Living on a Prayer — Part One

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Forsaken and opposed by those closest to him, including his traitorous son Absalom, King David sought refuge in the wilderness. But evil pursued him. David was deceived by a trusted servant and then cursed by Shimei, a relative of Saul. As Alistair Begg explains, David understood Shimei’s cursing in light of Nathan’s prophecy that God would discipline David for his sin—though He would also never remove His steadfast love and mercy. God does not offer grace begrudgingly. Rather, it is freely given to all who come to Him in repentance and faith.



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. Let’s read together from 2nd Samuel And from chapter 16 two, Samuel 16. And from verse one when David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba, the servant of amphibious. If met him with a couple of donkeys saddled Bearing 200 loaves of bread, 100 bunches of raisins, 100 of summer fruits and a skin of wine. And the king said to Zebra, Why have you brought these, Ziba? Answered The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink. And the king said, And where is your master’s son, Ziva said to the king. Behold he remains in Jerusalem. For he said, Today, the House of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father. Then the king said to Zieba, behold all that belonged to my exhibition is now yours and Ziba said, I pay homage. Let me ever find favor in your sight. My Lord, the king. When King David came to bajoran, there came out a man of the family of the House of Saul whose name was shimmy I, the son of Ghira. And as he came, he cursed continually and he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left and shimmy I said as he cursed. Get out! Get out, you man of blood, you worthless man. The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the House of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. And the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son. Absalom. See your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood then Abbas I, the son of Zero. Ia said to the king, why should this dead dog curse my Lord. The king. Let me go over and take off his head. But the king said, What have I to do with you? Your sons of 0? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, curse David, who then shall say, why have you done so? And David said to Abby! She and to all his servants. Behold my own son seeks my life. How much more Now may this Benjamin knight leave him alone and let him curse. For The Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today. So David and his men went on the road while shimmy. I went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust, and the king and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan and there he refreshed himself now. Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel came to Jerusalem, and Haifa fell with him. And when you show the archive, David’s friend came to Absalom hush, I said to Absalom. Long live the king? Long live the king and Absalom said to, Who’s shy? Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend? And who should I? Said to Absalom, Know for whom the Lord and his people, and all the men of Israel have chosen his. I will be and with him I will remain and again. Whom should I serve? Should it not be his son, as I have served your father? So I will serve you. Then, Absalom said to his thoughtful, Give me your council. What shall we do? A health official said to Absalom. Go into your father’s concubines whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened. So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and Absalom went into his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. Now, in those days the council that a healthful gave was as if one consulted the word of God. So was all the counsel of a hit with, fell esteemed both by David and by Absalon. Amen! Well a brief prayer before we look at this come gracious holy spirit and quick in our minds by way of understanding guard and guide our thinking and bring your word to bear upon our lives, so that we might be drawn to jesus and conformed to his very image, for we pray in his name. Amen. Well, do your friends despise forsake you. Is there trouble anywhere? There is little doubt that David, Having just read second, Samuel 16, would have answered yes, on both counts. He was in the midst of great trouble, and he was opposed by those who were supposed to have been his friends, particularly a healthful whom we met last time. David’s counselor, whom you will recall had gone over onto absalom side. And we shared the conjecture that given that a Hipfl was the grandfather of bathsheba, that there may have been something of a personal agenda, something of an a vengeance that emerged from his own heart and mind in doing what he did. He is without question. A traitor. He is, if you like. The old testament equivalent of judas Iscariot. And in many ways the incident here foreshadows all that takes place on the Mount of Olives. 1000 years later, David we have seen has gone over the brook Kidron, he has ascended the Mount of Olives. The description of him is a sad one. He is weeping. He is barefooted. His head is covered as an expression of his morning and without question. The picture that we have of him. There is a far cry from the pre bathsheba version. But what we need to keep in mind and it is of vital importance that we do so is that he is still the king, He is the king, He is the Lord’s anointed. And therefore, when we consider what is taking place here in terms of rebellion towards him, it is not just some kind of interactive engagement between two people of unequal status. No, he is the one who has been set apart. He is the man after God’s own heart. In other words, God’s heart was filled with David and God has promised to David that there will come one who will sit on his throne forever and forever. But then we read these chapters and we say to ourselves, well, it appears at this juncture, unlikely that David and his kingdom will survive. And we might say that he was living on a prayer for o bon Jovi fans. And that prayer is recorded for us. We saw it. I’m not making that up bank in chapter 15 and in verse 31 and David said, here’s the prayer that he’s living on. Oh, Lord, please turn the counsel of a healthful into foolishness. In other words, at this juncture in time, the future of this kingdom from a human perspective, as we unfold this story, as we follow the line along, it is hanging on the answer to that prayer and if you will recall who shy appears on the scene and we’ll meet him again later, we who she appears on the scene and David immediately recognizes that it is more than possible that the actions of hush I will be the very answer to his prayer. And what he did was he sends him back to Jerusalem as a spy and he has the straightforward objective of seeking to overturn or to defeat the counsel of a healthful. Now, having read through the chapter, you know that part of the Council of a Hipfl we just saw is really bad counsel. The next part of it will come at the beginning of chapter 17 and we have to wait till after the fifth verse of chapter 17 to discover how well that went. But for the time being, we mustn’t run ahead. We need to stay where we are. What has been provided for us here by the storyteller is a series of encounters between individuals and the king. We saw him in his encounter with it. I and then with Abby Arthur and then with doc and now we are going to look at him throughout the day. And it will take us the day. I’m convinced. First of all, meeting him as deceived by Zebra and then as cursed by shimmy I and then as supported by who shy and then as opposed by a handful. That’s the framework that will take us into the evening hour. But first of all in these opening verses, we find that he is here deceived by Zieba. Now, you know, zebra because we met him before we were introduced to him way back in chapter nine. In the encounter with modified machete, remember the son of Jonathan who was lame in his feet and needed somebody to care for him. Well, Zebra was given the job of caring for the fiba chef and in the 10th verse of chapter nine, the word that was given to you and your sons and your servants. This is zebra and his sons and his servants shall till the land from amphibious chef shall bring in the produce that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat and modified by chef shall always eat at my table. That was David’s um counsel to zebra. That was what he was established to do. And here we find him showing up on this occasion essentially with a picnic. Quite elaborate picnic. With any doubt. But this is not an unfamiliar scene. In fact, you know, David, when we were first introduced to him, was engaged in a similar responsibility. Remember all these times ago that his father said to him, I want you to go to your brothers on the battlefield. I want you to strengthen them and to encourage them and he took with him an alpha of parched grain, 10 loaves and 10 cheeses and now he’s on the receiving end of a similar kind of venture. He is beleaguered, he is weary, his folks are stressed out. He is running for his life and here into his circle of influence. Comes zebra, the provisions far greater than anything David ever took on that occasion. Donkeys and the translation of two could also be string, a string of donkeys. It seems to me you would need a string of donkeys just to carry all of this stuff to would be hard pressed. And who was going to get the job of sitting on them or the privilege of sitting on them? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a main thing. Donkeys, bread, raisins, summer fruit and wine. And in encountering this, David says to him, why have you brought these? The answer that he gives is not really the answer to the question that David is asking. I sat with this for a long time. I went back, I often go back to the King James version to see if it will help me because often the way it translates something is not just as definitive. And in this case I found that to be true. In the King James version, the question is written as what meanest thou by these, What meanest thou by these um which could I suppose to be translated, what are you doing with these things or what’s all this or if you like, what’s going on with this. And I think the inference is probably that the inference being simply David knows you’re supposed to be looking after all this stuff, I gave you the job to till the land to make sure that nephi bishop had plenty to eat. I didn’t give you the privilege of deciding when and to whom you would like to give the material away. And there’s something about his gesture, a gesture of generosity that doesn’t quite meld with the fact that his loyalty, his generosity is expressed here to David, but his loyalty lies with Saul. He is the servant of Saul. And this is where again, you have to keep the whole story in mind when you’re reading this, remember that Saul has been dethroned. David has been put in his place. But those battles had continued for a long time. He fought against those Philistines because they were coming for him again and again. And that issue is not over. If it was a political issue, would say that he’s appeared this on this material is appearing on the newspapers again and again and so this is a strange little encounter with Zebra has to be said within the wider wider framework. And I wonder isn’t that why David then says, and where is your Master’s son now? You know, we know that Sun is used quite elastically in the old testament narrative. It’s actually Saul’s grandson it’s Jonathan’s Jonathan’s son, where where is your master’s son and Zebra said to the king behold, he remains in Jerusalem true today, he said, the house of Israel will give me back the Kingdom of my father. Not true. How do we know? It’s not true. Well, because by the time we get to chapter 19, the Fiba chef will tell us that Zieba slandered him, threw him under the bus when he said this. For the time being, we have to read it as David is receiving it. He doesn’t know what we know, because he hasn’t read chapter 19, so to speak. All right. Therefore, he says, well, isn’t that quite fascinating? In other words, if if a chef has now decided that although I’ve done all these kind things for him, looked after him, let him eat, let him eat at my table, that he has decided that he is hoping dearly that the kingdom will swing back to Saul. So, what has happened here is that Zebra has put words into the mouth of his father today, the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father. In other words, he says, this is what is saying now, that’s not what David wants to hear. And it’s certainly not what he expects. And he makes a snap decision. I find this one of the most interesting little pieces in all that I’ve read and he said, well, then behold all that belonged to Hafid Chef is now yours. It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? Well, I I’m not sure I fully understand what’s going on here. David makes a snap decision. He has made some snap decisions in the four in the past, but this is an interesting one. It’s almost as if he says to himself, goodness, the whole thing is coming in on me, coming down around me now. I’ve even got my favorite chef to whom I’ve done so many good things coming against me. Well, forget him. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Zebra. You’ve come here, you’ve been very nice to me. You brought the donkeys and the fruit and everything. That’s very nice. I’ll tell you what, why don’t I give you just a hole? Just give you the whole thing. And Ziba says, well, I pay homage. You bet your life! He paid homage! What an amazing deal this is. He shows up with a cock and bull story and he ends up running the whole program. Zebra is an opportunist. For sure. I wonder if zebra is not just a jealous person, not easy to do what Zebra was asked to do. It wouldn’t be difficult for zebra to say, you know what, I do everything around here. I run this program. I run the farm. My Children are involved in it and all for this guy. This invalid guy. All he does is he just shows up and eats all the stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised. No, I think he’s an opportunity, but I think he’s motivated entirely by self interest. And what I find most interesting is that David who on previous occasions has been very, very meticulous in dealing with encounters like this, you can rehearse it for yourself way back in the first chapter of Second Samuel when he hears of the Death of Saul. And we won’t delay on it now. But if you remember, he queries that fellow all the time. He asked a question and he asked another question and another question. He’s trying to find out what’s really going on. But in this instance, I guess he’s distressed, he’s discouraged, his judgment is off, He makes a snap decision and he goes, it’s not the point, but it is a point in passing, Let us beware of making snap decisions when we’re not on our game, when life has turned against us when we are disheartened and were discouraged. Don’t write important letters, then don’t change your job. Don’t rearrange your relationships, Keep your head down. Trust God. So then from Zebra who having benefited from his deceit, then displays his homage. It’s kind of creepy. I think all of that was taking place while David was beyond the summit. And now we pick up the story in verse five when King David came to behoove him, but your um is not very far away. And we’ve been to be your um before. There would be a prize for anyone who could remember this, a very good prize because I didn’t remember it myself, I just remembered by your um but I didn’t remember what had happened there. And if you recall, you can find it on your own later, that was when David got Mikel, his wife back from paul tl Because Saul, I would have a sense of grudge mint, a grudging perspective towards David gave Michael to this fellow political. And David shows up and he says, I want Michael back and they’re at behavior, um, paltry outcomes. And he arrives weeping, weeping along the way as this lady that has been his uh partner and wife for these years is taken from him. Well, that was a sad scene, but it’s nothing compared to the scene that we have here. So now we have not simply David deceived by zebra, but now cursed by shimmy. I I think it’s fair to say that this gentleman shimmy II is not pleased with things. Um, out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks, he’s an angry man. He’s filled with rage and he curses continually. And his his curses are an expression of his condemnation of David. Get out, he cries, get out of here! You man of blood, you worthless man! Well, of course, the fact was that David was already out. He was out of Jerusalem. He had already crossed the river. He was on his way into the wilderness. And now this protagonist arrives and speaks in this way. Now let’s read again, verse eight what the media has to say to him, the Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the House of Saul in whose place you have reigned and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son. Absalon. Your day is done, David. See your evil is on you for you are a man of blood. This is Peterson’s paraphrase of that same verse. God has paid you back for all your dirty work in the family of Saul and for stealing his kingdom. God has given the kingdom to your son. Absalom. Look at you now ruined and good riddance. You’re pathetic old man. I think with a little liberty that probably catch captures very well the kind of impact that is being made. Now as you read this, you will I hope recognize that although shimmy eyes words here are half wrong. They are also half right. They are half wrong. First of all, because what he is saying is that David has evil upon him. That doeth evil. David is a worthless man. That David is a man of blood as responsible for the deaths that and the murders that had taken place in the house of Saul. Now again, you have to read back in the story to stay with us. But you will remember that joe ab and abby, she who had another brother called as a hell, who remember took a spear in his belly when he when he was running behind his enemy, you will remember that those boys were involved in the subsequent murder of Abner Sol died, Jonathan died. And the rumor at the time was that although David himself may not actually have stuck the dagger in that he actually was behind all of this. And the accusation that is coming from this man is that that is actually true. That that is the case. You opposed the House of Saul. You have blood on your hands in relationship to this. And as a result of that, God has decided that you are finished old guy. And the future is now in the hands of your son Absalom. So he’s half wrong. But he’s also half right because evil has fallen on David. David is a man of blood. The word that had come from Nathan Nathan, the prophet to him was I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. That’s chapter 12 and verse 11. And David knew that because the word of God had been spoken to him. So this man’s system, you know, evil is upon you, meaning the accusations regarding the House of Saul. David recognizes you’re wrong on that. But you’re actually right because evil has fallen upon me. You’re wrong in saying that my worthlessness lies in what I did to the house of Saul. But you’re right because on that afternoon, in that incident that began on the roof, that was the action of a worthless mess engaged in a worthless endeavor to create a worthless end. Now, David, then I see here’s what this man is saying is processing it along these lines as he’s thinking about it. Abby. She comes up with his own plan. Why don’t we just do what I’m good at doing? Everybody has a gift in life. He would have said, you know, We are the sons of zero. IAA we can take care of this in a minute. You don’t have to listen to this nonsense from this guy. Let me take his head off. Dale ralph. Davis is a wonderful little sentence where he says, Abba she proposes this because he has observed that people without heads do not curse, which is pretty good. Right? So the condemnation comes from the lips of shimmy. I, the proposed solution comes from the mouth of a bit shy and the word of correction comes from David. First he says, why, why are you sons of Zero? Ia always interfering, Always getting in the way, what am I supposed to do with you? What have I to do with you? He says their intent. You sense something of the frustration again of the great king who 1000 years later has to turn to his disciples and says, oh dear, oh dear, are you, have I been so long with you And still you don’t understand. This is not the way the kingdom comes in. We’re not going to see this achieved by taking people’s heads off. So instead of retaliating David says, what we need to recognize is the distinct possibility that the Lord is speaking to me through shimmy. I in other words, although he’s half wrong, I recognize that he’s half right. And if I may sort of paraphrase it to help us along. I imagine him saying sort of think about this. The fact is in the text, you will see it there. Verse 11. Think about this. My own son is seeking to kill me. So why would this be a surprise if Absalon wants me dead old crazy shimmy I hear. And his stones and his curses are nothing in comparison to that. And what has actually happened here simply is this that what shimmy I implied, which was that David had been guilty of these blood offenses against the house of Saul. What shimmy I implied and what David heard were two different things. He accused him of something that he didn’t do. And it’s simply reinforced in Damon’s mind the reality of what he did do. You’re a worthless man. I’m the king chosen by God, but that was a worthless act by a worthless man on what proved to be a worthless afternoon. Your hands are full of blood. I never touched any of those people. I wasn’t responsible for the death of Saul. Ah, but I was responsible for the death of your idea. Shimmy eyes motives were wrong. His accusations, we’re wrong. And yet God reveals his purpose and his plan to David through an unlikely source. Now here and we will stop here. But here we are at a very important piece of this entire puzzle. Because now we are once again dealing with the intersection between the sovereign purpose of God and the responsibility of man. The reality, the mystery of the way in which that which is ill that which is evil in the hand of God maybe brought to good. I wrote in my notes a little verse from him. I don’t know what the him is. You’ve heard me quoted before, but I just instinctively scribbled it down. I said to myself, ill, ill or wrong or evil Il that he blesses that as God blesses ill that he blesses is our good and unblessed. Good is ill and all is right. That seems most wrong. If it be his sweet will think of it in terms of joseph with his brothers, the same issue, he says to them, Hey, you intended it for evil, but God intended it for good. It was evil, It was jealousy. It was spite, it was hatred. It was vindictiveness. It was all of that And for that God was not responsible one piece. And yet, here, once again, you see the same thing Verse 12 listen to this from the lips of David, it may be that the Lord will look on the wrong, done to me, but it actually could look on the wrong done by me and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today. You see, even in the midst of all of this, David had a deep seated confidence in a god of amazing grace. This is amazing grace because he still knows that that word that came from the lips of Nathan to him. God has put away your sin was an expression of the unknown. Guessable grace and mercy of God. That’s why I read from Spurgeon there, Isn’t it fantastic? His mercy is so great that he forgives great sins too. Great sinners after great lengths of time and gives great privileges and great great favors. That’s who God is, you see. And if that is the only thing that you take from this morning, take that the curses were a response were part of the consequences of his inequity. But David recognizes that God is not only able, but he is also willing to look at his guilt and return. Good. One of my friends helped me much with this. I pray pray see his words because I can’t quote them in their fullness. Here, here we have a word of special hope to christians, to christians who believe that we have made a royal curse of our lives. We’re not talking about unbelievers. David was a believer. David was a friend of God. David was the choice of God. He made a royal curse of his life. Therefore, despite the fact that you and I may have ignored his standards, we may have denied his word. We may have rejected his commands. We may have suffered and suffered miserably as a result you say yes, but I repented and I’m forgiven. Yes, I know you say that, but I talk with you. Some who have repented and forgiven have now decided that God’s perspective on you is only some kind of grudging toleration that you have been removed from the team, that you now are destined to live. The balance of your christian life in the kind of junkyard of christian experience. But that is not so that can be. So as long as God is God, because he is a God, as David tells us, who does not treat us as our sins deserve. That. He puts them as far from us as the East is from the West, that he buries them in the sea of his forgetfulness. Listen believer, listen, christian person who has succumbed to the devil’s lie, I did this, I did that. I did the next thing. I made a hash of the whole business, just tell the evil and go back to hell where you belong because I take my stand in the ungettable grace of God. The God, who, despite the fact that David was in this sorry predicament. We will see him this evening weary, as he finds himself there in the company of all these people that looks like a funeral procession. And yet it is to him and through him that the christ will be born in Bethlehem and that the nations will hear the voice of the Word of the Lord is fantastic. You know where Sin runs deep your graces more, where Grace is found, That’s where you are. Do you believe that? Oh, I hope you do. I hope I do. I want to Just some silence. God! Our father look upon us in your mercy, shower your grace upon us. Come to hearts that are dispirited and distressed, attempted to make snap decisions. Deceived, disappointed, restore to us the joy of our salvation. We pray for your son’s sake. Amen. 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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