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David: A Man After God’s Own Heart – Sermon #19

 

2 Samuel 15:13-23

CLOSER THAN A BROTHER

Intro: The effects of David’s sin with Bathsheba are in full bloom. David has seen his family demolished; innocent lives devastated and precious people destroyed. All because of the choices he made. He is at the lowest point of his life! His own son, Absalom, has risen up in rebellion against David and has driven him from his palace and from the city of Jerusalem. This passage finds David on the run for his life from his own son.

At this point in time David does not need a lecture on being a better father. He does not need a seminar of how to govern a kingdom. He does not need someone coming along to tell him what a failure he is. He knows that well enough by now. What David needs is a friend!

2 Samuel 15-19 talks about some friends that walked into David’s life at just the moment he needed them. You see, the Bible says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24. In the verses we will study today we will see this passage come to life. In the friends who came to David’s aid in his time of need, we can see what real friends ought to be and we can see a picture of the ultimate Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to take our time today and preach on the thought Closer Than A Brother. Allow me to point out the kinds of friends David had in his life.

 

I. DAVID HAD HEARTFELT FRIENDS

2 Sam. 15:18-22 – Ittai the Gittite

A. It seems that this Ittai is the commander of a group of 600 men that came to Israel from Gath to follow David, v. 18. Gath, as you may know, is in the land of the Philistines. It was also the home of Goliath. You might also remember that David spend some time living in Philistia when he was on the run from King Saul, 1 Sam. 27-30. Apparently, David made an impression on Ittai and the rest of these men. Now that David is on the run again, Ittai expresses his desire to be with David.

Ittai is a person who has been in the background. This is the first time his name is mentioned. But, when the chips were down in David’s life, Ittai steps up and demonstrates the depths of his life for the exiled king. In fact, he pledges his absolute allegiance to David, even if it means death for Ittai, v. 21. That is a true friend!

B. Once, a British newspaper ran a contest asking for the definition of friend. The winning entry was this thought: “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world goes out. That is what Ittai did for David!

As we go through this life, there are few people that will fit into that category for you and for me. But, thank God for our true friends. Thank God for the people who love us when we are on top and when we hit the bottom. If you have a friend like Ittai, then you are a wealthy person!

Sadly, many people will be your friend when all is well in your life and when they can benefit from being around you. A real friend loves you when you have absolutely nothing left to give!

 

(Ill. Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball's color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.)

 

C. I can’t think of many friends like Ittai in my life, but I am glad that I have a Friend Who sticks closer than brother. One Who said He would never walk out on me, Heb. 13:5. One who tells me He loves me regardless of my current condition, Jer. 31:3. I have a Friend who cares for me when I am up and runs to my side when I am down. Jesus is a true Friend!

 

II. DAVID HAD HUMBLE FRIENDS

2 Sam. 15:23-28 – Zadok and Abiathar

A. Zadok and Abiathar were priests. They were men of God who loved David and wanted to follow him. When he fled from Absalom, they followed David bringing with them the Ark of the Covenant. David, however, sends them back to Jerusalem, placing his trust in the power of God to deliver him, v. 25-26. David tells them that they can best serve him by being his eyes in the city. Then, without comment, the two priests turn around and carry the Ark back into the city. By returning to Jerusalem and agreeing to act as spies for David, these men took a great risk! They put their very lives on the line for their friend.

B. These two demonstrate one of the great marks of a true friend. A genuine friend will love you and accept you, even when he does not understand you or agree with you. A real friend will stand by you regardless of the risks involved. They will stick out their necks for you. They will be there when others turn and walk away! A genuine friend might even get hurt in the process of taking your side. But, no matter when you look, you will find them standing firm, in your corner! That is a real friend! If you have a friend like that, then God has greatly blessed your life.

 

(Ill. Two men were out hunting in the northern U.S. Suddenly one yelled and the other looked up to see a grizzly charging them. The first started to frantically put on his tennis shoes and his friend anxiously asked, "What are you doing? Don't you know you can't outrun a grizzly bear?" "I don't have to outrun a grizzly. I just have to outrun you!"

That is the kind of friends most of us have. When the chips are down, they think of themselves first. A true always puts you first! That trust is illustrated in the following story.

Sam Davis was a Confederate spy executed at Pulaski, Tennessee, for his crime. When captured by the Union army, he had in his possession some papers of vital importance. After examining the case closely, the officers in charge knew he must have had an accomplice in securing the papers. He was court-martialed, led out before the firing squad and blindfolded. Then the officer in charge put forward a proposition: "If you will give us the name of the man who furnished you this information, you may go free." Sam Davis did not hesitate in his reply, "If I had a thousand lives I would give them all before I would betray a friend.")

 

C. I am glad to report to you that the saints have such a Friend in Jesus! He loves us so much that even when we were His enemies, He gave His life on the cross to save our souls. He even called us His friends when were acting like His enemies, John 15:13. He is a Friend Who loves us like we are, even when we are unlovable. He loves though we often act foolishly toward Him. He loves us even though we do not deserve His love. He is a faithful Friend!

 

 

 

 

III. DAVID HAD HEROIC FRIENDS

2 Sam. 15:30-37 – Hushai the Archite

A. The next friend to come to David’s side was a man named Hushai. We are told in verse 37 that he is David’s friend. He comes to meet David as David is leaving Jerusalem, and Hushai is clearly in mourning. He is broken hearted over what is happening to his king and to his friend. David sends him back into the city. He tells him to go to Absalom and feign allegiance. David wants Hushai to counter the counsel of old Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David’s counselor, but he was also Bathsheba’s grandfather. He saw the rebellion of Absalom as an opportunity to get even with David for what he had done to Bathsheba and Uriah. So, Hushai does what David asks and saves David’s life, 2 Sam. 17:15-22. He served as David’s eyes and ears in the throne room. He was heroic in that he laid his life on the line for his friend. One slip and Hushai would have been a dead man!

B. Few, but precious are the friends that will take that kind of stand for you. David was blessed in that he had a few people who were willing to take a chance to help him in his time of need. He had Hushai, Zadok, Abiathar, their two sons Jonathan and Ahimaaz, an unknown girl who took a message, 17:17, and an unnamed woman who hid Jonathan and Ahimaaz as they carried a message to David, 17:18-21.

C. Thank the Lord for those people who will stand by us no matter what the cost!

 

(Ill. Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that would stand for 25 years. As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority," especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. "You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!" he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four golds.

The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long -- in full view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again saw Long, who was killed in World War II. "You could melt down all the medals and cups I have," Owens later wrote, "and they wouldn't be a platting (sic) on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long."

That is the mark of a true friend! They always put you first!

 

D. The saints have such a Friend in the Lord Jesus! He put everything on the line for us, His friends. He placed us ahead of Himself. He stormed the ramparts of Hell; defeated the power of sin, death, Hell and grace. He gave us the victory that He had suffered to win. Thank God for a Friend like Him!

 

IV. DAVID HAD HELPFUL FRIENDS

2 Sam. 17:27-28 – Shobi, Machir and Barzillai

A. These three men were nobodies who became somebody’s in the life of David. They walked in when most everyone else walked out. When they came, they came in at the right time and they came with exactly what David needed. Let’s look at these men a little closer.

        Shobi He was an Ammonite. His father, Nahash the king of Ammon was cruel beyond words, 1 Sam. 11. His brother Hunan had embarrassed David’s messengers, 2 Sam. 10. But, Shobi became an ally of David and stood by him through these difficult days. David had fought against his people. But, Shobi did not allow the past to cloud his love for David.

        Machir He was the man from Lo-debar who gave shelter to Mephibosheth. He was the kind of person who had a tender heart and seemed to want to reach out and help others. He may have thought that he had already given enough, but he gave more because he was David’s friend. He never forgot what David had done for Mephibosheth.

        Barzillai He was an old man and had plenty of money, 2 Sam. 19:32. He could have said, “Get someone else! I’m old and I’m tired. But, he didn’t! He was David’s friend and he rose to the challenge. When he was needed, he came and he gave to his friend.

B. These men reveal the true nature of friendship. They gave without being asked and they asked for nothing in return. They gave out of love with no hidden agenda. They did what they did because they loved David. He was their friend and no price was too high and no inconvenience too great. They did what they could for their friend!

C. Notice where David is when these three some to him. He is in a place called “Mahanaim. This is not the first time this place has been mentioned in the Bible. The first time it is mentioned in during the life of Jacob. As Jacob returned home after 20 years in exile, the angels of the Lord met him in “Mahanaim, Gen. 32:1-2. Just like the angels came and ministered to Jacob; Shobi, Machir and Barzillai came and did angel’s work in David’s life. Thank God for friends like these!

 

(Ill. One of the all-time greats in baseball was Babe Ruth. His bat had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained until Hank Aaron came along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves. In one of his last games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe's legs and held on tightly. Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together.)

 

D. That is the kind of Friend the saints have found in Jesus! He came in when we had no hope. He gave us just what we needed when we needed it. He did, not the work of an angel, but the work of a Savior in our lives. He gave His all and never stopped to consider the cost or to ask for repayment. As the song writer said, “What a Friend we have in Jesus!

 

V. DAVID HAD HONEST FRIENDS

2 Sam. 19:1-8 - Joab

A. The last friend we will consider is David’s nephew, and the commander of his army, Joab. During the battle to retake Jerusalem and to bring David back to the throne, David’s son Absalom becomes trapped in a tree by his hair, 2 Sam. 18:9-17; (Ill. Absalom – 2 Sam. 14:25-26). Joab finds him hanging there and he and his armor-bearers kill Absalom. When David hears the news, he is devastated and goes off by himself to mourn, 2 Sam. 18:23-33. David is overcome with grief and guilt and cannot comprehend that the kingdom had been returned to him.

When Joab hears how David is acting, he went to David and rebuked him for not praising the people for bringing him back to the throne. He reminds David that there are larger issues at stake. David is still king and as king; he has a responsibility to the people. He reminds David that he has a job to do! David sees his error and goes out to meet the people. Joab was a friend because he told David the truth! He would not stand by and watch his friend make a mistake that he would later regret.

B. That is what a friend does! They will tell you the truth about your life and your decisions. They do so not to hurt you, but to help you avoid the pain that comes with foolish errors. Here is what the Bible says about that kind of friend, Pro. 27:6. David had a friend like that in Joab and he had a friend like that in Nathan the Prophet, 2 Sam. 12:7. If you have a friend who loves you enough to tell you the truth, then you are a blessed individual. Real friends pull not punches, they tell us the truth!

C. Thank God that Jesus is the kind Friend Who tells us the truth! He tells us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. He warns us to avoid the fires of Hell. He confronts us about the way we live our lives and He does all this because He loves us, Rev. 3:19; Job 5:17-18.

 

Conc: This period of David’s life was the hardest he would ever face. Yet, face it he did! And, he faced it with the help of his friends. The people God providentially placed within his life made the road easier and the burden lighter. David was a rich man, not because he had wealth, position and power, but because he had friend!

Thank God for our friends! They are like fine jewels affixed in the crown of our lives. When God gives us people like He gave David, He has blessed us above measure. Thank God “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

What are we to take away from this message? There are a couple of truths I will point out in closing.

1.     We are all blessed to have friends. We need to ask the Lord to help us recognize who they are so we can be thankful for them; so we can cultivate our relationship with them and so we can be a friend to them in return.

2.     We need to find someone to be a friend to. There are lonely, hurting people all around us. We can demonstrate the love of Jesus to them by being a friend.

3.     The greatest Friend of them all is named Jesus. He is the ultimate Friend. He gave His life to save us, John 15:13. He is always with us, Heb. 13:5. He doesn’t mind it when we come to Him with our problems, 1 Pet. 5:7. He hurts when we hurt, Heb. 4:15. He has the will and the resources to meet our needs, Heb. 4:16; Phil. 4:19. He will never let us down!

If the Lord has spoken to your heart about this matter of friendship, then I challenge you to come before Him.

        You might want to come and thank Him for your friends.

        You might want to come and ask Him who you can be a friend to.

        You might want to come and thank Jesus for being the ultimate Friend in your life.

        You might even want to come and be saved.

        Whatever the needs, this altar is open.

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