Sermon on 1 Samuel 14:47-52 – “Nothing and Everything”

Sermon for Sunday, February 25th, 2024 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

 

Old Testament reading:

[Pro 3:1-6 ESV] 1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, 2 for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. 3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

New Testament reading:

[1Jo 2:15-17 ESV] 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

 

Gospel reading:

[Jhn 6:22-29 ESV] 22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

 

Sermon Text:
[1Sa 14:47-52 ESV] 47 When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned he routed them. 48 And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them. 49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchi-shua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger Michal. 50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. 52 There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he attached him to himself.

Introduction

We come to a text that is about the accomplishments of King Saul.

It reads almost like an obituary. It is a short biography of the man, listing the major elements of his life.

Like the King Israel clamored for, Saul fought against all his enemies on every side.
– the Moabites
– the Ammonties
– the Edomites
– the kings of Zobah [that is a place in Syria]
– the Philistines
– and the Amalekites.

Then it tells of Saul’s family.
– His sons: Jonathan, Ishvi, Malchi-shua.
– His daughters Merab and Michal.
– His wife Ahinoam.

And it tells of the commander of his army
– Abner (a relative of his)

And strong and valiant men fought for Saul.

A good life, right? A great obituary?

Saul has “everything,” BUT he has nothing.

What is remarkable about our text — and what will be the focus of this sermon — is what it doesn’t say.

There is nothing in Saul’s life’s summary about God. [REPEAT: There is nothing in Saul’s life’s summary about God.]

God simply wasn’t in Saul’s life. HE has no care for God. And therefore, Saul had nothing.

 

All of the things of the world are in fact fleeting.

 

The grass withers and the flowers fade.

The world is passing away along with its desires.

 

So the Proverb says

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

 

And Jesus says:

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life

 

And:

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The Biblical truth is that Saul who had everything, had nothing.

Let’s look at each of these ideas,
Having “Everything” (which amounts to Nothing)
and TRULY Having Everything, which is having a relationship with God Himself.
and then, let us recognize JUST HOW GOOD WE HAVE IT BECAUSE WE HAVE GOD.

First there is “Everything which is truly nothing.” Or we can call it “everything” in quotes.

I. “Everything” (Nothing)

How often do you think about what you would do if you won the lottery?

That is always a good conversation starter. You can find out a lot about a person from that question.

What would you do with a million dollars?
What would you do with a Billion dollars?

You would have EVERYTHING, right?

Well, they say “money can’t be everything.” But it can buy A LOT OF THINGS!

So a person daydreams about winning the lottery. I’d give 10% to charity. I’d definitely quit my job. (I wouldn’t, but some people might.) I’d buy a car, and a truck, and an airplane, and a boat. And I’d get all the toppings on my pizza.

But you know what inevitably happens when you think deeper about winning the lottery? You’ll eventually come to the realization that winning the lottery has its downside; it will bring much trouble. People will show up claiming to be your friends who really just want your money. You won’t be satisfied with regular pizza anymore. You really won’t be happier at all. You might find yourself wishing you never won the lottery at all, saying “I just want to go back to the way it was before all the lottery winnings started.”

It turns out, a financial “everything” is not what it is cracked up to be.

Money runs out. We are not to worship Mammon.

Or you might win the “genetic lottery” like Saul. Born tall. Maybe you’re smart, talented, and born into a good family.

But it would be a mistake to rely on these things. If you rely on other people, or even if you rely on yourself, you’re bound to be disappointed. People are fallible. People sin.

We need something greater. We need a relationship with God.

That is what is lacking for Saul.
He doesn’t recognize his creator.
He doesn’t respect his creator.
He doesn’t worship his creator.

He’s therefore missing in life the greatest thing of all; a loving relationship with God.

And without that, he has nothing.

II. Everything!

Now, let us consider that relationship with God. If we have THAT, we have EVERYTHING. Not quotes this time. This is everything with an exclamation point!

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If we have that — if we know the Lord — then our “chief end” is in view.

God never fails. He never changes. And He has created us for a relationship with Him. This is to be our primary focus above all else. We are to oriented our lives to the law of God and orient our hearts to the love of God. That is how we are truly blessed.

And from there, everything else falls into place. From our relationship with God, we find value in all the little things. All else now finds value. Food is a gift from God for our sustenance, money is a gift from God for our provision and stewardship, relationships with people are a gift from God for our need for fellowship.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This isn’t to deny that there is true need. It would be cruel and callous to preach “you have everything” to a man starving to death. Such needs, such ENDS as eating, shelter, clothing are important. But glorifying God is our CHIEF END. That, above all else, is what we are made for, and that above all else will bring satisfaction and help us to see ALL the gifts that God bestows on us.

Indeed we ought to thank God for everything He gives us.

 

Look at this world. It’s pretty cool.
It’s God’s world.
He has put you where you are. Thank him. Enjoy it. Praise him.

And be glad for what He has given you.
I recently started posting the audio of these sermons online. And then I take the clip and I put it on our facebook account. And when I do it, it pulls up a picture from our church website. Well, it is a picture of me. I haven’t been able to figure out how to make it chose another picture! And I don’t so much like the picture of me. I don’t think I’m hideous or anything like that. But I said to myself the other day, “Self, the Lord made you … it is a sin to not like your own face.” And so this gave me confidence to post the sermon with the picture that goes with it, and say “That’s me.”

We should do the same with not only our looks, but our skills, our position in life, etc. We should embrace them. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. The Lord made you.

Would you rather be tall and wealthy and the King, or would you rather know Jesus?

The answer is easy. The answer is always Jesus.

And the joy we have in knowing Christ far outweighs any wealth, any health, any height, any power. He is to our focus. And if the Lord provides you with wealth, health, height, or power, thank Him. But keep Him as the focus. Don’t let the blessings from God be a replacement or God; don’t let them be your focus.

Here is a parable. One I’ve made up myself. It is of a rich man. Let’s call his name Ebenezer. Ebenezer is happy; he has lots of money. With that money he buys things. Food, houses, cars. And he’s happy. For a while. Then he’s sad; not doing well. So he thinks “I’ll buy a bigger house, more food, a faster car.” And he’s happy for a while. But then he’s not. His happiness comes and it goes. But he has lots of money! So he looks to it. And he checks his accounts; his stock and bonds; his portfolio. And it is up! And he checks it again and it is up. Then one day he checks it and it is down. His broker invested his money all in one place and now its gone. And gone too is his happiness. Perhaps some Ebenezer is luckier though and never sees the fall of his finances. He’s happy right? But death is impending. It’s always out there. It is the Sword of Damocles; hanging and ready to fall. How can he be happy, if the end is so near? What is wealth when you’re dead. And how can you be happy if it is all fleeting. Vanity of vanities says the teacher, all is vanity. That is Ebenezer. It might look good, but it is always depressing. That is the end, the telos, the endpoint for all atheism and agnosticism; it is nihilism and depression. Nothing matters.

But there is a happy alternative. Joy comes not from our wealth, our power, or our health, but our joy comes from another. And He, the Lord God, is infinite. He never ends. The market on the Lord never crashes. His promises are always (and forever) Yes and Amen.

When you wealth is up, you are to praise God. When your wealth is down, you are to praise God.
When you health is up, you are to praise God. When your health is down, you are to praise God.
When you position in life is up, you praise God. When your position in life is down, you praise God.
In all things He is your focus, and so through all things you find joy in the Lord, glorifying Him.

All things change. This is what the philosophers said. Heraclitus, I believe. And I had a friend say this to me once. “You can’t step in the same river twice.” The next time you step into it, it isn’t the same. The water has moved down to another place. You might say then also “you” aren’t the same twice. The “you” of five minutes ago is different from the “you” of right now. Everything is in flux, nothing is real. That’s the view of the philosopher. But the Christian has a stable point; the Rock Jesus Christ. While everything else changes, God never changes. And in Him we live and move and have our being.

Recognizing then that we have God, and God does not change, therefore we should conclude that we are the richest people in the world.

We have everything. We have Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation and eternal life; a place that no eye has seen and no ear has heard how great it is. No nose has smelled how good the food is in heaven.

 

III. How Good We Have It

 

So let us recognize JUST HOW GOOD WE HAVE IT BECAUSE WE HAVE GOD.

 

My college football team this year went with a new slogan. The coach anyways. He’d ask “Who has it better than us?” And he’d answer “Nobody.”

 

That applies all he more to Christians. Nobody has it better than us. We have it great because have God.

 

You probably know that song, “You are my all in all.” That is the truth we are looking at today. God is out “all in all.” He is our everything.

No matter how poor we are, no matter how downtrodden (or poor in spirit) we are, we are to look to God and recognize that we have it really good. The Lord has called us to be His own. [REPEAT: The Lord has called us to be His own.]

So what would YOUR life summary say?

The one thing we should want it to say is that the Lord declares “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

It doesn’t really matter what your height is, or how many battles you won, or how many digits in your bank account.

What matters is that we are of the Lord.

Every Christian could have this as his life summary: “BORN POOR, DIED RICH.” Died rich because he died in the Lord.

We have everything. Praise the Lord.

Let us pray.