STAYING BY THE STUFF!
Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Joh 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Mark16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his nameamong all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Thus our Lord on more than one occasion, and in each of the gospels is quoted as leaving us a commission to fulfill.
Notice that he does not delineate certain of his followers to whom He is speaking, or others who are to be excused from compliance with this commision. His words are not addressed only to "missionaries" or "pastors" or "preachers". No suggestion can be found in His teachings (or the teachings of the New Testament) of any special class of people who are to do this job. Much less can any biblical argument be given why any one of His followers should be excused.
But one has been given. Over and over, and by missionary, and pastor alike, we have heard that it is the duty of some to give, and to pray, and others to go. I want to register, today, a strong protest! I do not agree! And I think God does not! It seems clear to me that every child of God is expected to go AND to give AND to pray! No missionary that I know excuses his prayerlessness or selfishness on the basis of the notion that his part is to GO. But many others do excuse their failure to reach out to others with the gospel of Christ on the basis of the notion that they "haven't been called". What nonsense!
One of the favorite passages used to defend this sort of thinking is found in the Story of David in 1Sa 30:24 ...as his part [is] that goeth down to the battle, so [shall] his part [be] that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.
Let's take a good look at that story from the book of first Samuel. It starts with David, anointed to be king but not yet on the throne, rejected by his people (under the leadershihp of the one who is on the throne), running from Saul for his life.
When Saul was anointed at the insistence of the rebellious people of God, He seemed to be obviously made of "kingly" material. He was "head and shoulders above the people", and for a people who desired a king "like all the nations" God himself sent and annointed a man that would be acceptable to them. But when he went his own way, God sent Samuel to annoint one of the sons of Jesse. I can imagine the thoughts of some of these "worldly Christians" as they watched the old prophet at the house of Jesse. It must have seemed like the height of foolishness when Samuel passed over, one by one each of the warrior sons of Jesse. They were good looking men, from a good family, and had prooved themselves in battle. They were of a poor family, and were still poor. They had not enriched themselves at the expense of the people. No one had any accusations against any of them. Why would this wise old prophet pass over each one of them, and reject them from the annointing to be King. Could it be that Samuel was getting old and senile? Could it be that his eyes were to bad to see what kingly material stood before him? And then all their worst suspicions were realised when he sent for and then actually annointed David the shepherd boy! "Samuel has lost it!" "What a pity - and he used to be such a wise old man!" "Well, he blew it this time!"
Their attitude is revealed in the fact that the annointing of David drew so little attention that David actually went back to tending sheep. And when his father sent him to the battlefield it was only to see to the welfare of his older brothers, and report back to dad. David seems to be the only one who took that annointing seriously. And Samuel.
When it was reported to Saul that David was boasting in the camp that he could whip Goliath, Saul decided to give the whelp a chance. But when David rejected the use of the kings armor, Saul seems to have taken the idea that David was making excuses, and would not, after all fight the giant. (Notice that David rejected the kings armor not because it didn't fit, but because David hadn't "prooved" it, and therefore could not trust it.) I say Saul thought he would not fight the giant, because he seemed so surprised when he did fight the giant! Listen to what he says: 1 Sam 17:55 and 56 "And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son [is] this youth? And Abner said, [As] thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling [is].
Now why did he ask that question? He had just been talking to David himself, and asked the same question! Perhaps he could not believe that anyone from the house of Jesse could be so Bold. Or perhaps he was beginning to have some idea that maybe the rumors that Samuel had annointed David to be King might not be so far amiss. Either way, he appears to be surprised that David went out to meet the Giant even though David had said he was going to. But notice, that even then he did not take David very seriously, until the people began to ascribe great things to him. "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Saul had become a mere politician.
Now consider what we have here: Saul was annointed by Samuel under the leadership of God. But he had later been told by Samuel that God had rejected him (1 Sam 15:23). David also was annointed to be King, but till now no one on earth had considered that he might really be a king. Now that Saul sees him as a threat, (1 Sam 18:8), he, at least begins to take David seriously, but also actively to resist the clearly expressed will of God, and cling to his human notion of what his anointing as king over Israel ought to mean.
Beside all that, the people of Israel were confused about this issue. Had their leader Saul (listen up pastors) willingly yeilded to the will of God concerning his anointing upon David, the people could have had a much clearer understanding. But he did not. He wanted to maintain control. They were confused about who had a right to be their Lord. Some were confused honestly, because they knew that Saul had been annointed, and may not have known that David also was anointed. And they may not have heard (or heard of) Samuels words to Saul that God had rejected him from being king. And some were probably not so honestly confused, but for fear of Saul, or for economic or political gain thought it wiser not to resist "the powers that be". You could be called a traitor, and even executed for suggesting that someone beside king Saul was actually king.
So today, in may circles, christians are confused about who is their head, and their pastor. The Bible is abundantly clear that it is Jesus, but the "powers that be" can make it costly for any individual to acknowledge that. You see, in this story, David is a figure, and a type of Christ. A Christ who was "despised and rejected of men", who suffered "without the gate", and stands today outside the door of the church, and knocks (Rev. 3:20).
With reference to our theme of "staying by the stuff" I want you to take special note: Saul was not the king in God's eyes, but was in the eyes of men. And that David was not the king in the eyes of men, but was in the eyes of God. The king of Israel that is. Because God had made him king, every loyal God-fearing Israelite, owed David alegiance. But because men had not made him the king, Even those who might have been willing to follow him were (for the most part) reluctant to follow him. What a parralel we have with the Church today! Now if Jesus is King, and He says go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel, but our leadership tells us to leave that to a group of special people called missionaries, and that our only part is to support them in prayer and finances, you can take that in any one of several ways. You can change leadership, and follow Jesus! But if that is too unthinkable, you can accept that perverted logic, and really devote yourself to prayer, and to giving that the lost of the world might hear the good news of Jesus. Or you can half-hearttedly accept that perverted logic, and "Stay by the stuff" till it chokes the life out of you spiritually. The right thing for all of the Israelites to do (including Saul) would have been for them to quickly yeild royal allegiance to King David, But by far the most of them did not.
But who did? I, of course, want to think of myself as one who honestly and whole heartedly accepts the Lordship of Jesus Christ in my own life. But who were the people who did, in fact, follow David, and acknowledge him as king? And now it's time for those who have taken practical steps to answer the missionary call to listen up.
(1Sa 22:2) And every one [that was] in distress, and every one that [was] in debt, and every one [that was] discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them:
They came to David because of personal failings, and personal distress. Not because he was annointed of God to be their king. And yet he took these social misfits, and human failures, and made out of them a mighty, and disciplined army. They learned to handle the bow (the latest inovation in that part of the world in weaponry - 2 Sam 1:8). And they became respected among the nations for their prowess in battle, and for their allegiance to their lord: (read 1 Sam 28 and 29). So, too, those of us that have answered the call of the great commision of Jesus: We did not come, because he is Lord, and so anointed by God. We came to Him out of our own deep need. And if He has done (and is doing) great things in our lives, it is He that is the doer, and He deserves the Glory.
By the time we get to 1 Samuel chapter 30, this army of misfits-made-mighty, had grown to six hundred men. Six hundred men who had (out of their own need) chosen to make David their own king, and had come to know and love him, and were willing to follow him into battle - any battle that he should choose.
In large part because of their prowess in battle, and because some of them might still harbor some love for the thousands of Israel who had not made David their king, this army was rejected by the kings of the Philistines. And so they went back to their camp in Ziklag. Where they found to their horror that the armies of the enemy had invaded while they were out, and had taken their families to be slaves. They were understandably upset. Davids family also was taken captive, and he suffered with and for the people. But they began to speak of stoning him. Why? because his leadership had brought them into this place, and it was in this place that such a terrible thing had transpired! These valiant men, so dedicated to David, now spake of stoning him! But David "encouraged himself in the LORD his God", and so set an example for all the men. Our Lord, too, is a missionary (Heb. 3:1), and when he was left alone at Gethsaemane, and later at Calvary, he left us examples that will serve us well. Every true missionary has suffered or will suffer rejection by people who ought to be supportive. If we do not learn to encourage ourselves in God, then there will be times when there is no one to encourage us. But here I am mixing the metaphor. The missionaries, remember, are the six hundred soldiers under David. And rare is the missionary who has not been sorely tempted under pressure to give up this missionary life. Though most of us will tell you that the calling of a missionary is a truly glorious and joyous calling, we would not be honest if we said that it comes without sacrifice. God's desire with us is that we would come to value the sacrifice as He does: Paul said that he had for Christs sake suffered the loss of all things, and counted it just "dung". That is, after all it's true value! But can we say that about these men who had just lost their families? Is the missionary calling going to cost me my wife and children? If it does, is it worth it? Certainly not! at least not if we are talking about a mere "it", some sort of magical calling, that happens to some christians and not to others. Absolutely not! But, if we are instead talking about alegiance to the King ..., If we are talking about obedience to the Anointed of God..., that is a different story!
And so, these six hundred soldiers, hurting as they were, ultimately decided to follow David into battle once more. If they had any hope at all of recovering their families it would be through their submission to their King David. And however dim that hope may seem to be at times, it is the constant companion of all who follow Christ with the whole heart. These six hundred chosen soldiers ("Many are called [all of Israel] but few chosen[just these six hundred]), trudged, already weary, out of their homes on a mission that suddenly had become intensely personal, and supremely important. They were all tired, and all discouraged, but absolute necesity called.
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! .... If against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is commited unto me".
"And they came to the brook Besor (1 Sam 30:8). Now note carefully the wording of this verse. It says: ..."So David went, he and the six hundred men that [were] with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were SO FAINT THAT THEY COULD NOT GO OVER the brook Besor."
These two hundred who stayed behind wanted with all their hearts to go on! But they could not! "COULD NOT"! Hear the desparate pathos of those words! But don't you think that their hearts in truth went with David and those 400, tired and ragged soldiers? Sure they did! Their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones depended on the outcome of that pending battle. Don't pretend to be 'staying by the stuff' unless you are as burdened, and as dedicated, and as weary as they. And David knew their hearts. And when he came again victorious, rewarded them not according to their ability, but according to their availability. Not by what they had done, but by what they had sought with all their hearts and souls and might to do. But not one of those Israelites over whom David was anointed King, but who still followed Saul was ever counted among that victorious army!Dave McMullen
© Dave & Ella McMullen, 2001