Yesterday, I commented on Redemptive Historical preaching. The challenges of redemptive historical preaching is to use Scripture as God intended and be sure that our applications take into account the fulness of God's revelation that comes in Christ. Thus, we read the Old Testament as eschatological precisely because that is the way the God wrote it: it points ultimately to Jesus. The second challenge is not to deny the myriad of applications that flow from the text to our daily lives. Thus the text still instructs us, corrects us, rebukes us, trains us. It is still an example to our lives--for those of us who live in the "already/not yet" kingdom tension.
One illustration of how this might work comes from a sermon I preached several years ago on 1 Samuel 20 and David & Jonathan's Covenant.
The ultimate focus of the narrative is that David is the true king and Jonathan covenants himself to the King. 1 and 2 Samuel is replete with examples of hesed or lack thereof both between God and men and between human persons. In fact, we could argue that one is in right covenant with God, then one will act rightly towards men.
David's ascent to the throne comes through his humility and obedience (a Christ-motif). While for example, Saul who exalts himself, takes God's Word into his own hands and breaks it, finds himself humbled. Along the way in 1 and 2 Samuel various characters support or detract from this larger movement. In many ways Hannah's prayer has set this tone for the book. Ultimately the Lord will exalt his annointed and his does this through his servant David with whom he makes an unconditional covenant.
In 1 Samuel 20, we can make some of the following applications to Kingship (ultimately Christ) and true friendship with is always most faithful when Christ is the Lord of the friendship:
A. The central application of the passage is to teach us how to respond to the true king.
1. The LORD raises up an ally for David from the most unlikely family line. Jonathan submits to David not simply as a friend, or an equal, but to the one who is the anointed king of Israel. Notice the time when Jonathan submits to David—Jonathan submits when David appears to be “losing”. Imagine the lasting consequence if Jonathan would have used this event to break the covenant he made in chapter 18 and thereby ‘stab David in the back’. Thus, we are to be encouraged and marvel at God’s providence in using a faithful servant to the king, a loyal friend!
2. We are to submit to God’s true King. Jonathan’s submission to God leads him to submit to God’s anointed. In submitting to God’s anointed, he abandons his own desires. Jonathan’s loyalty to God brings a natural loyalty to God’s king. Contrast this with Saul: He failed to obey God and thus was unwilling to submit to God’s king.
3. We are to put the interests of the King before our own interests. Jonathan puts the interests of the king before his personal interests.
4. In Jonathan, we learn to put the eternal interests of the kingdom before any personal desires for the kingdom. What does submission to the true King look like today? How often do people pretend to worship and obey God but stand unwilling to submit to Christ as our sovereign LORD?
5. By the grace of the gospel, our submission to Christ, the true anointed one, privileges us (1) to a covenant relationship with Him and (2) a real abiding friendship with Him.
John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
6. We are to be encouraged by seeing that loyalty to the king is not in vain. If we look at Jonathan from a human perspective, he does the “dumb thing”. If we look at Jonathan from a human perspective, he loses everything. Yet, the LORD has exalted Jonathan by giving him the special privilege of serving David and David’s seed, Christ.
B. The secondary applications teach us about true friendship.
1. The LORD raises up the true friend. Be encouraged when a friend comes to your aid. Be encouraged by your friend, but most of all by the fact that God has raised up that friend in your life. The LORD can minister to us through a friend. The LORD can protect us through a friend. Do we look for God’s providence at work in the lives of our friends and their relationships to us?
2. True friendship arises out of a mutual relationship to the LORD and is characterized by unselfishness. This chapter is not simply good morals for friendship but it does teach us something about strong relationships. Only in our relationship to the LORD, as those redeemed, can we ever hope to have a growing, thriving relationship to those around us. In our relationship to God, through repentance and submission to Him in Christ, human sin, vanity and pride are rooted out. Only as these are rooted out, can we hope to establish real fruitful relationships.
3. True friendship involves personal loyalty. Jonathan assumes personal risk in defending David and David’s innocence. Jonathan’s friendship was not self-serving but served David and the Kingdom of God. Jonathan’s loyalty to David is a covenant loyalty. What kind of loyalty do we cultivate in our friendships? True loyalty to each other can only be cultivated out of loyalty to God. As people united to God in Christ, we are also to be united to each other in real true loyal unselfish relationships.
4. What do our friendships look like? What are they based on? How do we relate to our friends? What do we talk with them about? Do we spur each other on in our relationships before God? Do we talk about the Bible with our friends? Do we talk about Christian issues? Do we pray with our friends? Does our friendship cultivate our relationship to God? Sometimes even our friendships with other Christians never really spur us on in our Christian walk. In our friendships, whose best interests do we have in view? Our own? Our friend’s? Our LORD’s?