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Dear Christian friends.
Before someone gets married in this church or by me, I have them go through a three week premarital counseling course. In the first week I like to plan the worship service and all it entails. I like to ask questions about details so there are no surprises on the wedding day. The second week we do a Bible study. God created marriage and has given us his blueprint in the Scripture for it. Every couple needs to know it. The third week we go through a marriage survey. There are statements with which the couple either agrees or disagrees about personality, finances, communication, intimacy and religion. My wife and I took it when we were getting married. I got a copy and have used it ever since.
When we are planning the wedding, I give the couple an opportunity to pick some Scripture they want for their wedding sermon. The Scripture that is most often picked is the I Corinthians 13, the epistle lesson that we had today. It is the famous love chapter of the Bible. Usually, I react and think to myself, “Oh no! That is not because it isn’t appropriate, it is all of that. The reason is because that chapter is filled with so much the sermon could last ten hours. That’s when the couple will say, “Oh no!”
The sermon today is not based on I Corinthians 13; the sermon is based on I Samuel 20 and the friendship of Jonathan and David. I Corinthians 13 describes good godly love; David and Jonathan demonstrate it. They show that that godly “Love is a Call to Action.” Let’s look at 1) Some obstacles to love; and 2) the way to love.
We need to keep straight three men in the Bible today. There isSaul,Israel’s first king; Jonathan, Saul’s son; David, Saul’s eventual successor and Jonathan’s best friend. Remember that that Saul didn’t like the fact that his son Jonathan befriended David one bit. In fact, Saul would have said that David ranked up there with the Philistines as his bitterest enemies.
Why? By this time, Saul was a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde. He had been anointed as King of Israel even though the LORD had warned Israelthat having a king would not be good. Power corrupts. Power even had a bad influence on kings like David and Solomon. Saul followed the principle that “the bigger someone’s head, the easier it is to fill his shoes.”
At first Saul was a modest man, even meek, although he stood a head and shoulder over everyone else. He loved and respected the Lord but not for long. Eventually those good qualities waned. Why? Because he drifted from the Lord! Without all the details, Saul didn’t wait for the Lord’s timeframe in much. He grew distant from the Lord’s prophet Samuel. God had commanded that the king ofIsrael was to have a copy of his law constantly at the foot of the throne. As one sees his life unfold, we wonder if he spent any time reading God’s word much less putting it into practice. Time in devotion to the Lord was not his day planner.
An old timer reporter inWashingtonDCwas once looking out over thePotomac Riverand saw an old rotten log floating down the river. He remarked out loud, “That old log is a lot like this city.” A rookie reporter heard him say that and asked him what he meant. The old timer continued, “There are probably a hundred thousand critters and bugs on that log and they all probably think they are steering it.”
Power went to Saul’s head that it affected his ability to see the Lord’s hand in his life. Remember theValleyofElah? That’s where Saul’s army encountered the Philistines and their main man Goliath. God used David, a greenhorn, to save Saul’s hide. You know that story. David showed everyone, most of all Saul, that the Lord is the ruler of the nations. If The Lord in on your side, you are invincible. Goliath fell not because David was a good shot but because the Lord placed them in Goliath’s vulnerable spot.
Instead of Saul getting the message to submit to the Lord, Saul got jealous of God’s tool. Their relationship was all right for a little while. The Bible says Saul took David into his house and never let him go home again. Saul used David. The Bible says, “Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops and Saul’s officers as well.” But “after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Saul got jealous. Saul got to the point of hating David. Saul got to the point of wanting to kill David. What kept him from loving him? Jealousy that stemmed from pride!
What keeps you from loving and appreciating the people God sends you into your life? Jealousy and pride! Do you think that you don’t get enough attention from your spouse? Get off your high horse! When you need to reconcile with your spouse, does it become the showdown at the O K Corral where no one wants to flinch? What keeps you from appreciating your children more than you do? Is it because they can be so much work and need so much attention and you don’t want to spend the time or the effort? Children, what keeps you from loving your parents more? Is it because you think they need to give you everything your friends have? When they give you chores to do, do you have a problem doing them because you think so highly of yourself that you don’t want to be bothered?
Do you know what pride did to Saul? It kept him from getting down on his knees and confessing that he sinned. Don’t let it do the same to you. Pride that leads to jealousy are obstacles to love.
While Saul was very bitter with David, the opposite was true about Jonathan, his son. After David protected Israel by slaughtering Goliath, the Bible says, “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
Jonathan and David were more than frat brothers or drinking buds; Jonathan loved David as a blood and flesh brother. In fact, he was more than that; they were brothers in the Lord.
The sermon text for today, that I haven’t even mentioned yet, is a vow they made to continue to be the brothers in Christ. If you were listening to as I read the sermon text today, did you notice something? Did you notice how freely and comfortably they spoke about the Lord and called on his name? David was a twenty something. I assume that Jonathan as about that too. We don’t often hear or are part of those conversations like that to our shame.
We are on the same side. The Bible says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Jesus put us on the same side when he died for us all. That’s how we need to look at each other. If Jesus could love us, then why can’t we love those whom Jesus loves? As fellow Christians, remember that love is forever; it won’t stop the day we die. In First Corinthians 13 let’s look at some of the characteristics of love and see how that was demonstrated by Jonathan and David. Love is patient. Jonathan tried to deal with his father. He pleaded for David. David was also patient. Twice he spared Saul’s life when he was in a position to finally rid this Saul as the thorn in his side. David knew that sparing his life was also providing David with another day to repent. Let us all pray for patience as the Lord was and is patient with us.
“Love is kind,” says Paul in First Corinthians. Jonathan was in line to inherit the kingdom from his father. Yet, he knew the kingdom wasn’t his to have. That was all right because he knew the Lord God had other things in mind. Jonathan accepted that. Jonathan did all he could to be supportive to David, even protect his life. “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? Someone once said that “kindness makes a person attractive. If you want to win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.”
The apostle Paul says that love protects. Jonathan protected David from his father’s wrath. In fact, by warning David to stay away, Jonathan protected his father from committing sin.
I hear far too much that we need to expose our children to the world so they understand the kind of world this is they live in. Love protects. What do we pray for when we pray, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil?”
Love perseveres. Jonathan and David had a relationship of Christian love that didn’t quit even when Saul despised it. When we served inFlorida, we had a school with a gym. On Valentine’s Day we had a dance in our gym for special needs children who were physically challenged. The kids that came suffered from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other debilitating diseases. There was a DJ who played music and the kids danced in wheelchairs. It was quite the sight to see. One our members had two boys who had muscular dystrophy. She organized this event. They had a dinner and during that time Tracey introduced me to the families each year. Usually about 12-15 different families came. The first year I noted that Tracey and her husband were the only ones who remained married. One can imagine the stress in taking care of children who have special needs. Love is tested to the max. Some don’t make it.
What is sad is that people give up loving one another on far less than the pressure of having someone who has special needs. Think if Jesus had done that. Love perseveres. Love doesn’t quit. In fact, David vowed that Jonathan’s family would always be treated with love. After Jonathan had died David gave Mephibosheth, Jonathon’s special needs so a place at the king’s table. Why? Love perseveres. It doesn’t quit.
Today we are leaving as quickly as possible after Confirmation class as we can to go to see our new granddaughter. Well, I should say, we are going to see our grandchildren. You know what’s fun about grandchildren? Y’all need to have some someday if you don’t already. They don’t simply express affection by saying, “I love you, Papa!” or “I love you Grandma Judy!” They hug and if you are sitting down they launch themselves into laps. Lily tackles you in the aisle. My point – they are not content just saying it. They show it.
True godly love, is not interested in only saying it either. Christ-centered love is a call to action.