Fall of the House of Saul
By James Jacob Prasch
God Ceases Communicating with Saul
“And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.”
We are not certain what Urim and Thummim were, but we do know they were two kinds of stones in an ephod case on the high priest’s chest. Urim has to do with the Hebrew word for lights; this is how they discerned God’s leading and direction in some circumstances in Old Testament Israel.
We see in 1 Samuel 28:6 that God stopped giving light to King Saul; He stopped hearing King Saul. Saul’s leadership was at this point totally backslidden, and had become treacherous. When leadership backslides, something else happens: God stops speaking to that leader or those leaders. God would not speak to Saul by prophets €“ perhaps God would send him false prophets, but no longer any true prophet, such as Samuel. One of the things that take place in this kind of situation is that God removes prophetic voices.
We don’t think of it this way, but God does: The death of Samuel was not bad for Samuel. Samuel didn’t want his sleep disturbed as we see in 1 Samuel 28:15. However, Samuel’s death was bad for Saul.
“When a righteous man perishes, no one takes it to heart” (Isaiah 57:1)
That is a judgment of God. When God removes true prophetic voices, that is one of the final phases of His judgment. I personally believe that the untimely death of our friend Larry Thomas was God’s judgment on the Assemblies of God; I don’t believe God ever intends to give another warning to the Assemblies of God in America. I believe He will simply let them go their way into apostasy and decline, which in fact they already have begun to do.
What happens when God stops speaking to backslidden leaders? When we look at verses 11 through 16 of 1 Samuel 28, we see what Saul did:
“Then the woman said, ‘Whom shall I bring up for you?’ And he said, ‘Bring up Samuel for me.’ When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, ‘Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!’ And the king said to her, ‘Do not be afraid. What do you see?’ And the woman said to Saul, ‘I saw a spirit (divine being) ascending out of the earth.’ So he said to her, ‘What is his form?’ And she said, ‘An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.’ And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. Now Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’ And Saul answered, ‘I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.’ Then Samuel said: ‘So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy?'”
The Divine Strategy in Starting a New Work
God let Saul go on and on and on while David was growing stronger. This is one recurrent principle you will see in God’s dealing with His people. He spends a long time getting something new ready, focusing more on quality than on quantity. Once the quality has been founded, then the quantity comes. God will not allow the old thing to fall until He judges that the new thing is ready to take its place. God told Joshua that He would not give the whole land to him all at once; (Exo 23:29-30; Deut 7:22) (He allowed the Philistines, Canaanites, Jebusites and so on stay in the land for a season, “lest the land lie fallow”. God will even let something bad stay in place until He has made something good ready to take it over.
When Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead, there was a brief time period of about forty years during which there were two covenants that were technically in simultaneous effect: the Temple was not destroyed for forty years following the establishment of the New Covenant. This was a chance God gave the Jews to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah before the Temple was destroyed in fulfillment of Daniel and Jesus’ prophecies. (Math 24:1-2)
It is the same with Saul. God does not remove Saul all at once; not until David is ready to take over €“ and by David we don’t simply mean David himself but his men as well, the outcasts of Israel whom God had trained up in the wilderness. Then and only then did Saul fall. In the same way, we will not see large denominations fall overnight. They fall progressively for a time, and then something comes which precipitates their going into a nosedive. God will keep them in place until something new is ready to take over.
Readying the New to Replace the Old
As I travel around the world, I do see that something new is beginning to take over. Sometimes it is found in a small country church; other times it is found in a mega-church such asTimes Square Church or Brooklyn Tabernacle, both in New York City. There are many such places; they tend to be independent Pentecostal churches. This is not exclusive, but they do seem to be the ones whom God spends a long time getting right, building them up qualitatively. Once He obtains the right quality of leadership and people involved, He then begins adding to their numbers. There is no explosive growth in the beginning.
All of David’s choice men did not come to him at once, and two things had to occur before all Israel came to him. First, David and his men had to be made ready. Those outcasts of Israel had to become leaders. If a church begins to grow very large, it is important to know how many of the people could lead home groups and Bible studies, how many could take leadership roles, how many could go and plant other churches. We always say we’re waiting for the Lord, and there is certainly a truth in that. But the other side of that coin is that the Lord is waiting for us.
The quality of teaching found in the churches and people whom God is raising up to found something new is vastly superior to that which is found in most churches. This is particularly true of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, most of which no longer have a clue. Here is the question, then: Are you waiting for God, or is God waiting for you? Someone can hear good Bible teaching week after week, but at what point is he ready and willing to put it into operation to feed other people? Not until we have reached that point can we begin to have legitimate, explosive growth. Remember that on the Day of Pentecost, the church began with only 120 members; but they were ready, so that was all it took.
The Last Phase of the House of Saul Part 1: When the World has More Integrity than the Church
But what will happen? The last phase of the house of Saul. Read with me, please, in 1 Samuel 29 beginning with verse 1:
“Then the Philistines gathered together all their armies at Aphek, and the Israelites encamped by a fountain which is in Jezreel. And the lords of the Philistines passed in review by hundreds and by thousands, but David and his men passed in review at the rear with Achish. Then the princes of the Philistines said, ‘What are these Hebrews doing here?’ And Achish said to the princes of the Philistines, ‘is this not David, the servant of Saul king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or these years? And to this day I have found no fault in him since he defected to me.'”
Point 1: The Philistines knew that David did no wrong and at least wanted to behave honorably toward him. Saul also knew tha
t David did no wrong. Many people with Saul knew David had done no wrong, but were out to get him anyway. This is phase 2 of the final days of Saul’s house: When the world, the lost, the unsaved, has more integrity than does the church, it is a sick thing. Federal prosecutors brought down Jim Bakker. Why? Because the hireling pastors of America did not have the courage or integrity to do it first. So the world, knowing he was corrupt, showed more integrity than the church.
Exploitation of the Poor
One after another, Copeland, Hagin, Fred Price and so on and on €“ they prey on the poor and exploit them. Think about it €“ who are they mainly ripping off? The poor, the unemployed, single-parent families, ethnic minorities, people in the inner cities. They promise these people this, that, and the other thing. It’s one thing to take it from the haves; but when you take it from the have-nots you have reached a new low. “He who oppresses the poor is a reproach to his Maker.” (Pro 14:31) When you exploit the poor, it is a personal affront to God. In God’s economy the rich are supposed to help the poor, the clever to help the simple €“ when you begin ripping people off who are already at a disadvantage, you are a reproach to your Maker. The world sees through this, and again, has more integrity than the church.
There is not a single television network in America that wouldn’t remove a known con artist from their programming schedules. These are secular broadcasting companies €“ they put on lewd, violent programs that represent degenerate views of human sexuality €“ they do low things, but not as low as the things the so-called Christian networks will do. ABC has more integrity than TBN, though I don’t like ABC. When you stand up and speak against this corruption, the world knows you’re telling the truth. This is phase 1: When the world has more integrity than God’s so-called people.
Part 2: When Saul’s House Goes Too Far – The Occult
The second thing for which God is waiting is for the house of Saul to go too far. At what point have they gone too far? When they go into the occult. Arguably the most serious form of occult practice seen in the Bible is the sin of necromancy, or communicating with the dead. If a believer goes to be with the Lord, until the Rapture and Resurrection when we meet them in the air, we have one indirect line of communication left to them: We may talk to the same Jesus they may talk to. By the Holy Spirit, He transcends time, space, and eternity. Only He may cross that barrier and be both in time and in eternity simultaneously. The case we just read about with Saul is a special event that God allowed one time only.
When you see religions fooling around with the dead, it is a serious matter. We are not just talking about the spooky movie stuff that kids like; it’s something more than Ghostbusters.Mormonism, for example, is big-time into this thing with the dead. The same is true of Roman Catholicism €“ when you walk into a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox church, look at how dark it is. Also observe all the statues of dead people they put up before which people light candles and burn incense. Similarly, what do you see in Shintoism, the Japanese practice of ancestor worship? The same things. It is the spirit of death. At Lenin’s tomb in Moscow, they’ve re-embalmed his corpse and made him into a godlike figure. This is the spirit of death. Even the architecture and atmosphere of these places reflects what they are; look at a cathedral and see how startling a resemblance it bears to a haunted house. Little children find these churches spooky when they go in. The literal darkness of these places reflects their spiritual darkness.
Only the Lord can transcend time, space and eternity. When someone else tries to put him or herself in the position to cross over this barrier between the temporal and the eternal, they are putting themselves in Christ’s place. This is the spirit of Antichrist €“ “anti” literally means “in place of”. It is something grossly demonic. It isn’t just that they’re fooling around with the dead, but that they are attempting to do something that only God may do. All false religions will put man in God’s place in some way.
Benny Hinn has stated on national television that the ghosts of Kathryn Kuhlman and Amy Semple-McPherson appeared to him in his room at night. This man communes with the dead, and has proclaimed that fact on so-called Christian television. The Bible calls this demonic €“ the man is an absolute necromancer. Yet none of this matters €“ neither that he said it nor that he did it €“ people still accept it as being from God. The church has proven her willingness to accept the demonic.
The Misguided Loyalty of Saul’s Army
Saul’s armies continued to follow him. Even people who knew Saul was wrong, such as his own sons, continued to maintain their loyalty to him. In the same way, even people who know these churches are wrong will remain loyal to them. This is very serious. Once you have reached this point, judgment cannot be far off. I am absolutely convinced that what happened to the PTL Club, with Bakker’s scandal and all that, will also happen to TBN and Benny Hinn. It’ll go down the same way.
There will come a crisis, and out of it will emerge something new. We read this in 2 Samuel 5:1:
“Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron €¦”
God’s judgment on these people who have now gone into the overtly occult is inevitable. They were already involved long ago in many occultic things; an example would be Morris Cerullo with his Holy Ghost miracle handkerchiefs to take away debt €“ this is a practice called fetishism.
So what is delaying God’s judgment from falling? Something that will emerge from the chaos that other people can come to and find the right way forward. Not until the new thing is ready will God allow the old thing to fall, although His judgment is now inevitable. I honestly believe we have now reached the point at which God told Jeremiah not to even pray for certain people any more. (Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:11) Samuel basically asked Saul, “What do you want me to do about it?” I personally no longer even pray that people such as Benny H
inn will repent €“ I don’t believe it is possible now, because God has given them over to their deception. I truly believe that the Lord has instructed that we ought not to even pray for TBN any longer. They have been given over by the Lord to the demonic practices they embraced.
Know Your Enemy
Let us continue in 1 Samuel 29:4:
“But the princes of the Philistines were angry with him; so the princes of the Philistines said to him, ‘Make this fellow return, that he may go back to the place which you have appointed for him, and do not let him go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become our adversary. For with what could he reconcile himself to his master, if not with the heads of these men? Is this not David, of whom they sang to one another in dances, saying: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands”?’
Then Achish called David and said to him, ‘Surely, as the Lord lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army is good in my sight. For to this day I have not found evil in you since the day of your coming to me. Nevertheless the lords do not favor you. Therefore return now, and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.’ So David said to Achish, ‘But what have I done? And to this day what have you found in your servant as long as I have been with you, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?’ Then Achish answered and said to David, ‘I know that you are as good in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless the princes of the Philistines have said, “He shall not go up with us to the battle.” Now therefore, rise early in the morning with your master’s servants who have come with you. And as soon as you are up early in the morning and have light, depart.’ So David and his men rose early to depart in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.”
David knew his enemy. Something happens in churches: we tend to become Amish. The Amish people are a Mennonite sect whose ancestors in Holland were truly saved Christians. Most of them today, however, are virtually cultic and are unsaved. One of the reasons they went wrong was the sin of “party spirit”. Another mistake they made, however, was that they forgot how to be in the world but not of it. When a group becomes so introspective that they lose their capacity to understand and relate to unbelievers, it becomes evangelistically ineffective.
I don’t advocate Christians listening to heavy metal music €“ personally, I hate the stuff. However, I do advocate understanding what it is. How else will you witness to people who do listen to it? It is stupid to spend hours of your time watching one idiot thing on television after another. But it’s good to know what the world is watching and how they’re thinking €“ that’s their worldview. David learned to know his future enemy. The way that he overcame the Philistines was in having once become one; he wasn’t ethnically a Philistine, of course, but he rode with their army. The Philistines for their part might have overcome the Amalekites if they had kept David; God might have blessed them if they had blessed David rather than ostracizing him. However, that was their loss.
David knew his opponent. People who were saved out of the world generally have an advantage in witnessing because they know the way unsaved people think. Personally, I don’t have a great burden for drug addicts. One would think that I should, since I was once one of them. When I was a teenager I was addicted to hard drugs. I was fooling around with heroin by the age of 16, but once I got to college my god was cocaine. Maybe being around drug addicts reminds me too much of what I used to do and be, and that’s why I don’t like it. Seeing junkies reminds me of things about myself that I would much rather forget ever were; perhaps that is true. I do understand the drug culture, however; I understand the way a junkie thinks, what makes him tick. Holy huddles are detrimental. “Be in the world, but not of it”. David knew his enemy. Too many Christians are insular, ignorant of what the world is like. The usual exception to this is those churches which are worldly themselves. Largely, therefore, you have two rotten choices: be insular, or be worldly. Neither one is Biblical. It is no more Biblical to be Amish than it is to be worldly; rather there is a balance: “in it, but not of it”.
Notice that the Philistines accepted David up to a point. The world will always, always, always end up rejecting Christians; Christians have rejected the world already. Unsaved people only ever accept a Christian to a certain point. Never trust an unsaved person. Let me repeat that: never trust an unsaved person. Even if you are married to one, do not trust him or her beyond a limited point. “The whole world is in the power of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19); “Satan is the god of this world”. (2 Cor 4:4) If a person is not covered by the blood of Jesus directly or indirectly, he or she is working for the god of this world, the devil. Again: never trust an unsaved person; at some point they will turn against you.
The House of Saul vs. the House of David
David leaves the Philistine army. Now, let’s go on to read chapter 30:
“Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day,”
(The third day usually alludes typologically to the Resurrection; however, I won’t go into that now
“that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken away captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, ‘Please bring the ephod here to me.’ And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.”
Let’s understand what is happening here: God was no longer speaking to Saul through Urim and Thummim; instead, He was speaking to David through Urim and Thummim, giving David the light. People can have a bigger army, a bigger church, and a bigger name; but if God is no longer speaking to them, what good will that do for them?
Part 3: Saul’s House is Defeated
The first characteristic of Saul’s army is that it has less integrity than the world. The second characteristic of Saul’s army, we saw, is that they go into the occult. The third is that they can no longer get the victory. The churches in this character cannot defeat Islam, which is rising in America, even in the Midwest. Neither can they defeat Mormonism or New Age, nor any other enemies of God. They have absolutely no power to stop abortion and homosexuality from being taught in public schools.
To review once more the characteristics of Saul’s army: First, they have less integrity than the world. Second, Go
d stops speaking to them and they go into the occult. Third, they cannot gain victory. The occult is rampant in the church: most of the visions and pictures they receive are clairvoyant, their prophecies are at best psychological or at worst occult, and now there is necromancy. Let’s look at what happens to the house of David as the house of Saul goes into all this.
A Closer Look at David’s House
David seeks the Lord. Remember, he is in dire circumstances: He has a small army, he is losing people, and he’s even losing loved ones. He is up against both an external and an internal enemy.
Faithful churches these days find themselves in much the same situation. It’s not enough to find ourselves up against a radical homosexual community €“ remember, homosexuals cannot procreate children; this is why they want yours, with their demands to have their lifestyle taught in schools and to lead Boy Scout troops, to take your little boys camping. But it’s not enough to have that to deal with €“ on the other side, we’ve got Saul. We’ve got occultic churches. We’re small, we’re fighting on two sides, and we’re paying a tremendous personal price.
Yet in David’s day, that was where God was speaking. Saul had the numbers, but couldn’t gain the victory. He had the name, but God was no longer speaking to him. I would rather meet in a closet with five faithful Christians who study God’s Word, who hear Him through that Word and by His Spirit, than meet in an arena with five thousand of Saul’s people. I don’t care how many they have €“ they can’t gain victory, and God isn’t speaking to them. Better to be with a small group of people or in a small church where God is speaking €“ that’s all there is to it. What good is it, after all, if God is not there?
Verse 8 of chapter 30:
“So David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?’ And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.’ So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the Brook Besor, where those stayed who were left behind.” ‘Besor’ is the Hebrew word for ‘gospel’. “But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor.
Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water. And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights.” Again, when you see this, you have a typological reference to the Resurrection. “Then David said to him, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you from?’ And he said, ‘I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick. We made an invasion of the southern area of the Cherethites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.’ And David said to him, ‘Can you take me down to this troop?’ So he said, ‘Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop.’
And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled.” It is here comparing the four hundred who fled with the four hundred who were with David; there was a balance. “So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all. Then David took all the flocks and herds they had driven before those other livestock, and said, ‘This is David’s spoil.’
Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them.”
We looked at the phases of Saul: No longer hearing from God, having less integrity than unbelievers, into the occult, and unable to gain victory. Now we look at David: He had come to know his enemy firsthand €“ he did not know about his enemy, he knew his enemy. There is no light at the end of the tunnel; rather there is more darkness at the end of the tunnel. After that comes the light. Things get worse before they get better. The final phase, or test, of the new army, the new church, the new move of God, that which is in the character of David, is when it affects families.
Families are the cell groups of a church. No congregation is going to be any healthier than the families, which make it up. It doesn’t matter how good the Bible teaching is, or how good the worship is, or how good the fellowship is; what happens in the church is never going to exceed the sum total of what happens in family devotional times or when husbands and wives pray together. In order to accurately gauge a person’s spirituality, you must see what kind of husband and father or wife and mother he or she is.
The Test of True Leadership
There is one big acid test, which puts you in danger of losing things precious to you, even people whom you love. It is certainly the enemy attacking you €“ God isn’t doing it. However, God does allow it up to a point and for a season for His own reasons.
David always typifies Christ as King and Shepherd. For instance, when Saul’s sons remained loyal to their father instead of to David, that is a type of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:37:
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me”.
However, notice that David suffered the same things his people suffered. In the same way there is nothing that we go through which Jesus, our Leader, has not already gone through. The characteristic of a godly leader: he suffers the same loss as his people. Look out for someone who stands up in a pulpit to tell you how to be spiritual with his mouth while his own life is not showing you how. Talk is cheap. Biblical leadership is always by example. This may affect different people in different ways: for me, certainly the demands of interim periods of family separation due to my being an itinerant minister have been a test. It is not easy to be away from my wife for weeks at a time. I’ve never had an affair, but you know what? There was a time, too, when Jim Bakker never had an affair. It only takes once; how does one stand up?
David lost things and people whom he loved for a short period and then he got them back. The test will come to different people in different forms. But God’s future leaders will have been so tested in everything that everyone will know that they’ll be able to stand up. God already knows who can and can’t stand up €“ when He lets us be tested, it isn’t for His own benefit, so that He can find out our strength. He wants us to know ourselves, and He wants the Body at large to know. Remember that His Word says, “Let the leaders first be tested. (1 Tim 3:10) We’re told to look at leaders’ family lives and similar things, yet today the church has leaders who get divorced and remarried. This is a sick thing.
So yes, the trial and testing is the enemy’s doing, yet because God allows it you will know that you can stand. You will have a confiden
ce you would not otherwise gain. Now, of course you must trust in the Lord and not in yourself €“
“Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”.(1 Cor 10:12)
— but when you’ve been tested, you know you have kept your eyes on the Lord and are capable of keeping them there. He who is able to keep you from falling will do so; you know this because you’ve been so tested, and the Body of Christ also knows it. That is a leader whom God’s people will follow. When things get tough, that is the kind of person whom others will look to. People want to identify with others who are stronger than themselves. For all of us, of course, that would be Jesus; so when you see a leader, don’t look at him. Rather, look at the work of God in his life. That is the source of his strength and in a crisis someone who has been sorely tested and has passed the test is the sort of person who will be trusted. The last thing anyone wants in a medical emergency is an indecisive physician. You want someone experienced, who knows exactly what’s happening and how to deal with it. The same applies for a leader in the church. David suffered the same loss as his people.
Then, look at this: those people, his people, talked about stoning him. You want to be a leader? How do you know when you are a leader? You know you’re a leader when 2 Timothy 4:16-17 applies to you. When you are betrayed and stabbed in the back by the very people you gave your life and your guts for, yet you avoid becoming embittered or resentful. When things get tough, the people blame the leaders. What did the people say to Moses in the wilderness €“ “Why did you bring us out here to die?” (Num 16:13) What did the disciples say to Jesus in the boat €“ “Why did you bring us out here to drown?” (Math 8:25) And here we see what they say and do to David €“ “We followed you, and now look what happened to us, we’ve lost our families.” They turn on the leader. Family is where people are the most vulnerable: when marriage and children are at stake, that is when someone’s faith will be tested the most, and it is very, very hard.
Emotional Exhaustion/The Source of Strength
Look at verse 4:
“David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.”
They reached the point of emotional exhaustion. Job did the same. I knew a Jewish man named Gershom: the Nazis killed his parents, his brother, his two sisters with their families, his wife and his five children right down to the baby. He himself narrowly survived the concentration camp. The next forty years of his life the man spent in hell. He was a zombie. He had grieved so much and so hard that he no longer had any emotional capacity for grief, until the day he accepted Jesus, Yeshua, as the Messiah in Haifa, Israel. He read the Bible and began to scream and cry, saying that he had finally found a Jew who had suffered more than he had. It was the first emotion that man was capable of displaying in over forty years.
Christians do good works because we’ve been saved, not in order to get saved. A person must reach the point where he or she realizes, “I cannot save myself; it has to be a gift.” We must know that we are totally lost, helpless, and unable to do one single thing for ourselves €“ then we can get saved. It is a point that must be burned into each Christian’s soul; we should never forget that. Just as we cannot save ourselves, so we cannot sustain ourselves. David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (v. 6). He trusted in and sought the Lord in his crisis. Just think: he had these people with him in the wilderness that had forsaken all to join him there. They’re being pursued on one hand by Saul and on the other by the Amalekites. Then they lose their families and want to stone him. On top of all his other problems, David himself had lost his own family. What a mess, yet he sought the Lord his God, and asked whether he should pursue the troop.
The natural propensity of the flesh in an emergency is always to take immediate action. In a crisis, we should never, ever, ever make any decision before seeking the Lord. If it must be made in a second, pray “Lord, help me”. The flesh will always want to take over in an emergency. (We deal with this on our 2 Samuel 5 & 6 tapes.) David doesn’t do this, however. In that crisis it would have been easy to assume, “of course we have to go after the troop,” but instead of that David stops and seeks the Lord, and God gives him the green light.
Crossing the Brook of Besor
Next, David crosses the Brook of Besor. Besor, again, means “gospel”. Notice that it is not enough to come up to the brook; they had to cross it. I repeatedly point out that Jesus never said to make converts, but rather to make disciples. (Math 28:19) The first Biblical step of discipleship is always crossing the Brook of Besor €“ baptism. Four hundred of David’s men cross the brook, but two hundred are unable to.
I know how far I have come. I have been tested in most of these things, probably to some degree in all of them, even right down to the family thing. I’ve been sued by other Christians, attacked by Orthodox Jews and gangs of Muslims; I’m not saying that I’m a hero, but I know how far I’ve come. I also know, however, how far I have not come.
The Baggage Attendants
Let’s look at verses 22-31:
“Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, ‘Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man’s wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart.’ But David said, ‘My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.’ So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.
Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, ‘Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord’ – to those who were in Bethel, those who were in Ramoth of the South, those who were in Jattir, those who were in Aroer, those who were in Siphmoth, those who were in Eshtemoa, those who were in Rachal, those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, those who were in the cities of the Kenites, those who were in Hormah, those who were in Chorashan, those who were in Athach, those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to rove.”
Two hundred of David’s men couldn’t make it. However, for one thing, someone must watch the baggage. I could not do half of what I do if I did not have the kind of wife that I have. She is the helpmate God gave me and there is a reason for that. Not every wife could handle her husband being away so much. Pavia is also praying for me while I’m away; that’s my reference point, my focus point. When I wake up in the morning I often don’t know what country I’m in until I think about it. Not everybody can do what I do. Not everybody can do what Bill Randles does. Not everybody can do what you do. But there are people who don’t do with us what we do, yet are with us in spirit.
Someone has to watch the baggage. These were people who rode with David, who had proven their loyalty, but were simply unable to go as far as other people could. David did not try to disenfranchise the
se people. He wanted them to get a piece of the pie. Remember what Jesus said in His parable of Math 20:1-6. In verse 12 some of the laborers hired by the owner of the vineyard are complaining:
“‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.'”
In the same way, you sometimes hear Christians complain, “I’ve been a Christian for 60 years and now this guy who got saved six months ago is going to the same heaven I am?” God does not see things this way. God sees this: Whatever we have learned, we know He has given us the grace to learn. I learned what I learned in the same way David learned it, and if God uses you in the future, you will learn it that way too. I also know what I am in the process of learning, and God has given me the grace and strength to learn that also.
Grieving for Saul
In conclusion, 1 Samuel 31:1-5:
“Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons. The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, ‘Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, les these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.’ But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him.”
What is David’s reaction to the death of Saul, who had been his enemy? In 2 Samuel 1:17-27 it says this:
“Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher”
(Jasher in Hebrew means “straight”.)
“‘The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
O mountains of Gilboa,
Let there be no dew nor rain upon you,
Nor fields of offerings.
For the shield of the mighty is cast away there!
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
From the blood of the slain,
From the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
O daughters of Jerusalem, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury;
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan was slain in your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!'”
Only then did the tribes of Israel join themselves to David.
I have learned by God’s grace how to fight the Philistine. I am not afraid of Islam or Mormons or Roman Catholicism or Orthodox Jews. I know how to witness to those people; the Lord taught me. I do not boast of it, but I know what He taught me. I know what it’s like to be tested for taking a stand. I know what it’s like to be rejected, even by my friends. I know what it’s like to be betrayed by people who know I am right, but are looking out for themselves instead of for the sheep. I have learned most of those things the hard way. But what the Lord is teaching me now, and those like me, is how to be gracious.
I need to come to a point where I can say, “Boy, the Assemblies of God had some mighty men of God in their day. Boy, you know, Pat Robertson began right. Wow, but Jimmy Swaggart was once a man of God; what happened to him can happen to me if I’m not careful. “How the mighty have fallen” €“ I didn’t want this to happen.” I know how to be angry with Saul; but I am just learning how to grieve over what has become of him. Saul is going to fall; his days are numbered. Saul’s house must fall €“ they have gone into the occult and there is no longer any way out or any hope for them. This story includes a very rare case of God allowing someone to come back from the dead; when Samuel does, he asks Saul, “Why do you ask me about it? The Lord has become your adversary.” God is their enemy; the question is when are they going to be hanging the dead from the walls of Mount Gilboa? When will the house of Saul fall? When will their corpses hang rotting on the walls of Beth Shan?
When I can grieve over it.
That’s how far I have come and that’s how far I have yet to go. I can only speak for myself, not for you or for your church. What I can tell you is that this is what is going on, and this is what will happen. When is God going to add to your numbers? When Saul falls. When is Saul going to fall? When you know your enemy. When you’ve been tested to the utmost and have stood faithful. When you’ve known rejection. When your family life has been affected. When you have become emotionally exhausted to the point of having no strength left, and when the Lord’s strength is then magnified in your weakness. When you’ve crossed the Brook of Besor and learned how to be gracious to others. Then Saul will fall; then the tribes of Israel will join themselves to David at Hebron, the place of fellowship.
I know how to be disappointed over what has happened in the church. I know how to be angry about it, and there is a holy anger. But we must also learn to grieve. That is when Saul will fall and when David’s house will rise. I know how far I’ve come. How far you’ve come in this process is a question you must answer. How far your church has come will be self-evident.