Several years ago I was visiting in my home church. They were in revival and the evangelist spoke from 2 Samuel 11:1-2. “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”These words burned their way into my consciousness and I think of them often: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…” The writer of Ecclesiastes included these words in 3:8—“a time for war and a time for peace.”
There are so many different ideas that flood into my thinking as I reflect on these words. This is the first Sunday of Spring this year…
What are some of the activities that you associate with spring? Branson and Hollister Schools have just had their Spring Breaks. And for other schools there will be spring breaks all the way into April. That is really important in Branson since we are a tourist destination. It means the first real boost in our local economy.
For the fisherman, spring means it is time for crappy fishing. And for many of the trout parks like Bennett Springs and Roaring River, spring means the kick-off of trout fishing season.
For sports fans spring means the finals of Basketball season and the beginnings of baseball season. (Oh, by the way, footballs fans: we are glad that the Houston Police and FBI have found Tom Brady’s jerseys this week that were stolen after the Super Bowl!)
Of course, this is the time of year for “Spring Cleaning.” And it is time to get those lawn mowers back into working condition. And many are already planting those seeds that they will transplant into their gardens when the threat of frost is finally over!
Spring is such a beautiful time of the year. Winter is past and new life is springing forth. And people are ready to enjoy warmer weather!
But what about our scripture? What about those kings who at this time of the year go off to war? What does that passage say to us about our own spiritual condition? What is the message God would have us to hear this morning?
And while our scripture points to spring, what about other appropriate times—those seasons when there are certain things that require our attention?
Let’s explore this further…
I. THE SEASON OF KINGS AND WAR
a. At the time when 2 Samuel was written the world was very different. There were no cars or trains or planes by which they could travel. Transportation was by foot or camel or horse or buggy or chariot. And there were no missiles or even guns from which they could launch long distant attacks on their enemies. It was bows and arrows and spears and swords and battering rams. And the terrain in the Middle East did not make moving armies an easy task. There are mountains and deserts and landscapes that were not easy to navigate even in good weather. There was no pavement on the road—maybe gravel, maybe some dried up river bottoms that had firm bedrock. But add the rainy season and in the higher elevations snow and ice in the winter, and travel was extremely difficult. So, for Kings who were looking to expand their territory or to defend themselves from their enemies, the springtime was the first chance for reasonable weather for moving troops.
Even today the weather can have horrible effects on troops –dust storms have caused helicopter crashes and corroded equipment.
So, if battles were necessary, the spring of the year provided the opportune time!
b. And Israel needed to fight some battles. From the time of Joshua and the conquest of the Promised Land, there were enemies that needed to be expelled from the area. God had established the projected boundaries for Israel, but, the truth is, Israel never fully possessed all the territory that God wanted them to have. David during his reign as king did more than any other before or after him in expanding the territory to fulfill the boundaries God had established. But there was still work to be done. King David and his troops still had unfinished business. And it was time for them to continue their mission.
c. But even though David sent the troops, we read in verse 2 that David stayed in Jerusalem. It was the time when kings went off to battle, but this king at this time avoided the battle. He did not do what the king was supposed to be doing. Instead of leading the troops, he stayed behind and let Joab lead them in battle. There is no real explanation as to why David failed to accompany the troops. Perhaps it was an age thing and he did not feel as capable as he had been when he was younger. Perhaps there was some administrative responsibility that he felt he had to address before going off to war. Whatever the reason might have been, the scripture seems to be saying that David should have been with his troops in battle—after all, it was spring, the time when kings go off to war…
d. And because King David was not doing what he was supposed to be doing, he got into trouble. You know the story of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. King David had an affair with her and she became pregnant. And in an attempt to cover up his sin, he set Uriah up to be killed in battle and took Bathsheba to be his wife. And it all happened because at the time of year when Kings go off to war, David stayed behind. And because he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing, he became a target for temptation. And he fell hard. People were hurt, the kingdom suffered consequences on down the road, families were broken apart and King David’s reputation was tarnished—all because when the time for action came, David stayed in Jerusalem.
e. Failure to do what is supposed to be done at the time it is supposed to be done can spell disaster. Remember when Moses sent out the 12 spies as he was preparing to take the Promised Land as God had promised. When they rebelled against God’s direction, God punished them by making them stay in the wilderness for 40 years until that whole generation had died off. And when they heard God’s degree that they would have to stay in the wilderness, they changed their mind and tried to enter the Promise Land without God’s approval and they were quickly defeated. Timing is everything when God gives the orders!
II. THE SEASON OF ANOTHER KING
a. Even though David failed at the season of war, there was another King—also a descendent of David—who entered the battle ground at just the right season. In Galatians 4:4 we read, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
b. God though the Prophet Isaiah had stated that this king, “…Will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time and forever. The zeal of the LORD almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9: 7b).
c. God had known from the beginning when the time would be right. The Old Testament contains the account of how God prepared the world and men’s hearts for the time when He would send in His Son, a descendent of David, to establish the Kingdom of Heaven and defeat the forces of evil.
d. In a book about the Life and Times of Jesus, the author James Stewart (not the movie actor) had a chapter based on the verse in Galatians 4:4 focusing on the words “at the set time.” He wrote about the Roman roads that had opened up the routes of transportation, the Greek Language that had become the universal language of the Roman Empire, the Roman Peace that existed because of the control of the Roman armies, and the growing dissatisfaction with the false gods of the Roman and Greek world. All these conditions help set the world stage for the coming of Christ at that exact “set” time.
e. Because God acted at the right time—a time He had set from before creation—we have a King who has defeated the enemy and opened up access to God for every one of us who will accept Him as King. We are in the season of Lent, a time of preparing our hearts and minds for the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Jesus fought and won the greatest battle of all when he went to the Cross and Grave and came forth victoriously!
f. We praise the Lord that in this season, at the set time, Christ did not decide to remain in heaven. No, he entered the stage of world history fulfilling his role as King of kings and Lord of lords so we could be set free from the power of Satan and sin.
III. OUR SEASON—A TIME THAT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR EACH OF US.
a. In Hebrews 4: 7 we read, “God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’”
b. In 2 Corinthians 6:2 we read, “For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. ‘I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.’”
c. Solomon in Ecclesiastes stated there is “A Time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). In 2 Samuel we see how David failed to act in the season of war and consequently allowed sin to get a foot hold in his heart and cause much harm in the kingdom. But in God’s eternal plan we see how Christ came at just the right time, the appointed time, to show us what the Father is like and to fight the ultimate battle for our salvation. And in these verses in 2 Corinthians 6 and Hebrews 4 we see that we are living in a very special season called “The Day of Salvation.” You are faced with a choice: Will you do what you can only do on the day set by God for your salvation? We are living in “Today.” While it is “Today” we are to seek God through Jesus, accept the forgiveness and cleansing from sin that Jesus made possible. And then we are to live as His Witnesses– Christ’s Ambassadors until Christ Returns!
d. Arnold Bennett, Bits & Pieces, March 4, 1993, p. 18-20, Wrote the following: Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it. You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions… No one can take it from you. It is not something that can be stolen. And no one receives either more or less than you receive. Moreover, you cannot draw on its future. Impossible to get into debt! You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you. You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and of the most thrilling actuality. All depends on that. Your happiness — the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friends — depends on that. If one cannot arrange that an income of twenty-four hours a day shall exactly cover all proper items of expenditure, one does muddle one’s whole life indefinitely. We shall never have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.
e. And now is the time of Salvation!
There is a time and a season for everything…
In the season of war King David failed to go into battle and was defeated by temptation…
At the set time, Jesus entered the World to wage the war again Sin and provide for our Salvation.
And Now is the Set Time for our Salvation. Today is the Day of Salvation.
What are you doing in this season of time God has given you? This is the set time—it is time to act!