February 28, 2012
By John Barnett
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None of us know what will be written across the pages of life tomorrow.
So God invites us to cling to Him, since He already knows what lies ahead.
We cling to God more and more through His promises, as we see how precarious life can get.
If we don’t start a habit of clinging to the promises of God, sooner or later we’ll end up falling apart during times of living fear and desperation like David did.
As we turn to James 4, we will see the spiritual principle David had to learn the hard way.
How swiftly David’s life changed from unbelievably good, to incredibly bad.
Everything had become a disaster.
When we look after a while in I Samuel 21, we will find David is all alone and afraid.
David never anticipated the turn of events he was facing.
In quick succession: he lost his job, he was separated from his family, he lost his closest friend, he lost all feelings of security, and he was facing great danger.
David was feeling the upheavals:
*When Life Suddenly Changes*
This sudden reversal of his life led David into a time of great fear and desperation.
David failed because he momentarily took his eyes off the Lord, just like we often do; but he snapped out of his tailspin into fear, and got back on course in a short time by clinging to the promises of God.
What made David God’s man was the truth of God in his heart to which he held tightly.
Tonight when sudden reversals hit us, and our perception of our security gets shattered, and fears lurk around each turn in the pathway of life—be sure that like David, you are clinging to the promises of God!
But before we turn back to David’s life, look with me at James 4:13-17 , a strong reminder that God's Word asks us to each pause and reflect upon the brevity of our life; and then ponder how God wants us to live each day.
James 4:13-17 /Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.
For what is your life?
It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
16 But now you boast in your arrogance.
All such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."/
We like David have a choice to live a life by faith or by sight.
If we live just humanly, with what little we can see, we will often be fearful, confused, anxious, and desperate.
But, if we live by faith, like David learned to do, we can live through each day’s unexpected twists and turns:
*Clinging to God’s Promises*
A few months ago I stood with a group of Bible students looking over the birthplace of King David.
We were just five miles south of Jerusalem in Bethlehem, hometown of David.
As we looked across the hills of Bethlehem we were standing on one of the most sobering spots in all of the Holy Land.
We had climbed up the artificial mountain fortress built by Herod the Great as his own monumental tomb.
That third largest palace of the ancient world, called the Herodion, had hidden the exact burial place of Herod for over 2,000 years—until May 7th, 2007; when an Israeli archaeologist’s persistent thirty-five years of diggings finally found Herod’s burial place.
King Herod, infamous for his murderous reaction to Christ's birth, had gained the whole world in his day.
Humanly speaking, he was at the pinnacle of human success:
• He was a trusted and rewarded friend of Augustus Caesar, ruler of most of the world in that day;
• He was a world-class builder, held in awe during his lifetime, and still holding world records in architectural accomplishments;
• He was fabulously wealthy, held absolute power of life and death over his people—and did just about anything he wanted to do for most of his 69 years of life on earth.
But at his death, what of all that wealth, power, and status—that he had held onto so tightly, did he take with him?
The answer we all know deep in our souls is that: Herod took nothing into the Grave.
Death stripped everything away from him, just like it does all humans.
We all are stripped of everything at our last breath except one thing—the promises of God to which we cling by faith.
Nothing else stays with us.
Our bodies are destroyed by death.
All of our friends, family and possessions are left behind—and we hurtle out into eternity with nothing, except the promises of God.
Standing on that mountainside, surrounded by the dust and rubble of Herod’s Tomb, I asked each of those Bible students:
• What promises of God are you holding onto today?
• Have you made those promises of God your very own by faith?
• Which ones do you plan to you cling to, as you leave this life?
*Our Life is But a Vapor*
David’s fear at the unexpected and swift change in events is a reminder to all of us.
We are just as sturdy as a wisp or smoke, or a swirling vapor.
James said it well that none of us know what lies ahead; none but God.
You see as we get older, or when we get sick, or if we get terribly hurt in an accident and lay in a hospital bed somewhere, nearly everything is taken away.
Health, strength, mobility, freedom all are gone for the moment.
It is often then that we realize how frail, weak, and fragile we are.
It is then, as we think through our life that we feel around for what we are really holding onto.
Don’t wait for the doctor’s office, or the emergency room, or the ambulance.
Why not pause for a moment and ask your self what promises of God's Word YOU are holding onto, that you have instantly available.
Here are a few of the handful of promises that I personally cling to by faith.
See if you know them too:
• John 3:16.
Why not say that one with me now? “For God so loved-“
• Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
• Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
• Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all—“
• Hebrews 13:5 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
• I John 1:7: and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin
Remember that you get to pick up as many of those as you care to hold onto.
You can carry them through life, using them as often as you want.
They never wear out or get old.
And, in your weakest moments, and darkest days they will shine brighter and brighter.
As we pick up with David’s life in I Samuel 21, we are coming to a time when fear and desperation are ruling, instead of God and His promises.
And just like we find when we fail, so David lived to regret his words and actions here.
But the blessing is that His God is our God who forgives, restores, and loves us the same whether we obey or not.
*When Fear Rules Bad Choices Lurk*
The setting for this next event of I Samuel 21 is after stopping at Nob to get food and a sword.
David with Goliath’s sword in hand, runs from Saul, departs the borders of Israel, and tries to hide in the enemy territory of the Philistines.
The fear and desperation that would make a man run into the most dangerous place he could ever go, to escape other danger, is hard to comprehend.
But note what David does, as we stand to read vs. 9-15:
I Samuel 21:9-15 /So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod.
If you will take that, take it.
For there is no other except that one here.”
And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.” 10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.
11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land?
Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands’?” 12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.
14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane.
Why have you brought him to me? 15 Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence?
Shall this fellow come into my house?”/
Life is full of unexpected twists—those sudden changes we never see coming.
Unanticipated changes often lead to a gnawing loneliness, one of the most powerful human emotions.
If you live long enough you will lose your spouse, your job, your best friend, or your health.
None of these are expected, they just happen.
What we see in David’s life is:
*When the Unexpected Became Overwhelming*
Just because we love and serve the Lord doesn’t mean we will miss the storms and skids of life.