Critical Intercession (I Samuel 19:1-7)
Topic: I Samuel Passage: 1 Samuel 19:1–19:7
Crying for a King
I. Putting in a Good Word
Imagine this: imagine you are in desperate need of a job and you find a job you'd love to have at a place you'd love to work. Now, imagine that, not long after this, you discover that you actually know two people who work for this company.
So, if you just happened to run into both of these people a couple days before your big interview, what might you say to them? I think most of us would say something like, “Hey, could you put in a good word for me?”
Now, to add another layer to this, let's say that one of these people is Jack the janitor, and the other is Victor the Vice-President. If you only had enough time to talk to one of these people before your big interview, which one would you choose?
I think most of us would pick Vic the V.P., right? If he put in a “good word” for you, it would probably carry more weight than Jack the janitor's recommendation. That's not a slight against Jack. That's simply the reality of a person's influence in relation to their position.
Have you ever benefited from someone interceding on your behalf? I've gotten several jobs because I had a friend or family member already working at a company who “put in a good word” for me. It can make all the difference, can't it? It can be critical.
This morning we are returning, once again, to the book called I Samuel. Turn with me to I Samuel 19. This morning we are going to dive into the first seven verses of this chapter. I Samuel 19:1-7.
II. The Passage: “I Will Speak to My Father about You” (19:1-7)
Before we read through these verses, let me remind you of where we are in this story. King Saul, Israel's first king, has been rejected by God because of his consistent unwillingness to follow God's commands.
Now, God has chosen a young man named David as the new king. But David is not ruling yet. Instead, he has been serving on and off as Saul's music therapist, he's been a leader in Saul's army, and, just recently, he was able to win the hand of Saul's youngest daughter. So he is Saul's servant, Saul's soldier, and Saul's son-in-law. But Saul is jealous of David's success and fears that David will take his throne.
So that's where we pick up the story here in chapter 19. Let's see how the story continues here in chapter 19...
A. The Offer of Intercession (19:1-3)
And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.”
Now stop there for a minute. Notice how Saul's plan has changed from what we saw last time. In the last chapter, Saul was trying to get David into more and more battles with the Philistines so that he would be killed in war and Saul's hands would be clean.
But here we see Saul's jealousy, his fear, his hatred deepening, and as a result, he is sinking deeper into irrationality. Now Saul is explicitly telling his servants and his son that he wants David dead.
But remember what we saw at the very beginning of the last chapter. Look at at 18:1...
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
Telling Jonathan to kill David was a big mistake. Jonathan loves David. They are brothers in faith. They are united by a covenant. In 19:1, the author expresses it this way: “Jonathan... delighted much in David”. And because he did, he immediately goes to warn David that his father and father's men are coming to kill him.
But Jonathan has a plan. If David will hide out in a specific field, Jonathan will bring his father out there in the morning and try to intercede on David's behalf. If things go wrong, David will be close by and able to flee quickly.
B. The Act of Intercession (19:4, 5)
Look at how this plays out in verses 4 and 5:
And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5 For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?”
So Jonathan gets Saul out in this field, all alone, and begins to reason with his father. “Dad, listen, 1) your actions will be a sin against David and in the eyes of God, 2) David has done nothing to you; he has not wronged you, 3) in fact, David has served you well and been a blessing to you; the fact that your alive, I'm alive, and were not wearing Philistine shackles has everything to do with God's work in and through David, and…
…4) you know and have witnessed all of these things; goodness gracious, Dad, you've even rejoiced in David's victories. So why...why would you do this?”
Jonathan is interceding well on David's behalf, isn't he? He is laying things out clearly and rationally.
But how rational is Saul right now? When someone has murder on their mind, when someone gets to that point, they typically don't want to listen to reason.
C. The Result of Intercession (19:6, 7)
But look at what we read in verses 6 and 7:
And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.
Surprisingly, Jonathan's intervention and intercession here is successful. Not only does Saul listen to Jonathan, but he even swears an oath to God that David will not be put to death.
We read in verse 7 that Jonathan reports the good news to David, brings David to Saul, and that everything was apparently back to normal (I guess as normal as they could be after your father-in-law tries to have killed).
But at this point, how thankful do you think David is for Jonathan and Jonathan's friendship?
III. Perspective: The Intercession of the King's Son
Now, as we'll see next week, this reconciliation between Saul and David will not last very long, in spite of Saul's oath.
But, as we consider these seven verses, I think we could say that there are several reasons these verses are here. One reason we already talked about: these verses show the escalation of Saul's jealousy, fear, and hatred for David. A second reason has to do with what these verses tell us about Jonathan. From the first time we meet Jonathan in chapter 13, right up to this passage, it's clear that Jonathan is a man of faith and faithfulness. That's obvious from this story.
But I don't think either those are the main emphasis here. Like all of the stories from chapter 16 onward, the emphasis here is not Saul or Jonathan...it's David. Now, David doesn't do very much in these verses. He has no dialogue. All he does is listen and hide.
But David is still the focus. And even though we are correct in saying that David is the emphasis, we absolutely need to qualify that by saying that what is being emphasized here in 19:1-7 is what we saw emphasized in the last chapter, namely, that God is with David. God's favor is all over David.
How is God's favor demonstrated here? Well that's where everything comes together. Listen:
God's favor on David is clearly seen in the critical intercession of the king's son on his behalf.
This is not Jack the janitor. This is not even Vic the V.P. Who's putting in a good word for David? It's Jonathan, the crown prince of Israel. There is no one closer to the king. There is no one nearer and dearer to the king's heart than Jonathan. If Saul is out to get you, there is no better person in the world than Jonathan to be your intercessor.
And as we see from chapter 18, God has already laid the groundwork for this intercession by knitting the soul of Jonathan to the soul of David. Jonathan does not have to be convinced that David needs his help. No, Jonathan has already been prepared.
Everything in these chapters is meant to communicate to the reader, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that David is God's man. Even Jonathan, the one who should feel most threatened by David, the one who should be worried about and jealously guarding his own throne, even Jonathan is on David's side. Even Jonathan knows that David is God's man.
This morning, God is not only teaching us about something that happened way back when, but he's reminding us of a beautiful reality taking place right now, this very moment.
Have you ever benefited from someone interceding on your behalf? Listen to these verses:
Who is to condemn [us]? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
Did you hear that? Those verses aren't describing something that simply happened thousands of years ago. They are describing ongoing reality that is just as true today as it was back then. If you belong to Jesus Christ through faith, then...
God's favor on your life is clearly seen in the critical intercession of the king's son on your behalf. (Did you hear that...2x)
If we have trusted Jesus as our only hope, then like David, God is “with us”, just like we talked about last week. And if He is “with us”, then like David, we have an intercessor.
But that's how our lives and this passage are similar. We also need to recognize four differences between David's need for intercession and our need for intercession. Like, for example, number one, in I Samuel 19, David is running and hiding as an innocent man. We run and hide because we are sinners, we are men and women who are guilty of trying to live me-centered lives in a God-centered universe.
We also see here, number two that the need for intercession arises because of king's jealousy, fear, and hatred. But the King of Heaven stands against us, not because he is jealous, but because He is just; not out of fear, but out of faithfulness to His own honor.
And while Jonathan is a wonderful intercessor, he's got nothin' on Jesus Christ.
Jonathan calmed the king's fear and cooled his wrath, but the effect was only temporary (as we'll see next week). Number three, Jesus can reconcile us to God forever; the peace that He effects is everlasting.
And...and...when Jonathan interceded for David, he pleaded in light of David's innocence, integrity, and victory. But, number four, when Jesus intercedes on our behalf, He pleads his own innocence, integrity, and victory.
Jesus Christ can be our advocate, he can provide the critical intercession we need, not simply because He is the King's Son, but because He took the King's death warrant upon himself.
You see, Jesus does not intercede for us by constantly sweet talking God. He's not saying, “Whoa, whoa, hold on there, Father. I know this is the 15 billionth time Bryce has messed up. But, come on...let's give him one more chance.”
No, no, no! The intercession of Jesus is an intercession that needs no words.
When God looks at one of His children, when He looks at a Christian, when He sees and considers the sin all of us continue to struggle with, right then and there the risen Jesus, the King's Son, steps between us and God and holds out His nail-scarred hands. He raises is thorn-scarred brow. He stands as an eternal reminder of what He did for us on the cross where He suffered and died.
Brothers and sisters, friends, the King's death warrant is hanging over our heads, not because of His jealousy, but because of His justice. And everyday we are bombarded by the pain and difficulty of life.
We need an intercessor.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then I pray, this week, that God will fill with the comfort and encouragement and peace and strength that come from knowing you have an intercessor, and that right now HE IS ON THE JOB!
Isn't that a sweet truth? Jobs come and go. Supervisors come and go. Businesses fail. Companies get liquidated. In the end, someone putting in a good word for you in the workplace in far less important than we think.
But Jesus is alive. Jesus came back from the dead. And because He did...he always lives to make intercession for [us].
That fact should not only quiet us, it should quicken us. It should fuel gratefulness in us.
I love the way the Heidelberg catechism expresses this in it's very first question. Catechisms like this are simply summaries of what the Bible teaches. Listen to these words:
Question 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yes, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, from this time on, to live for him.
IV. Practice: Interceding in Light of His Intercession
And when we live for Jesus, because He lives to make intercession for us, we know that we are called to be like Him.
Now, no one can be like Jesus in terms of His blood-based intercession. Only Jesus has died, only Jesus could die on our behalf and stand as our Intercessor.
According to the New Testament, the result of our faith in Jesus should be a response in like manner to what we’ve received from Him. Because He forgives, we forgive. Because He welcomes all, we welcome all. Because He is patient with us, we are patient with others. And because He intercedes, we also should intercede.
God calls you, He calls me, to critically intercede for others through prayer. We can be like Jonathan. When we hear that someone we know is in danger from the threat of sickness or relational turmoil or financial hardship or severe depression or overwhelming grief, or most importantly, the threat of sin and alienation from God, we, like Jonathan, can intercede with the King.
The writer and pastor Oswald Chambers said God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede. He also wrote that Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work.
We need to intercede for those that God has placed all around us; those who are under threat. I like what William Law said about prayer:
There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him.
Jesus Christ is interceding for us. For whom are we interceding? Who are we speaking about to the King of Heaven? What an important work has been entrusted to us. What a privilege! Are we being faithful to this work of intercession?
Have you ever benefited from someone interceding on your behalf? I pray that all of us will know and be energized by the fact that every day, we are benefiting eternally from the intercession of Jesus Christ. His good word makes all the difference. Amen? Let's pray.