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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Kingdom Conflict and Our Allegiance
Text:2 Samuel 2:1-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
Christ Shall Have Dominion
Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun
Lead On, O King Eternal

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

 "Kingdom Conflict and Our Allegiance"
2 Samuel 2:1-11
Many of you have heard the expression, “running ahead of the Lord.”  It refers to doing what we presume the Lord wants us to do – or, at many times, doing what we want to do – without seeking God’s guidance. Perhaps a job opportunity opens or a relationship blossoms and we see the open door of opportunity and run ahead of the Lord through that door.
Although all of us have run ahead of the Lord in a variety of ways, that certainly wasn’t the case for David, at least here in 2 Samuel 2. Instead, in these verses David sets a good example for us because, first, he continued to seek the Lord’s guidance, even though he knew the Lord’s will.
In 1 Samuel 16 we read how the Lord directed Samuel to the house of Jesse, David’s father. 1 Samuel 16 tells how initially Samuel thought the eldest brother, Eliab, was the one he should anoint. But the Lord had said, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
All the other sons of Jesse came before Samuel, but none of them was to be anointed as the future king of Israel. So Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” …Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
That took place when David was about seventeen years old, now he is thirty. Many years have passed; time to forge ahead! Many would have “run ahead” of the Lord at this point, presuming that they knew God’s will and had His approval.
After all, both Saul and Jonathan had made reference, on numerous occasions, that David would be the next king of Israel. It was common knowledge. Everyone knew David had been anointed by Samuel. And now Saul had died in battle. The door was open for David. But David didn’t run through the open door. He didn’t run ahead of the Lord or have any presumption about the Lord’s will for his life.
Instead, in verse 1 we read: “In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. ‘Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?’”  His example reinforces the biblical truth that we are to prayerfully seek the Lord’s will, waiting on Him, not running ahead of the Lord presuming to know what His will is for us in a particular situation. 
When the door opens for a new job, or a relationship seems to blossom, or some other event seems so attractive as though everything has fallen in place just as it had for David here, we need to still wait on the Lord and seek His guidance in prayer.
In his comments on 2 Samuel, John Calvin writes:Because although he (David) was on the way, he still knew he could err seriously if God did not guide him.” And the same is true for us, isn’t it? We know how we are to walk. We are to walk – to live – in the light of God’s Word, in obedience to His commands as we seek to do His will in our lives. But we constantly need His guidance. That’s why we must always pray and read His Word. 
David sought guidance through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest, Abiathar, on previous occasions and perhaps here as well. But we have God’s Word to guide us, and in answer to prayer, God leads and guides by His providence and Spirit. We gain knowledge of his will, not by the Urim and Thummim of the high priest, but as an old saying notes, by usin’ and thumbin’ His Word.
Contentment with God’s Leading
Another way that David set a good example is that he was content with where God led him (1-3). When the Lord directed David to Hebron, David went, obediently, without complaint. His men and their wives and families went as well. Hebron was an old and important city, but it would be eclipsed by Jerusalem. Jerusalem would far surpass Hebron as a great and prestigious city. But David had no complaint. He didn’t do as Lot did.
Do you remember how as Lot was running from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels of the Lord directed him to flee to the mountains? But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please!  Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die.  Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” (Gen. 19:18-20)
God knows what is best for your life and for mine. We are much better off to be content with where and how He, in His providence, leads us than to try to run ahead of Him on our own.  Even where we live is of His choosing. In his speech at the Areopagus, Paul pointed out that the Lord has set the boundary lines for the nations. In Acts 17:26 he said: From one man he (God) made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
Instead of running ahead of the Lord, we are to wait for His guidance and wait with contentment. Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul noted, Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). He found that out by personal experience, as he wrote to the Philippians, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  (Phil. 4:11b-13) The apostle Paul was like David in that he waited on the Lord and sought God’s guidance instead of running ahead with the presumption of what God’s will for his life was.
A third way that David sets an excellent example for us in this passage, is that he reached out in compassion to those who had followed Saul. Saul’s followers, especially those from Jabesh Gilead, were whole-heartedly committed to Saul. 1 Samuel 31 describes how valiant men from Jabesh Gilead traveled all night to the Philistine city where the corpses of Saul and his sons were hung on the city wall. The men of Jabesh Gilead took the bodies down and returned them to Jabesh Gilead.
Now, in 2 Samuel 2:4-7 we read: “When David was told that it was the men of Jabesh Gilead who had buried Saul, he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead to say to them, ‘The Lord bless you for showing this kindness to Saul your master by burying him. May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.’”
Some commentators see David’s move here as strictly political. It was admittedly for his own interests that these men would follow David, and David intimates that in verse 7 as he says to the men, “Now then, be strong and brave, for Saul your master is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.” But several other commentators point out that while this was a wise approach politically for David, it was motivated by the compassion that he had for the followers of Saul.
As we have seen throughout our study of God’s grace in David’s life, he respected Saul because God had anointed Saul to be king. Even though David had also been anointed, he had waited patiently for his time to come, and all the while refused to harm Saul or speak evil against him. That in itself is remarkable and shows both the love David had for the Lord and the compassion that he had for Saul and his followers.
Here again, we can learn much from David. We, too, are called to be compassionate, not only to our friends and family, but to all people. And here again, we are pointed to the greater David, Jesus Christ, who left an example for us, that we should follow in His steps as 1 Peter 2:21 describes. 1 Peter 2:23 adds: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 
David entrusted himself “to him who judges justly,” even when he was pursued relentlessly by Saul. And now, after Saul’s death, David showed compassion and did not run ahead of the Lord but sought his guidance. Yet there were many other times when he did not show compassion, when he ran ahead of the Lord, and where he did not seek to do the Lord’s will. So even as we learn from David’s good example here, we are always to look beyond to the perfect example set by the greater David, Jesus Christ.
Kingdom Conflict and Our Allegiance
When David became the king of Judah, we read of a rival kingship in Israel. Abner, who was Saul’s cousin and a leading general in his army, set up Saul’s lone remaining son as king. Saul’s other sons had died with him in battle, but Ish-Bosheth apparently was not involved in that battle. Abner installed Ish-Bosheth as king, but Ish-Bosheth was really a puppet for Abner.
In the next few chapters, we will witness a great civil war break out between Judah and Israel. The conflict reminds us that there is always conflict between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of this world. It starts with the conflict between Satan and the seed of the woman, described in Genesis 3, and then throughout Scripture we read of the conflict between the two kingdoms. The conflict finally draws to a close in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible, as Babylon the Great is destroyed and the serpent is cast into the lake of burning fire.
And that leads us to our application: Our allegiance and commitment must always be with “the greater David,” Jesus Christ, and His kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world. Speaking to Pilate Jesus said in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
This passage from 2 Samuel 2 is indirectly, and yet certainly, putting before us both the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of our God. The two kingdoms are represented by their respective kings, Ish-Bosheth and David. Between the lines of these verses the inevitable question must be asked, “Which kingdom are you and I in? Which King are we following?” The decision must be made, just as the civil war described in the next few chapters forced people to a decision: Would the people be on Ish-Bosheth’s side? Or would they side with David, the Lord’s anointed?
The kingdom of the world makes every effort to look much better to us than the Kingdom of our God. The devil is a master of deceit. He can make the most bitter fruit look sweet, the most repulsive sin look like the greatest fun. The kingdom of the world, influenced as it is by him, also makes every effort to seduce Christians from the Kingdom of God to the kingdom of this world. And our own sinful nature has a natural tendency to want to do as Lot’s wife did – to turn and look back at the kingdom of this fallen world, rather than look ahead to the greatness and glory of the kingdom of our God.  
But the allurements of the world cannot hide the cruelty and the conflict of the world. We read of that conflict in the war between the followers of David and those who followed Saul. This chapter, and the chapters to come, describe the hostility between those two groups and the bloodshed that flowed from their hostility.
As brutal bloodshed breaks out later in this chapter (12-32), Abner asked Joab, “Must the sword devour forever?” That question was answered by Jesus in Matthew 24:6-8, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
There will always be conflict in this world because this world is under the curse of sin. No matter how attractive the allurements of the world present themselves – pleasure, prosperity, power, personal fulfillment – all these allurements cannot hide the cruelty and conflict that will permeate the world until the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus, returns in glory.
Jesus, being tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin, knows how deceptive the kingdom of the world can be. He warns us with two piercing questions in Matthew 16:26: What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
He also pointed out that “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt. 6:24) There are two kingdoms and two kings. One king is a usurper and will be destroyed by the true King, the King of kings, Jesus Christ.
Kingdom Life
If by God’s grace and Holy Spirit’s power you are in the kingdom of Christ, then how do you show your allegiance to Him? How are you and I to show that our citizenship is in heaven and that we eagerly await a Savior from there? (Phil. 3:20)
While all of Scripture directs God’s kingdom people how to live, 2 Peter 1:3-11 is especially instructive:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers (and sisters), be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May those words describe you and describe me! May we realize as Peter did, that there is no spiritual plateau. We never come to a point in this life where we have reached the top and can rest on our laurels. Living as a Christian means that we are always adding, always growing, as we are sanctified by God’s grace and Spirit to ever increasing conformity with Christ our King, our Savior and Lord, our elder brother, the faithful shepherd of His kingdom, His flock, His bride, the true church.
So often we are tempted to run ahead of the Lord. But if, by His grace and Spirit’s power, we have saving faith in Christ alone and are citizens of His Kingdom, then may we also wait upon Him, not running ahead, but recognizing as David did, our constant need for the guidance of our faithful God as we grow in grace and knowledge of His name. Amen.
sermon outline:
… The men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the
house of Judah… 2 Samuel 2:4a
…Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth
son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim.  He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri
and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. - 2 Samuel 2:8-9
                              "Kingdom Conflict and Our Allegiance"
                                                    2 Samuel 2:1-11
I.  David sets a good example in that:
    1) He continued to seek the Lord’s guidance (1), even though he knew the Lord’s will
         (1 Samuel 16:13)
    2) He was content with where God led him (1-3; Philippians 4:11-13)
    3) He reached out in compassion to those who had followed Saul (4b-7)
 II. Although David was anointed king over Judah (4a), Ish-Bosheth was made king over
      Israel (8-11), showing that in this life there is always conflict between God’s Kingdom
      and the kingdom of this world
 III. Our allegiance and commitment must always be with “the greater David,” Jesus Christ,
       and His kingdom (John 18:36; Matt. 16:26)



* 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 2013, Rev. Ted Gray

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