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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Delivered from Many Troubles
Text:1 Samuel 21:10-22:5, Psa. 34 & 56 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Selections from the 1976 Psalter Hymnal, unless otherwise noted:

Call to worship: Psalm 56:1-13  

103 - O God, Be Merciful

Responsive Reading: Psalm 34:1-22 

59:1, 4-6 - Ye Children, Come, Give Ear to Me

406 (Red) - Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary

384 - How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Scripture: 1 Samuel 21:10-22:5 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

“Delivered from Many Troubles”
1 Samuel 21:10-22:5; Psalm 34; Psalm 56
David faced a multitude of troubles. If he had lived in our era, it might be said of him that “trouble was his middle name”. So far, in 1 Samuel we have read of at least six attempts by Saul to kill him. Saul had also surrounded David’s house and made David run for his life, so he was homeless. Not only was he homeless, but the opening verses of 1 Samuel 21 describe how he was so hungry that he asked Ahimelech, the priest, for bread that was consecrated for use only by the priests.
He had escaped from Nob to Gath, which was certainly an act of great desperation. Gath was the heart of Philistine territory. It was Goliath’s hometown. Everyone was shocked to find David in such a hostile setting. You can almost hear the astonishment in the voices of the servants of king Achish. In verse 11 his servants said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” 
Verses 12 and 13 describe David’s fear when he heard those words. “David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”
However, David’s meeting before Achish is addressed in two other places in Scripture. They give a fuller perspective on David’s situation and how he was strengthened by the Lord. In our call to worship we read from Psalm 56. The subscript of that Psalm tells us that it is a miktam (a musical term) of David when the Philistines seized him at Gath. In that Psalm, David gives a firsthand account of his troubles, as he writes:
Be merciful to me, my God,
    for men hotly pursue me;
    all day long they press their attack.
 My slanderers pursue me all day long; 
    many are attacking me in their pride. (1-2)
 All day long they twist my
they are always plotting to
     harm me. 
 They conspire, they lurk, 
     they watch my steps, 
     eager to take my life. (5-6)
Record my lament; 
     list my tears on Your scroll—
      are they not in your record? (8)
Likewise, in the 34th Psalm, which we read responsively, we read firsthand from David what he felt and experienced when he was before king Achish at Gath. (Achish is called Abimelech, incidentally, which was a title for kings in Philistia, much as Pharaoh was the title for Egyptian kings).
But before turning to Psalm 34 to see David’s response to his deliverance from Gath, it is worth noting at least two points. First, the troubles of David, as we have seen before, foreshadow the troubles of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the greater David. He was also homeless. He had no place to lay his head. He was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matt. 11:29). He was even accused of being the devil himself (Matt. 12:24). In his suffering David foreshadowed the even greater sufferings of Jesus.
Another truth, although obvious, is worth noting. That is, everyone who has ever lived has faced a multitude of troubles and fears. Sometimes we meet someone who seems to have no troubles, no fears, problems or setbacks; they are on “easy street” with everything going their way.
Perhaps you have met someone like that and then discovered as you got to know them better that there is a whole slew of trouble in their lives. An outward veneer can hide many internal struggles and fears. Admittedly, some people encounter more trouble than others, but trouble is universal for us all. Job’s friend put the universal problem with trouble into a vivid word picture when he commented, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward from a fire.” (Job 5:7)
Christians are certainly not exempt from the troubles of life. In Acts 14:22 Paul and Barnabas warned would-be followers of Christ: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Even those who have lived a long and blessed life can relate to Jacob who, at the age of 130, said to Pharaoh, “My years have been few and difficult” (Gen. 47:9). Or, as Psalm 90:10 puts it: “The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” No wonder Jesus warned that we must count the cost of discipleship when He said, "So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) 
However, no matter what troubles and fears we face, we can respond to them as David did in Psalm 34. David is, as all of us are at many times, both a good example and a bad example. In 1 Samuel 21:2 we see him as a tragic example, as he lied to Ahimelech and caused all the priests at Nob to be slaughtered.
In this passage we see his poor example of feigning insanity before king Achish, though some commentators believe he was wise to do so. Those who believe that David was wise to feign insanity, see his drama before Achish as a means to an end. The end was that God all the while was protecting him, and the means was his dramatic performance as a madman.
Commentators are divided, but no matter how they see this dramatic episode in David’s life, all are intrigued by the three different biblical perspectives of David’s encounter with king Achish. Those encounters are recorded not only in 1 Samuel 21, but also in Psalm 34 and Psalm 56.
And it is in the Psalms where we see that David was delivered from his fear and his troubles, but not by his own ingenuity in pretending to be insane before king Achish. Rather, in the Psalms we read how David was delivered by the hand of God as David trusted in Him.
Through the Lens of Psalm 34
As we focus on this incident at Gath through the lens of Psalm 34 we see that by God’s providence, David, despite his sins and shortcomings, sets an excellent example for us in whatever troubles and fears we face.
After all, fear is an inevitable experience for every person. Often our fears are foolish, but many times they are well grounded. David’s fears were very well grounded. But the Lord enabled him to overcome them as David prayed to the Lord and trusted in Him, rejoicing that God hears and answers prayer. In verse 4 he writes, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
He doesn’t say that the Lord took away all the harmful circumstances. Saul was still pursuing him. He was in a cave at Adullam. He had company now. But did you notice the description of his companions? They don't come across as being the most helpful and capable companions. 1 Samuel 22:2: “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.”
His circumstances were still hard. From the cave at Adullam he fled to Moab, and then he was warned by the prophet Gad to hide out in Judah. But even though his circumstances were still incredibly cruel and hard, his fear was quelled by the power of prayer.    
Although the king of Gath allowed David to go free he had nowhere to go. He ended up in a cave by Adullam knowing that king Saul would pursue him. Humanly speaking he still knew fear. Yet when he focused in faith on the Lord – as he sought the Lord in prayer – he also had peace, for he knew he was in the Lord’s hands. 
It was no different for the New Testament disciples and apostles. They too had many troubles and fears, just as we have. It is no coincidence, not just happenstance or formality, that one of the most frequent greetings Jesus gave to His disciples is that greeting, “Fear not!”  And He gave grounds for not being afraid in a hostile, fallen world. In John 16:33 He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The best antidote for human fear is prayerful trust in Almighty God. He is that secure refuge, that mighty fortress and high tower for all who seek Him in prayer, trusting His providential hand in all circumstances.
Through prayer we find the fulfillment of Philippians 4:6-7, as David ultimately did also. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul wrote, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Second, David sought refuge in the Lord by actively seeking Him. In verses 8 to 10 he writes: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”
The use of the word “fear” in these verses is radically different than the use of “fear” about being afraid. To fear God in the most common biblical usage of the word means to have awe and wonder, praise and adoration, and a deep reverence for who He is and what He does.
If we only read 1 Samuel 21, and not Psalm 34 and Psalm 56, we might think that David only relied on his acting ability to get safely away from Gath. But both Psalms which reflect on that incident, point out that David specifically sought refuge in God and saw that since God was for him, no one, not even Achish or Saul or any other king, could stand against him.
In Psalm 34:8 he wrote: “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” And in Psalm 56 he uses the same refrain twice: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (vss. 3-4; 10-11).
Part of that beautiful eighth chapter of Romans has its background here. When the Apostle writes that famous line, asking that rhetorical question of great comfort, “If God is for us, who can be against us? he is writing the same sentiment as David. Indeed, he is using the same sentiment of every Christian who seeks refuge in the Lord. For God is that secure refuge, that mighty fortress and high tower for all who seek Him. In whatever troubles and fears come our way, we find strength and comfort by seeking refuge through saving faith in our Lord.
A third way that David sets a good example through the deliverance that the Lord provided, is that he committed himself to do good. In verses 11 to 14, he writes: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Psalm 34 was written in reflection on his experiences in Nob and in Gath. Undoubtedly David reflected back to what led him to Gath, which was his experience at Nob, as recorded in the previous chapter of 1 Samuel. We read of his remorse as he took responsibility for the deaths at Nob. 1 Samuel 22:22 describes how David said to Abiathar: “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your father’s whole family.” Those deaths were a direct result of the lie that David told Ahimelech when he said that he was in Nob on a secret mission commissioned by king Saul (1 Sam. 21:2).
But with that tragedy in the background, brought about by his lie to Ahimelech, David focused on what he could do that is good. Peter, in 1 Peter 3:10-12, also quotes from these verses as he teaches his New Testament readers that knowing the Lord involves more than head knowledge and more than a profession of faith on the lips. Knowing the Lord involves every aspect of our lives, including controlling our tongue, turning from evil to do good, seeking peace and pursuing it.
David learned that truth the hard way as he recognized that his lie led to the deaths of many. But by God’s grace may you and I learn to “keep (our) tongue from evil and (our) lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” We do that by obeying the Word that God has graciously given us for our good.
God Delivers His People
A fourth response of David, as he faced his troubles and fears, is in verses 15 to 22, where we read how David believed in the promises of God to deliver His people from all their troubles. As he writes in vs 19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”
Even the troubling experience of impending death is turned by our Lord from a troubling thought to a glorious assurance. The very thing that reminds us of the penalty of our sin – physical death – is turned by the Lord into our entranceway into heaven, as the Lord redeems us from our sin through the work of His Son.
Verse 20 is an interesting verse, for it is quoted in John 19:36 as referring to Jesus. The promise of God the Father to His Son, Jesus, was that even in crucifixion, when it was customary to break the leg bones of the ones crucified, none of Jesus’ bones would be broken.  
John describes how the soldiers broke the bones of the criminals who had been crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus they saw He was already dead. Instead of breaking His bones they pierced His side with a sword, and John 19:36 records how, “These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled,” and then John quotes from Psalm 34:20: “Not one of His bones will be broken.” 
In order to redeem us from our sin, to rescue us from the trouble we have brought upon ourselves by our sinful condition, Jesus laid down His life as a ransom for ours. It is only through saving faith in Him that all our fears are conquered.
In Him our prayers are effectual, for He is our great High Priest who ever lives to intercede on our behalf. In Him we have refuge in the trials and uncertainties of our pilgrimage in this life. In Him we have deliverance, not just from an earthly king like Saul who pursued David. We have deliverance from the source and embodiment of evil, the devil himself. And through saving faith in Christ, even the last enemy to be destroyed – the enemy of death – is conquered and defeated so that nothing – not even death – can separate us from the love and protection of our Lord!
In every way He shows Himself to be faithful and loving: Our God hears and answers prayer. He delivers us from fear and trouble. At the cost of His own life, Jesus redeems us from all our sins.
In whatever troubles and fears we face, may we face them with the confidence written about in Psalm 34 and Psalm 56, without reverting to the antics of 1 Samuel 21, (though again, some see David’s feigning insanity as a wise move, using an end to God’s means).
We can take great comfort in the promise of God’s Word that “though a righteous man may have many troubles, the Lord delivers him from them all.” 
With David, with Paul, with other Christians of every era, even those in the persecuted church, we can confidently say the words of Psalm 56, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  (4, 11). Amen!
sermon outline:
                                      A righteous man may have many troubles,
                                          but the Lord delivers him from them all... - Psalm 34:19
“Delivered from Many Troubles”
1 Samuel 21:10-22:15; Psalm 34; Psalm 56
I. From the account in 1 Samuel, and from other Scriptures, we know David had many troubles
    (cf. Psalm 56:1, 2, 5, 6, 8)
     1) His troubles foreshadow the troubles of Him who was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53)
     2) His troubles remind us that troubles are inevitable for us all (Job 5:7; Acts 14:22)
II. In Psalm 34 we see David’s response after being delivered at Gath:
     1) He prayed and trusted (1-7)
     2) He sought refuge in the Lord (8-10; Psalm 56:3-4, 10-11)
     3) He committed himself to do good (11-14)
     4) He believed in God and took comfort in God’s promises to deliver him from trouble (15-
          22), with the ultimate victory being that of Christ delivering us from our sin (20; John



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2012, Rev. Ted Gray

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