By O.C. Marler
I Samuel 18:10
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.”
It’s a privilege to speak at the General Conference. I have been so privileged in the time I have been in the minis-try, to have such great District Superintendents, such as Bro. V. A. Guidroz, sitting behind me tonight. That means an awful lot to me. He is one of the greatest men I know, and I appreciate him so very much. Also Bro. Starr up in Michigan, and now Bro. Tenney, as my Superintendent. I appreciate them all so much. Bro. Urshan and these other good brethren that are here are not only our officials, but they are our friends. I don’t know of anywhere else that you can have both.
I didn’t realize all the ramifications of preaching at the General Conference. I have had so many requests to preach different sermons and I am flattered by it, but on some of the sermons requested (when I look at my notes), I wonder how in the world I ever got anything out of that! I’ve prayed and asked God to let me help somebody; even if it’s just one person. I want someone to go away tonight and say “that was for me”.
If there was anything that Saul taught us, it’s that when we are planning for our lives, we should not plan entirely for ourselves. Not too long ago, I was in a large hotel; I believe if I remember correctly it was a Hyatt Regency. I started to go into a restroom downstairs; it was one of those real fancy kind where they had mirrors all the way in, curving around. I saw a man coming toward me; and I said to myself, “what a long nose that guy has got on him”. But I noticed he never did pass me. You just don’t know the shock I got when I realized that it was me! You know what I instantly thought? “Well, that’s not such a long nose after all.” As I got to looking I thought, “well, if I didn’t have this nose, I wouldn’t look right”. It’s different when its on us. Everything is different when its on us. When it’s somebody else, that’s another story altogether.
I read where it said, before Saul did anything, he would think, “how will this affect me?” It went on to say that Saul held himself to his own heart. He loved himself. He got to the place that he loved himself too much. When God got around to giving the punishment for his sin of selfishness, He just simply gave Saul himself. If I’m the only thing that I have in this world, I promise you, that’s not enough. If you’re the only thing that you have, that’s not enough. There’s nothing in the world like being alone, when you have been there too long. I have got to have my brothers. I have got to have others around me. I cannot exist or be happy alone. I am not a loner. I want to tell you something else. We have got to have God. We can’t do without the presence of God. You just go a little while without really feeling His presence. There is nothing more sickening, than when you go on vacation and its over. You really hadn’t gone to church like you needed to and you really hadn’t prayed like you should have and you’re behind on your Bible reading and you’re behind on your meditation. All of a sudden, sight- seeing is no longer important to you, all of a sudden visiting is not what you want. You don’t want another snap shot of anything. There is nothing like going back home and getting down before God and being refreshed by the power of the Lord. I’ve got to have God. I’ve got to have His presence; I don’t want just myself.
Self devotion manufacturers envy, malice, selfishness and hatred. Self devotion generates all of that. As I look through the Bible; and really study it and let the characters of the Bible parade in front of me; I’m tempted to call to them and say, “we need you now, we need you in our generation”. I admire Moses, but I let him go, because really we don’t have to have the Red Sea opened, and we really don’t have to have water out of the rock. When I look to Abraham, and see the sacrifice he made; I realize the ultimate sacrifice has already been made. As I think about many of the Bible characters today, I believe what we really need most are Jonathans. Jonathans to walk into our midst and let them talk to us and by their example, teach us love. Let them teach us sacrifice and teach us giving. We need somebody who will step back and say, “you can do it better than I can, let me put you in my place. I’ll step back.” We need pacesetters. We need that. Something we need more than anything is peacemakers. There is no use to have pacesetters if you don’t have peacemakers. David, Saul, Jonathan and us! Jonathan says, “I won’t take sides. I am not going to hate Saul, he’s my father. I am not going to hate David, he’s my friend.” When he died, he died fighting with his father but his heart was still with David. We will always remember Jonathan. His soul was knit together with David’s. Maybe what we all need to increase unity and establish loyalty is some knitting lessons.
I Samuel 18:7 “And the women answered one another as they played and said, ‘Saul has slayed his thousands and David his ten thousands.” (Saul had a thousand in Sun-day school, and David had ten thousand in his Sunday school.) “And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said: They have ascribed unto David ten thousands and to me they have ascribed but thousands; and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David .from that day and forward.”
When does this ‘eying’ thing start and how long does it go? I really think we need to quit eying each other. We have begun to realize we are all different. This eying thing is kind of like the guy that had the flat tire out in the dark night. He saw a light on in the farm house and decided to walk up there and borrow a jack to fix his tire. While he was walking he thought, “wouldn’t that be something if I walked all the way up there and he didn’t let me have a jack?” He walked a little farther and thought, “well, that would be a horrible thing, if I got up there and he wouldn’t let me borrow a jack. What kind of a fellow would that be who would catch another fellow down and wouldn’t let him have a jack?” When he got up to the house he kept thinking about it so that when he got to the door, he nearly beat the screen down. The farmer came out and said, “what can I do for you?” The man said, “you can keep your old jack, that’s what you can do, if that’s the way you feel about it!” Saul eyed David. He didn’t expect him to do anything right from then on.
I Samuel 18: 10 “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.” (I want you to notice that the spotlight in this story is upon the hands of David and what was in the hand of Saul.) vs 11 “And Saul cast the javelin, for he said, ‘I will smite David even to the wall with it.’ And David avoided out of his presence twice.” Here David had a harp in his hand and he was playing soft melodious sounds and Saul had a javelin in his hand. I would like to just make a little point here. Inside our hearts we can either have a javelin spirit or a harp spirit. We can either play the melodious sounds of a beautiful Godly life, or we can have a javelin-like spirit to thrust people through to the wall. I want you to know, that’s not the way to go.
Vs 12 “And Saul was afraid of David.” That was not necessary. Fear is one of the most horrible things in the world. For a man to be afraid of David, there would have to be an evil spirit come upon him. I want to say in sincerity, I hope no one is ever afraid of me in any way. I hope that I can have a kind enough and a gentle enough spirit that people feel good when they see me coming. I hope nobody would ever think that I would do them any harm. People have enough problems just with living, just trying to make it, without anyone inflicting any other kinds of problems on them. We, as Chris-tians, are not supposed to add to the load, but we are sup-posed to lighten the load. God help me to have the kind of an attitude that I can lighten the load of my brother or my sister, and say, “can I help you?”
Vs 24 “Therefore Saul removed him from him and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.” (Now, who’s over the thousand?). Now here is what is so beautiful: “and David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.” And the Lord was with him. Every once in a while my family and
I have to have a little conference. We need it when something comes in heavy on us and we don’t know which way to turn; and it seems like we’re all alone. Every Pastor feels like this at times. Sometimes we need to come together and have a little Marler Conference. I will tell them, “we are going to have the right attitude. We are going to have the right spirit. We are not going to let anybody take that from us. We are going to be strong; but we are going to be right. The only insurance that we’ve got that God will protect us, the only way God is going to ever keep us, is if we have the right attitude and do that which is right in the sight of God.”
In Saul’s old age, I can imagine there could have been a scene where Saul and David and all the children come home for a holiday. As they would be sitting by the fire, one of the boys would say to David, “Dad, tell us about such and such a battle.” And David would say, “No, I’ll tell you what, I believe we’ll let Grandpa tell that. He knows it a little bit better than I do”. “No, you go ahead David.” It could have been such a beautiful thing. But instead of that lovely scene, Saul died behind Mt. Gilboa in his own blood. God help us not to have to look back and say, “we could have had it so much better.” By the help of God, and by the grace of God, we are going to have it because it is promised us and because it is due us . There is nothing like the peace of God to reign in your heart. There is nothing like the feeling of the good Holy Ghost and that feeling of knowing you can go to bed at night just knowing everything is right in the sight of God.
Selfishness is slow suicide. It kills happiness. It spoils and kills all of our joy. Let me say it this way. We cannot be jealous and happy at the same time. You will be one or the other. The Bible says, “whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:38). I believe tonight that we are going to have to learn to rejoice in other people’s happiness. “They have just had a break in their Sunday School Attendance. My, have you heard about the church across town? They are doing just fantastic. That is super!” That’s what should be said, instead of when some-body says, “Did you hear about the church across town, they have had over 400 in Sunday School?” And the response is, “Well, I imagine a lot of them are kids.” I believe we are going to have to get to the place that we are excited over revivals taking place in somebody else’s church. I want you to know that anybody that is born again in anybody else’s church, anywhere in the world is my brother and happens to be my sister! I believe the Lord has been trying to tell us, and I feel it so strongly in my soul, God is saying, “You folks better stay together as one big happy family!” You see the hand can’t say to the foot, “I don’t need you” and the foot cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”. What good does it do to have hands, if there’s no feet to get you there? What good does it do to have feet if when you get there, you have no hands to work with? That’s why it takes everybody working together and pulling together. I have to have you and you have to have me. We need each other.
Philippians 2:2 “Fulfill ye my joy that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” “One accord” – where have we heard that before? This is not Acts 2 I’m reading here, this is Philippians. Paul is still saying, “You’ve started in one accord and you’ve got
Psalm 37: 1-2 “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” Now, I’m going to give you a revelation.
You’re going to think it’s either Marvin Treece, or Bro. S. G. Norris! V 3 “Trust in the Lord and do good.” That’s just as deep as I know how to get. Trust in the Lord and do good. If you will just do good. “Well, Brother, what do you think I ought to do in this situation? Would you give me some ad-vice?” Yes, just do good. Do good. What’s good? The Bible says “the steps of a good (righteous) man are ordered of the Lord.”
It goes on further in verse 4 and says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord.” That’s really what I want to do. I had a man tell me he spent $2000 to go to a conference outside of our church organization, thinking they could give him something new. He said that he got down there and they told him to pray and fast and live for God. “Delight thyself in the Lord!”
I told my wife I am not ever going to judge whether or not I like a preacher’s sermon by whether I like him as a person. If he’s preaching the Word of God, I’m going to get something out of it. I want to hear it.
Vs 5 “Commit thy way unto the Lord.” Out at the airport they have a pattern, showing the way the planes come in. The dots they see represent planes. After a pilot gets so close, he commits himself to the pattern. He no longer does it like he wants to do it, he does it like the Controller tells him to do it. Do you know why he does that? He does it because He doesn’t want to run amuck. Do you know what happens when a man decides he wants to do it his own way? You see two little dots running together. You don’t have to look on the screen anymore, just look out the window and you’ll see smoke coming out of the bottom of the planes. I can’t do it by myself ! The Bible says, – Lord, you’re going to have to take my life. You know more about it than I do. Sometimes I court disaster, sometimes I get too close to danger. Oh, God, you take me, and bring me safely to landing.
In Mississippi there was a man that took off in a small, light plane from his cow pasture, against the weatherman’s advice. (Now, this is a Reader’s Digest Story, so you can hang your hat on it!) He said, “I can make it, I know what I’m doing. I’ve been flying a long time. I will just get up there and get above the clouds.” He got up above the clouds and another cloud rolled in on him and after a few minutes another black one rolled in on him and finally he got to the place where he didn’t know whether he was up or down. Finally he got radio contact with a jet liner; and by that time he was whimpering and crying like a baby. The jet pilot told him, “I’ll make one pass by you, and you watch for the blinking light. I am not going to endanger my passengers, but if you can follow me, then go ahead and follow me.” He saw the light and followed and then at times, he couldn’t see it and he cried, “Please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me.” That’s exactly what happens to us when we get off by our-selves and think we don’t need anybody else. At some point we will be crying, “please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me. I’ve got to have you. I need help.”
I want to finish by reading a little bit of Kipling’s work,
If you can keep your head
when all about you are losing theirs,
and blaming it on you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
but make allowances for their doubting too
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting
or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
or being hated don’t give way to hating,
and yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds worth of distance run,
yours is the earth and everything that’s in it,
and what is more, you’ll be a man my son.
And then a little line he wrote to the ladies:
It’s all right for you to feel the touch of silk and satin
if you can do it without despising calico and jeans.
Thank you and God Bless!
The above article “Saul, David And Us” is written by O.C. Marler. This article was excerpted from chapter eight in Marler’s book The Scent of Water.
The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.
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