Dodging SpearsErwin W. Lutzer | February 6, 2005
Selected highlights from this sermon
Spear throwers. Some may call them destroyers. They’re self-absorbed, and they’re out to make sure they look better than anyone else. Beware, they will hurt people to keep appearances up.
And they’re found at all levels of society. King Saul was a spear thrower. He didn’t like it when God said He was going to give His kingdom to someone else. Saul believed the kingdom was his, not God’s – and he wasn’t about to give it up for anything.
By going through this chapter in Saul’s life, Pastor Lutzer outlines the characteristics of a spear thrower and how to react to them. There are also lessons we can learn through David’s reaction to Saul’s threats on his life—and Christ’s example of the injustices He faced.
I have to begin today by asking you a question. Have you ever met a spear thrower? A spear thrower is a person who hurts others. A spear thrower is self-absorbed. He could be called a destroyer. And sometimes he is very religious, and he does this under the guise of verses of Scripture and spiritual commitment.
I’m not talking about people with horns. I’m talking about people with whom you work in your office. I’m talking about the family that you married into. You know those loving, wonderful relatives who turned out to be very dysfunctional and very obnoxious? They’re the ones that I’m talking about. If fact, spear throwers are everywhere, on every level of society.
And as we shall find, spear throwing is something that you and I can do as well. In fact, there may be many spear throwers who are listening to this message. But remember, we’ve learned haven’t we that they are always thinking, “It applies to somebody else.” Well, spear throwers.
Why am I preaching on this? Because we are in a series entitled, “Suffering Wrong.” As part of the series I’ll be speaking on the topic of Christians taking others to court. Paul says, “Would you not rather suffer wrong.” I’m going to be speaking about the high cost of reconciliation. There’s a price to be paid to be reconciled to others, and it’s a price you and I must be willing to pay. All of that is part of the series.
We’ve spoken about forgiveness, we’ve spoken about people who take offenses into their souls and keep them there. And so today what we want to do is to find out why God allows spear throwers to exist, sometimes in prominent places. And also what the lessons are that God has to teach us because we are next to a spear thrower in the relationships of life.
I’m thinking of King Saul. King Saul is a very interesting study. As a matter of fact, in a hotel room in Canada this past fall I took out about two hours to outline what I hoped someday would be six messages on Saul, because he is so fascinating. But it’s going to have to be awhile before I preach those messages, because this in effect is a summary of all of those messages thrown together.
Saul was the kind of man who was afraid of the people, the Bible says. One thing you discover about spear throwers is this: that it is not necessary for them to be good, but it is very necessary for them to appear good. To a spear thrower appearances are everything.
But who is this man called Saul? Take your Bibles please and turn to I Samuel chapter ten. That’s where we are beginning today. Israel needs a King, and Samuel is commissioned by God to find the one whom the Lord would choose. I Samuel chapter ten, verse one, “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his,” that is on Saul’s head, “and kissed him and said, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you to be price over His people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord, and will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.” Characteristic number one of Saul, he was anointed by God. Chosen by God, anointed of God.
Second, you’ll notice that he had the prophetic gift. Samuel told him, “That the Holy Spirit of God will rush upon you, and you will prophecy, and you will be turned into another man.” Verse nine, “When he turned his back to leave Samuel,” that is when Saul turned his back to leave Samuel, “God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. When they came to Gibeah, behold a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God rushed on him, and he prophesied among them. And the people said, ‘Is Saul also of the prophets?’”
And the answer is, “Yes, the prophetic gift. He was striking in appearance. The end of the chapter says that when they were going to crown him they couldn’t find him, apparently because of his humility he was hiding somewhere. And they brought him out, and he was taller than everyone else. All of us know that the people who are tall get the breaks in life. And so there’s Saul, who is also tall, and I hope to do better than that later on.
But here he is, a specimen of humanity. He is the very kind of man that every godly woman in Israel would like to marry, because women who are godly desire a man who has spiritual leadership. They desire a man who is committed, a man with a prophetic gift. They desire someone who has oil on his forehead put there by the ordained will and the purpose of God. This was your best Seminary student that a young woman could possibly marry. And, he had all those gifts.
That’s not the end of the gifts that he had. He was also one who could put an army together. In the next chapter if we read it, he puts an army together, and he wins victories for Israel. He was God’s man, for God’s possession, for God’s use among the people, for that moment in a nation’s history.
What goes wrong with a man like this? What’s happening? For this we have to turn to the eighteenth chapter of Samuel. Not nineteen, but eighteen. You’ll notice in between time David kills Goliath. And it says in chapter eighteen, verse six of I Samuel, “As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing to meet King Saul with tambourines, and with songs of joy and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
Verse eight says, “Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, ‘They have ascribed to him ten thousands, to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ And Saul eyed David from that day on. The next day a harmful or evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand and Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, ‘I will pin David to the wall.’ But David evaded him twice.” Anointed, called, gifted, prophet, spear thrower.
What are the characteristics of a spear thrower? Let’s look at these characteristics of King Saul. First, he believed the kingdom was his, not God’s. The kingdom was his and not God’s. Follow carefully, that in chapter fifteen he disobeyed God. That comes before eighteen. In chapter fifteen he disobeys God and Samuel says to him, “Because of your disobedience, God has taken the kingdom from you and He is going to give it to somebody else.”
What should Saul have said at that point? Saul should have said, “Oh God, the kingdom is yours and you can give it to whomsoever you will. I disobeyed you; I have no right to this kingdom. It was a gift from your loving hand to mine. Give it to whomsoever you will.” That’s what he should have said. But, he’s going to hang on to the kingdom until his knuckles turn white. He will not give up that kingdom for anything.
There are people whom God blesses. He puts them in positions of authority, He gives them vocations, and He may give them money. And yet when you try to remove them from the kingdom, even though they may be under someone else’s authority and you try to remove them from the kingdom, they become angry and violent, and they become very, very upset. And they’ll turn out to be spear throwers, because they think that the kingdom is theirs. “And no one has the right to take my kingdom from me.”
Could I say it among my peers? I’ve known pastor’s like that; “No one will take this church from me.” I’ve seen pastors split churches down to twenty percent of their original membership, “Because nobody’s going to take this kingdom from me.” Do you work with people like that? People who maybe have bypassed their youthfulness? They think that the minute they leave, this organization is going to collapse. And they have no idea if they were to leave the organization would finally earn some money and gets on its way. I’m connecting now, huh? He believed the kingdom was his and not God’s.
Secondly, he was obsessed with insecurity and jealousy. What more can David have but the kingdom? Paranoia – he didn’t have to fear David because David was not going to grasp the kingdom. He didn’t have to fear David, but there is this within him, “Everybody’s out to get me. This is going to happen to me and everybody is out there, and I can’t trust nobody. And because I can’t trust nobody, I’ll make sure that I cut everybody down and make sure that I begin to manipulate, so that I can keep the kingdom.”
Another thing about Saul that I can mention, that we can put under this only hurriedly, is that he will blame others for his failures and be quick to take credit for other people’s successes. That’s the kind of a heart that Saul had. Have you met someone like that?
This past week I was in another state meeting with some pastors, and we were talking about or they were actually talking about someone. This man won’t attend anything unless it’s his party. If he didn’t organize it, if his name isn’t on it, he’s not going to be there. And then he’s offended if people don’t attend his party. “You’d better attend my party, but I’m not going to attend yours.” I’ve met people like that. They have to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. If they’re not in the middle of it, they are not there. And what they’ll do is try to destroy anyone who will take them from their little pyramid.
Number three, he tried to drive a wedge between people. Oh listen to me, spear throwers will do this, and this is what Saul did. He tried to convince his son of all things, Jonathan, to kill David. Thankfully, he didn’t. There are times when you should not obey your earthly father. And later on, do you know what Saul says? He says to his own son, “You are the son of a perverse woman.” Pardon me? He should have said, “You are the son of a perverse father.” But, spear throwers don’t look at it that way.
Also, what he tried to do is to manipulate and to kill with kindness. “Oh go ahead and marry my daughter,” hoping that when he does the Philistines will come and kill David. All kinds of manipulation, sometimes done with a smile, and all kinds of kindness. Now the question is, why does God let a guy like this live and rule for so long?
By the way, he also played by a different set of rules. The Bible says that, “He took out all of the witches from the land.” He says, “I’m going to do away with all occultism, and all witches must die.” And when he’s in a tight place, he goes to a witch. Because what happens in his mind is, “The rules that apply to you do not apply to me.” It’s called the law of the grand exception.
Why is it that God chose Saul and let him rule so long? Gene Edwards in his book, The Tale of Three Kings, an excellent little book that has inspired much of what I’m sharing with you today says, “Why does God do such a thing? The answer is both simple and shocking. He sometimes gives unworthy vessels a greater portion of power, so that it might eventually be revealed for all to see the true state of internal nakedness within that man.” Wow.
God sometimes exalts people, anoints them with oil on their forehead, they have the gift of prophecy, they are natural born leaders and they accomplish things. And yet they are spear throwers and they are mad. So that we might see what it is: raw naked human nature in all of its deceptions and perverseness.
Now as we shall see, there is a reason for God to do that. And if I may have a second quote and this point from Gene Edwards, he says, “God wants to take out the Saul in us.” Could there be anyone here today who has a little bit of Saul in them? Is that even possible? Or do we weed them all out before they come in here? Edwards says, “Saul is in your bloodstream, in the marrow of your bones. He makes up the very flesh and muscle of your heart. He is mixed into your soul; he inhabits the nuclei of your atoms. King Saul is one with you. You and I are King Saul.”
Now, how do we react if we have spears thrown at us? What should you do if you are living with someone who loves to throw spears? Could I give you a bit of advice? Number one: duck! Okay, duck. David escaped out of Saul’s presence twice. David didn’t hang around to become a martyr. He didn’t say, “Saul, you missed me twice, so here I am,” and he has a T-shirt with a target on it and he says, “Here I am. I want to die here.” No, he actually escaped.
It’s not wrong to get away from a spear thrower if you can. If you can put physical distance between you and the spear thrower, that’s a very, very good idea. You say, “But I can’t run and hide. There are no caves that I can hide in.”
Well, a couple of ideas as how to duck. First of all, don’t take it personally. You have to understand something about spear throwers. You have to realize that the evil that is in their heart they see as belonging to others. And therefore you see, the hostility and the anger that you receive very probably, and the accusations even that are made are very probably accusations that apply to them. So, there are times when we have to take people very personally and very seriously because they are pointing out things in our lives.
And, there are other times when we simply have to say, “Okay, he’s looking into his own heart and he’s thinking he’s seeing me.” Spear throwers are that way. You can’t reason with them. Now of course there are many that you can reason with. I’m talking about extremes. If you’ve ever met someone who is truly evil, you’ll discover that you cannot reason with them because everything that you say is going to be turned a half turn, so that it will come back at you. It will go through this filter, and in the end the filter will come out making you look bad.
Because remember, spear throwers are not interested in the truth. They are only interested in their own version of it. They know what they know what they know. So the first thing you should do if you can is try to get out of the way.
Second, very important, don’t become a spear thrower. You know, if many of us had been David we would have probably wrenched that spear out of the wall and said, “Just watch this Saul.” Boom! We’d of tossed it back really fast and very hard and we’d of said, “Okay, I missed you. But I am going to go to the local college and I am going to take a spear throwers class, and I am going to show you who’s going to throw spears. You think you’re good at throwing spears? I’ll throw you some spears and then you’ll find out.”
David could have killed Saul two times. Saul was sleeping, you remember the story, and David came along and actually cut off part of his cloak. And later on David was high on the cliffs and when Saul awoke he said in effect, “You hoo, look what I have! I have part of your cloak here, Saul. I could have killed you.”
All of David’s men thought that David was crazy for not killing him. David said, “I will not put forth my hand and touch the Lord’s anointed.” Wait a moment, David. Get some sense! You are the Lord’s anointed, too. Chapter fifteen, Saul disobeys God; chapter sixteen, God tells Samuel, “Go find someone else to be king.” He goes and meets the sons of Jesse and ends up anointing David.
David could have said, “Oh Saul, so you think you’re anointed? Well, I just want you to know that I am just as much anointed as you are. And if you think that you can throw spears, well you haven’t seen anything yet! You’d better put some armor on because the spears are coming your way!”
You remember what Jesus said? “Do not render evil for evil.” You’ll never change a spear thrower by becoming better at throwing spears than he is. Don’t you dare become a spear thrower. And if you are tempted to, you think of the message that I preached last time in this series about forgiveness and laying it all down.
And then third, learn the lessons that God wants to teach you in the experience. You see, as Gene Edwards points out, “The whole point of allowing Saul to continue to rule for ten long years pursuing David, David running among the Philistines, David going insane.” He acted insane, and truly evil people will sometimes drive you insane. For ten long years from one cave to another, from one group of men to the other. What in the world is God doing with Saul? Why doesn’t he just wipe him out and give the kingdom to David as planned?
What God was doing is making sure He was taking out of David’s heart the potential of becoming Saul number two. David had it within him to become a spear thrower. He had it within him to be able to do what his own son Absalom did, namely to split the kingdom and to rebel against his father. All of those seeds were in David’s heart.
And God says, “I’m not going to have this man become Saul number two. The only way I can take the “Saul” out of his heart is to let him be pursued for ten long years of fright, of difficulty, of challenge, and of hopelessness.” And God says, “I’m interested in brokenness.”
It is my firm conviction having ministered for so long, and some of you know how long that really is, don’t you? It is my firm conviction that there are some people that God wants to simply have live in pain. But, it’s to bring about brokenness. I was thinking about that this morning. Brokenness may be more important in God’s sight that success. Ouch! That hurt!
Sometime ago I was having breakfast with a friend of mine who actually is in another state, and he was telling me about his marriage. It was a terrible story, living with a woman who perhaps because of abuse when she was young was exceedingly critical, exceedingly difficult to live with, the kind that everything that you basically do is wrong. You remember that old joke, “If a tree falls in the forest,” you know I think I just miss-told that joke. I got it now, now that you laughed long enough. “If a man says something in the forest and his wife isn’t there to hear it, is he still wrong?” They can have company over and everything is sweet and wonderful. But, when the company leaves the criticism begins.
I was listening to him and I thought to myself, “I don’t know, I don’t know how I could put up with that.” But then he said this, he said, “You know that all of my life I’ve been a very impatient person. I couldn’t listen to people who had problems in their marriage or with their children, or whatever. I just said, ‘You know get with it and work it out and get gone.’” He said, “Now I have a listening ear because I have a broken heart.” Only pain will do that. And for some people it is circumstances, it is health. For other people it is people, impossible, obnoxious people… brokenness.
Secondly, patience… ten long years! What was David doing in these ten long years as he ran from cave to cave? He was writing Psalms. Do you know that if David hadn’t had this experience we would have missed this, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear it and be glad. Oh magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and He delivered me from all of my fears. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all of his troubles.”
We also might have missed this, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, or over the man who carries out evil devices. Refrain from anger and forsake wrath. Do not fret yourself; it tends only to evil, for evildoers will be cut off. But those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”
He wrote about more than a dozen Psalms during that period of time. How could David have the reputation of being the world’s most famous and universal comforter through what he went through with Saul? But, he would not touch the Lord’s anointed.
I remember going through a difficult time in my own life. There was pain in my heart because of something that had happened. And I remember getting a schedule and reading through the book of Psalms every single month, reading five or six Psalms a day. I read like that for over a year, every single month through the book of Psalms. Every time I saw new insights. Every time I would look into the life of David, and I would be encouraged.
How could David have done that, unless God had put a Saul over him and a Saul who irritated him, and a Saul who had oil on his forehead, but a spear in his pocket? It is patience, but also triumph. You know, when David was installed as King he could really say, “I am here because God did this. I didn’t manipulate to become King, I didn’t set forth my hand to touch the Lord’s anointed, I didn’t try to work this thing out so that I would get what I want. God, I’m yours. The kingdom is yours. Let Saul have it for as long as you will. My times are in thy hand.” By the way, it was when he was fleeing from Saul he said, “It is better to fall into the hands of God than the hands of men.” And that’s how it happened folks – triumph!
Jesus is the greatest example. He could have called ten thousand angels. He says, “Do you not know that I could speak a word, and ten legions of angels would come and deliver Me?” Talk about somebody who could be out from under the spear throwers!
But, He makes one of the most amazing statements. This statement takes me breath away every time I read it. It’s from the Gospel of Luke. When they come to take Jesus He says these astounding words to his captors, to his spear throwers. He says, “This hour and the power of darkness, today is yours.” Wow! Today… you win. And there He hung on the cross allowing evil to triumph. And there on the cross evil triumphs.
I need to emphasize today by the way, I was going to do that earlier, that I am not talking about abuse taking place in your home. If you are a parent and someone is abusing your children or you know of abuse, you must report it. I’m not talking about that kind of situation. And by the way, for those of you who are listening who are child abusers, I have a word for you today. It comes directly from God, “Stop it!”
I’m speaking today about the triumph of what God does in our lives when he puts people next to us who have the heart of King Saul. Jesus said, “This hour and the power of darkness is yours.” He hangs on the cross, He dies, but He is raised again in triumph, in victory. Every principality and every power and every name that is named is now under His feet. He is Lord of all, He is King, and He is God! Let’s let God exalt us. Let’s let God exonerate us. Let us let God break us. That out of the depths of our experience we might find His grace while living in pain.
Adelaide Pollard, 1907, I believe here in Chicago was at a prayer meeting. Somebody prayed in the prayer meeting, “Lord, have your way with us.” And she went home that night and said, “Wow, what a statement, ‘Have your way with us.’” And so she wrote a song. I think I remember the first stanza. It goes like this, “Have thine own way Lord, have thine own way. Thou art the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” “Wait, I say, on the Lord;” advice from David in a cave.
Let’s pray. “Our Father, today we pray that you might make us comforters, that you might break us, that you might, Lord God, pour grace into our pain. We pray today that you might help us to represent you and your Gospel, and give to you the people that are out there who would do us harm.” How many of you say today, “Pastor Lutzer, I have somebody that I have to give to God today. I have a situation,” let’s put it that way, “I have a situation that I have to give to God.” Would you raise your hand, please? Throughout the whole bottom and in the balcony, too, I’m looking in the balcony, too. “Father, we ask in Jesus name, take these situations, mold us, make us, break us after your will, while we are waiting, yielded and still. In Jesus name, amen.