OUR POPULARITY VERSUS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
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OUR POPULARITY VERSUS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

26 JUNE 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

1 Samuel 18:6-16
1 Samuel 31:2
2 Samuel 1:1-27

Most of my spiritual messages are presented in a timeless manner; meaning that there is nothing in the message that relates it to a current event.

Today's message is a little different, because it shows how a current event in mid June 1994 relates to the timelessness of our human struggle between our popularity and our righteousness.

Over the past week, it has been almost impossible to pick up a newspaper, or watch or listen to the news on television or radio without noting something about O. J. Simpson.

O. J. was a very accomplished and popular football player and, in recent years, a very popular sports commentator.

In Buffalo, where I was this past Tuesday, they talk about almost nothing else, for they venerate him as the hero of the Buffalo Bills to the point of his being incapable of doing any wrong.

In California, there were signs all over the place lifting up the "Juice."

One sign, hung upon the fence of his home, read, "O. J., I'm praying that you didn't do it."

As though prayer could change the past!

But through all of this, I saw very little about his former wife, who was murdered along with a friend.

And by the way, do you know her first name?

It's Nicole!

Whether or not O. J. murdered his wife isn't the problem, for he is still innocent until proven guilty.

But he does fit the pattern of murder resulting from domestic violence.

Eight times the police were called to their home because of domestic violence, but he was arrested only once, when his wife had to be hospitalized.

Because of his popularity, the vast majority of the people in our society don't want to see his unrighteousness as a wife abuser, even if he is not guilty of murder.

But as I said, there is a similarity between this case and timeless struggle that exists between our popularity and righteousness, and in the lives of those who have been popular in the past, and there will be many more such cases in the future.

Such was the case with many of the kings of Israel; but one of them, David, admitted his guilt and repented.

But for this morning, I would like us to note one aspect of David's life, and that is part of his relationship with King Saul.

We have all learned many of the stories about David and how he was a great commander, and we know somewhat less about Saul; but note what happened after one battle, as recorded in 1 Samuel 18:6-16.

6. And it happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments.

7. And the women sang as they played, and said,

"Saul has slain his thousands,

And David his ten thousands."

8. Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?"

9. And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.

The people looked to David for the successes, and not to God who gave him his victories (a point that we will discuss another time).

This made Saul jealous because he, like the people, was not focused upon the Lord.

10. Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul's hand.

11. And Saul hurled the spear for he thought, "I will pin David to the wall." But David escaped from his presence twice.

I personally believe that the evil spirit was always there, and that God simply removed His Holy Spirit from Saul, and with Him his anointing and protection.

What do you think would have happened if Saul had succeeded in killing David?

Because he was king, he probably would have gotten away with it before the people, but not before God.

And further note that no one stopped Saul from trying to kill David the second time.

12. Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.

This need not have happened.

The Lord also wanted to be with Saul, but Saul rejected His presence; thus the Lord rejected him.

13. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.

14. And David was prospering in all his ways for the Lord was with him.

15. When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him.

16. But all Israel and Judah loved David, and he went out and came in before them.

Now let's move ahead to the time after the battle in which Saul and his sons died, (1 Samuel 31:2)

2. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul.

and note David's reactions (2 Samuel 1:1-27):

1. Now it came about after the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, that David remained two days in Ziklag.

2. And it happened on the third day, that behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul, with his clothes torn and dust on his head. And it came about when he came to David that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself.

Remember as we go on, that this man came to David of his own free will, and humbled himself before him.

3. Then David said to him, "From where do you come?" And he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel."

4. And David said to him, "How did things go? Please tell me." And he said, "The people have fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also."

5. So David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?"

6. And the young man who told him said, "By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and behold, Saul was leaning on his spear. And behold, the chariots and the horsemen pursued him closely.

7. "And when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I said, 'Here I am.'

8. "And he said to me, 'Who are you?' And I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.'

He is of the very people that David had just slaughtered in battle, yet this man seems to have been fighting with Saul and Israel against the Philistines.

9. "Then he [Saul] said to me, 'Please stand beside me and kill me; for agony has seized me because my life still lingers in me.

10. "So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord."

He was obeying the king's command and, perhaps in his own mind, showing some compassion, but he didn't do anything to try to save the life of Saul.

11. Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so also did all the men who were with him.

12. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

13. And David said to the young man who told him, "Where are you from?" And he answered, "I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite."

14. Then David said to him, "How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?"

15. And David called one of the young men and said, "Go, cut him down." So he struck him and he died.

16. And David said to him, “Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the Lord's anointed.’ ”

There was no need to kill this young man, but David did it anyway, but not by his own hand; he had another do his dirty work for him.

Love and compassion would have made a much better statement.

But because he was king, and popular, no one said anything against what he ordered or did, and no one tried to prevent it.

All killing is wrong...no matter who does it, or how much they try to justify it.

There is never any righteousness in the act of killing.

17. Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son,

18. and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar.

Now, as we read the words of this song, remember that it was God who was sorry that He had made Saul king, and that He also had rejected Saul.

19. "Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places!

How have the mighty fallen!

20. "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 exult.

21. "O mountains of Gilboa,

Let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings;

For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,

The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

22. "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.

23. "Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life,

And in their death they were not parted;

They were swifter than eagles,

They were stronger than lions.

24. "O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,

Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25. "How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan is slain on your high places.

26. "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

You have been very pleasant to me.

Your love to me was more wonderful

Than the love of women.

27. "How have the mighty fallen,

And the weapons of war perished!"

David would not raise his hand against Saul, even though Saul raised his hand against him.

But the fact that God had rejected Saul doesn't seem to justify the words of the song, nor the death of the messenger.

We can understand these words when applied to Jonathan.

People use their position, and their popularity, to influence others, which is a sign of their pride.

At times like these, they say and write things to perhaps justify themselves, rather than fully telling the truth.

The letter O. J. wrote falls into this category, too.

It is important for all of us to realize that in the eyes of God, both David and the messenger, and O. J. and Nicole, are equal; and we cannot side with one or the other, just because of their popularity.

We must weigh the evidence in our heart, as God does, and hold fast to the truth, whether or not our position is popular with others.

This is all part of being a Christian.

Let us pray!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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