Sunday Sermon 27th June - David: Goals and Character
The chosen hymns for this week, In Christ alone and O God, our help in ages past can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.
David: Goals and Character
1 Samuel 18: 20-28 and 19: 9-17 Gil
Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday 27th June.
We have been working through the story of David, working through this complex personality.
The youngest son of Jesse and driven by great ambition and courage.
He has been anointed by Samuel the last of the judges to be king, but this has been done in secret.
King Saul already suspects that David is a threat and in his paranoid state he wants to get rid of him but David, because of his skills in battle, is already popular with the military.
In our readings today we see Saul living by the theory that you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
But we also see the great flaw in David coming to the fore and that is a great warning to us.
We will hear that from Gil as he leads us in the readings and prayer...
The theme of today is GOALS and CHARACTER.
Which may not seem that important to you but I feel especially at this time we need to be really careful which of these two things we prioritise.
Let me give you some background.
Saul is king, but David wants to be king.
The Bible, especially this part of the Bible, is very subtle.
Marriage for political stability was very common in those days. In fact it would be the norm until relatively recently that great dynasties would use marriage to cement their global power. Queen Victoria was notorious for that. She had 9 children two of which who ended up in the royal families of Prussia, three in the royal families of Germany, one in the royal family of Russia, one became governor of Canada and of course one became king of Great Britain. Only one married a normal person and that was greatly frowned upon.
What is interesting is that twice this chapter talks about Michal loving David, not once does it ever mention that David loved Michal. What it does say is that David was delighted with the thought of becoming the king’s son-in-law.
There is a significant difference there.
You may not think so but let’s put it in a context that is easy to understand.
It is the future, the not too distant future.
We are allowed to sing again in church, we are even allowed to have tea and coffee after the church. And we are all in the back hall, waiting to get our tea and coffee, and you happen to be just in front of Roseanna and I.
And you overhear Roseanna, my wife, say to me, ‘Jim after nearly 30 years of marriage I must say that I love being married to you.’
What should be my automatic reply?
‘And I love being married to you.’
Not, ‘And I am delighted to be married to you.’
Don’t get me wrong, delighted is good, but it isn’t love.
You know that,
Roseanna would know that,
everyone who heard Roseanna slap me in the face if I said that would know that.
And at this point I am not condemning David.
That was the times that they lived in.
Marriages into the royal family were nearly always political marriages.
Here is what is important.
David had a goal.
His goal was to become king.
He had been anointed as the next king by Samuel.
He had watched Saul be king; he knew that he would be a better king.
He knew it was his destiny to be king.
All his effort was spent in becoming king, but not just any king, a king that was acknowledged to be put there by the authority of God.
David’s life at that point was working his way to become the king that he should be.
Unfortunately what David didn’t worry about was what kind of king he would be, because that would mean that he would worry about character, not goals.
This we see in our second reading.
David is married to Michal. She knows her father is going to try an assassinate David.
If she helps David then her father could kill her, he has become unstable enough that if he sees any of his children going against him he would consider that as an act of treason and kill them.
Michal, out of an act of love, conceives a plan to rescue David by lowering him down from their window.
David’s mind is thinking, ‘If I am dead then I can’t be king. So he goes along with the plan.’
But David’s mind never thinks, ‘But what will happen to Michal? Shouldn’t I take her with me? She is my wife?’
Never enters David’s head. From a tactical point of view it is better for David not to take Michal as she would slow him down.
He knows Saul, he knows how volatile Saul is, he knows that if he leaves Michal then Saul might kill her. And yet he never asks her to come with him.
That’s a character flaw.
And David never deals with it.
While he is on the run Michal gets married off by her father as part of another political marriage. David never seeks her out while he is on the run, never tries to rescue her, in fact he marries twice when he is on the run, both times to increase his wealth and powerbase.
Why is this important?
Because goals don’t destroy us, but bad character does.
David will achieve his goal to be king, but because of his character deficiencies it is a kingship that is deeply flawed. He has an affair with a married man and kills her to cover it up.
One of his sons rapes one of his daughters and he does nothing to help his daughter.
In retaliation one of his other sons kills the rapist.
Two of his sons rebel against him at different times to take the kingship away from him.
One of those sons becomes king for a while and as a sign of how much he respects his father he publically has sex with all David’s concubines; concubines that David leaves in charge of the palace while he runs off to save his skin.
Recently I have become more and more aware of how much more important character is compared with goals.
I had two men that I regarded as mentors; people I really looked up to and whose wisdom guided me.
They both had huge growing churches and I was impressed with how in modern times their churches bucked the trend.
Then we discovered that one of them was a sexual predator.
The other one allowed someone who had confessed he had feeling for children to be part of the youth work.
All that amazing work, decades and decades of work, tainted and destroyed by character flaws.
Why is this important to us?
Well because we are struggling as a national church.
And all around us I see people demanding goals.
We have finished a five year review on the behest of presbytery and on the basis of these reviews may depend what the future of this church is.
Again and again I hear people telling us that we need to do this, or we need to do that.
That’s a goal thing, not a character thing.
No one is talking about what kind of church we need to be, because that’s a character thing.
If we don’t fulfil our goals that won’t destroy this church, if our character is all wrong that will destroy this church.
We have presbytery telling all the local churches that they need to work out how we will work/amalgamate/link with/become united with other churches.
We have 1000 churches and we will have 600 ministers, we need to work out how to distribute those 600 ministers.
That is a goal thing.
I have had no edict from presbytery asking how we as a church and as individuals, we will become more compassionate, more generous, more loving to those outside the church.
That’s a character thing.
Whether this church or any other church has or does not have a minister will not be the defining point that destroys this church.
If we become more selfish, more fearful, less compassionate, that is what will destroy us.
As a church and as individuals it is ok to have goals, goals are helpful.
But goals don’t make or break us.
Character makes or breaks us.
So we need to focus at all times on our character.
That should always be our priority.
So simple homework to start us off...
If you don’t already do so, every morning, or every night, write three things for which you are thankful to God for.
Because a thankful heart is a heart that is more generous,
a thankful heart is more forgiving,
a thankful heart is more compassionate.
And if you can’t think of three things, then spend the next day looking to see what you could be thankful for.
Make it a habit to be always aware of things you could be thankful for.
It may even be you see things that you should certainly not be thankful for, and in those situations maybe God is calling you to do something about it, to change the situation so that you can be thankful.
Some person is struggling to cross the road because of all the roadwork’s, maybe their eyesight isn’t as great as it could be....that is not something to be thankful for, but we could change that just by helping them.
And now you can be thankful, and in the process help someone else to be thankful.
We live in a world that loves goals, but in the end goals don’t define us, character defines who we really are.
What we end up doing, is always going to be defined by who we end up being.
If we are honest we know that what frightens us the most about you...is that you can look into our soul.
You not only see our actions, but the motivations behind the actions.
You see those times we react when we are hurt.
You know all the things we do out of our insecurities.
You see that way we want to lash out, or hide away, when we feel vulnerable.
Help us to see your presence in our lives as a gift, not a burden.
Help us to see that the conscience you give us keeps us accountable.
Help us to see that each day we can be slightly more generous, slightly more caring, slightly more compassionate.
That we can use our strength and energies to become people that instinctively do the right thing.
May the habits we create within ourselves bend our hearts to be more like yours.
Like you, may we begin to care more for others than we do for ourselves, and may the basis of that action be a confidence of the care and love we know you have for us, that our heart is full of trust that we can be there for others, because you are there for us.
This we ask in Jesus name.
***I’ll be off for the next couple of weeks so please contact Lesley Dawson
079444 90412 if you want to see our worship live.***
But if you are unable to attend for whatever reason you can also watch them the way you are watching this service.
We are also open for anyone to come in for private prayer and reflection on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 1pm.
As we finish this act of worship and begin our act of service in the world...
May we know we are in the arms of the One who hears the breaking heart and the silent tear.
As we finish this act of worship and begin our act of service in the world...
May we know our hearts are safe in the hands of the One who feels the ache of sorrow, the grief concealed, who walks with the weary, comforts the weeping, and gives peace to the sorrowing.
As Christ’s body in the world,
may we be agents of loving compassion,
tending and listening,
binding up wounds.
Go now, in the name of father Son and Holy Spirit, know that you are blessed,
and be a blessing fir others.