Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two Ways to Live

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David as God’s Anointed King Points to Jesus as God’s Anointed King

David was the Lord’s anointed (the Hebrew word is Messiah, which is Christ or christos in Greek). David was God’s chosen king. To oppose David was to oppose the Lord, for the Lord chose David as his anointed king.

David points us to Jesus, who is the Christ, the Lord’s true, anointed king, whom the Father has chosen and exalted to his right hand as king over all. To oppose Jesus, God’s chosen king --- the Christ, is to oppose God himself.

Jonathan and Saul: Two Contrasting Responses to the Lord and his Anointed King

In our passage from 1 Samuel we see a vivid contrast between Jonathan, the crown prince, and king Saul, Jonathan’s father. Both men were threatened by David with the loss of the kingdom. But the two men handled this threatened loss in completely different ways. Saul fought against the Lord and his anointed or Christ, but Jonathan united himself to David as God's anointed and accepted his will as good and perfect. We read in 18:1 that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”

In 1 Samuel 18:4 we see what the bond between Jonathan and David involved: “And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” By giving David his royal robe, Jonathan signified his acceptance of the Lord’s choice of David as king. At great cost to himself and his own chance to be king, Jonathan abdicated the throne to join himself to David, God’s anointed king (compare Jesus' words in Matthew 16:24: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.").

In 1 Samuel the “robe” becomes a symbol of the kingdom. We see this most notably when Saul tears Samuel’s robe: “As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you’” (1 Samuel 15:27-28). We also see the robe as a symbol of the kingdom later in 1 Samuel 24:4, 11. When Jonathan strips himself of his robe and gives it to David, it is a remarkable act of self-denial. Jonathan chose to side with the Lord and his anointed despite his loss of his own kingdom.

Saul did just the opposite. Saul opposed the Lord and his anointed one throughout our passage. By doing so he rejected the Lord and the Lord’s Christ. But when you reject the Lord’s anointed one, you reject the Lord himself.

Saul’s stubborn refusal to accept the Lord’s will was judged by the Lord by confirming Saul’s stubbornness with more stubbornness. This is what the Lord does with people who reject him---he gives them over to their sinful ways. This is the meaning of the Lord sending an evil spirit upon Saul. It is the same truth expressed in Romans 1. For example, verse 28: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

Two Ways to Live

There are really only two ways for human beings to live, and this is illustrated by Saul and Jonathan. The reality in this world is that God has chosen his king, and his king is Jesus Christ. After Jesus made for purification of sins at the cross, God raised him up, exalted him to his right hand, and gave him dominion over all things. We can accept this reality and join ourselves in love to Christ, according to the pattern of Jonathan. Or, we can deny this reality and fight against the Father and the Son, according to the pattern of Saul.

Jonathan’s way of faith and love is far better. Jonathan loved David because of David’s exploits on behalf of the Lord and his people. In a similar way, we ought to love Jesus Christ who has defeated the greatest enemy of the human race, namely, death and hell. Why shouldn’t we love Jesus who embodies the goodness and grace of God?

But if we go Saul’s way of fear and hate, not only will we live in irrational hatred and fear of Jesus Christ (and his people), but we will also fail in our attempt to overturn his kingdom as we place our wills (our little kingdoms) ahead of God’s. For Saul simply could not defeat David no matter what he tried, for he was fighting against the King.

No One Defeats God and His Anointed King

Time and again David excaped Sau's malevolent plans. The last escape of David from Saul in our text is full of symbolic import. We see Saul compelled by God’s Spirit to strip off his royal robes before David (19:22-24). Saul did not acknowledge God and his anointed king gladly as did Jonathan, for his purpose was to kill David. But the Spirit compelled Saul to bend the knee as he strips off his royal garb before David.

This is a picture of what will happen to everyone who refuses to gladly submit to Jesus Christ in this life. One day those who have rejected Christ will be forced to bow the knee to Jesus. But then it will be too late to enter into the kingdom of God. Philippians 2:9-11 expresses this future reality and the futility of resisting Jesus Christ’s lordship in our lives:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

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