How to Spend Your Life Well
1 Samuel 20:1-23
August 5-6, 2023
After David defeated the Philistine giant, y'all remember that story, no doubt, the people of Israel loved him. The story unfolds that, after that great victory, whenever King Saul would come to a village or a city, that the women of that village or city would come out to meet King Saul singing and dancing with joy, with musical instruments, with tambourines. They would sing a song and the words went something like this, "Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands."
When Saul heard that he became so angry and the singing so displeased him, he said, "Wait a minute. They've ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have only ascribed thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?" From that moment on, Saul despised David. Anger, fear, jealousy was all-consuming for Saul. See, in other words, the Holy Spirit had left him. He was no longer moving in the anointing and the covering of the Holy Spirit on his life, which by the way is a great lesson in itself because anyone who's received the Lord Jesus in his life is filled and given the same Holy Spirit by which you must live and move and have your bearing. That is a great lesson. For Saul, was not.
In fact, Saul was living by the nature of man in all of his ugliness. We all know very well that the nature of man is quite ugly. That's in living color with King Saul now. God is rejecting him as king. He's finding himself now fighting against God, kicking against God, you might say, desperately trying to hold on to his position as king and David is standing in the way.
I. Live Like You’re Only a Step Away
As a matter of fact, in Chapter 20, in this chapter, David says, "There is hardly a step between me and death." David was surely right. Saul was relentless in his pursuit of David, now filled with rage, filled with jealousy. Twice Saul tried to pin David to the wall by hurling a spear at him twice. Then when he heard that his daughter, Michal, loved David, well, he agreed to the marriage, but only because he thought it would be an opportunity for David's death.
See, instead of a dowry, oh, don't worry about a dowry. I would like instead the lives of 100 of my enemy, the Philistines. See, he thought, oh, let the Philistines kill him. Oh, what a great father-in-law he would be. You thought your family had drama? Oh, can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner at that house? Oh, see, now that plot failed. Instead of bringing back the lives of 100 of David's enemies, he brought 200 of the lives of the Philistines. Saul's plot, in other words, is backfiring.
You look at the situation. Now not only is David alive, but his popularity in Israel is increasing. Saul's son, Jonathan, is his best friend, and now he's married to his own daughter. This is not working, but Saul would not give up. He sent messengers to David's house to watch for him to put him to death when he came out, but his wife let him out through the window, and he escaped.
David was right. There was hardly a step between him and death. In a way, that is true for every one of us. You don't know how long you will live. You don't know the day. To live with that perspective, well, change how you live. In other words, we need to know what it means to spend our lives well. Let's read it. We're in 1 Samuel 20:1. "David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and he came and he said to Jonathan," now remember Jonathan is Saul's son. They're best friends because Jonathan saw something in David. From the moment that David confronted that Philistine giant with such amazing faith, Jonathan saw in David a man of character, of faith, of integrity, of courage, and he loved him. They formed a friendship, a covenant between them, which was amazing.
He comes to Jonathan and he said this, "What have I done? What is my iniquity? I don't understand. What have I done? What is my sin before your father that he is seeking my life? What did I do?" Jonathan said to him, "No, far from it." See, Jonathan doesn't see it. "You won't die. Behold, my father does nothing, either great or small, without disclosing it to me. Why would my father hide this thing from me? No, it's not so."
David vowed again and said, "No, your father knows very well that I have found favor in your sight so he said, 'Don't let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved,' but truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives," and here it is, "there is hardly a step between me and death." Jonathan said to David, "All right, whatever you say, I will do it for you." David said to Jonathan, "Now behold, tomorrow is the new moon and I ought to sit down to eat with the king. So let me go that I might hide myself in the field until the third evening.
Now, if your father misses me at all, and then you say, "Well, David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem, his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for his family.' Now, if Saul says, 'Oh, that's good, then you servant is safe,' but if he becomes angry, then know that he has decided on evil. Therefore, now deal kindly with me, your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord." They made a covenant of friendship together.
"But if there is any iniquity in me, if I've done anything to deserve this, then I want you to take my life yourself. Why should you bring me to your father?" Jonathan said, "No, don't say such things. Far be it from you." In other words, don't speak like that. "For if I should learn that evil has been decided by my father to come upon you, then what did I not tell you? David then said to Jonathan, well then who will tell me if your father answers harshly?"
All right, move to verse 18 for the sake of time. Jonathan then said to him, "Now tomorrow is the new moon and you will be missed because your seat is empty. So when you have stayed three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain by the stone Ezel. Now, I will shoot three arrows to the side as though I was shooting at a target. Behold, I will send a lad and I will say to him, 'Go, find the arrows.' Now, if I specifically say to the lad, 'Behold, the arrows are on this side of you,' then come for their is safety for you and no harm, as the Lord lives, I mean this. But if I say to the youth, 'Behold, the arrows are beyond you,' then go, flee for the Lord has sent you away. Now, as for that agreement of which you and I have spoken, that covenant of friendship, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever."
All right. These are the verses I want us to see, much to take hold of in these verses. Starting with this perspective that we have from David, it's a right way to live. Live like you're only a step away. See, in other words, there is no fear of death for those who understand that taking that one step means being in the presence of God, your savior. See, that changes your perspective entirely to know that when you breathe your last on this earth, that is the culmination day. That's your day of victory. That's the day that you step into the presence of your Lord and King. That is a completely different perspective. See, when you have that in your view, it changes the way you see life.
When Paul was arrested and was being held in prison, he was waiting to stand before Caesar, he did not know if he would live or die. He gave a very famous saying in Philippians Chapter 1:20-21, where Paul wrote this. He said, "According to my earnest expectation and hope, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Then he famously said, "For to me, to live is Christ, but to die is gain." In other words, if I live, I will live to the glory of God and I will live for the benefit of your soul. If I live, then good. If I die, it's my gain for I will be with Christ. Now there is a victorious perspective. I am at peace no matter what comes to my life. What a great truth.
A. Our days are ordained by God
Then we see this out of the story, that our days are ordained by God. See, from David's perspective, there's only one step between him and death, but he knew that he wouldn't take that step unless it was ordained by God. Notice, for example, Psalm 1:39. Now, we get to Psalm 1:39. It's an amazing Psalm. Notice this verse because he gives this here a perspective that is so victorious. He says it this way, "In your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them." Now do you see what he's saying? Before you were even born, God wrote a number next to your name, the number of the days that God has ordained for you.
Notice also that he says that they are ordained. Every one of those days that God wrote next to your name is ordained by God. Every day is ordained. See, when you realize that, it makes you want to cherish every one of those days, makes you want to see that God has given every one of those to cherish. Many of you know our story, of course. Our daughter died when she was 29. I tell you, I took such comfort from this verse that God wrote a number next to her name, and that number was 10,724. That was the number of her days. Knowing that God wrote that number, that God ordained that number, gave me such peace. I respect God and so I respect that number.
God wrote a number next to my name. I don't know how many days He wrote down, but I know that He wrote a number. I respect God and therefore I respect that number. I also know that God has ordained every one of them. See, when a person is young, they have oftentimes a sense of immortality, they don't think about such things, but when you get older, you begin to realize, "Oh ,no. Our days here on this earth are limited."
For some it brings a fear, a fear of death. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says that those who have a fear of death are subject to slavery all their lives. Other people, in other words, they're almost oblivious to the possibility of death. For them there's something exciting about living on the edge. These are the bungee-jumping, base-jumping, thrill-seeking people who live for thrill and excitement.
Although, there was an interesting article in Time Magazine that captured it well. Again, Time Magazine, "The people who face the real danger are on the road. If you really want to live on the edge of life, then just join the daily commute of thousands of cell phone-talking, coffee-drinking, texting, make-up-applying idiots all driving over the speed limit." Now there's a quote. Someone once said, "Some live as if they will never die, and then die as if they never lived." See, in other words, life is a gift, spend it well. See, if every one of the days that God wrote next to your name is ordained, and ordained by God, then every one of those days is a gift for you to spend, spend it well.
B. Life is a gift, spend it well
David wrote in the Psalms, Psalm 103:15-18. He says, "Now, as for man, his days are like grass. They're like a flower of a field. So he flourishes and the wind passes over it, and it is no more." Life is fleeting, in other words. Then he says, "And his place acknowledges it no longer, but the loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him and His righteousness to your children's children to those who keep His covenant." See, in other words, one perspective, life here is fleeting, but those who are in the Lord will find the love of God is from everlasting and to everlasting. There's a perspective.
Then he says, I love that, he says, "And the place knows it no more." In other words, your bank account won't remember you. Your car won't remember you and your golf clubs most certainly won't remember you. In fact, they're trying to forget you right now. Heaven will remember you. See, in other words, how you live your life matters. God gave every one of those days that you would spend it and that you would spend it well.
See, Paul knew this. That's why he wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:15. He said, "I would very gladly spend and be spent for you. That is the purpose of my life." He says, "For your souls, I will gladly spend and be spent." God gave every day to spend. I'll gladly spend them and for you. 2 Timothy 4:6. Now he's come to the end and he says, "I have already been poured out like a drink offering. I've been poured out, I spent it. My life was poured out, and the time of my departure is come."
See, too many people, they live their lives in the pursuit of the accumulation of stuff, of things. They forget that they're supposed to be spending their lives for Godly purpose and Godly meaning. That's what gives glory and honor to those days. See, if you spend your life accumulating for yourself and not spending it, you may look back one day and wish you had chosen a different course.
Jesus said this in Luke 12:15. He said, "Beware for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." Life does not consist of things. There is nothing in this world that will satisfy a soul that longs for more. I want more. Sometimes, people, they come to a point in their life where they look and they say, "Is this all there is? Is this it?" I have an answer. No, this is not it. There is more. There is a way to live your life so that there is more, for the soul wants more.
I was thinking of a story of a United States surgeon. He was trained in America, but he decided to go to Africa and do surgeries there. A friend was visiting, a surgeon friend from America came, visited, saw him in the surgeries, and said, "Man, you have a skill. You have a gift." He said, "Do you know how much money you can make in the United States? Do you realize how much you could have?" His friend serving in Africa says, "Well, it's true we don't have much here. Our equipment is old, the people can hardly pay us, but there's just this one thing. Man, this is living. My life has purpose and meaning. I'm making a difference, and that's what gives meaning to my life."
See, there are those who know in their heart that this world is not enough. That there's more. I want more. There are deeper places for the soul's desire. There's more meaning and purpose than can be found in the pleasures of this world. Psalm 63, David wrote this, "Oh, God, you are my God and I seek you, and I seek you earnestly. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh yearns for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water for the soul because your loving kindness is better than life. My lips will praise you and I will bless you as long as I live, and I will lift up my hands in your name for in you my soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness."
Now, in other words, the soul wants more than whatever the world has. Now, having said that, I want to say that the pleasant things of the world are certainly pleasant. They are. I agree, the pleasant things of the world are pleasant. Caramel macchiatos. This is pleasant. It is. I have nothing against them. I think they're quite nice. Bacon cheeseburgers. Air conditioning, hallelujah. These things are wonderful. Microwave popcorn, Doritos. These are wonderful.
C. Live with eternity in your heart
These are pleasant things, but they're not enough. Not enough for me. I want more than that. My soul needs more than that, for there are deeper places for the soul. There are deeper things for the soul that desires more. I want glory. I want honor. I want my King to be magnified in my life. I want more than whatever this world has. See, in other words, live with eternity in your heart. Live with the kingdom of God. Live with relationship to the Almighty.
See, many people, they live for this life. That's it. They're the ones who say, "Is this all there is?" See, Jesus wants you to live life to the full. Jesus said that was a purpose for which He came. Go to John 10:10. Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." David said, "My cup overflows." Jesus is speaking. I want you to have life and life abundantly, but what does it mean to live?
What does He mean by life? Jesus came that you would have a personal relationship to the Almighty. That He would come to seek and to save that which was lost, to take sinners and to reconcile those sinners to God that they would have a relationship to the Almighty. Having a relationship now means that there is the glory of God's presence in your life, and that now God is moving in the beauty of His presence in such a powerful way. That's where life is found. Jesus said this in John 11:25-26. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life."
Well, what does resurrection mean? It means taking that which is dead and making it alive. That's what resurrection is, taking that which is dead and making it alive. Jesus defeated death. "I am the resurrection. I am the life. He who believes in me will live, even if he dies, when the physical body dies." In other words, everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Then He made it personal. Do you believe this? See, this is something for you to take, hold off for your life. Do you believe this? David understood this very well. You can see David's heart for God in so many of the Psalms that we're going to look so forward to studying. He knew that only in God would he truly find life, through this, for example, Psalm 16:11, "You God will make known to me the path of life." There is a path of life. Then he says, "For in your presence there is fullness of joy. A joy for the soul that comes from the presence of God." In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore for the soul."
David wrote this in Psalm 27:4. We'll get to Psalm 27. Oh, it's one of my favorite of all of the Psalms. There's so many beautiful psalms, but Psalm 27 is one of my favorites. Of Psalm 27:4 has got to be like a capstone verse. It really means so much to me. It's very personal to me. Here's why. Back when I was a young man in my early 20s, I would go to church. I loved going to church. I would go to church and I would go to church alone because I had no one to go with. I know, but I'd love going to church.
I would get there by myself. I'd get there early, and I loved to just sit there in the sanctuary. They would have worship on the speakers, and I would just sit there and often read the Psalms. I loved the smell. I just loved everything about it. I just loved the smell of the place. I loved being there. One day I'm reading Psalm 27, and this verse just jumped out at me. It goes this way. "One thing I've asked from the Lord, one, and that I shall seek one thing. Above all things this is what I've asked you, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord."
I want to see how beautiful is the Lord and to meditate in his temple. That's what I want. That's what I seek to behold. I read that Psalm and my heart's so stirred. It's like, "Yes, that's me. That's what I want." Ever since I first accepted the Lord, I had that in my heart that I wanted to be a pastor and I tucked it away, but when I read that verse that day, it's like it locked it in. "That's it. Time for me to go. I got to do this, and I want to dwell." Can you imagine what a privilege it is for me? Every Wednesday, every Saturday, three times Sunday morning, worship God, five times a week at church. I love this. Then I can be working on the lawn mower and listening to worship. I can be driving down the road, it's beautiful. The presence of the Lord is beautiful.
See, when Jesus said that He was the resurrection and the life, that he who would believe would live and not die, He gave us an eternal truth. Jesus defeated death and proved it. In other words, Buddha is still in the grave. Muhammad is still in the grave. Joseph Smith is still in the grave, but there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem, and that declares that Jesus is the resurrection and Jesus is the life. He proved it. Amen. Amen.
II. God is with You on the Journey
Then you see this out of this story, that God is with you on the journey. In other words, God has ordained every one of those days that He wrote next to your name. If God has ordained it, then God will be with you in it, every one of those days on the journey. See, the storms that David is going to have in his life, they're not going to get easier. You think, "Oh, it's bad. It's really bad." It's not going to get easier. This continues for 15 years. 15 years.
See, here's what I want to show you. God is making a king out of David, and trials and difficulties are required for the making of a king. Now, this is important. This is a very important perspective. God is making a king out of David, and trials and difficulties are required for the making of a king. God is going to construct in you a purpose, meaning, and purpose. He's constructing and He is building, and He will use the trials and the difficulties to construct that in your life.
But David's confidence was in God, and he was convinced that God would be with him and walk with him through every one of those trials. Notice, for example, Psalm 23. We love Psalm 23, right? He wrote this in verses 4, 6. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil." Why not? "Because you're with me." I know this, surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Now, you might say, "Well, wait, I'm confused. Now, wait, you said you that there would be trials and difficulties for 15 years. Then you said that surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me out the days of my life. Well, which one is it? Because I'm confused. You said, goodness and loving kindness. That doesn't sound like troubles to me, so which one is it? I'm confused. Why don't you tell us which one it is, Pastor?" I will. It's both. Goodness and loving kindness will follow you every day of those troubles. He will walk with you through every one of them. Amen.
He also wrote this in Psalm 27. Speaking of Psalm 27, "The Lord is my light, and the Lord is my salvation." You tell me, whom shall I fear? Should I be afraid if the Lord is my light and the Lord is my salvation? Of whom should I be a afraid? The Lord is the defense of my life, so whom should I dread? He said, "Listen, though a host in camp against me, my heart will not fear. Though war arise against me, in spite of this, I shall be confident." Ah, there it is. "I'm confident," David says.
A. Faith is learning to rely on God alone
Then you might say, "Oh, David must have read the latest books in self-confidence. They're available in bookstores everywhere. He must have read about how to be self-confident." I submit to you that David was not self-confident. I also submit that God does not want you to be self-confident either. You say, "Well, He doesn't? What does He want? Shall I be fearful and insecure?" No, He doesn't want that either. See, self-confidence by definition is confidence in self. That's why He doesn't want you to be self-confident. David's confidence was in God. David was convinced that God would be with him through every trouble, every trial, every difficult storm. God would be with him through it all. See, in other words, faith is learning to rely on God, and God alone.
Everything was taken out of David's life that he could have relied on. At first he was taken from his family and those in his family he was closest to. Then Saul tried to kill him, and so the security of being around the army and being in the palace all gone. Then David sent men even to his home. He had to leave his house. He had to actually leave his wife, even, to flee for his life. Doesn't have that. Then he ran to the Prophet Samuel, but Saul sent men there. He could no longer stay with Samuel. He had no counselor.
In fact, when David came to Jonathan, his best and most loyalist friend, his friend had to send him away for his own safety. Now he's lost his best friend. That's where you must learn a great lesson, to learn to rely on God. That God will build, that God is with you. To rely on God, that is what faith is. David was alone, but now you see what happens in David's life, God begins to build. God is building. God is making a king. God is building. Yes, he's alone but now God is going to bring around him amazing people. God is going to build and build and build.
Starts out with just David and God, just David and God. Then builds and builds and builds. I tell you, it's a great lesson. I think about my own life. When I was a teenager and going through all the teenager things in the young 20s, in many ways I was a loner. I know and I was. I was different and I didn't have close friends. I thought that was my lot in life, but then God started doing a work of revival in me and turned my life around because it was going down the wrong way.
He turned that around and started to build and build and build. Oh, what He has built. He has given me a blessing of blessings of blessings. I am surrounded by people that God has added to my life, that have made my life gloriously blessed. My wife, who loves to walk together with me, serve together in ministry, the friends that I get to serve with, the pastors that are on our team, the leaders that we have in our church. I am surrounded by people that God has added that are just blessing my life. We are truly blessed as a church with amazing, amazing people. Amen. Awesome.
B. Storms strengthen faith
David was built. God is building something, because storms strengthen. That's what we see, storms strengthen. They strengthen faith. All of these storms that David went through prepared him to become king. See, in other words, every rescue, every close call, every difficult situation that God brought David through became part of the story of God and David together. God is building a story. Every rescue, every close call, every difficult situation is part of the story.
God rescued David again and again and again and again so that one day you come to a point when you see it and you realize, "I know my God. I know how my God moves, and I know that my God rescues and saves. I know that my God is a very present help. I know my God. I know how He moves. I know my God." Why? "Because we've been through so many storms together. Every rescue, every close call, every difficult situation, all of it is part of my story," David was saying," and now I can tell you with all confidence, I know my God, and I know how He moves."
God wants that for your life and mine. God and me, we have a story together. I'll tell you what, I haven't been in situations anything like David's troubles, but I have been through many of my own situations and troubles, and God has rescued and saved me from every one. He's been with me every step along the way. I know my God and I know how my God moves. I have every confidence in my God for I know how my God moves. Every rescue, every time He saved, every time He helped me, He's building a story. How about you? Would anybody say the same? God is building a story in my life? Yes, let's give a little praise.
I was remembering a time when I was traveling to Africa. Normally I don't travel to Africa alone, but this particular time I was. I was going to be met by pastors there. I was at Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, the Congo. At one point they went out and rented a van and a driver. Just found a van and a driver and said, "Would you take us here?" They brought us from the hotel to the conference center where we were going to have the pastors join us.
It was quite a little journey. We had to go through this part of town where they said, "Now, in this part of town," and it's a huge city, 8 million plus, "when we get to this part of town, it's very dangerous. Everybody has to roll your windows up." "Ah, there's no AC." "Yes, well, still, you got to roll your windows up. People can reach in. It's very dangerous. You got to go slow. Roll your windows up."
We rolled the windows up and we're going through, and then the pastors say, "Oh, pull the van over." "Why are we pulling over?" They say, "Oh, we got to get some water. We got to find cases of water for the conference, so just stay here. Keep the doors locked, keep the windows up," and they leave. I'm alone with the driver that I had never met. Windows are up, it's hot, and the minutes are ticking by. I'm thinking, "Okay, what do I do?" I tried some French and some Lingala. I get through all of my French in about two minutes. That didn't work. I'm thinking, "This is bad. I don't know him. He doesn't know me, but he knows I'm an American. I've got a case with me. No doubt I'm sure he knows I've got money with me. He could just leave. Take me anywhere he wanted to. I'm not going to resist him. I'm not going to get out." I'm just assessing this.
This is bad. I'm alone here. My cell phone doesn't work. They could take me anywhere. Minutes are going by, 10, 12, 15. This is bad. Hot. It's very hot. I'm thinking, "What do we do? All right, God, here we are. God, you've been with me through every one. Here we are again. What do we do?" I just felt this prompting, "Give him some sugar. It might help him feel better." I thought, "Oh, would you like a candy bar? They're going to melt anyway." "Oh, yes, sí." In other words, yes, merci.
He eats the candy bar. "Oh, give him another one." He eats that one. "Oh, you want another one? Take some for your family." Finally, they come back, without water. "What happened to you?" "We couldn't find water. That's why it took us so long." I said, "Never do that to me again." There are times when you just have to say, "God, I don't know what to do. Here we are again. What do I do? I don't know." You can pray, you can wait. God will rescue.
You come to a point where you begin to see, every day that God has ordained for me I want to live with the glory of God. How many will say that? Whatever I got, Lord, I don't know how much time I got left. Whatever I got, whatever time I have, it's for you. I want to live it. Every one of those days that you have ordained, I want every one of those days to be lived for your glory.
Lord, we honor you. We thank you. It's amazing to see your heart for us. Church, how many would say that to the Lord today? I don't know how many days I got left but whatever it is, it's yours. I want to live it to your glory. I want to live it to your honor. God, you and me, let's build a story together. Let's build a story of walking together on this journey. God, whatever I got left I want to live it to your glory and to your honor, and I want to build a story with you. Walk with me, God, and let's build a story.
Let's build a story of victory. Let's build a story of you amazingly revealing your hand. In every rescue, every deliverance, every help, every time, let us build a story. I want my life to be lived to your glory every day. Would you say that to the Lord by just lifting up your hand as a declaration? Whatever I got left, God, whatever I got left, I don't know what it is but it's yours. Let's build a story to your glory. Lord, we honor you, we thank you that you made it possible that we can say, I know my God. I know how my God moves, and I love you for it. In Jesus' name and everyone said, giving the Lord praise and glory and honor. Amen. Amen.