1 Sam 22: 14-16; 20-end
2 Sam 15: 19-22
Rev 3: 14-18 - ‘rich’, 20
John 17: 24
I have been thinking a little recently of the thief on the cross, who was crucified by the side of Christ. “He said to Jesus, Remember me, Lord, when thou comest in thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Verily I say to thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”, Luke 23: 41-43. With me - that is what I want to preach about. I received a fresh outlook on the gospel when I read in Mr Stoney’s ministry what he said about the true evangelist. A true evangelist is conscious of the empty places in the heart of Christ and seeks to fill them, vol 2 p21. I would like to be a true evangelist today. Is there an empty place that is in the heart of Christ waiting for you to fill it? We often preach the gospel thinking of man’s need, and we do not deprecate that at all; man surely needs a Saviour. The thief on the cross had a desperate need of a Saviour. Think of this, the thief, and a malefactor, became fit to associate with the Lord of glory. How could it be? He was the holy, pure and spotless Lamb of God, and the work of Christ made it possible for a malefactor, a thief, to associate with the Son of God. Is that not a change, a transformation? So whatever our history might be, yours or mine, the precious work of Christ has made it possible for us to be fit and suitable to associate with the Lord Jesus. With me - not only the thief; what can we say about this Man? I would like to be able to say more about this Man, the Man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim 2: 5, 6) - the Man Christ Jesus. There is no one like Him, no one to be compared to Him - the Man Christ Jesus. Has your heart been won by Christ? Is the vacancy still there waiting for you to fill it? Have you never, perhaps, given your heart to the Lord? Has He never heard you say you love Him? Is that your case? Have you never told the Lord Jesus that you love Him? That vacancy still in the heart of Christ, is it waiting for you?
So I read about Abiathar because David is a most attractive type of the Lord Jesus. He won the heart of so many, drew so many round him. The beginning of this chapter speaks about him in the cave of Adullam, “his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, and they went down thither to him. And every one in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one of embittered spirit collected round him; and he became a captain over them”, v 1, 2. There he was the centre, the attractive centre. Oh, you say, 'was there not any better company for David?' They criticised the Lord because He ate with sinners in Matthew’s house, you remember; but here it was those who were in debt, everyone of embittered spirit collected around him; that is, they represent those who were drawn to Jesus, drawn to Christ. In 1 Samuel 22 Ahimelech had sought to defend David in the presence of Saul, he was put to death along with eighty-five priests who wore the linen ephod. And yet one escaped, and that was Abiathar, and what does David say to him? “Abide with me”.
The theme of my preaching is 'with me’. I would like you to be with Him, associated in your affections with the Lord Jesus. David says here “Abide with me, fear not; for he that seeks my life seeks thy life; for with me” (here we are again - with me) “thou art in safe keeping.” What a wonderful invitation - “abide with me” - “with me thou art in safe keeping”; no matter what the reproach is, no matter what the efforts of the enemy are, David says “he that seeks my life seeks thy life; for with me thou art in safe keeping”.
Ittai wants to be with David. It was just because David was so attractive that he wanted to be with him. He could not bear the thought of any distance between himself and David. So he says, “As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be” - whether in death or life. At this time Absalom was on the throne and had usurped David’s place, and David was fleeing. As he says, “Thou didst come yesterday, and should I this day make thee go up and down with us, seeing I go whither I can?” “Whither I can” - that is the present state of the world; the Lord Jesus goes whither He can. He cannot go everywhere, He would not be received, He would not be accepted. He would be rejected even as He was when He was here. It says “the Son of man has not where he may lay his head”, Matt 8: 20. There were those that loved David. He had a place in their affections, and Ittai was one of them. “As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.” With me - oh, it is a wonderful invitation that we offer in the gospel, that you can be with Jesus. There is no distance, He has removed the distance. Somebody said he had bridged the distance, but that is not accurate, that is not true. He removed the distance, He took it away. And He wants to have you with Him in close association.
Well, I might go on and speak about Mephibosheth. He is perhaps the most spiritual man in 2 Samuel. He expresses his feelings about the king. No matter what happened to him, Mephibosheth would say, ‘it does not matter what happens to me; so long as you, David, have a place in the affections of the people, it is enough for me’. That is virtually what he says, “since my lord the king is come again in peace to his own house”. At that time, David was critical of Mephibosheth. He was not warranted in being critical of Mephibosheth, but Mephibosheth was content, chap 19: 24-30. It reminds me of the hymn that we sometimes sing -
All thought of self is now for ever o’er
'All thought of self' - Mephibosheth had no thought of a place, of his own blessing. He only thought about the place that David should have. What a wonderful thing that is, Christ the supreme Object of his heart. He was content that He should have the place that rightly is His.
I just read in Revelation. There is a sad state of things in Laodicea - lukewarmness. Does that mark you? It says elsewhere, “the love of the most shall grow cold”, Matt 24: 12. Has your love grown cold? We have a wonderful Counsellor here in this address to this church. That is one thing the Lord Jesus is. The thief says, “this man”. Well, who is this Man? “His name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace”, Isa 9: 6. That is this Man - “this man has done nothing amiss”. Then you see that He wants to be with you in your circumstances. He wants to have you with Him in His. So He says, “Behold I stand at the door and am knocking”. That is the word of God in the gospel. Maybe you have some impression that the Lord is knocking at your heart today. What does He say? He says, “if any one hear my voice and open the door, I will come in unto him and sup with him”. That is, He would come into your circumstances. He is gracious enough to do that. I can think of nothing more remarkable than that the Lord of glory, the Creator of the universe, the One, as we have said, who is “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God”, that He should be content to come into your circumstances and my circumstances. But then He says, ‘I would like you to come into mine, I want you to come into my circumstances’.
And that is why I read in John 17. You may say that is an unusual Scripture to read in the preaching, but I would like to attract you into His circumstances, circumstances of glory. He says, “Father, as to those whom thou hast given me”. Think of how valuable they are to Him, how much they meant to Him - “those whom thou hast given me”. The Father knew the longings of the heart of Christ. He knew the empty places in the heart of Christ, and He knows them today. He says, “Father, as to those whom thou hast given me.” The Father has given us to Christ in order that we may fill the longings of His heart. But then He says, “I desire that where I am they also may be with me”. Here we are again - “that they also may be with me; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me”. What glory is that? It is the glory of the great Accomplisher of the counsels and purposes of the blessed God. That is the glory that we are to behold: this is not a glory that we share. Earlier on, we have a glory that we share, “the glory which thou hast given me I have given them”, v 22. That is the glory of sonship, but this is not a glory that we share. This is His own personal, distinctive glory, the One that has accomplished everything for God. And He wants you to be with Him to enjoy His company; yes; but to see Him in His glory, to adore and worship Him.
I just close with a little story that Mr James Taylor told in ministry. You may have heard it before: I have repeated it a few times because I was impressed with it. I think it is the only story that I have heard or ever read that Mr Taylor repeated. There was a girl that was thoroughly converted by a bishop (see vol 90 p263). She came to know the Lord and to love Him, but she got away in her soul. Sometime later she went to see the bishop, and she said to him, ‘I have found that I can get along without Christ’. And he looked at her and he said, ‘He cannot get along without you'. And it broke her down; she came back to the Lord.
May He be your portion and mine, in the Name of the Lord Jesus.
23rd September 2007