Call to Worship August 29 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 19

Athanasius, an important 4th century pastor/theologian, was exiled from Alexandria six times during his life. He was influential in studying the scriptures and aiding the churches of his day in confessing the deity of Christ. He faced many trials for his study, writings, and teachings that Jesus was of the same essence or being as God the Father. [1]

 One such occasion occurred after Julius became emperor of Rome in 361 A.D. Under Julius, Athanasius was allowed to return to Alexandria, but was soon exiled again.[2] Julius was frustrated that paganism made little headway in Alexandria with Athanasius’ influence among Christians in that city. Athanasius had fled several times before, but now the emperor’s troops were after him. He took a boat northward on the Nile River to escape. The squad was closing in on him, so he rounded a bend in the river and spun the boat around. In the darkness of night he came right back by the soldiers’ vessel.[3] “They did not recognize him,” according to Dr. Needham, but “they asked him if he had seen Athanasius.” Athanasius replied, “Yes, you are quite close to him.”[4] The soldiers went onward north and Athanasius sailed southward escaping, once again, imprisonment or death.  

Athanasius was not the first believer in God to be protected from a tyrannical king. David was safely shielded from the anger of Saul on several occasions. God providentially safeguarded David by several means. First, He gave David a devoted wife. Michal loved David and the LORD used her to keep David from the death sentence of Saul (vs.11-17). Second, God gave David a covenant friend and brother. Jonathan loved David “as himself.” He had faith in the LORD and recognized David’s calling as future King of Israel (18:1-4). Jonathan “delighted” in David and sought to protect him from the wiles of Jonathan’s own father (19:1-7). Third, God used his servant, Samuel, to give David a safe haven. Last, God sent His Spirit to silence and prostrate Saul and his soldiers when they were seeking to murder David (19-24).

David’s trials, from a human perspective, looked severely troubling and often bleak. Verbal death threats, spears sailing by your head, and goon squads surveilling and tracking you for the purpose of bodily harm, never seem comforting. Yet, it was God who was working out His plan in David’s life and all those around him. Saul was showing his heart of rebellion. Samuel was persistent in faithfulness as a priest of God. Jonathan followed God in honesty and integrity, and Michal planned ways of escape and delay, even when it meant standing up to her own father. Everywhere David went God was his shield and refuge. Sometimes it was by the means of human agents and sometimes it was the direct work of the Holy Spirit (23-24), but it must not be dismissed that ultimately it was the covenant God who ordered all the trials and the defense of David.  

The lives of believers from past to present are really no different. Although we were not meant to be covenant kings and precursors of the Messiah, we are still God’s people. In other words, we may have confidence that our God will see us through to the very purpose and end of our lives.[5] We may have a confidence that God is sovereignly behind the good and the bad in our lives. He will send some happenings and people to strengthen us through encouraging situations. Others have been placed and ordered to strengthen our faith through difficulty and trial. All the while God is working and molding His people in faithfulness and trust in Him alone. May we never forget that unaided human perspective is consistently blind to eternal purposes. We can trust that the God of all creation knows exactly his purpose. He will carry it out to perfection (2 Tim. 1:8-14). Soli Deo Gloria!  

[1] Nick Needham, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power: The Age of the Early Church Fathers, (Scotland, U.K., Christian Focus Pub., 2019), pgs. 219-234.

[2] Nick Needham, Athanasius and the Deity of Christ Part 2, Lecture on Church History,

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), 202.