge you to look to the cross, for it is at the cross that our spiritual eyesight is restored. At the cross, as we see the world conspire against God’s anointed one, the Christ, we see its true nature. But at the cross we also see God’s true nature. For we see the love of the triune God, as the Father gives us his beloved Son, and the Son offers himself in love to the Father and us, as an atonement for our sins. The world’s hatred is dark and foreboding, but God’s love is bright, radiant, and full of hope. Let us dwell in that love, which is so much better than the hatred of the world.

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