return to the main player
Return to the Main Player

Interpreting the Bible

1 Samuel 21:1–15
Program

If you struggle to understand certain passages of Scripture, you’re not alone. So how should we approach Bible study? Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg introduces our next series by establishing helpful principles for interpreting God’s Word.

From the Sermon

Interpreting the Bible

1 Samuel 21:1–15 Sermon Includes Transcript 38:08 ID: 3418

The Path of Unbelief

The Path of Unbelief

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, as the soldiers approached to arrest the man who the Jewish leaders had decided must now die, the central figure was of course the Lord Jesus. But Judas played a key part—and teaches us a hard lesson.

Judas’s betrayal of Christ reveals a deep hypocrisy rooted in a deeper denial. His treachery serves as a warning of how a heart, though seemingly close to God, hardens as it travels down the path of unbelief—a path marked by betrayed trust and corrupt company.

The Garden of Gethsemane was not just any garden. The disciples appeared to know it well. For Jesus and the Twelve it was a place of fellowship, of relaxation, and, doubtless, of many happy memories. And yet it was in this beautiful place that Judas betrayed Christ. It’s quite staggering that he would choose a place of such intimacy in which to perform an act of such infamy, like an adulterer who breaks the marriage bond in their own marriage bed.

Picture Judas walking along the path and leading a group of soldiers and Jewish officials (John 18:3). He who was so dreadfully lost spiritually became a guide: the blind leading the blind. The path of unbelief is a lonely place that often begs for the false comfort of hopeless companionship.

The garden was a beautiful, tranquil place, but it nevertheless witnessed a heinous event. When we think of the places where we’ve been tempted to betray Christ—on a lovely vacation, in the comfort of our homes, even in places where Christ has previously met with us, blessed us, wooed us, and won us—we clearly see our heart’s perversity in our willingness to join Judas in his betrayal.

Let Judas’s example remind us that we must all be on guard. There is no room for complacency in the Christian life, no matter what you have done and seen and no matter what your standing in your church. After all, Judas had lived with Jesus for three years, had seen His miracles, and had heard His teaching. Yet still he betrayed Him. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

How do we remain followers and avoid the tragic path taken by Judas? As the word of God implores again and again, we must beware a slowly growing hard-heartedness that causes us to drift down the path of unbelief. Instead, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides us. We need to pray that we would find a tenderness in our hearts, an openness in our minds, and a prompting in our spirits telling us, “Now, go ahead and embrace this Christ!”

The hard lesson of Judas is that only by God’s grace can we remain standing. So pray that you would never be found among the traitors: Save me, Lord, from the real temptations to doubt and deny You. Show me the wonder of Your protection and provision, and renew my assurance that You will lose none of those whom the Father has given You.

Questions for Thought

How is God calling me to think differently?

How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?

What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?

Further Reading

11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

I and the Father Are One

22At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me,1 is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

Open in Bible
Footnotes
1 10:29 Some manuscripts What my Father has given to me

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.

The Sleepless Guardian

The Sleepless Guardian

You will not fear the terror of the night.

What is this "terror"? It may be the cry of fire or the noise of thieves or intrigued appearances or the shriek of sudden sickness or death. We live in the world of death and sorrow; we may anticipate facing ills and difficulties during the night as well as in the glare of the noonday sun. This should not alarm us, for whatever the terror may be, the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid. Why should he be?

Let us put this more closely—why should we? God our Father is here, and will be with us all through the lonely hours. He is an almighty Watcher, a sleepless Guardian, a faithful Friend. Nothing can happen without His direction, for even hell itself is under His control. Darkness is not dark to Him. He has promised to be a wall of fire around His people—and who can break through such a barrier?

Unbelievers may well be afraid, for they have an angry God above them, a guilty conscience within them, and a yawning hell beneath them. But we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these by His rich mercy. If we give way to foolish fear, we will dishonor our testimony and lead others to doubt the reality of godliness. We ought to be afraid of being afraid, in case we should grieve the Holy Spirit by foolish distrust. Down, then, you dismal forebodings and groundless apprehensions—God has not forgotten to be gracious, nor held back His tender mercies. It may be night in the soul, but there need be no terror, for the God of love does not change.

Children of light may walk in darkness, but they are not therefore cast away. No, they are now enabled to prove their adoption by trusting in their heavenly Father in a way that hypocrites cannot do.

Though the night be dark and dreary,
Darkness cannot hide from Thee;
You are He, who, never weary,
Watchest where Your people be.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

Daily Bible Reading for April 23

Leviticus 27, Psalm 34, Ecclesiastes 10, Titus 2

Laws About Vows

1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the Lord involving the valuation of persons, 3then the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels1 of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. 4If the person is a female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels. 5If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels. 6If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be three shekels of silver. 7And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels. 8And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford.

9“If the vow2 is an animal that may be offered as an offering to the Lord, all of it that he gives to the Lord is holy. 10He shall not exchange it or make a substitute for it, good for bad, or bad for good; and if he does in fact substitute one animal for another, then both it and the substitute shall be holy. 11And if it is any unclean animal that may not be offered as an offering to the Lord, then he shall stand the animal before the priest, 12and the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall be. 13But if he wishes to redeem it, he shall add a fifth to the valuation.

14“When a man dedicates his house as a holy gift to the Lord, the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand. 15And if the donor wishes to redeem his house, he shall add a fifth to the valuation price, and it shall be his.

16“If a man dedicates to the Lord part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer3 of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver. 17If he dedicates his field from the year of jubilee, the valuation shall stand, 18but if he dedicates his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall calculate the price according to the years that remain until the year of jubilee, and a deduction shall be made from the valuation. 19And if he who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, then he shall add a fifth to its valuation price, and it shall remain his. 20But if he does not wish to redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed anymore. 21But the field, when it is released in the jubilee, shall be a holy gift to the Lord, like a field that has been devoted. The priest shall be in possession of it. 22If he dedicates to the Lord a field that he has bought, which is not a part of his possession, 23then the priest shall calculate the amount of the valuation for it up to the year of jubilee, and the man shall give the valuation on that day as a holy gift to the Lord. 24In the year of jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, to whom the land belongs as a possession. 25Every valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs4 shall make a shekel.

26“But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the Lord, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the Lord's. 27And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back at the valuation, and add a fifth to it; or, if it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at the valuation.

28“But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the Lord, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord. 29No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction5 from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.

30“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. 31If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the Lord. 33One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

34These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

Open in Bible
Footnotes
1 27:3 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
2 27:9 Hebrew it
3 27:16 A homer was about 6 bushels or 220 liters
4 27:25 A gerah was about 1/50 ounce or 0.6 gram
5 27:29 That is, set apart (devoted) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction)

Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

1I will bless the Lord at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the humble hear and be glad.

3Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt his name together!

4I sought the Lord, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

5Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

6This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the Lord encamps

around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

9Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,

for those who fear him have no lack!

10The young lions suffer want and hunger;

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11Come, O children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12What man is there who desires life

and loves many days, that he may see good?

13Keep your tongue from evil

and your lips from speaking deceit.

14Turn away from evil and do good;

seek peace and pursue it.

15The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous

and his ears toward their cry.

16The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

20He keeps all his bones;

not one of them is broken.

21Affliction will slay the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22The Lord redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Open in Bible

1Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench;

so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

2A wise man's heart inclines him to the right,

but a fool's heart to the left.

3Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,

and he says to everyone that he is a fool.

4If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place,

for calmness1 will lay great offenses to rest.

5There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: 6folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. 7I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.

8He who digs a pit will fall into it,

and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.

9He who quarries stones is hurt by them,

and he who splits logs is endangered by them.

10If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,

he must use more strength,

but wisdom helps one to succeed.2

11If the serpent bites before it is charmed,

there is no advantage to the charmer.

12The words of a wise man's mouth win him favor,3

but the lips of a fool consume him.

13The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,

and the end of his talk is evil madness.

14A fool multiplies words,

though no man knows what is to be,

and who can tell him what will be after him?

15The toil of a fool wearies him,

for he does not know the way to the city.

16Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,

and your princes feast in the morning!

17Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,

and your princes feast at the proper time,

for strength, and not for drunkenness!

18Through sloth the roof sinks in,

and through indolence the house leaks.

19Bread is made for laughter,

and wine gladdens life,

and money answers everything.

20Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,

nor in your bedroom curse the rich,

for a bird of the air will carry your voice,

or some winged creature tell the matter.

Open in Bible
Footnotes
1 10:4 Hebrew healing
2 10:10 Or wisdom is an advantage for success
3 10:12 Or are gracious

Teach Sound Doctrine

1But as for you, teach what accords with sound1 doctrine. 2Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9Bondservants2 are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Open in Bible
Footnotes
1 2:1 Or healthy; also verses 2, 8
2 2:9 Or Slaves (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)
Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

Get the Program, Devotional, and Bible Reading Plan delivered daily right to your inbox.