|THE CRIPPLED HEART
1 SAMUEL 19:8-21:15
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part Four
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 23, 2011
This morning we are going on with our look at David and heart matters.
David - as a person - is epic. If he was on YouTube he’d be viral. And yet, David struggled with life like we struggle with life. Through all of what David went through God was shaping David’s heart - molding him - teaching David how to live life with God on the heart level.
What we’ve been looking at as we’ve been looking at David has been what it means for us to live life at the heart level with God - at the core of who we are to have a heart after God’s own heart.
Last Sunday we looked at what is probably the most famous battle in the Old Testament. Probably one of the most famous battles in all of history. A battle that wasn’t fought between armies but between two people - David and Goliath. A battle of good verses evil. The little shepherd boy verses the big bad giant. The latest in modern warfare verses a kid with a 5 rocks and a sling.
Ultimately a stunning victory. A battle in which David experienced victory because of God. The battle is who’s? The Lord’s.
That’s where we left David last Sunday. David takes Goliath’s armor and keeps it as a souvenir - a memorial to God’s victory. David cuts off Goliath’s head and heads off to Jerusalem - pun intended - for what becomes a huge victory parade.
David is on the top of his game. Its like winning American Idol and getting voted on to the island all at the same time. Steve Jobs saying, “You can have my shares of Apple.”
The people are saying that Saul has slain his thousands but David his ten thousands. Whatever Saul is - David is greater. Wherever David goes - whatever he does - he prospers. God just keeps pouring on the blessings.
For killing Goliath Saul gives David great riches. He gives David his daughter Michal as a wife. Jonathan - Saul’s son - takes David under his wing - kind of like a younger brother. Looks out for him - protects him - loves on him. David’s part of the royal family.
Along with all that David is the anointed king in waiting. At some point God is going to hand him the whole kingdom.
We need to hold onto that picture. David is living obedient to God. He is the model of humility, dependability, integrity - a man after God’s own heart - that God has blessed and is blessing. In a very short span of time David goes from being the young teenage shepherd boy - that even his own family didn’t think much of - to being the hero of the nation - the people’s champion. David has everything going his way.
And that’s when the wheels fall off the chariot. Please join me at 1 Samuel 19:8.
Anyone here every have to use crutches? What’s the purpose of a crutch? To lean on for support - stability - take the pressure off - the weight off something that’s broken or sprained. A crutch is something we lean for support.
What we’re going to look at this morning is God - while David has everything going his way - God taking the crutches out from under David. There are five of these. The first comes in 1 Samuel 19 - starting at verse 8. That’s The Crutch of a Position. Let’s say that together, “The crutch of a position.”
1 Samuel 19:8: When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines and defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him.
David is an officer in Saul’s army - commanding men into battle. In that role David goes out - fights against the Philistines - and once again is victorious. David’s got an enviable position in the king’s court. Job security. A bright future. Perks. Bonuses. A good retirement plan.
Verse 9: Now there was an evil spirit from the Lord on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.
Picture that scene in your mind. Maybe that’s a stretch unless you’ve had someone threaten your life with a spear.
Saul was tormented by this evil spirit and he’s become raving mad. David had been chosen to come and play the harp - which calmed Saul down. But, it seems like - as time was passing - and David was getting more successful - and Saul was all about… Saul - and not doing well with the comparisons with David - that there was a huge pressure building here.
So here’s David - fresh back from the battle - doing what he can to sooth Saul - when all of a sudden this spear comes flying past his head and sticks in the wall. How do you respond to that? David’s a battle hardened warrior. He could have easily taken Saul out. But Saul’s the king. So David flees - escapes into the night - a means of survival while protecting Saul.
David leaves behind is his position.
The proven commander - the faithful heroic
warrior - harp player for the king - in the flash of
spear flying into the wall - its all gone. Never again will David have
that position of service with Saul.
The second crutch God removes is The Crutch of a Wife. Let’s say that together, “The crutch of a wife.”
The prize for killing Goliath included who? Saul’s daughter Michal. David gets the princess and they live happily ever after. A loving happy couple. Not really.
We need some background here. Back in 1 Samuel 18 at verse 21 we read when Michal and David were going to get married Saul thought it was a good idea. Verse 21: And Saul thought, “I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.”
Saul is uses his daughter as a pawn - because Saul is about… Saul and Saul is jealous of David - who’s upstaged him. Saul uses his daughter as a way to get to David. Saul asks David for a dowry. Asks David to go out and kill 100 Philistines. Saul - thinking that David is going to get killed in the process. But David - blessed by God - David comes through - kills the Philistines. And Saul - now really goes off the rails - becomes more afraid of David - more desirous of killing him.
Which leads to the spear flying through the air and David escaping into the night.
Which is where we pick this up in 1 Samuel 19 - verse 11: Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, in order to put him to death in the morning. But, Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death.” So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped.
In verse 17 Saul confronts Michal, “Why have you betrayed me like this. Why did you let my enemy escape?” Michal’s response, “I had to. He threatened to kill me.” What goes around… comes around. Like father like daughter. Michal is protecting herself at the expense of her husband.
Michal’s answer works against David. It only angers Saul more. Only deepens his resolve to kill David. Point being that David’s wife deliberately sends David away. Deliberately protects her life at her husband’s expense. Reading down through history - after all this goes down - David and Michal never again live in harmony.
So, God removes another crutch - the wife is history.
Crutch number three is The Crutch of a Mentor. Let’s say that together, “The crutch of a good mentor.”
David’s on the run. 1 Samuel 19:18: Now David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth.
Where does David run? To Samuel. The man who anointed him with oil.
Samuel is in tight with God. Samuel anointed David as the next king. Samuel is the one guy who should be able to make some kind of sense out of this whole thing.
Ramah - was where Samuel was from - his hometown base of operations. Ramah was about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. David finds Samuel in Ramah. Samuel says, “Let’s go to Naioth.” Naoith is about 5 miles farther north than that.
I Googled Naioth - there’s a Chilean Death/Fusion Band name Naioth that has a Facebook page. 79 people like it.
The name Naioth means “dwellings.” It was a place where Samuel had established a college for prophets. There were a lot of dwellings there - kind of like condominiums - stacked on top of each other in a kind of maze like lay out. Plan is that Samuel could hide David there and they’d probably never find him.
However - no sooner do they arrive at Naioth - then someone tells Saul, “David is at Naioth in Ramah.” So once again David is on the run - this time away from Samuel.
Bottom line is that crutch number 3 - Samuel - gets removed. Are we together on what’s happening here? Gradually David is loosing every thing in his life that he might have looked to for support. Position. Wife. Now Samuel.
Crutch number four is The Crutch of A Friend. Let’s say that together. “The crutch of a friend.”
Chapter 20 - verse 1: Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?”
Do you hear David’s heart - the emotion in his question? “What did I do? Why is he doing this? Give me something to go on here.”
Saul is dogging his steps. David’s living on the edge of death. One wrong move and he’s toast. Slowly David is starting to loose emotional stability. He’s starting to feel the pressure.
Wouldn’t any of us? If we saw our world slowly coming apart at the seams. Saw ourselves starting to slide over the edge and there’s nothing to grab onto before we go over. Maybe you’re there now.
Verse 2: He - Jonathan - said to him, “Far from it, you shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!”
Daddy - Saul - tells me everything. He hasn’t said anything about hunting you down and killing you.
Verse 3: Yet David vowed again, saying “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight - we’re best buds - and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.’ - Telling Jonathan that I’m planning to kill his best friend David might upset him - But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.”
The bottom line is that Saul wants David dead. After some back and forth on all that - what we have recorded here in chapter 20 - after some back and forth - David and Jonathan both come to the realization and what all that means for them. If Jonathan sticks with David Jonathan’s life will be in danger too. And in fact - if we were to read chapter 20 Saul actually tries to kill Jonathan just because Saul thinks Jonathan might be friends with David.
At the end of chapter 20 there is the scene with Jonathan shooting arrows and telling his servant to go farther and farther away to look for them. Remember that? Jonathan signaling David that David’s life is hanging by a thread - that David needs to run.
Look with me down at verse 42 - where all this ends up - verse 42 - 1 Samuel 20 - verse 42: Jonathan said to David, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’ Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city.
Bottom line: Jonathan goes back into the city and David goes back on the run. Position - wife - mentor - friend.
Then - skip down with me to 1 Samuel 21:10. The last crutch is The Crutch of Self-Respect. Let’s say that together, “The crutch of self-respect.”
1 Samuel 21:10: The David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath.
Do you remember who was from Gath? Goliath. Big dude with armor. Smelled really bad. Lost his head over a small stone between the eyes.
Imagine this. David flees to Gath. Home of Goliath. Capitol of the Philistines - the seat of government - the white house - headquarters of all those nasty Philistines. David - killer of Goliath - public enemy number one of the Philistines - David shows up in Gath looking for the king.
Do you think David was a tad conspicuous? Osama bin Laden shows up on the door steps of the White House seeking asylum. How do you respond to that? The man who killed their champion shows up deliberately walking into enemy headquarters.
Verse 11: But the servants of Achish said to him - the king - “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’”?
Great question. What is he doing here? David’s response?
Verse 12: And David took these words to heart - the threat to his life that’s behind the question - and - David - greatly feared Achish king of Gath. So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.
Remember - David’s got chutzpah but he’s not stupid. Its an act. Of course.
But imagine the scene. David - anointed king of Israel - champion over the Philistine champion Goliath - slayer of ten thousands - drooling at the mouth - spittle running down his beard - writing senseless graffiti on the city gates - looking like a madman.
Verse 14: Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”
“I’ve got more nuts than a squirrel prepping for winter. I don’t need another one. Get rid of him.”
Even David’s enemies tossed him out.
Lost his position - his wife - his mentor - his friend - his self-respect. In a very short period of time David goes from the top of his game - the pinnacle of success to rock bottom.
Ever been there? Empty? Alone? Depressed? Angry? Fearful? There may be centuries between us and David but there is a ton here that we can relate to. David trying to come to grips with where he’s landed - crashed.
Do you see the crutches? What David could be leaning on rather than God? God teaching David at the heart level: “You don’t need all that. David, you need to lean on Me.”
When we’re kids we learn to lean on our parents. In school we lean on our teachers - maybe even our education - a degree that we earn. We lean on our job or our position or our spouse or a friend or some goal we might set for ourselves. We lean on the myth of financial security. We lean on what we do for God or our pastor or some person we admire. We lean on drugs or medicine or food or alcohol or having stuff or sex or some other kind of addiction.
Crutches are what we lean on rather than leaning on God. When we lean on crutches rather than leaning on God our hearts are crippled. Our faith remains weak. We never gain the strength we need to live life with God in the abundance of the way he’s created us to live life.
I’d like to recommend a book to you. Chuck Swindoll has written a really good book about David. The title of which is “David - A Man of Passion & Destiny.” I’d like to read for you a part of what Chuck Swindoll writes about this part of David’s life. He calls this “Three warnings to all who prefer crutches.”
First: Crutches become substitutes for God. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Only God is to be our strength; in the final analysis, we are to lean only on His everlasting arms.
41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I
am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am
your God. I will
strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will
uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
I will hold you up, God says. But as long as you lean on someone else, you can’t lean on Me. As long as you lean on some other thing, you won’t lean on Me. They become substitutes for Me, so that you are not being upheld by My hand.
Second: Crutches keep our focus horizontal. When you lean on another person or another thing, your focus is sideways, not vertical. You find yourself constantly looking to that other person, or relying on that thing, that nice secure bank account that’s in the vault. Those things keep our focus horizontal. Human crutches paralyze the walk of faith.
Third: Crutches offer only temporary relief. I sound like an ad for headache medicine, don’t I? But that’s actually what we do. We turn to some remedy that will soothe us or comfort us or dull our pain. People take billions of tablets and capsules each year to find a tranquilizing experience in order to endure the storms of life.
Now, I’m not against taking medicine or accepting help when it’s necessary. I’m saying when we fall back on those as a regular habit rather than on the Lord, that’s when the problem intensifies.
God doesn’t give temporary relief. He offers a permanent solution. (1)
When God created the world - when He created us - God created within us a place just for Him. Our hearts were made for God - to worship God - to know God - to live relationally with God. God at the center of our lives brings peace - a settledness - life as it was created to be lived.
God put Adam and Eve in the Garden - Eden. Blessed them with the awesomeness of this world. Outside of that heart that was created for God - outside - externally is the goodness of what God created - the awesomeness of this world - the beauty - the variety - the bounty. What man is to rule over. Gifts from God for man to enjoy.
Sin distorts all that. The gifts take the place of God. When God is forced out by our selfishness - our self-will - when the gifts take on a greater place in our hearts than our creator - when God is replaced - when things take over - we loose our peace - ugly things - attitudes - behaviors - take over - our relationship with God is severely - critically - damaged. Our hearts - our lives - become crippled.
What’s hard is that we’re so immersed in sin that we rarely realize how sin has led us to lean on so much in our lives other than leaning God. Just think about what we think about as “ours” or “mine.” What we covet and cannot do without. What we struggle to let go of. Even if we’re told - if we know that these things are killing us - it is amazing how necessary these things - these crutches - seem to be.
Are we somewhat together on this? We would rather cling to the gift than cling to God. To lean on the crutch rather than the creator. That’s where our sin takes us. And its killing us.
The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough, old miser within us will not lie down and die in obedience to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence, as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple. And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart. (2)
We need God to remove all that - to remove our crutches from us.
Do you remember in C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader - how many of you saw the movie? Or read the book? Do you remember when Eustace becomes a dragon? As a result of pure self-centered pig headedness - call it sin - Eustace becomes a dragon.
At one point Eustace begins pealing off the layers of scales - of dragon skin - stepping out of his skin - over and over again. No matter how many layers of skin Eustace strips off there’s always another layer underneath.
Its like our efforts at letting go of what we’re leaning on. Let’s face it. We generally are pretty attached to our skin. Left to our own we only go so far. Generally people hesitate to peel off their own skin.
Aslan - the Lion - who represents Jesus - Aslan tells Eustace, “You will have to let me undress you.”
As Eustace tells what happened, Eustace says, “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt… Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only it hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass.”
“Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.” (3)
Let me share two truths that we can use in our lives today. Stay with me on these.
First: There’s nothing wrong with leaning if ultimately we’re leaning on God.
We all lean on someone. God gives us each other to lean on. Husbands and wives need to learn how to lean on each other. We’re created with a need for community. The body of Christ is interdependent. We need everyone doing what each of us is called to do if we’re going to do what God has called us to do. Its natural to lean on someone.
But we need to make sure that who we’re leaning on isn’t taking the place of God. That we’re not leaning on some crutch that’s crippling our heart. We need to make sure that what we’re leaning on ultimately is God. That we’re leaning on the giver of the gifts - not the gift.
Which brings us to our second truth. Being stripped of all substitutes is hugely painful but also hugely freeing.
Maybe you’ve been through a time when God’s stripped away a crutch. Maybe you’re going through that right now. It hurts. It isn’t easy. Sometimes that involves a period of pain and instability.
When God shows us what we’re leaning on rather than leaning on Him - in the pain of having our skin stripped off - in the pain of having the truth of our heart exposed - we have a choice. We can look around and try to find some other thing or person to lean on - or we can choose to lean on God and God alone.
Leaning on God heals the crippled heart - gives us strength for life - frees us to be who God has created us to be.
Tozer concludes his chapter on “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing” with a prayer. See if his prayer might be a prayer you’d like to speak to God this morning.
Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (4)
1. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny - Every Crutch Removed
2. A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God - The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing
3. C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - How The Adventure Ended
4. A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God - The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing
indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN
STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,
1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman
Foundation. Used by