Strategy for Enlargement
By Rev. David Proudfoot
Foundation Scripture: Psalm 27
Sunday 2nd March 2014
New Wine Church’s theme of enlargement this year represents a major and significant move of God. In keeping with this, I want to consider David’s life as something of a case study for enlargement: Psalm 78:70-72 says, ‘He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands’.
David, as we know was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons. When God rejected Saul as king of Israel, He searched for a man after His own heart and found what He was looking for in David the shepherd boy. God chose David notwithstanding that externally, there was nothing about him that would indicate that he was destined for greatness. David, by all accounts did not see this coming either as when Jesse’s sons were paraded before Samuel, he was in the countryside with his father’s sheep. However, we see in the life of David prior to him being anointed as king, a key principle which to a great degree, determines enlargement, namely faithfulness. He was out of sight when the prophet Samuel came to his father’s house, busy and pre-occupied with not his own agenda but with his father’s business. A key principle for enlargement is faithfulness. This is contrary to the world’s ways which dictate that youth, beauty, talent, celebrity and connections determine enlargement and success but this is not God’s way of doing things and God has not changed. God’s key principle is faithfulness. How have you tended to that which has been entrusted to you? After serving in the church in Antioch for many years, Paul spoke of God having counted him faithful in putting him in the ministry. David was propelled from the sheepfold to the palace; his life is a perfect representation of enlargement and it was all because of his faithfulness.
Although he was taken from the sheepfold and propelled to greatness, as we know, it did not happen overnight. He was anointed by Samuel as king although many different and often painful seasons passed before he actually took the throne. Solomon alluded to the different seasons and related purposes of life in Ecclesiastes 3:1 when he said ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.’
Israel had been a federation of 12 tribes of the descendants of Jacob and desired to be like the other nations and asked God to appoint them a king. The nation was split between the Israel in the north and Judah in the south. David having been anointed, ruled in Hebron for seven and a half years before the kingdom was united under his rule. During these years he went through a variety of seasons including breaking down and building up. Although Saul had been clearly rejected by God as king of Israel, he did not go quickly and he did not go easily. He was tormented with jealousy and violent outbursts, as a result of which David spent many years on the run from him.
The principle of enlargement is that of faithfulness; how we influence our world for Jesus. Psalm 27 provides key strategies and insight from the life of David. We will look at the detail of this closely:
Solomon had confirmed that there is a time for everything under the sun. What was the ‘time’ for David? Psalm 27:5 confirms that the time for David was a ‘time of trouble.’ A clue to the nature of the trouble that David made reference to, and an unveiling of three key strategies of the enemy, is found on a close examination of this Psalm. In verse 2 David speaks of ‘the wicked’ coming against him to eat up his flesh. This is an indication of the first strategy of the enemy: his initial line of assault does not necessarily involve bombardment, he often deploys a singular enemy, one that is close. The enemy often uses fear, doubt, anxiety and insecurity which causes us to destroy ourselves. Negative attitudes such as these that cause our faith to come to a grinding halt will ultimately hinder us to such a degree that we self-destruct. When that does not work, we see in verse 3 the introduction of a new line of attack: ‘though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.’ This makes reference to a well-used battle strategy, namely that of siege and intimidation. The army on the offensive would often not actually have to do anything other than simply encamp outside the city gates and cut off food and water supplies and simply wait for the city to weaken. When the personal attack is ineffective and the siege does not work we see further on in verse 3 the enemy raising the stakes in desperation. David said, ‘Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.’
What is the ‘this’ that David is referring to as the source of his confidence in the face of the enemy’s onslaught? The answer is found in verse 1 where David says, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?’ Pay attention to the order of priority in this verse: the Lord is first his light, then his salvation and then his strength. One would have expected that David, a warrior would have first drawn his confidence from God as the source of his strength but David’s foundation was in the Lord as the source of his light.
The key to salvation is light. You may wonder what light has to do with salvation. Psalm 18:28-29 says, ‘For you will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.’ Before David was able to state with confidence that he could run against a troop and leap over a wall, he had encountered the Lord as the source of his light. Proverbs 20:27 says, ‘The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.’ Unless and until the lamp is lit, there is no light. If the spirit of a man is described as God’s lamp, it is an indication that the spirit is a highly important component of the make-up of man. Job 32: 8 says, ‘But there is a spirit in a man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.’ In Zechariah 12:1 God describes Himself as the One who ‘forms the spirit of man within him.’ The spirit of man is the part that resembles God. Jesus said of God in John 4:24, ‘God is Spirit.’ The account of creation in Genesis confirms that we are made in the image of God. This refers to our spirits rather than our physical attributes.
When we are born again there is a reconnection. 1 Corinthians 6: 17 says, ‘He who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit.’ Being born again is representative of a connection with God in our spirit. Notwithstanding the increasing secularization of culture, there is a search in humanity for a connection with God. This is why there are so many different religions, because at the core, humanity knows that there is a God and seeks a connection with Him. That is why when we become born again, we come alive. There is a meeting of spirits, a vibrant connection. God’s Spirit is in your spirit. The bible, the Spirit inspired word of God, comes alive to you. The gospel of salvation is literally life-changing. The human spirit is the entry point for a connection between heaven and earth, much like the image of the ladder that Jacob saw at Bethel which was fulfilled in Jesus. It is also the entry point for the Holy Spirit. When Moses was instructed by God to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” it was only on the death of the first-born that caused Pharaoh to obey. The blood of the Passover Lamb daubed with a hyssop branch on the lintel of each Israelite household is what prevented them experiencing the same devastation that was visited on the Egyptians. The human spirit is, in many ways, like the doorway of the house. It represents God’s entry point to humanity. When David sinned with Bathsheba, a reminder that power does corrupt, he asked God to create in him a clean heart, renew a right spirit within him and purge him with hyssop, a reference to the blood of the Lamb seen in action in the first Passover. Not only was David’s sin with Bathsheba a reminder that even those with the most intimate of relationships with God can fall into sin and that we all need to be on our guard, it was a reminder also of the defilement that sin can bring to the spirit, a defilement that can only be addressed by the blood of the Lamb. An interesting observation from the account of the Passover is that those in the house did not see the blood as it was daubed only on the outside lintels. The inhabitants of the house had to put their trust entirely in God’s provision. We too can only put our trust in God’s provision of Jesus as our Passover Lamb.
So, in the life of David we have seen that the process of enlargement for him involved trouble; trouble from the Philistines, trouble from Saul, and also trouble from the Canaanites. Where did he go to obtain his light? If we return to Psalm 27:4, we see that David said, ’One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord.’ David was a worshipper. All he wanted was to be in the presence of the Lord in worship. However, he was more than a worshipper. He wanted also, as verse 4 goes on to say, to ‘enquire within His temple.’ David was an enquirer; he sought intelligent information. In verse 5, we see that ‘For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle he shall hide me.’ The word for pavilion here represents God’s pavilion and therefore a royal pavilion. David was a seasoned warrior and accustomed to warfare. David’s reference to God hiding him in His pavilion was not the language of a coward; David was anything but that. He knew that in the middle of any army encampment would be the royal pavilion, guarded by mighty warriors to stop just anyone approaching; a place from which the king would devise battle strategy. He had confidence that being hidden in the pavilion of the Lord would give him access to the mind of God. David was not going to just run into battle, he was going to seek the mind of God. Not just once in a while, not just once a week, but as verse 4 states, ‘all the days of my life.’ David knew that if he accessed the mind of God, God would do something spectacular with his life. What is it, I wonder that God revealed to him that changed David so radically that he came out the pavilion with the absolute assurance that he could advance against a troop?
The human spirit is the place in which we receive God’s wisdom. Prior to being born again, our minds may educated but our spirits, although yearning for enlightenment and a connection with God, are without His instruction and wisdom. This is why the ‘Big-bang’ theory and the theory of evolution, collides with what we know in our inner man. When we are born again we have access to God’s infinitely greater intelligence which brings about the enlightenment that we long for. Isaiah said in Isaiah 40:13, ‘Who has known the mind of God?’ The same question is repeated twice by Paul in the New Testament. In the book of Romans 11:34, it appears in the context of salvation for the fallen Jewish race and in 1 Corinthians 2:16, it appears in the context of salvation for the Gentiles.
It is God’s desire for the church to experience enlargement in this most vital part of our call, in encouraging our world to reconnect with God. The Lord is our light and our salvation. When God gives light, expect Him to show His heart. He had thought about our salvation and had a plan to bring it about. God will enlarge us in order that we have so much more to give to this world in desperate need for Him.
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