A Chapter without a Mention of God
How do you preach on a ‘God-less’ chapter of Scripture? To my shame I confess that I often don’t, I just skip on to the next chapter. But Ian Hamilton, minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church, showed how to do it on Sunday 28 April in a sermon on 1 Samuel 27:1-28:2.
In brief, you wrestle with it before the Lord until he enables you to preach it! He reminded us that 2 Timothy 3:16 declares that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that the great purpose of God in giving us the Scriptures is to show his overarching purpose of bringing everything under the headship of Christ, who is the subject and predicate of all Scripture.
Ian Hamilton made no bones about the fact that this was an unsavoury incident in the life of David, in which no mention of God is made, and he made no excuses for David’s reprehensible behaviour, which clearly showed the influence of Satan. The Lord’s people must always be on their guard against Satan’s wiles. David had been pursued by Saul for many years by this time, and those who have fought long and hard can become battle-weary and vulnerable to Satan’s devices. Our strengths can too easily become ways of entrance into our lives for Satan. There is nothing to show that David had taken his situation to the Lord or sought the counsel of fellow believers although God had intervened in the previous chapter. Christians have many fellow believers to whom they can turn, and above all can always and in every situation turn to the Lord in prayer. But although God’s presence is not directly noted, he is of course omnipresent, and the greatest manifestation of his presence is his grace. David here is a sinner in need of gracious forgiveness for sin. He has been plundering his enemies from Ziklag, killing the men and women to remove witnesses of his crime.
Sin has been described as ‘God-killing’, and ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’. David needed grace, and so do we. Overall, we see that from greatest to least, we are all feeble and frail children of dust. The best of us, like David, can fail, so that even the best of us desperately need God’s grace.
So when we serial preachers are confronted by a ‘difficult’ chapter along the way, it’s worth our while to pause, reflect, study and bathe our task in prayer so that we can take on the difficult passages of Scripture in their context for the blessing of our people and ourselves as well.
Bob Thomas of Melbourne, Australia, is Pastor of St Kilda’s Presbyterian Church and editor of New Life.
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