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Serving the King

Every one of us can do something for the Lord! If the church is to go forward, it needs faithful attenders, intercessors, givers, children’s workers, deacons – and it needs elders, men to govern. As these men gave themselves to David, will you give yourself to Christ?

Faced with Saul’s hatred, David was forced to flee his homeland to Philistia. Although he had previously killed Goliath, their talisman, the Philistines embraced David, and gave him Ziklag. But after 16 months there, David became restless. He reorganized his armies and defeated the Amalekites. News of his conquests reached home and the captains of Benjamin, Gad and Dan soon deserted Saul and recognized David as rightful king.

Some of these recruits were experts in the use of the bow, others in the use of the sling. Some were swift as roes and others had the faces of lions. All of their abilities were required. David turned none away. And in the army of Christ there is a place for every believer. “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Members of the body vary in size, structure and skills, but all are vital. Every one of us can do something for the Lord! If the church is to go forward, it needs faithful attenders, intercessors, givers, children’s workers, deacons – and it needs elders, men to govern. As these men gave themselves to David, will you give yourself to Christ?

These were skilled men. They possessed great dexterity and were skilled in the use of bows (v2). The men of Gad were men of war and fit for battle (v8). They were skilled in the use of every weapon. In fact we’re told that the Danites were “expert in war” (v35).

We need to be experts in the strategies of Satan, and in the sword of the Spirit. We need to know how to use the Word of God. In 2 Timothy 2:15 the word rendered “study” carries the sense of ‘diligence’. Timothy was to give maximum effort to the study of God’s Word. Why? So that he might divide it correctly. Before we can ever conquer the world, we need to conquer the Word. At the age of 80, Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor, was able to repeat all of Paul’s epistles – in Greek! Cranmer, burned in 1555, was able to recite the entire New Testament from memory.

If the soldier was not to be cut down in the battle, he needed to spend hours perfecting his swordsmanship. We need to spend time getting to know the book and how to use it. Elders are to guard and to comfort the flock. How can it be done if they are not expert in the use of the sword? You will have many duties, but you must spend time in the book.

These were separated men. Previously, they had given their loyalty to Saul; some were captains in his army (v8, 14). However, they left their families and their farms and gave themselves to David. They separated themselves from Saul unto David.

In this conflict there must be a separating from the world, a coming outside of the camp of the enemies of Christ. You cannot fight the enemy while you are fellowshipping with the enemy. There must be a separating of ourselves unto the Lord. During the American Civil War the North and South wore distinct uniforms. A man caught between the two armies decided to put on the trousers of the North and the shirt of the South, but in the battle both sides fired on him. You cannot have it both ways! That’s why our brethren vowed to “oppose the great public vices of drinking, dancing, and gambling”, and to “vigorously withstand apostasy”. There must be a separating from the world and from those who would attack this book or the Saviour.

These were submissive men. These recruits came from many different tribes and territories (v38). However, they formed an army of 120,000 men that kept rank. Rather than going their own way and doing their own thing, they were subject to David.

The army of Christ must be a body of disciplined men, placing itself under the authority of Christ. Hebrews 13:17 teaches believers to place themselves under the authority of the elders who are, in turn, under the authority of Christ. You will have heard of Colonel George Custer. At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, instead of waiting for reinforcements, Custer did his own thing – ensuring one of the greatest defeats in American military history. Zeal is important, but without control it is dangerous. It leads to defeat. Our brethren vowed “to yield submission and be in subjection to … brethren as is taught in the Word of God”. As they are to be subjection to their brethren, so you are to be in subjection to the Session. Sometimes you will not understand its decisions, but as the soldier must trust his superior, so you will have to learn to trust your elders.

They were committed to David’s cause. The sons of Gad had to cross the Jordan at the most treacherous time to join with David (v15). They were risking all to serve the king.

There must be a willingness to sacrifice all for Christ. Paul was ready to give up everything in which he had once gloried to follow Christ (Philippians 3:8). God is not looking for sentimental words but for sacrificial actions. Are we willing for that?

They were committed to David’s company. Amasai spoke for the Benjamites, declaring peace towards David and peace towards his servants (v18). As well as being at peace with God’s Son, we need to be at peace with His servants. Paul found in Thessalonica a love among the believers, but he urged them to let it increase, to let it “abound”, literally ‘overflow’. Before battling with our foes, all battles with our friends must end. Spurgeon said “when you love Christ you love the very lowest of His people. Ay, if Jesus had a dog, you would love that dog for Christ’s sake”. We need to have a love for the Saviour and for all the saints. Do you have it?

They were committed to David’s command. The roe was remarkable for its swiftness and surefootedness on the mountains (v8). As well as steadfastness we need swiftness in the battle, a readiness to run for God and to obey His directions.

The clothing they received. In verse 18, the word “came” can be rendered “clothed”. Clothing him, the Spirit of God gave him strength and words to speak. The Holy Spirit comforts and clothes the believer, enabling him to speak and to stand and to supplicate. Believers have many duties, but He gives wisdom, words to speak, and power.

The communion they received. The word “knit” (v17) means ‘be one’. Their hearts became as one. They were inseparable. When we are in the service of Christ, we are knit to Him. In the fiery furnace, Daniel’s friends saw the Lord. He was with them. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

The caution they received. If their intentions were not noble, the Lord would rebuke them (v17). Because He is a caring God, He is a chastening God. When we serve Satan rather than the Saviour, He will rebuke us. Are we willing to accept that, and to rededicate ourselves to His service, wherever He sees fit to use us? May God help us!
This is an abridged version of a timely message preached with great acceptance by the Moderator Rev Thomas Murray at the installation of new elders in Sandown Road congregation at the end of 2017 – Rev. Timothy Nelson.