Why Character Matters
1 Samuel 18:1-16
May 28-29, 2021
1 Samuel 18 is about character. You might remember in the famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr, where he said he had a dream that all men would be judged according to the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. That is so exactly right and I love that phrase, "the content of their character", it is a great phrase, because it describes the fact that character, the qualities or traits that describe your nature, define who you are.
Now, here's what's interesting. God also has character, He also has those traits that we very much love. For example, God's character, we understand that God is loving, that's part of who He is. That's His nature. We're very thankful that God is loving by nature, it's His character. God is forgiving, oh, we're thankful that God is forgiving. It's His character, it's who He is. He is gracious. God is kind. He is just. He is righteous altogether. He's merciful. God is patient. Oh, we're very thankful that God is patient with people like us. It's part of who He is. He's patient.
He's good. He's faithful. He's true. Oh, there are many aspects of God's character that we could describe. Really, what it says is that God's character is beautiful and it is glorious, and these are the aspects of character that God wants to instill in you and in me. These aspects of God's character, He wants to instill in you. As I mentioned, last week, we weren't born with those characteristics, we were not born with those attributes in our lives, those qualities and in fact, as I mentioned, we were born in the nature of man.
We were born in the sin of Adam and the evidence is all around us. As I say, you don't have to teach your child to be selfish, they have that figured out all on their own. You have to teach your child to share. You don't have to teach a child the lie, you have to teach your child to tell the truth. You don't have to teach a child to have a tantrum, they have that figured out on their own. You have to teach a child to have self-control.
I came upon an interesting study a number of years ago. It was done by the Minnesota Crime Commission, which is a secular institution for sure but they did this study, an extensive study to understand how it is that people turn out the way they turn out. Again, secular study extensively done to figure out how or why people turn out the way they turn out but what you're going to find is some interesting biblical parallels. Let me just read the conclusion to their report.
Every baby starts life as a little savage. How's that for an opening line? A secular institution. Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it, his bottle, his mother's attention or his playmate's toy. Deny him these wants, and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which will be murderous where he not helpless, he is dirty, he has no morals, he has no knowledge and no skills.
What this means is that all children, not just certain children, but all children are born delinquent. Fascinating conclusion. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free rein to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow up to be a criminal, a thief, a killer or a rapist. That is a very large statement. In other words, a sinner is a sinner because that sinner was born in the nature of it.
In other words, a cat does cat things because they have a cat nature. A dog is a dog and cat is a cat, a horse is a horse, unless of horse of that the horse is a horse been Mr. Ed. Here's the good part. Here's the good part of the story. People can change. Character can change. People can be transformed. God is still moving. God is still transforming. Maybe you know of that impossible cantankerous difficult person who came to faith in Christ and was transformed. God is still moving.
I'll tell you my own father is an example. He was an alcoholic, abusive, angry, cantankerous, an outcast in every way but he came to faith in Jesus Christ at 75 years old and became a new man. I got to baptize him with my own hands. People can change. Character can be transformed because here's the thing, God loves sinners. Now to me, this is a wonderful, wonderful aspect of God's character, that the holy, righteous God of heaven would love sinners. In fact, He loves sinners much, He says he does not want them to perish but have everlasting life. He sent His son to seek and to save sinners.
He is actually wanting sinners to be drawn into a relationship to Him. That is amazing. He calls out their name, He knocks on the door of their heart, He pursues sinners. When He knocks on the door of the heart and they open the door of their heart, then He takes residence in that person's life and begins the work of transformation, of taking that ugly nature in which they were born and transforming it into the beautiful, glorious nature of God. 1 Samuel 18, is about character and it picks up immediately after this story from last week where David defeated the Philistine giant Goliath, one of the most famous stories in the Bible but it's an amazing story of faith.
David had amazing faith. In fact, in that speech, where he rebukes the Philistine giant, he says, "The Lord does not deliver by sword or by spirit, the battle is the Lord's, and He will do it, He will give you into our hands" and then he added, "that the whole earth would know that there is a God in Israel". That's faith. We understand that Saul was head and shoulders taller than all men in Israel. I suggest to you that David was taller in spiritual growth and faith than all men in Israel, because God was searching for a man to replace Saul as King.
Saul was a man after the people's heart, but David was a man after God's heart. 1 Samuel 18 is a story about character and the contrasts of character. In this story, we meet Saul's son, Jonathan. If you came into our Wednesday studies, verse by verse, you would know, we've already met Jonathan, he is also a man of character. He is a man of faith. He is a man of action and when Jonathan sees David, he was there when he heard the speech. He was there when David defeated the Philistine. He was there when he saw such humility, and something stirred in Jonathan.
Jonathan knows character when he sees it. He knows good character when he sees it, and he's drawn, and it says his heart was knitted to David and he loved him as himself. On the other hand, Saul saw David now arising in Israel, the people loved him and this made Saul angry, seething with jealousy and fear. It's a study of contrasts, and it's a study of why character matters. There are many life lessons. Let's read it. 1 Samuel 18. We begin in verse one.
Now, it came about that when he had finished speaking to Saul, David, this is after the battle with the Philistine when he destroyed the giant. After he finished speaking to Saul, it came about that the Saul of Jonathan was knit, I love the picture of that. He was knit to the Saul of David and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took David that day and did not let him return to his father's house. In other words, he attached him to into his army.
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, it's a covenant in the Lord, a pledge together because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, along with his armor, including a sword in his bow and even his belt. David went out wherever Saul sent him and prospered. Saul set him over the men of war and it was pleasing to all the people of Israel and also in the sight of Saul's servants.
It happened, as they were coming when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women would come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, with musical instruments, and the women would sing a song as they played, and this is the words of the Saul, "Saul has slain his thousands, but David, his 10,000".
When Saul heard this, he became very angry for this thing displeased him. He said, "They have ascribed to David 10 thousands, but they have ascribed to me thousands. No. What more can he have but the kingdom?" Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.
Now, it came about in the next day, now this is important to read this properly, came about in the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul. This is not a demon. God sent an angel to agitate, and here's why, because the Holy Spirit had been removed. The anointing of the Spirit has now been removed. This agitating angel is confirming that he is no longer under the anointing. Therefore it says he came upon him mildly and Saul raved in the midst of the house. He is having a tantrum. He is hot, he's yelling, he's cursing very likely throwing things while David was playing the harp.
Now, here's why David was playing the harp. It tells us a few chapters back-- we looked at this at the Wednesday study that when the Spirit departed from Saul and his soul became agitated, that his servant said, here's this, "Let's find a man who is skilled in musical instrument and song and when your soul is agitated, then he can play and then you will be at peace". Saul said, "Yes find this man." Someone says, "I know a man." He's speaking of David son of Jesse. David began to come and to play the harp for Saul the anointing of the Spirit was on it, but not today, Saul is angry and is fuming, raving in the house while David plays the harp and it says then a spear was in Saul's hand.
Saul, hurled the spear for he thought, I will pin David to the wall. He's going to try to kill David. This happened. It says, David escaped from his presence, this happened twice. Now, Saul was afraid of David for the Lord was with David, but had departed from Saul. Therefore, Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as commander of a thousand. In other words, he's hoping that he's going to die in a battle. He went out and he came in before the people, but David was prospering in all his ways because the Lord was with him.
I. Character Begets Character
Now, when Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded David, but all Israel and Judah loved David. He went out and came in before them. All right. These are the verses that we want to look at. There are so many life lessons, so much to apply to our lives starting with character begets character. You are drawn to that character that you desire. David, speaking to Saul, Jonathan is there, he watches the whole thing. He sees the speech. He sees this young man. He sees his humility. He's clearly a man of valor and faith and courage and Saul's heart is drawn to him because he knows good character when he sees it, because we already know that Jonathan himself is a man of faith and character, a man of action.
In fact, just a few chapters back, there's this picture where Saul and his men are standing by what the Philistine raiders are troubling Israel, but Jonathan and his armor bearer, single-handedly, just the two of them decided to take on the Philistines. This is out of 1 Samuel 14:6, Jonathan said the young man carrying his armor, "Come, let's cross over to the Garrison of these uncircumcised", and then he makes this statement, which is famous, "for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few". God can save, God can move whether it's many or few. This is an aspect of faith. Jonathan knows character when he sees it, he knows faith when he sees it and he's drawn to it.
A. Choose friends with godly character
Life lesson, be very careful who you're drawn to, be very careful who you associate with for you will be like them. In other words, choose friends with Godly character. We all want friends. We all want relationship. We all want connection, but he says be very careful. Be very careful who you are drawn to. This friendship with Jonathan, David actually becomes famous in the scriptures. I'm convinced that Proverbs 18:24 refers to it. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Have a friend like that. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Find quality, heart and character and be drawn to it. It'll change your life. Be very careful who you associate with, who you are drawn to. You will become like them.
I tell you I'm a blessed man. Let me just say I am very, very blessed. One of the reasons I'm blessed is because I have such quality people in my life. I have good friends that are quality people of character and heart and faith. For example, many of you know, Pastor Matthew. Pastor Matthew and I have been friends for almost 30 years. I know I don't look that old, but 30 years serving together. I'll tell you, I know quality. He has faith, he has character, he's authentic through and through. I trust him explicitly. We have each other's back.
Then God has brought Pastor Sean, Pastor Keith, our elders, our youth leaders, our worship guys. This is amazing what God has done. It's absolutely astoundingly, amazing, the quality of character and faith that God has assembled here. I'm drawn to, I want to see such character. Be very careful who you're drawn to. David had great faith. He's a man of action. They're kindred spirits and they make a covenant, a pledge of the Lord together to honor God in their lives. He's knitted with David. He sees that David has a quality of character that's very deep.
David has humility. Humility is one of the deepest aspects of character. It's one of the deepest aspects. It's very attractive. People are very drawn to that aspect of character, humility. Of course the opposite is pride and arrogance, which repels but they're very drawn to humility. Now, the thing is many people don't understand what humility is. They think that humility is thinking poorly of oneself, but that's not humility at all.
In fact, A.W. Tozer wrote in his book, The Pursuit of God, in this regard, he said, "The meek humble man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of inferiority. Rather, he may be in his spiritual life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson, but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows that he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God more important than angels. He knows very well that the world will never see him as God sees him, and he has long stopped caring." I love that quote.
Humility. It's a very attractive quality. It's the foundation of many other aspects of quality. By humility, David recognize God is the strength of his life. God is the one who will do it, God is the one who will bring this victory. This friendship between Jonathan and David, it's a life lesson. Choose well your friends, the company, you will become like them. If you choose bad company, it could literally destroy your life. The scripture of 1 Corinthians 15:33 is very true. Do not be deceived bad company, corrupts good morals.
Here's another one. Proverbs 22: 24-25, "Do not associate with a man given anger, do not go with the hot tempered man or you will learn his ways and you will find a snare for yourself. It is a snare. Knit yourself with those that you know have quality of character, be drawn to them. You want the highest quality of character, Jesus is called the son of David. You knit your heart to Him and He will instill indeed those qualities of God's character by which you can be transformed."
John 15:15 says, Jesus said, "No longer do I call you slaves. The slave does not know what the master is doing. I call you friends." I love that phrase. He's knitted with your heart. "I call you friends. All things I heard from my Father, I make known to you. You're my friend." He's called the friend of sinners for a reason. Then you see this in 1 Samuel 18, you see this relationship of love, and Jonathan wants to honor him. See, there's a picture for us, love builds, love edifies.
B. Love builds and edifies others
When you love, build, edify, give into, pour into those that are around you. So many times people are very thoughtful about what they can get, how they would receive from relationships. He said, ''No, there's a quality of love that wants to build and edify. Jonathan wants to honor David. He gives him his own belt, his armament because love builds. Love gives away. Love is thoughtful about the other. 1 Corinthians 8:1, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Well, God loves you and He's knitted His heart to you, and He wants to build up your life.
I love this prayer where Paul says it so beautifully in Ephesians 3:16-19. The very thing he says, "I bow my knees asking that God would grant to you according to the riches of His glory, that you would be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man."
This is what God wants. His heart is knitted with you. I love you, I want to build you, I want to edify you. I want to pour this into your life to be strengthened with power by the Spirit and the inner man so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and that you being rooted and grounded in that love will know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and that you will be filled up with the fullness of God.
II. Beware of Insecurity and Fear
I tell you, if you are filled up with the fullness of God, you are transformed. Well, that's what I want. I love you, I want to put into you, instill into. Then 1 Samuel 18 shows us the contrast, Saul. Saul is filled with jealousy and he's afraid of David. The life lesson, beware of insecurity and fear. It is an aspect of the nature in which we were born. We were born in human nature, there's an ugliness to the human nature. Insecurity and fear is part of it.
Now, you look at David and you see that David was a man of confidence. I made note last week, it's important to say it again. David was confident, but not self-confident. Self-confidence is the mantra of the age. There are literally thousands of books written on how you can be more self-confident. Here's the thing, God does not want you to be self-confident. You say, ''He doesn't? What does He want? Does he want us to be insecure and fearful?'' No, He wants you to have confidence in Him.
God-confidence is a completely different thing. That is faith. Because if you get confidence in yourself, you don't need God. By definition, your confidence is in you. Beware of insecurity and fear because it will rob you of joy. It will rob you of peace. It will rob you of relationships. It will rob you. That's why Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us a spirit of fear.'' That didn't come from God. That's the nature in which a person was born. "God didn't give us a spirit of fear, God gave us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind."
A. Give fear an answer
It's a study of contrasts. David and Jonathan have faith in character and their hearts are knitted together. Saul is filled with jealousy and fear and it consumes his life. David is favored in the sight of all the people and everything he does, he prospers. Saul is desperately trying to hold on to his place as King of Israel, though God has rejected Saul as being king. He's refusing to let go, he's resisting God, he's fighting against God's word. He sees David arising and he's filled with fear and jealousy.
There's a lesson. There's an answer. To be transformed from that nature in which we were born, and it really is this, give fear an answer. Give fear an answer. Here's the words of the women in their song, "Saul has slain thousands, but David ten thousands". He's angry, "What more can he have but the kingdom?" as he says. See, here's the problem. Everyone has a narrative of their own life. Everyone has an inner narrative of their own life, how they see life. Everyone has their own inner narrative, which is another way of saying we all talk to ourselves. I will be the first to admit that I talk to myself. I'm sure that you would like to admit it also. I even will answer myself. How about that?
That inner narrative, these words that a person says to himself are often critical and self-defeating. I was thinking of an illustration, it's like, I love to golf. Now, I'm not good at it at all, but I love to golf. You're out there golfing and you're getting ready to tee off and you hit the ball and you top it, and it goes about three or four feet and you wanted it to go 300 yards. Now you're all frustrated, so you go, ''Oh, that was dumb. That was really dumb.'' Who are you speaking to? Yourself. The inner narrative is often very self-defeating because that inner narrative often comes from fear and insecurity, it comes from the nature in which a person was born. It doesn't help, it just defeats, but God has an answer.
God did not give you a spirit of fear. God gave you a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind. Give fear the answer. Answer with the counsel of God. God gives you His Word. God gives you His heart. Let that inform your inner narrative. Let that guide you. Let God be the counselor to your inner mind, taking every thought captive, as the scripture says. Let me give you a great word.
Psalm 73:21 and 26, "When my heart was embittered, I was pierced within and I was senseless and ignorant. Nevertheless, you have taken hold of my right hand and with your counsel, you will guide me." Now, that is a good word. You, by your counsel, you will guide me, you will lead me, you will inform my heart, you will speak to my spirit. That's where transformation comes from.
He says, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Here's another one out of the New Testament. Romans 12:33. He says, "Don't be conformed to this world, be transformed," but how? "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It must be made new, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. I say to you, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think. You can add to that phrase, not to think more lowly of himself than he ought to think, but to think, so as to have sound judgment as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
B. God is with you, that changes everything
God has allotted to you, to each this measure of faith, that you would think according to that, that it would be the council that would guide your heart. Now, here's this, and we'll close with this. You see it in the chapter, God is with you. That changes everything. God is with you, it changes everything. This is verses 11 to 12. Saul hurls his spear thinking he's going to pin David to the wall. David escapes. It says, "Now, Saul was afraid of David for the Lord was with David, but had departed from Saul."
Now, this is important because its the understanding of the Holy Spirit. I mentioned before, and it bears repeating, it's important to understand that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is distinct and different in the Old Testament, versus the New Testament. When you read a story like this, it's very important to keep that in mind, that the ministry of the Spirit in the Old Testament is distinct and different than in the New.
As I mentioned, in the Old Testament, the anointing of the Spirit was limited only to those whom God called for a particular purpose, prophets, priests, or kings. Very limited. Not so in the New Testament. In the New, if you have asked Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, He has given you the anointing of the Spirit, every single one. It's important to recognize, not a limited few, every single one. You ask Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, you have the anointing of the Spirit, every single one. The power of God is with the anointing of the Spirit upon you.
Then, we see this distinction in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit could be withdrawn or could depart. Not so in the New. In the New Testament, if you've asked the Lord Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior, He gives the Holy Spirit and you are sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. You are sealed. It's like a down payment to guarantee that when you enter into the presence of the living God at redemption, that you're given the fullness thereof.
You are given the full of the Spirit, and He'll never leave you and He'll never forsake you. He has sealed you so that you are adopted. Now, God has adopted you as a son or as a daughter so that you can call God as your Father and you're not going anywhere either. It's important to recognize the distinction and difference.
Here now, Saul, the Holy Spirit has departed, and here he is now raging in the house, yelling, screaming, very likely throwing things. He's not moving by the Spirit, which is a lesson to itself. That's not of the Spirit. He's angry. We need God. We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need to live and move by that in our lives. We need His life to transform the ugly nature in which we were born into the beautiful character of God. How? It comes from His presence by His Holy Spirit.
Let me give you a great word out of Galatians 5:22-23, "The fruit of the Spirit-" which is to say, the result of the Holy Spirit in your life, the transforming aspect of God in your life, "-is love." The highest and foremost that God wants to do is to show you what it means to love and to have joy. God wants you to have joy. Jesus says, "I give you joy, my joy, not as the world gives. A joy that comes because the presence of God is residing." There's that joy that comes. Peace, a peace that passes understanding. Even in the turbulence of life, peace. I give you patience.
I'll tell you what, we weren't born patient. It's the nature of man to be impatient, but God is patient, it's His nature. By His presence in your life, as He instills this, He transforms and brings to you patience and kindness and goodness. He wants you to be good, kind, faithful, gentle and have self-control. These are the things that God does. How does a person become transformed? How is a character transformed? I suggest three things. One, by wanting it, by desiring it. Number two, by asking for it. Number three, by choosing it.
By wanting it, desiring it, you see the beautiful glorious character of God, and then you see the ugly nature of man and you say, I want, I desire that which is beautiful and that which is glorious that you have. I want that. I want that. Desire. I want that.
Number two, ask. Ask and you will receive, seek and you'll find, knock in the door will be opened. Ask Him, God, I'm asking, I need more patience. I'm asking for it. I need to understand love, I'm asking. I need peace, I'm asking.
Number three, is to choose, to live by it. Let me give you an illustration. Forgiveness is part of God's character. We weren't born forgiving, but it's His character. He says, "Forgive even as you have been forgiven."
You choose it. You want it, you desire it, you ask, and then you choose it. I choose, I'll forgive. Then you choose it again, and then again, and then again. Peter came to Jesus, he said, "How many times shall my brother offend me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" He thought he was saying something grand because the rule of the day was, three strikes and you're out. How many times shall I forgive? After seven times? Jesus says, "I do not say to you up to seven times, I say to you 70 times seven," which is a lot more than seven. Well, it's 70 times more than seven, which is 490. The idea there, is not that you would keep track, "Okay, that's 416".
No. You forgive and you forgive and you forgive and you forgive, until you don't have to choose it anymore, because now, it's who you are. You are a forgiving person, it's now become your nature. It's now an aspect of your character because you chose it so many times, you don't have to choose it anymore. It's who you are. I choose to love. I choose to love and then choose it again and again and again again and again, until you don't have to choose it anymore. It's who you are.
Patient. I choose to be patient, even in spite of the fact that there is so much irritation all around me. I choose to be patient, for God is patient. I choose it and then I choose it again and again and again. I choose it again and I choose it again until I don't have to choose it because it's who I am. You become patient.
Saul became raving mad with anger against David, and he took up a spear and hurled at him to pin him against the wall, but you notice in the story, that David didn't throw it back. David was a skilled master of war. He could have thrown that right back and very well likely succeeded, but he won't do it. He refuses to do it. David is trusting. God will settle. God settles all matters. God would watch over his life. He won't do it.
Psalm 37:3-8, He writes it this way, "Trust in the Lord, do good." Do good. Choose it. Trust in the Lord, do good. Cultivate faithfulness in your soul. Cultivate faithfulness. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, He will do it. Trust in Him, He will do it. Rest in the Lord. Wait patiently. Rest and wait. Don't fret, stop all this anxious, fearful thought. Don't fret because of him who carries out a wicked scheme. Cease from anger, forsake wrath and don't fret, it only leads to evil doing.
This is the character that's been transformed into that which is beautiful and glorious. That's what God does. He wants to instill in you these very things because He loves you and He knows that the nature in which you were born is quite ugly. He wants to give you that which is beautiful and glorious. Do you want it? Start with desiring it and then you ask Him and He'll do it, but then you decide to live by it, to walk by it and you will see that you will become those things that God wants you to become.
Father, thank you so much for your heart after us. You have blessed us, you have shown us a beautiful, glorious life. God, that's so wonderful to see it because that's not how we were born. God, we want that which is beautiful and glorious. We want that, so we come to ask. Church, how many today would say to the Lord, "I see your character is beautiful. I want it because I tell you, God, I know my nature. I know I was born but the nature of man is quite ugly. I want that which is beautiful in my life. I want to be transformed. I want to be like you. I'm asking you said I could ask well, here I am. I'm asking. Lord, do it. Do that in me. Do this in me, God, I'm asking, do this in me."
Church, how many would say that to the Lord? Is that your prayer? Is that your heart? Is that what you would ask God to do? If you would, I'm going to ask, would you just raise your hand to the Lord? Raise it to you to the Lord and by raising your hand, you're asking, you're saying, God, I want. I'm asking. I want that which is beautiful. It's you. I want that which is glorious. You said, I could ask, well, I'm asking so do it. Do it, Lord, pour out your Spirit. Bring the transformation of the soul that you desire and we thank you for it.
God, I pray that you'd help everyone to walk by it, to choose it when you've given it. God, we honor you and thank you now in Jesus' name and everyone said.
- Sermon Notes
Why Character Matters
1 Samuel 18:1-16
May 28-29, 2021
Character matters. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that all men would be judged according to the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. That’s exactly right, and it speaks to the fact that character matters because it defines who you are and what you’re made of.
Character is the qualities or traits that when combined together, define your nature, your character.
God has attributes of character that define His nature as well. God is loving, forgiving, gracious and kind, He is just and righteous altogether, merciful and patient. God is good, He is faithful and true. God’s character is beautiful and glorious. And there are many more attributes that describe His nature and His character. This is important because these are the attributes of character God wants to instill in our lives, our nature, and our character.
I mentioned last week that we were not born with such character, we were born in the nature of man, in the sin of Adam. You don’t have to teach a child to be selfish, they were born selfish; you must teach a child to share. You don’t have to teach a child to lie, you must teach a child to speak the truth. You don’t have to teach a child to throw temper tantrum, you must teach a child to have self-control.
I came upon an interesting study done by the Minnesota Crime Commission, a secular institution for sure. This is the result of their in-depth study: Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants, when he wants it – his bottle, his mother’s attention, his playmate’s toy. Deny him these wants, and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous, were he not so helpless. He is dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge, and no skills. This means that all children, not just certain children, are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child will grow up a criminal, a thief, a killer, and a rapist.
In other words, a sinner is a sinner by nature. A sinner, therefore, does sinful things. In other words, a dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, a horse is a horse… unless of course…
Here’s the good news; people can change, character can change. God loves sinners and He sent His Son to seek sinners, to draw them to Himself. He loves sinners and does not want them to perish, but to have everlasting life. He calls their name, He knocks on the door of their heart, and when they open their heart, He takes up residence in that sinner’s life and begins the work of transformation, of building new character and a new heart. Character matters and character matters to God.
In 1 Samuel 18, the story continues immediately after David defeated the Philistine giant, Goliath. David’s victory is an amazing story of the power of complete faith and trust in God. “The Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
David then added, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” That’s faith. Saul was taller than all the men in Israel, he stood head and shoulders over them. But David had greater faith than all of them. God was searching for a man to replace Saul as king of Israel. Saul was a man after the people’s heart, but David was a man after God’s heart.
Chapter 18 is about character. Saul’s son, Jonathan watched as David challenged Goliath, he heard his speech, he saw his faith and his heart was knitted to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as himself.
We already know that Jonathan had character and faith as well. He knows good character when he sees it.
Saul on the other hand also saw David arising in Israel. The people loved him, and this made Saul seethe with jealousy. It’s a study in contrasts and it’s a study of why character matters. There are many life lessons in the story.
I. Character Begets Character
- Saul asked David, “Whose son are you, young man?” He answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”
- While David was speaking with Saul, Jonathan stood watching. Here before him was a young man of amazing faith and incredible humility; and David’s heart for God had been clearly seen by every man in the army of Israel.
- Therefore, Jonathan’s heart was knit together with David’s. But why? Because Jonathan was a man of faith and character and he knows good character when he sees it.
- A few chapters back Saul and his men stood by while Philistine raiders troubled Israel, but Jonathan and his armor bearer took action… by faith.
1 Samuel 14:6, Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised, for the Lord is not restrain to save by many or by few.”
- Jonathan sees David’s character and faith and is drawn to it. It’s a great life lesson.
A. Choose friends with godly character
- The friendship between Jonathan and David is famous in the scriptures. In fact, I am convinced that Jonathan and David are referred to in the Proverbs.
Proverbs 18:24, There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
- Jonathan saw in David a man whom he admired because he wanted more of those qualities in himself.
- David not only had great faith; he put that faith into action. They had kindred spirits and Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
- It was a covenant of the Lord. In other words, they made a pledge to one another because they both loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him in their lives.
- Jonathan admired David’s faith and wanted to be knitted together with him so that his own faith would be stronger.
- David had deep humility. Many think that humility is thinking poorly of oneself, but that’s not humility at all.
Illus- A. W. Tozer in his book, The Pursuit of God wrote: The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather, he may be in his spiritual life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time, that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels. … He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.
- By humility David recognized that God was the strength of his life.
- The friendship between Jonathan and David is a picture of a life lesson. If you choose bad company, it could literally destroy your life. But if you choose good and godly friends, your faith and your heart will be strengthened.
- Find good character and drawn to it.
1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
- In other words, character begets character…
Proverbs 22:24-25, Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.
- Jesus is called the son of David and when you knit your heart with Him, His character will become your character.
John 15:15, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
B. Love builds and edifies others
- Jonathan loved David as himself and made a covenant with him in the Lord.
- Verse 4 –Jonathan then stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David. Jonathan was the son of the king and this robe would have been distinct to indicate his stature as the son of the king.
- When Jonathan gave David his robe, he was making David higher than himself; he gave him honor.
- Love builds up, love edifies, and love gives away.
1 Corinthians 8:1, Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
- God loves you, and He makes a covenant with you, His heart is knitted together with yours and he wants to build up and edify your life because of that love…
Ephesians 3:16-19, I bow my knees, asking that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love… Would know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
II. Beware of Insecurity and Fear
- Last week I mentioned that David was filled with confidence; but it wasn’t self-confidence. Self-confidence is the mantra of our age, literally thousands of books have been written on how to become more self-confident.
- And as I mentioned, God does not want you to be self-confident because those who are self-confident don’t need God. By definition, their confidence is in self.
- But nor does God want you to have insecurity and fear. It’s a common human condition that’s born out of the nature of man.
Insecurity and fear will rob you of joy and peace.
2 Timothy 1:7, God is not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind.
- This chapter is a study in contrasts. David and Jonathan have faith and character and their hearts are knitted together. Saul is filled with jealousy and fear and it consumes his life.
- David is favored in the sight of all the people and in the sight of Saul’s servants. In everything he does, he prospers. And there lies the problem.
- Saul is desperately trying to hold on to his place as king of Israel. But Saul rejected God and so God rejected him from being king. But he’s resisting and fighting against God’s word. He sees David arising and he’s filled with fear and jealousy.
A. Give fear an answer
- When Saul heard the words of the women when they came out of the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David has ten thousands,” he became angry, saying, “What more can he have but the kingdom?”
- He’s jealous over David’s success and fearful of his own failure.
- Here’s the problem. Everyone has an inner narrative within their own heart. There are words you say to yourself that are often critical and self-defeating. But where do they come from?
- If they come from fear and insecurity, they will not help you, they will defeat you. But God has given you a spirit of love, and power, and a sound mind. In other words, give fear an answer. Let God’s word that comes from God’s heart transform your heart and your mind.
Psalm 73:21-26, When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, I was senseless and ignorant… Nevertheless, you have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me… My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart or my portion forever.
Romans 12:2-3, Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect… I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
B. God is with you, that changes everything
- Verse 11-12 – Saul hurled a spear thinking he would pin David to the wall, but David escaped. “Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.”
- The Lord had anointed Saul through the prophet Samuel when he poured oil upon him. It was a picture of the Holy Spirit anointing Saul.
- But now, because God has rejected Saul from being king, the Spirit departed from him.
- I mentioned before there is a distinction between the anointing of the Spirit in the OT versus the NT. In the OT, the Spirit was given to a limited number, such as prophets, priests, and kings. In the NT, the Spirit is given to everyone who opens their heart to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
- And in the OT, the anointing of the Spirit could be removed, such as now with Saul. Not so in our current age, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will not remove His Spirit from you.
- The Spirit has departed from Saul, he is no longer manifesting the Holy Spirit in his life, he is living in the nature in which he was born.
- Verse 10 – 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.
- God sent an agitating angel to confirm in Saul that the anointing was gone and now, without the Spirit in his life, he rages with anger. What a powerful life lesson.
- We need God, we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we need His life to transform the ugly nature in which we were born into the beautiful character that comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Galatians 5:22-23, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- Saul became raving mad with anger against David, and while David played the harp Saul took up a spear and hurled it at David trying to pin him to the wall.
- Would you notice that David didn’t throw it back? David was well-known as a mighty warrior and could easily have thrown it back, but he refuses to do it.
- But David was trusting that God would take care of Saul and that God would watch over him.
Psalm 37:3-8, Trust in the Lord and do good… And cultivate faithfulness… Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and He will do it… Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret, it only leads to evildoing.
1 Samuel 18:1-16 NASB
1 Now it came about, when he had finished speaking to Saul, that [a]Jonathan committed himself to David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. 2 And Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his military gear, including his sword, his bow, and his belt. 5 And David went into battle wherever Saul sent him, and always [b]achieved success; so Saul put him in charge of the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
6 Now 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 other [c]musical instruments. 7 The women sang as they [d]played, and said,
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”
8 Then Saul became very angry, for this lyric [e]displeased him; and he said, “They have given David credit for ten thousands, but to me they have given credit for only thousands! Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David with suspicion from that day on.
10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house while David was playing the harp with his hand, [f]as usual; and [g]a spear was in Saul’s hand. 11 Then Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will [h]pin David to the wall.” But David [i]escaped from his presence, twice.
12 Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had left Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from [j]his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. 14 David was [k]successful in all his ways, for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw that he was [l]very successful, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he would go out to battle and [m]return [n]before them.
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