J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

To Serve and Protect – 1 Samuel 2:9-11

The audio for this sermon can be found here.

 

“To Protect and To Serve” is the motto of the Los Angeles Police Department.  However, over the past two decades, the phrase has become synonymous with almost every police force in the country.  The idea behind the motto is that your police force is to protect and serve the citizenry from those who would commit crimes and injustices, and that idea has become ingrained in our subconscious.  Whether or not people especially like their police, they typically think that is what a police force is supposed to do.  The idea is that citizens should feel safer because the police are present.

 

Though I know some police and law enforcement agencies have debated the exact nature of what it means to protect and serve, I think most folks are comfortable with the idea.  In fact, what happens is that we begin to think that every civil authority should have the same ideals.   The police, firemen, EMS, judges, teachers, should all protect and serve us.

 

We even take this attitude and apply it to what we think God should do.  God should protect and serve us.  I guess the question is, “Should He?

 

What you either believe about God or know about God will determine how you answer that question.  But here is thing, whatever you think you now about God is not going to change whether God will protect and serve you.  God does as He will.  If God is going to protect and serve, it is only going to be because protecting and serving is consistent with His character.  And the only place we are going to discover an immovable and unchangeable view of God’s character is in His scriptures.

 

So, this week, we are going to wrap up the song of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2.  In the last few verses of her song, she is going to speak very much about God’s character and how He interacts with us.  So with that in mind, let’s answer this Big Picture Question:

 

Big Picture Question:  How does God serve and protect His people?

 

Over the last two Sundays, we have explored Hannah’s song as she gives her son, Samuel to God to serve in the priesthood.  In a quick summary, Hannah emphasized that we should live several ways before God.  First, our hearts should exalt in who God is.  Our joy comes from loving God for who He is not because of what God can do for you.  Second, God opposes anyone who trusts in their own strength.  Trusting in your own strength is not trusting God’s strength in the day to day.   God opposes anyone who doesn’t trust Him.  Third & most importantly, God has the right to lift up some & bring some down.  We are to walk in humility before God and trust that He pours grace out to those who are humble.  Having said those things, let’s jump into verse 9.

 

9“He (God) will guard the feet of his faithful ones,

The faithful ones that are mentioned here would be the poor, humble people that trust God seen in verse 8.  In humility if you trust God for both salvation in the eternal sense, and the strength and wisdom in the every day sense, you are considered faithful according to the scriptures.  In fact, the word for faithful ones there can also be translated this way.  “God will protect those who are in covenant with Him” or “He will guard the feet of His covenant ones.”  I bump into people all the time who say they have faith in God, yet they still seem so far and distant from what the Bible describes as a trusting faith.  Maybe a better question would be, “Have you covenanted with God just like in a marriage?”  If you have, God pledges to guard your feet.  God promises to protect you and guard your feet if you are in covenant with Him.

 

Let’s make it specific, if you have pledged yourself to Jesus by faith, declaring that you and your household will serve the Lord, God pledges Himself to you in protection.  In the smallest of ways, each and every day, in ways that we cannot always ascertain, God is about guarding the feet of His children.  And we should look for, expect, and celebrate each of these small protections and blessings as they are a token of the larger salvation and deliverance that we will enjoy with God ultimately in heaven and the coming of His kingdom.

 

Unfortunately, as weak people, we sometimes overlook God’s small blessings in our lives because we want giant large ones.  Let me give you an example:  We miss out on praising God for protecting us in our car (and if you have ever ridden with me, you know what I’m talking about) because we want God to pay off our credit cards.  We miss out on praising God for protecting our children at school because we want God to help us quit fighting with our spouse.  We miss out on praising God for this wonderful church family because we wish the music was different or that we offered some ministry or some service that we presently don’t have.  We miss out on smaller blessings of God because we only satisfied with giant blessings.  Can’t see forest for the trees type of thing.

 

Again, Dale Davis in his wonderful commentary on 1 Samuel gives us a way to enjoy and celebrate these guardings that the Father does for His children.  He says, “A happily married woman may wear a diamond ring and/or a wedding band.  And, if you asked her, she would likely admit that the ring is a token or a sign of the love her husband has for her; she would acknowledge that it is only a sign or a symbol and that the ring is certainly not the love itself but that the real thing is much greater than the ring or symbol of it.  But she will not for that reason despise the ring; she won’t reason that since it is only a symbol she might just as well sell it at her garage sale.  No, because of the deeper reality it signifies she treasures it, though it is, admittedly, relatively insignificant.”  “Likewise, you should not despise or demean these little salvations God works in your behalfs, these little clues he gives, these clear but small evidences he leaves that he is king and the he has this strange way of raising up the poor from the dust and lifting the needy from the ash heap to make them sit in the heavenly realms with Jesus Christ.”

 

God promises to protect you if you are His child by faith.  Even in the smallest of ways each day, He is protecting you.  As you celebrate each small way in which God protects you, your affection for God grows in anticipation of the greater protection there will be in heaven one day.  Perhaps we would do well to consider what are the small blessings that we forget to thank God for?  But as we all know, there is no true protection unless one’s enemies have been defeated.  Look at what God does in verse 9.
But the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven.

 

Now this is strong biblical language:  The wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.  So in the same way that every small rescue for God’s children is a foretaste of an ultimate deliverance and salvation in the coming kingdom, so every small challenge and difficulty that those who do not trust Jesus face is a foretaste of the judgment to come.  God will not let anyone who declares themselves strong apart from God remain standing.  Any strength a person has comes from God, and if a person continues thinking that their strength is their own and never repents, God will humble them for a time but ultimately humble them in punishment in hell – here described as being cut off in darkness.

 

So, here is an interesting question.  How should you react when a professed non-believers in Christ struggling?  Someone you know who clearly does not claim Jesus as their Savior, when they struggle what do you say or really what do you think?  Should you say, “Yeah, that’s what you deserve”?  Or should you say, “God is judging you”?  Though I think you could say both of those I guess, the better picture is to offer them is hope in Christ.  Perhaps God is using this present difficulty to bring them to know Him.

 

To anyone who does not know Christ, you can say, “I don’t know whether God is judging you or not, but I do know that God promises to protect and guard the feet of those who are have faith in Him trouble.  Do you think God is using this situation to get you to think about him?  Does this situation cause you to think about having faith in Jesus?  Is God trying to get your attention by protecting you so far?   A lot is at stake in the midst of our day to day lives.

 

Hannah goes on to make some pretty strong statements.  She matter of factly says, “The adversaries of the Lord will be broken to pieces.  He will thunder out of heaven against them.”  You see, Hannah had an enemy in this world:  Peninnah.  In every way you can imagine, Peninnah was an enemy to Hannah.  She sought to steal the affections of Elkanah, Hannah’s husband.  She mocked Hannah.  She conspired to make her jealous.  She took advantage of things like her ability to have children and mocked Hannah for her inability.  It wasn’t Hannah’s fault that she couldn’t have children, but Peninnah mocked her nonetheless.  And Hannah received rescue from her enemy.  God rescued her.  It’s as if Hannah celebrates her God who would rescue her, and she thinks, “If my tiny, temporal enemy has been defeated, then how much more will God defeat His enemies?”

 

  • God will defeat the proud and all that trust in themselves.
  • God will defeat Satan and all His hellish crew.
  • As certain as the victory of which Hannah sang, so much more will God’s victory be.

 

You know, at SK, we speak of grace and love here as we rightfully should, but God is also a God of justice & wrath opposing all who would stand against Him.  As we saw last week, God gives grace to the Humble but He opposes the proud.  God will break His adversaries to pieces.  None will be left standing to shake their fist at God.  Look at verse 10.

 

The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”

 

Now, these two statements back to back don’t seem to make much sense.  In the context of what God is saying, it makes sense that God speak about judging everyone to the ends of the earth.  But who is this king that God will give strength to and exalt by the power of his anointed?  What God is speaking of here is the means by which He will judge the earth.  He is going to appoint a King.  He is going to give strength to this King.  And then God is going to lift and exalt this king.  In fact, this King will be His anointed and God will give Him the power to judge.

 

Now, let’s remember, at the time of this writing, Israel does not have a king.    Israel has had several judges that served in similar roles as a king, but as of yet, the people of God have not been ruled over by one person.  The book of 1 Samuel is really about the establishing of Israel’s king, but having this language pop up in the song of a formerly barren woman in the middle of nowhere is odd.  What we have here is no less than God’s promise to save His people.  It is as important as the promise of Jesus coming in Genesis 3:15-16 when God promised that the seed of woman would crush the head of Satan.  God promises here to judge the earth while giving strength to his king and his anointed.

 

Do you remember how last week, we looked at God’s declaration that the pillars of the earth were His?  The entire earth is sustained by God.  Ultimately, Hebrews tells us that it is Jesus who sustains all things by His powerful word.  Because God creates the earth and because God sustains it, He will also will sent His son Jesus one day to judge it.  Whenever God promises to eradicate and conquer sin in this world, it always comes in judgment.    Let’s make this clear:  God is gracious.  His love is poured out to those who have faith in Him.  But God’s grace is never poured out on sinners unless His wrath is poured out on sin in Jesus Christ.  There is no enjoyment of the grace and love of God unless sin has been judged.  And all sin will be judged.  Every sin will be judged.  Either Jesus pays the penalty of sin or you will pay the penalty of sin.

 

This will be helpful as we understand and apply theses verse.  Ask yourself, how will God judge sin?  The answer is that God has given all judgment and authority over to His son, Jesus Christ.

 

  • John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
  • 2 Timothy 4:1 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
  • Romans 2:16 – on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

So, all the way back in 1 Samuel 2, when Hannah sings of God judging the earth, she was speaking of the work that Jesus was going to do.  To begin that process of both gathering in His people for grace and giving out judgment on sin, this verse says that God gives strength to His king.  But this is no earthly king being spoken of here.  Yes, we are going to see King Saul, David, Solomon and others step in and fill the title of king, but this is not the king that is being spoken of here.  This is a king whose reign will extend to the ends of the earth.  No human king has done that.  This will be a king over all creation.

 

God is using Hannah to prophecy that God is going to bring a Kingly judge who will be His anointed.  When this passage speaks of exalting the power of God’s anointed, it is specifically speaking of the messiah.  His anointed translates to Messiah in the Hebrew and in the New Testament, anointed or anointed one translates into…Christ.  This is the first time in the entire Bible that we see God speaking of a coming anointed, messiah…a coming savior.   God is promising to judge sin, rule His people, and to save them all through the coming Messiah.  And this coming judge, king and anointed one is the one who is called Christ:  Jesus Christ.

 

Now, so far, we’ve heard that Jesus is going to protect His children.  He is going to defeat the enemies of God and God’s people.  He’ll defeat Satan and the power of sin.  He’ll judge the enemies of God and the enemies of God’s people.  But are we going so far as to say that God serves His people?  Can the God of all creation actually serve His creation?  Isn’t that blasphemous?

 

It would be if it were not for what the scriptures call the incarnation.  The incarnation is the act where Jesus Christ who was fully God took on a human nature so that He might live, die, and live again for His children.  The incarnation explains how God’s Judge and King will do His work.  That work is ultimately an act of service.  Listen to how Philippians 2 explains this.

 

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

 

Jesus, who was fully God, didn’t cling to status as we most certainly would.  Instead, He made Himself a servant by becoming a man.

 

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Jesus Christ served sinners.  He served them by dying for sin.  And God highly exalted Him to a place of honor which is above each and every name in this world so that sinful men and women can proclaim faith in Him and be forgiven.  Jesus served you by dying for your sins if you have faith in Him.  But if you do not have faith in Him, Jesus is not your servant.  He will be your judge.  Folks, this truth is astounding, so astounding I’m almost scared to say it aloud.

 

  • Jesus, God incarnate, serves His children.
  • He serves them by taking on the weakness of human flesh.  (Phil 2)
  • He serves them by living perfectly where our father Adam sinned.  (Rom 5.25)
  • He serves them by dying for sin in their place.  (1 Corinthians 15)
  • He serves them by rising again from the dead so they might obey. (Romans 8)
  • He serves them by interceding in their prayers before God the Father in Heaven. (Hebrews 7)

 

Have you noticed, how Jesus’ service always takes the form of something redemptive?  Notice that Jesus did not serve you so you could get rich and drive a fancy car.  Notice that Jesus did not serve you so you could receive your every whim on this earth.  Jesus served you so that you might be brought into the blessings of God and secure a right relationship with God.

 

In light of these truths, it is fair to ask, “How do we live under the service and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ?”  I would say two ways:  In Contentment and Service

 

Let’s look at contentment for a minute.  We see this in 2 Corinthians 2:9-11 – 9 But he said to me, “My (God’s) grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

If you have faith in Jesus, you imitate Him in His weakness.  Jesus served you by becoming weak and God lifted Him up.  We trust not our strength but instead boast in our weakness because in our weakness we see God’s grace poured out.  Imitating Christ is the pathway to contentment.   Seeing His weakness, His insults, His persecutions, and His calamities, we are strengthened as we face the ours.  Ask yourself, “Do I have Christ?  If the answer is yes, then you have more than enough in this life.”  But as much as we live under the protection of God by being content, we also live by imitating Jesus in service  Listen to what the scriptures have to say about that.

 

  • 2 Corinthians 4:5 – For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  Paul saw himself as a servant to other Christians because Jesus was a servant to him.
  • 1 Timothy 4:6 – If you put these things (Godliness and contentment) before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

 

Encouraging people to obey God and to be content, is being a servant of Jesus because Godliness and contentment are imitations of Jesus Christ.  Because God serves and protects us through Jesus, we are to be content and serve as Jesus did.  If you have faith in Jesus, God protects your steps.  He guards the steps of His faithful ones.  That does not mean that no tragedy will befall you in this life.  Any pastor that is teaching that all God promises is good times free of pain and tragedy is merely blowing sunshine.  We are to as Philippians 2.5 says take on the same mind of Jesus who humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant.  And just as God lifted up Jesus, our Father in Heaven will lift us in small ways now and in ultimate ways one day.

 

We should examine our hearts just as Jesus commanded the people in John 10:24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

 

They wanted to know.  Are you this anointed one that was promised?

 

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.  27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

 

Those who seek to imitate Jesus’ life of service are those who hear Jesus the shepherds protective voice calling them.  Those that don’t are not of His flock.  Folks, I know that with all that we have here, it is easy to forget that God is protecting you and serving you.  When the house is mess, we forget.  When the bills are greater than the income, we forget.  When our marriages are a mess, we forget.  When our child is sick, we forget.

 

But God the Father is ordaining all of these circumstances in order to pour out His love and affection on you.  He is ordaining these things so that the world will see the testimony of your heart when you say, “I boast all the more in my weaknesses because that was the life of my Savior, Jesus, and I want nothing more than to be like Him.

 

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January 5, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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