Dark Days — Part Two

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Facing Absalom’s betrayal, David and his company fled Jerusalem and ascended the Mount of Olives. Alistair Begg explains how David’s suffering and exile anticipate and illuminate the later anguish and steps of Christ. There’s one key difference, though: David’s hardship was a result of his own sin, while Jesus, who never sinned, suffered for our transgressions to reconcile us to God.


The following message by Alistair begg is made available by Truth for life. For more information, visit us online at Truth For life dot org. I’d like to read two passages of scripture, first of all, the third, some And then from the Gospel of Mark and Chapter 14 some three assam of David, when he fled from Absalom, his son. zero Lord! How many are my foes? Many are rising against me. Many are saying of my soul, There is no salvation for him in God. But you, O Lord are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord and he answered me from his holy hill, I laid down and slept. I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around arise O Lord, save me! Oh, my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek. You break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing be upon your people. And then in March chapter 14 and verse 22. And as they were eating, he took bread and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them and said, take this is my body. And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them and the old drink of it. And he said to them, this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God. And when they had sung a hymn they went out to the Mount of Olives and jesus said to them, you will all fall away, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. But after I am raised up I will go before you to galilee, Peter said to him, even though they all fall away, I will not. And jesus said to him truly, I tell you this very night before the rooster Crows twice. You will deny me three times. But peter said emphatically, if I must die with you, I will not deny you. And they all said the same. Amen While I invite you to turn to 2nd Samuel 15 and two follow along with me as we seek to conclude this chapter. I set out this morning with every good intention of being able to get all the way through. But that was a goal unachieved. And so we reached The 22nd verse where David said to it, I go then pass on! And this amazing commitment on the part of this gentleman is then accepted by David. Despite the fact that he has said to him previously twice, why don’t you go back? But the devotion of this man to David and to his cause is so strong that he says, well then you better come with us. And so there you have this wonderful little picture there in verse 22. So it’s I the Gitai passed on with all his men and then notice and all the little ones who were with him. Picture of the company. It’s possible for us to read an event like this and somehow or another only see it as it were in terms of the the main characters in the story. But of course, if we think about it at all, we would realize that it would go all the way across the genders and down through the ages and so on. And that is brought for us there as the people pass on and they’re not going on to a carnival, but they’re passing on in the company of the king toward the wilderness. And such is the circumstance that all of the land wept aloud as all the people passed by. There’s quite a picture there. I’m sure it really means that all of the countryside and the people that were aware of it, not only the ones who were participating in this procession, but all who looked on saw that this is a sorry sight that King David of all people should be leading this company of people. And in this direction. It really is a picture that is duplicated all too frequently and quite sadly in pictures that come to us from around the world. A picture of a sorry progression procession of refugees who for one reason or another are leaving behind their homes and their possessions and they are proceeding hopefully in those occasions to somewhere that will be better for them. There is no such prospect here. These individuals are following their king and you will notice that we’re told that the king crossed the brook Kidron and all the people passed on towards the wilderness. He went across the Kidron valley over the Mount of Olives and into the wilderness. The wilderness. That was made memorable for a number of reasons. When we read the new testament, not least of all, for the story of the good samaritan, remember a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell and fell among thieves who stripped him of his Raymond and departed, leaving him half dead. That is the place that is the wilderness to which these individuals were moving and inhospitable region and a region to which approximately 1000 years later the Lord jesus christ would come and cross that same broke and make his way up the same amount of olives facing humiliation and shame and abandonment and darkness. And surely when the new testament, writers recorded the events concerning christ and his followers, events such as we’ve just read from Mark chapter 14, they could they couldn’t fail to recognize that the story of David, the sufferings of David, both anticipated and illuminated the sufferings of He who is the son of David. It’s all there. And then in verse 24 we are introduced to Abby Arthur and two Zw interestingly and I think helpfully the N. I. V. Translates the 24th verse differently from the ESV. And it actually I read it to you the way the N. I. V. Has it. I found it helpful because I didn’t know what to do with. And Abby after came up came up from where I thought he was in Jerusalem. Um And so the more I looked at it and the more I researched it, I thought that the N. I. V. Probably has it right. This is how the N. I. V. Translates the verse zero dark and it leads with a dog. Not Abby after Zedong was there too. And all the leave ites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They sat down the ark of God and Abby Arthur offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city. So obviously the hebrew there for what translated NESV came up is clearly a variable reading and maybe translated instead of Abby Arthur came up. Abbey Arthur offered sacrifice be that as it may the circumstances are as described for us. The sacrifices that were being offered were understandable. They were routine in some ways we might imagine that Abby Arthur had a kind of traveling kit if you like because they weren’t in their normal location. And he was able to bring with him if you like. A small ability to create fire and grain offerings. And as the people are making their procession on their way, he’s able to offer prayers for their protection. And then of course, you see that they came and they set down the ark of God until the people had all passed out of the city. Now we’re not going to go back and rehearse everything about the ark of God. We have seen that in the past, way back in first Samuel, there were occasions where people really misunderstood what they were doing with the ark of God and what the ark of God represented. It is a precious symbol of the presence of God, but it carries with it as do all religious symbols. The danger of the, of more significance being attached to the symbol than to the reality which is represented by the symbol. Some of you have come out of a kind of religious background that understands exactly that. Because you have been made aware of the fact that things, symbols perhaps crosses perhaps different things to which you attach great significance only had significance insofar as they represented a reality, a reality that was not in them. And it would seem to me and I say it in that way because that’s all I could say. It would seem to me that David in giving this direction here in verse 25 is wanting to make sure that neither he nor any of them run the risk of, if you like, relying on the ark. Now, we can go back and rehearse occasions when they came close to this. He didn’t even want to give the impression of kind of like have arc have God. In fact, Ralph Davis, he wonderfully camps on that and he says, David was concerned that there would be no gimmicks, no superstitions, no rabbit food, religion, no conning God by pilfering the ark. What do you want to make of? That is entirely up to you. But I think probably we’re on track what he’s doing here by saying to them, I want you to take the art back into the city. Is making the point at least visibly that he is not at all concern to depend upon Yahweh is furniture, but he is wanting to depend upon yahweh his favor. And in the danger of that being misinterpreted. I think it is for that reason that he dispatches the art back to the city. I do feel a little sorry for zey doc and abby after. I don’t know if you do too. After all, they have carried this all the way they believe that this is a very excellent thing to be doing. And it’s certainly not a bad thing to be doing. And just when they perhaps would expect that David said, I thank you so much for doing that. That is terrific. I’m so glad you did. He says, could you take that thing and just take it back into the city for me, please. It’s a dreadful letdown. They’re looking at one another saying, Oh dear, this is this. This was not what we thought. Now. Now, if I if I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, it’s not gonna be about whether we have the art here or not. That’s what he’s saying. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back to the city and he will let me see both. It I. E. The ark of the Lord and also his dwelling place. However, if he says, I have no pleasure in you. Behold here, I am let in do to me what seems good to hear? Did you catch You catch an echo there as well. You fast forward to jesus. He went up into the Mount of Olives and into the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, Father, if you’re willing, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not what I want, but I want your will to be done. That’s exactly what David is saying here. If he determines to show me his pleasure, then so be it. But if he doesn’t, then that will be fine as well. Now you will notice too that he is very, very clear and speaks to the priest saying to him, are you not a seer a profit? Don’t you see things? Well, I’m glad you do, because I want you to use your eyes. I want you now to go back to the city in peace with your two sons, thomas and Jonathan. And what he’s actually doing is putting in place a plan of his own Absalon has instituted a subversive plot. And David now is responding with a strategic plan. His strategic strategic plan you will see involves four players, two fathers and two sons. They are going to provide vital information to him and his company. That information, he says, will be conveyed to him verse 28 at the Fords of the wilderness. I will wait for you presumably places in the wilderness where there were crossing points at the River Jordans and I will wait for the information that comes to me there. And so we’re told that Z Dog and Abby Arthur carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem and they remained there. So they go back and David goes up and once again, the scene is described for us. He went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives weeping as he went barefoot and with his head covered and all the people who were with him covered their heads and they went up weeping as they went. What we’re to see here is essentially a funeral cortege. You don’t often see a significant funeral cortege anymore. Some of us are of the vintage where we can remember those scenes as striking as they were, As strange as it may seem to you in my earliest days in conducting funerals in the west of Scotland. The funeral undertaker wearing a top hat and tails, walked for the 1st 250 or 200 yards in front of the funeral procession. Men who happen to be bystanders in the street, nothing to do with the funeral would stop and remove their hats when the Cortez went past. There is something of that that is helpful to a community, There is something lost when that is absent in a culture. And here we ought to look at this and see it in those terms, even though it looks as though it can’t get any worse. It is in exactly this context that the news that we already know about a hit thoughtful is then conveyed to David himself in that context. They came to him and they said a handful is among the conspirators with Absalon. What I thought, huh? All week I’ve had we’ll sing it next week, but I have had it in my mind all this week. What a friend we have in jesus. And you come to the Lionesses. Do do your friends, despise forsake you. Is there trouble anywhere? Well, David, if we could produce them and say, oh yes, absolutely. And surely Sam 41 in verse nine, which I think I mentioned earlier, surely Sam 41 verse nine fits the faithful scene. Even if it is not directly tied to it. Sam 41 9 reads even my close friend in whom I trusted who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me. But you o Lord be gracious to me and raised me up. Did you get the echo again? Well, you should Because Sam 41 is what Jesus is quoting in relationship to judas. Even my friend has risen up against me, the one who ate the bread with me. That’s the context here. But we should never be discouraged. We should take it to the Lord in prayer, Which you will notice at the end of verse 31 is exactly what David does. And David on hearing the news of the abandonment of his chief counsel, I said, oh Lord, please turn the counsel of a hit thoughtful into foolishness. And then just when I hit the fell is fading into the background. Along the road comes hush. I the archive and I wrote in the heading in my notes just for my own help. What a friend we have in hush I because that is exactly what David would be saying. What a friend I have in hush. I now I want you to notice something that we mentioned this morning and just briefly returned to it. David has prayed that the council of a high thankful will be turned to foolishness or will be turned upside down. But that is not the end of the matter because having prayed all of a sudden into his company comes the answer to his prayer. The answer to this prayer comes in. The person of hush I himself, he has asked the Lord for something to happen and you will notice now with the arrival of hush I that he develops a strategy to make it happen. So he doesn’t say, oh Lord, do something with a, with a felt. And that’s the end of the story. No, The sovereignty of God’s dealing with a hip falafel is not in question. In fact, if you turn forward just in chapter 17 and verse 14 there in that section, it says, and Absalom and all the men of Israel said. The counsel of hush I the archive is better than the council of a high thankful for the Lord noticed this had ordained to defeat the good counsel of a healthful so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalon. How did he ordained to do that? Not only does God ordain the end, but he ordains the means to the end and the means to the end in this case involves this man who shy and the strategy that David is able to develop on the strength of that. He determines that hush, I will be a burden to him if he comes along with him. For for what reason? We don’t know. Maybe he was old. Maybe he talked all the time. I don’t know. But if you go on with me, you’ll be a burden to me. That’s talking pretty straight. But if you return to the city and you say this to absalon, then you will defeat, you will defeat for me. The counsel of a high thankful. What would you say? It was God who defeated the counsel of a hit though. Yes. But it was too shy who defeated the council? Of course it was. It’s a double causation, isn’t it? Ultimately is God, but not God in a vacuum. It’s not my, isn’t it? And they came rising against and they said, we’ll break down your wall will destroy your operation. And remember what it says. And we prayed to God and we posted a guard. We prayed to God and we posted a guard. This happens to us all the time. At a very trivial level. I can give you out of my own life. An observation that thrills me every day. I live my life When I was 16 I said, dear God, I want to marry that american girl. And then I wrote letters for seven solid years. She’s my wife, I guess by his appointing, but not in a vacuum. He ordained not only the end, but he ordained the means to the end. The sovereignty of God does not denude the responsibility and the activity of men and women. And that’s why David establishes what is essentially an intelligence network. Ah, He reminds who shy or he lets who should I know that if he goes back and does this incidentally, who who shy does, doesn’t doesn’t hit shuffle on a healthful doesn’t he? Because look look at what is this? If you go back to the city and say I will be your servant. Okay? As I have been your father’s servant in time past. So now I will be your servant. That’s exactly what the health official had done. That’s exactly what he had done. Only he had done it. He meant it. But when when uh huh she goes back and says this, he doesn’t mean it. He’s not going to be a servant. He’s going to be a spy and he’s part of aspiring and the people that are going to be involved with him Are the four fellows that have already been put in place. The two sons are there and a handful. His counsel is going to appear his foolishness. Well, we must finish. Um, at the risk of undue repetition. I think it is perfectly reasonable for us just to conclude in this way, especially in light of following jesus over the brook kid run and up the mount of Olives as we share in communion. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to conclude by noting that the experience of David on this dark day anticipates the experience of jesus that is to come not only geographically, which it does and socially, which it does in terms of friendship, but in different ways, but also with the most vital and significant distinction being this that David’s sufferings. We’re tied to his sin, the sufferings of christ tied to our sins. David suffered in part as a consequence of the things that he had done, christ suffered on account of what we have done. Remember some of you who have a certain vintage remember the old song. You know, there were 90 and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold. And one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of Gold. It’s got that amazing verse that comes somewhere along the line, but none of the ransom ever knew. How deep were the waters crossed. Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through when he found the sheep that was lost. The dark day of the ascent of David brings us to the dark day, which now we look back to in order that we might thank God for forgiveness in order that we might then look forward to a new day when all that he has accomplished on that day will be brought to a magnificent continued reality. And the prophecy with which we began in Isaiah. Chapter two will be evident for us all to see this message was brought to you from truth For life where the learning is for living, learn more about truth for life with Alistair begg visit us online at truth for life dot org

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Alistair Begg is the Senior Pastor of Cleveland's Parkside Church (located in Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio), a position he has had since 1983. He is the...

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