Heavenly Father we thank you that all Scripture is breathed out by you and profitable to us. Please use it now by your Spirit to train us in righteousness and to equip us for every good work. In Jesus name. Amen.
We're back in 2 Samuel this evening. Last week Ken took us through Chapter 1. Now we've got to 2.1-11. Please have that open in front of you – it's on page 255 in the Bibles. My title this evening is 'David Anointed'. And that's the event at the heart of this section. Look at v 4:
And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
So David has oil poured on his head as a sign that he is becoming the King of Judah.
That happened about 3500 years ago. What's that to us? Well because this is the living Word of God and not a dry piece of ancient history, it has a lot to do with us as we live our lives – and our Christian lives, if that's what we are. That's chiefly because the God who was at work then is the same God who is at work among us today. To God, as the Bible says, a day is like a thousand years. So to him, it's as if David's anointing happened around breakfast time on Thursday. This is as fresh as your toast and orange juice, or whatever you had for breakfast last week.
So what can we learn about the way God worked then, and works now? Here are three lessons, which are my three headings this evening. First, THE LORD WORKS TO FULFIL HIS PURPOSES. Secondly, THE LORD BLESSES LOYAL SERVICE. And thirdly, THE LORD's PURPOSES ARE CONTINUALLY OPPOSED.
But before we go any further, let me tell you the Parable of the CD Player – strictly unscriptural, of course – to aid our understanding. I hope.
I have a Hi Fi system. I bought it in 1976. Admittedly the record deck (have you heard of one of those?) has been replaced by a CD player, and the amplifier is new – well, only about 10 years old. But the speakers are the same. I love my system. But it went badly wrong. The CD player packed up. The whole thing was useless. So I had a purpose. I was on a mission to put right what had gone so badly wrong. It was time to renew the CD player. I knew exactly what I needed. A Yamaha CDS300 to be precise. In black.
I started hunting for a supplier. Everyone seemed to be out of stock. Frustration. But I didn't give up. Then I found a store that stocked them, at the best price I'd seen. I went along. Did they have one? Not a new one. More frustration. But they had three as good as new. I could have one even cheaper. Great. Yes please. Man goes out the back to get one. Comes back. "Sorry sir, our computer's wrong. The only one we've got is missing half its parts, so we can't help you." Frustration. "When will more be in?" "No idea." More frustration.
I go home disconsolate. All my excitement like being 16 in the summer of '76 with a new Hi-Fi drained away. But did I give up? No. More searching. In the end I found another supplier. I had to wait a few days, filled with longing. But they sold me an ex-display as good as new for even less. So I now have a system as good as it was in 1976 – except, of course, for the lack of vinyl LPs.
My good purpose was fulfilled. My plan worked. But along the way there were hopes raised and dashed, frustration, and waiting. I had to keep believing, keep working, keep going.
So it was – and this is, I realise, going from the ridiculous to the sublime – so it was for David on the road to becoming the King of Israel, as God's purpose for him was worked out. And so it is for us when we are playing our part in the outworking of God's great plan to take the gospel to the ends of the earth and renew all things in Christ – his chosen, anointed, eternal King.
What happens to the shepherd boy David who becomes the great King of Israel is a shadow, merely a rough, crude sketch portrait. Jesus is the real thing, the living flesh and blood eternal King to whom David's experience points.
You can see that in a remarkable passage that the apostle Paul writes to his young associate Timothy – 2 Timothy 2.8-13. Stick a piece of paper in 2 Samuel 2 and turn that up please. It's on p 995: 2 Timothy 2.8-13. You can almost read this as a New Testament application of our 2 Samuel section. Let me read this to you:
Remember Jesus Christ [which means anointed King], risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
We'll come back to that as we go through, but let's get on to those three lessons from 2 Samuel 2.
First, THE LORD WORKS TO FULFIL HIS PURPOSE
Take a look at 2.1-4:
After this David enquired of the LORD, "Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?" And the LORD said to him, "Go up." David said, "To which shall I go up?" And he said, "To Hebron." So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
"After this…" it begins. After what? This is in the immediate aftermath of the defeat and death of the disobedient and rejected King Saul, as we saw last week. But this is a key moment in a sequence that goes much further back. Because David had first been anointed King-in-waiting many years before, by Samuel. The account is back in 1 Samuel 16. The Lord tells Samuel to go and anoint one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem to be king after the failed Saul. In the end Samuel realises that the youngest, out in the fields, is the one. And 1 Samuel 16.13 says:
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward.
Now 2 Samuel 5.4 tells us that by the time David is anointed King over Judah, he was 30 years old. Average age for 20s and 30s coffee and cake. Not so young any more. If he was, say, 17 when Samuel anointed him, he'd had a rocky and rough 13 year ride before he became king. And then it was only of one southern tribe.
It was to be another 7 years before he was finally anointed king of the northern tribes as well – king of all Israel. So that was 20 years from the first anointing. And becoming king was just the start of the fulfilment of God's purpose for him. The point of being king was not so David could tick that off on his CV. It was so he could rule – and bring in God's kingdom of righteousness.
The real King, King Jesus, had an even more rocky and rough ride to his throne and his rule. Emptying himself for that humble first Christmas birth. 30 years of preparation. Three years of public ministry, constantly harrassed and under threat. Brutal execution. Three days dead. Then resurrection and rule. But 2000 years on and counting, he still waits for his kingdom to come in all its glory. It will, but it hasn't yet. The spiritual battle continues.
We too have to be ready to wait. And while we wait, we have to obey. David asked the Lord whether he should go up to Judah, and to which town. The Lord told him. He went. Prayer for guidance: then obedience. That was the pattern of his life. By no means perfectly. But that was the fundamental direction of his life.
On the long drive down the A1 to my mum's for new year, we got completely stuck. We sat there, going nowhere, for ages. But if we were going to get there, we had to wait. If we'd turned back, we'd never have made it. In the end, it all cleared and we made it through.
We need to take a leaf out of the Mumford and Sons songbook. Yes, I was given a CD for Christmas. I've tried it out on my new CD player. "I will wait," they sing. The video's been viewed 50 million times on YouTube. I have no idea who or what they think they're waiting for. We have to wait for God to fulfil his purpose – for us, for the church, for the world. It's no good turning back. Don't stop believing the promises of God. Or perhaps, in your case, I should say it's time you started believing the promises of God.
It's an extraordinary truth that those who belong to Christ by faith are royal, and anointed, and chosen to reign – with and through the Lord Jesus. Peter and John and Paul tell us that. It's a hard road. But as Paul said to Timothy, as we read earlier – despite all his suffering:
… the word of God is not bound!
Nothing can stop God in the end. We have a glorious destiny.
Don't stop believing the promises of God. And show your faith by your obedience. Follow his commands Go where he says. Do what he wants. The Lord works to fulfil his purposes. That's lesson one.
Secondly, THE LORD BLESSES LOYAL SERVICE
In verses 4-7, the new king David displays the same kind of grace to those who had loved the dead king Saul as he'd shown in mourning Saul's death, back in chapter 1. And it's at such times that he acts with Christ-like character, and shows us, in shadowy form, what Jesus is like. Take a look. 4-7:
And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
When they told David, "It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul", David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, "May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."
The way David acts here makes clear what he values. And what he values is loyal service, even if it's risky and costly. King Saul had started well, after all. David makes clear that it's time, with Saul dead, for the men of Jabesh-gilead to acknowledge that now he, David, is king. They are to transfer their allegiance to him. They are to serve him with the same kind of consistent loyalty. But faithfulness and loyal, unwavering, service are character traits and patterns of behaviour that he's on the look-out for. He approves deeply. He knows God approves. He prays that the Lord will reward them.
In this, king David is again pointing us to Jesus our King, and to what Jesus is looking for in us. Jesus is looking for loyal service. He has shown us that "steadfast love and faithfulness" to which David referred. He has already done us good. His grace and mercy come before our response. But the grateful response that's called for is unswerving loyalty to Jesus, whatever the cost, whatever the risk.
I was rather delighted by I story I saw on the news last week. Some will remember Graham Daniels, who spoke here in the autumn. Graham is an ex-professional footballer, and now the national director of Christians in Sport. He used to play for Cambridge United. A year or two back he was appointed to the board of the club as a director. The club chairman said at the time:
Graham is the perfect additon to the board. He's held in high esteem within the football and wider community… Graham is a man of the highest calibre and integrity. He has already helped the trust enormously...
That reputation is the result of Graham's loyal service to the club over many years. And he has been rewarded for it. But last week there was icing on Graham's Cambridge United cake. Cambridge United are in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Who have they drawn? Manchester United at home. Man U are coming to Cambridge United. What a day that will be. Loyal service brings its reward. So it is in the Christian life.
We heard the apostle Paul saying to Timothy:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David …
So don't stop serving the promise-giver. Loyalty is a personal matter. It's relational. We owe our allegiance to Jesus himself. Remember Jesus. And remember that second lesson – the Lord blesses loyal service. Then:
Thirdly, THE LORD'S PURPOSES ARE CONTINUALLY OPPOSED
It's vital that we understand that this is the context in which we watch the Lord fulfilling his purposes, and in which we are called to serve him loyally and unwaveringly. We will never get an easy ride.
There is rest for us to look forward to. We do get snatches of it now and then, and glimpses of what it will be like – occasional golden, trouble-free days – but they are few and far between. Rest waits for us in the new heaven and the new earth – when the kingdom of Christ has fully come and all his enemies are no more.
For now, the opposition to the purposes of God in Christ are relentlessly opposed. No doubt it comes in waves. And the attacks come in different forms. But they never stop. One day they will be stopped. But not yet.
So it was for David. No sooner had he been anointed king, after years of being pursued and hunted down like a wild animal, than the opposition rears its ugly head again in a new form. Take a look at verses 8-11:
But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim, and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for two years. But the house of Judah followed David. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
Despite the fact that Saul himself had acknowledged that it was God's plan for David to become king after him, a rival king, Saul's son, was set up to oppose him. And so the struggle continued, year after year, unrelenting.
And in one way or another, that is the Christian life too. Paul reminded Timothy how he was suffering for the gospel, "bound with chains as a criminal." He urged him to endure – that is, keep going even though it was a great struggle. And that encouragement to endure came with hope and a promise. 2 Timothy 2.12:
… if we endure, we will also reign with [Christ] …
Maybe as you look around your wider family, that's a word of encouragement that you need to hear. Does it feel as if your family is a battleground, with a civil war being fought over it? Does it seem as if the kingdom of Jesus is being fiercely resisted by the forces of darkness? If so, take heart. Don't stop enduring through frustrating times and when the fulfilment of God's promises seems far, far off. Don't stop! Endure, with the help of Jesus, and you will reign with him. Don't be deterred, distracted, diverted or knocked off course. Keep following Jesus your King.
Three times in 11 verses of 2 Samuel 2 we're reminded that David was now ruling. Verse 4:
… they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
In verse 7 David himself says:
… "the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."
… David was king in Hebron.
What's that to us today? Jesus is King. Jesus is King. Jesus is King. That's what we need to know. And then we can put these three lessons in to practice. The Lord works to fulfil his purposes. So don't stop believing. The Lord blesses loyal service. So don't stop serving. The Lord's purposes are continually opposed. So don't stop enduring.
Let's bow our heads to pray:
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are our King. Lord you know how easily we are daunted and discouraged; how easily we become downhearted; how tempted we are to give up. Give us grace, we pray to keep going. Give us spiritual power to persevere. We praise you that you came not to be served but to serve, and to give your life for us. Forgive us our unfaithfulness. Teach us we pray, to serve you and follow you, always and forever. Amen.