Called To This Generation

Called To This Generation

Robert Wurtz II

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep. (Acts 13:36)

Our passage deals with a period in Israel’s history in which David was destined to live. The people had previously decided they would rather have a man lead them than God. Samuel the prophet grieved over this decision. God simply told him, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7 NKJV) This is a way of saying that the people did not want to receive and follow direct orders from God. They wanted a middle man that they could manipulate or influence. God needed a man that would inquire of Him in all of their decision making. He needed a faithful representative on the earth. This would prove to be a challenge from day one.  

When God called His people Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, He instructed them to hearken diligently to His voice. This was true with Moses and Joshua — as well as with the judges. God never changed His mind about expecting His people Israel to obey   His voice. Whereas the first king of Israel Saul was a man who sought to please the people, David, the second king of Israel, was a man after God’s own heart. He would turn on a dime when God spoke to Him. This means that David desired to know and do God’s will  more than anything else. He was not a perfect man, but there were many occasions when David was a living demonstration of God’s character. These facts make for an interesting paradox. David served God — yet our passage tells us he served his generation. What are we to make of these things? 

We might have expected Acts 13:36 to say that king Saul served his generation and fell asleep. But did he? From a certain point of view,   we may say that he did. He served as king and did some things. However, what does it mean to serve our generation by the will of God? Does it mean that we are slaves to our generation? Do we take our orders from our generation? Must we conform to our generation in order to serve it? The answer to these questions is clearly, no. This is not what God meant when He said that David served his generation. He served his generation by the counsel of God — not his own counsel. 

God replaced Saul for being what some call “a man of the people” rather than a man of God. We read in 1 Samuel 15, And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
This sentence made so powerful an impression upon Saul, that he confessed, “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the command of the Lord and thy words, because I feared the people, and hearkened to their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:24) But these last words, with which he endeavoured to make his sin appear as small as possible, show that the consciousness of his guilt did not go very deep. Even if the people had really desired that the best of the cattle should be spared, he ought not as king to have given his consent to their wish, since God had commanded that they should all be banned (i.e., destroyed); and even though he has yielded from weakness, this weakness could not lessen his guilt before God. This repentance, therefore, was rather the effect of alarm at the rejection which had been announced to him, than the fruit of any genuine consciousness of sin. (Keil & D.)
Saul refused to honor the Lord and take responsibility for his actions. He downplayed his sin — not realizing that God expected a genuine confession. He would not acknowledge what he had done and in turn taught his generation to do the same. God intervened by rejecting Him. Samuel followed this up by refusing to be identified with Saul. This did not mean that Samuel hated Saul; quite the contrary. He wept for the man all night. It meant that Samuel’s concern was God-wards. 

In the 1970’s, a famous comedian popularized the phrase, “The devil made me do it.” Saul may as well have said, ” The people made me do it. ” He had no Godly sorrow for his sin. Samuel had a God-wards grief for what Saul had become. However, Saul had no God-wards sorrow at all. He was only concerned with how the sin would affect his reputation and rapport with the people. His concern was horizontal — not vertical. 

By the Will of God

Our verse states categorically, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep.” The key phrase is “by the will of God.” David was God’s man for his generation. He was a personification of the will of God in one respect. God had called and equipped him. Moreover, he endeavored to do God’s will. When he sinned, he agreed with God. He let God be true. He confessed and forsook his sins. All of these things are examples of a man doing the will of God under the circumstances. 

Some will say, “Well, it was not God’s will for David to commit adultery or number Israel.” This is true. However, when he recognized his error, he obeyed God’s directives and received his punishments. Saul followed his sin up with the sin of passing the blame. On the contrary, David placed the full weight of the blame for his sins on himself. In this way “he served” — “he did a great service to his generation.” We see then that the only way to serve rightly our generation is to do the will of God. David served God and in serving Him he  served the people. It is no service for any person to serve the people independent of God and His will for them. 

David had a zeal for God that Saul knew nothing about. He was zealous for God’s honor. This is one of the reasons why he faced the Giant. God was being shamed because of the cowardice and lack of faith in Saul. I’m reminded of an old naval quote, “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.” David was the type of man who would not furl the sails. He would allow the will of God to carry him whithersoever God desired. Not his own will mistaken as God’s will,  but by the very counsel of God David served his generation and then fell asleep. This is all any of us can hope to do. We can do no more. Our influence may be felt in future generations, but we can only serve our generation. May we do it faithfully, as David, according to the counsel of God. 

Who Exactly is a Fool?

Who Exactly is a Fool? 
Robert Wurtz II

“Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.” (1 Samuel 25:17 NASB)
I wish to examine a carefully placed account of a man that the Bible defines as ‘a fool.’ I have chosen this text in 1 Samuel 25:17 to introduce an incident that took place just prior to David becoming king of Israel. It happens that David was traveling with about six-hundred mighty men that had been keeping a certain part of the country secure, including the flocks and shepherds of Nabal. Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was of good understanding and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite (1 Samuel 25:3 NASB)

Nabal is the Hebrew word for fool. You will notice that he is contrasted with his wife that was of good understanding and beautiful in appearance. Nabal was a very rich sheepmaster on the confines of Judea and the desert. His ranch was on the southern Carmel, in the pasture lands of Maon. It was the custom of the shepherds to drive the sheep into the wild downs on the slopes of Carmel; and it was while they were on one of these ‘pastoral excursions’ that they met a David and his mighty men, who showed them unexpected kindness, protecting them by day and night, and never themselves taking anything from them. (1 Samuel 25:7, 15, 18) 

A Love Gift? 

When David heard in the desert (cf. v. 1) that Nabal was shearing his sheep, which was generally accompanied with a festal meal (see at Gen. 38:12), he sent ten young men up to Carmel to him, and bade them wish him peace and prosperity in his name, and having reminded him of the friendly services rendered to his shepherds, solicit a present for himself and his people. (Keil and Delitzsch) Obviously Nabal was a very greedy man, though exceedingly rich, he refused to share anything with David. We read, Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?” (1 Samuel 25:11 NKJV) This response show the level of madness this man was moving in. In order to justify his own covetousness, he posited David as a vagrant slave who had run away from his master! He had totally ignored what he had been told about David’s protection of his sheep and shepherds. His twisted mind could not see the wisdom of giving David and his men some basic rations for their services. This is yet another example of the noetic effects of sin. He was covetous, therefore an idolator (Colossians 3:5). This was one of the sins that corrupted his thinking processes. Think about it. It would be common sense to give David and his men some gift for the services rendered; but this man could not see the sense of it. He got angry and acted out even for them asking! This is pure unmitigated madness. 

Saddle Up Boys!

When word gets back to David he is furious, and rightfully so. And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. (1 Samuel 25:13) Good times are about to go bad for Nabal. David could slay this man and his whole house as if it were a light thing. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident. (Proverbs 14:16) Nabal went running headlong into mortal danger. A wise man would have had the good sense to know David deserved something, especially in light of how nicely he asked for it. Had he been a common thug he would have just taken what he wanted and defied anyone to say something. Moreover, a wise man would have been careful, thoughtful, self-mistrusting and reserved; a disposition which flows from the reverential awe of God (fear of the Lord). The fool, on the contrary, is self-confident, regardless and secure. While a wise man will avoid evil and carefully goes out of its way, the fool has no sense of the situation he/she is in. 

The Wilted Mind

“Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.” (1 Samuel 25:17 NASB)

Talking to a fool is like talking to the wall, but why? They cannot reason rightly about moral and spiritual issues and will even act out so that no one can speak to him. But why? We have a few clues from the Psalmist, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (Psalm 14:1 KJV) Here is our word Nabal again, only it is translated as fool. The word in Hebrew comes from a root nabel and it means ‘to wilt.’ We have this word used concerning those that delight in the law of the Lord, And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3) Here wither is nebal. The law is the revelation of God; that is to say, it is light. Those that walk in the light as He is in the light will not wither. This implies that what withers was once healthy. Wilting in plants can be caused by either lack of water or sunlight. If this condition progresses wilting becomes withering. This is explained on a spiritual level in Romans 1:22, professing themselves to be wise they became foolsBecame vain (emataiōthēsan). Ingressive first aorist passive indicative of mataioō from mataios (empty). Empty reasonings as often today. Became fools (emōranthēsan). Ingressive first aorist passive of mōrainō, to be a fool, old word from mōros, a fool. (This means he had entered into a state of being a fool). An oxymoron or sharp saying, true and one that cuts to the bone. (Robertson)
Evil for Good

Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath repaid me evil for good. (1 Samuel 25:21)

 Let us observe the mentality of a fool, they reward evil for good. Such dastardly behavior ought to smite the conscience, but not Nabal. His mind had been darkened until he could not make even the most obvious moral judgment. What caused it? Obviously he was not born a fool. The word Nabal implies wilting from a state of health. This is the pattern for the Noetic effect of sin. Sin has a direct effect on a persons moral reasoning. However, Nabal’s wife Abagail went to David and brought a large gift and pleaded with him to have mercy on the ‘scoundrel’ (as she called him 1 Samuel 25:17). Though he had not the good sense to see the danger he was in, his wife interceded with the soon to be king for him. David spared Nabal for her sake. 

The Finality of the Fool

But that was not all. So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. (1 Samuel 25:37) Nabal was not only drunk, but he was in a state of moral intoxication. But somehow in the morning he sobered up in both cases. Once he realized that he narrowly escaped death for himself and his whole house, his heart died. Matthew Henry comments, His heart overnight merry with wine, next morning heavy as a stone; so deceitful are carnal pleasures, so soon passes the laughter of the fool; the end of that mirth is heaviness. Drunkards are sad, when they reflect upon their own folly. About ten days after, the Lord smote Nabal, that he died. David blessed God that he had been kept from killing Nabal. Worldly sorrow, mortified pride, and an affrighted conscience, sometimes end the joys of the sensualist, and separate the covetous man from his wealth; but, whatever the weapon, the Lord smites men with death when it pleases him. 

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