From Shepherd Boy to Shepherd King
return to the main player
Return to the Main Player
return to the main player
Return to the Main Player

From Shepherd Boy to Shepherd King

2 Samuel 5:1–5  (ID: 3466)

The story of David’s ascent to the throne is the record of one chosen by God to fulfill the role of king. During David’s reign, all the tribes of Israel were united by their allegiance to God’s anointed on the basis of his majesty. The nation identified itself with the shepherd king and drew its strength from his military victories. But David’s kingdom didn’t last forever. As Alistair Begg explains, Jesus alone offers lasting victory over sin and death for those who acknowledge Him as King.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 5

The King and the Holy City 2 Samuel 1:1–6:23 Series ID: 109015

Sermon Transcript: Print

Our reading this morning is from 2 Samuel and from chapter 5, and I invite you to follow along as I read from verse 1 through to the end of verse 16. Two Samuel chapter 5, and we come to the anointing of David as the king of Israel:

“Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.”’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

“And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, ‘You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off’—thinking, ‘David cannot come in here.’ Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. And David said on that day, ‘Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack “the lame and the blind,” who are hated by David’s soul.’ Therefore it is said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.’ And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

“And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

“And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.”

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Let me use as a prayer the collect for the second Sunday in Advent, a collect that I think has been written largely on the basis of Romans 15:4, which we have quoted regularly throughout our studies here in the books of Samuel. So we pray:

Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning, grant that we may in this manner hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Well, this is the second Sunday in Advent. And even though we’re not meticulous as a church about holding to the liturgical calendar of the church, we are aware of it, and some of you particularly so, maybe because you’ve given your children or your grandchildren little Advent calendars, or perhaps in your own devotions you’ve been using a book that takes us along this road. And if you have been doing that, you may find yourselves saying, as I’ve thought this week, “Oh, surely we’re not going to, then, in the middle of Advent, come to 2 Samuel chapter 5.” And yet the answer is yes, we are. And you will not find 2 Samuel 5 as one of the suggested texts for Advent. I know that, because I checked, and it’s not there.

But here’s the thing: we have not so much chosen this text as this text has chosen us. We are not here because we decided, “Why don’t we consider 2 Samuel 5?” but rather because in the course of our studies in the Bible, we arrive on this second Sunday in Advent, as it is, in this particular chapter of the Old Testament, a chapter which records for us the record—along with all that has preceded it—the record of the shepherd boy who is established as the shepherd king, the record of one who has been chosen by God to fulfill this role at his point in history.

The kingdom of God in David’s day is the kingdom of David. And the kingdom of David is pointing to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And as I thought of it during the week, and as I was, like you, aware and alert to other things, I found there were little bells just ringing in my head. You say, “Well, that’s no surprise to me,” but I mean sort of nice little bells ringing in my head. For example, I—like you, perhaps—have been reading some of the Gospel records: “And there were … shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock[s] by night”[1]—that the incarnation takes place within the context of the fields around Bethlehem, and there were shepherds out in those fields around Bethlehem. And then, of course, that is exactly where we have begun this story of David, because there was a shepherd out in the fields around Bethlehem, and it was that shepherd who was called out from that context as a shepherd in order to fulfill the role of the one who would be shepherd and prince over Israel. I think you’ll find, as you intermingle your thoughts and your readings in these weeks, that many of these things will fall in line for us.

This journey that we’ve been considering—and it is a long journey—is a journey that has led David from Bethlehem and finally to Jerusalem. We won’t actually really get to Jerusalem until this evening, all being well, but we get a hint of it in the reading that we have had. He was, as we have said, a shepherd out in the field, and he is the one whose journey points us to the Lord Jesus, who is “the great shepherd of the sheep,”[2] as the writer of Hebrews puts it.

Now, we’ll only consider the first five verses this morning. And I have made a note… I had certain words in my mind that helped me—at least, I felt that they did. And I’ll tell you what the words are: first of all, the word history, then identity, then victory, then majesty, then frailty. All right? History, identity, victory, majesty, frailty. That charts our course, and I’ll try and make sense of it as we go along.


Notice the first word with which our passage begins: “Then…” “Then…” I wrote in my notes, “Then,” and I put after that, “and only then, and not until then, did these things happen.” In other words, I said, “We have to make sure we understand the history”—that’s our first word—“that leads up to what is now here.”

If we were simply to arrive at 2 Samuel 5 and begin a study here, we would find that we would inevitably have to keep going back and further and further back in our Bibles, back into 1 Samuel and beyond. And when we did that, we would eventually find ourselves in chapter 8, where, you will remember, if you have a good memory, that all of the elders of Israel came to Samuel. We’re going to find here in this passage that all of the elders of Israel came. And on that occasion, they came to Samuel, you will remember, and they said, “We want you to appoint for us a king to judge us like all the other nations.”[3] And that, of course, led to the appointment of Saul, and then the rejection of Saul. The rejection of Saul was followed by the anointing of David—the secret anointing of David, taken from among his brothers. On that occasion, the spirit of God rushes upon David, and this charismatic character, as it were, is launched into the plan and purpose of God.

And as we follow him, we discover that there is very little that seems to go right for him, and this largely through no fault of his own. And all the way along the journey, we have seen the way in which the road has been somewhat circuitous—certainly not a straight line, many obstacles along the way. Eventually, Saul dies, clears the way, and then immediately, opposition. Ish-bosheth, propped up by Abner, is a rival king. Eventually the opposition fades with the death of Abner and the death of Ish-bosheth. Abner had previously switched sides. He had gone to convince the elders of the importance of following David, and when they had finally come to God’s king, things had moved in an entirely different direction.

Now, that is just a very quick thumbnail sketch of much that we have been through. It was when all of that had transpired, then all of the tribes of Israel came to God’s king.

Now, what we’ve been learning, and what I hope we have not missed, is the fact that the kingdom of God in David’s day is the kingdom of David. And the kingdom of David is pointing to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, in order for his kingdom to be established as it was, all those of these tribes of Israel were to come to the king. They were to come to the king. And in the same way, those who are part of the kingdom of God as expounded for us in the life and ministry of Jesus are those who have come to King Jesus.

I’m not sure that if you asked somebody how it was they became a Christian, they would necessarily use this terminology, but it would be true of them. If they were to say, “Well, you know, I once was really master of my own destiny. I was once very clear about what I was doing with my life and where I was going and what I wanted to be. And along that journey, I realized that I was listless, that I was directionless, that there was a weakness about my endeavors, that there was a foolishness about my prospects, and so on. And somebody told me that the reason that I had been made was in order to glorify God, and they told me that God had made himself known in the person of Jesus, and they told me that Jesus is a Savior, a Lord, and a King, and they said that to come to know Jesus in a saving way is to come to him as the King.”

Now, we’ll pass on from here, but you might want to just keep that in mind as you’re thinking about talking with friends and neighbors at this point in the week and in the days leading up to Christmas—to be able to say to people, you know, “There are many obstacles in the way of coming to the King. Many obstacles.” You think, for example, in the life of Saul of Tarsus: the big obstacle in Saul of Tarsus’s life was his religious commitment and his personal pride. And there are a number of people who have never bowed the knee to Jesus as King, not because they are, you know, just the most horrible people you ever met in your life. No! In fact, they’re some of the nicest people you ever met—some of the most religious, orthodox people you have ever met. And the obstacle that keeps them from the King is pride.

Actually, I had an illustration of this in mail that came to me in the past month. I can’t read it all. I might read it—it’s a wonderful letter—I could read it this evening. But I mention it for your encouragement, in this notion of the obstacles in the way of coming to Jesus as the King. Somebody writes to me about their mother and explains that their mother was quite a lady, that she was wealthy, she was venerated, she was politically active, and so on. She read the Bible for sort of intellectual stimulation, and on a few occasions, in her town, she actually took the place of the minister when he went on vacation. Her commitment to the Bible was intellectually an exercise.

Writes the daughter, “It was void of the Holy Spirit–inspired life, because she flat-out denied Christ. She mocked him, really.” And then she goes on to say that that mocking, then, “was focused on myself and on my husband when, in the ’90s, we actually were converted and came to know Jesus as King. We talked to her often. We had her in our home consistently. But she thought we were crazy.” She seemed “so self-satisfied and so full of hardened pride. She died in June this year at the age of ninety-two. But in January, a longtime friend, eighty-six years old, was used by God to lead the self-assured, hardened, ninety-two-year-old, wealthy, politically adept lady to living faith in Jesus Christ. She became a member of his kingdom.”

Now, everyone who is in Christ’s kingdom has a history. What’s your history? Are you able to tell it to somebody?


That was the first word. Actually, it was the very first word, wasn’t it? “Then…” Second word is identity. Because what we discover is that the identity of all the tribes of Israel, their identity is found in their relationship with the king. That’s a very straightforward and obvious point, but it is an important point: that all of their background, diverse as it was—from different families and so on—all that they knew of unity, all that they knew of security, all that they knew, really, was because of their union with the king.

Now, in the Old Testament, back in the book of Deuteronomy, the Bible makes it very, very clear that it was a requirement that the person who became king could not be a foreigner, but he must have come “from among your brothers.”[4] You can read that in Deuteronomy 17. So, the king could be nothing other than from the right lineage, must be part of the brotherhood. And so these individuals now find themselves united because of the link that is theirs with the one who is the king: “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.” This sounds a bit like Adam, doesn’t it? “Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”[5] It speaks, if you like, of a blood relationship.

It speaks of something that is far deeper than simply nationalism—a nationalism that is often fueled by emotion. Each of us is both proud and humbled of our origins. As much as I live here and love here, it’s not Scotland. When I arrive in Scotland, I often quote to myself as the plane hits the tarmac,

This is my country,
The land that begat me.
[And] these windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And [these] who here toil
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh,
And bone of my bone.[6]

But that’s just nationalism and emotionalism. But look around you. Look around you! Who are you sitting next to? In Christ, not a random collection of people from different backgrounds and intelligences and interests and prospects and so on, but we’re actually bone and flesh of one another. Because the significance of our relationships with each other is found in the fact that we are related to the King.

That’s why in Hebrews, again, Jesus is described as being very, very happy to call us his brothers. It’s quite a remarkable thing, isn’t it? That the creator of the universe would say of you that “I’m very happy to call her my sister.” Here we have it: “For it [is] fitting that he”—that is, Jesus—“for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory”—in other words, putting together his kingdom—“should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies”—Jesus—“and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he[’s] not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’”[7]

So, just as the tribes of Israel understood their identity in relationship to the king, so it is the Christian’s relationship to Jesus as the King that defines our identity—that answers, really, the fundamental question “Who am I?” I just Googled that while I was studying this week, and I came upon what I thought was a strange answer from one Ramana Maharishi. I guess if you don’t know the answer to the question “Who am I?” you could probably answer it like this: “The question ‘Who am I?’” says the Maharishi, “is not really meant to get an answer. The question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.” I said, “Wow! I wonder what that means. I wonder how that helps you in your day: ‘I don’t know who I am, but I’m feeling a little more dissolved than I felt yesterday’”—as opposed to

We’re the people of God, [joined] by his name,
Called from the dark and delivered from shame,
One holy race, saints every one,
Because of the [love] of Christ Jesus the Son.[8]

One of the obituaries in The Times this week was of Diane di Prima, who was a poet and a member of the Beat Generation. If you’re old enough, you know what that means. Think names like Ginsburg and so on. Think San Francisco. And the Beat Generation was preoccupied with experience above anything else. If you could experience it, you could validate whatever was happening. And I read with care the obituary. She died just recently at the age of eighty-six. And towards the end, they quoted her. She says, “The world should just relax and not put labels on everything. We don’t know who we are or where we’re going.”[9] Well, I admire that honesty—and the accompanying futility that is represented in it.

Do you know who you are? And do you have a history that led you to the King? And do you realize that your identity is entirely in relationship to him as the King?


The third word is victory. Victory. Because the victory that the tribes of Israel knew was on account of the king. It wasn’t because they were very special people. It wasn’t because they were particularly good or particularly wise or particularly strong. That ought to be a great encouragement. It certainly is to me. If the strength of our usefulness is because we are peculiarly wise, peculiarly good, and peculiarly strong, then most of us, if we’re prepared to be humble for a moment, are in real difficulty. No, their victory…

We don’t need a king who just points vaguely in a direction, who calls to us to try and do our best. We need a victorious King.

You will notice what they say in verse 2: “In time past…” “In time past…” “Although Saul was the king,” they’re saying, “you, David, were the one who led us out and brought us in.” In other words, “You were the one who was the powerhouse, in military terms.” They all knew that from the very defeat of Goliath, this man, this person, had a unique place in the purposes of God. They were yet to see how it would unfold, even as we’re yet to see how it would unfold. But the victory of David over Goliath set the course of his life—changed the course of his life, and actually caused the songs to be sung about him, which in turn, of course, created the animosity and the jealousy in Saul and so on, as we rehearse that story.

Now, you will notice this little phrase “In times past…” And for those of you who are alert to these things, if your Bible is open as mine is, you will have 3:17 open before you. If you don’t, you can just turn back to it, because I want to show you that this little phrase “In times past” sounds a lot like Abner’s approach to the elders of Israel. Because, remember, Abner had to go to the elders of Israel and convince them about the role of David before he then went to David in order to let him know that he was going to be able to bring all the northern tribes into a great union.

And so, in 3:17, Abner says, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you.” In other words, he’s masterful and skillful in the way he approaches this. He goes to the elders, and he says, “You know, for some time now, and deep down, you have really known that David is the one, you’ve really wanted him to be your king, and that is understandable in light of God’s promise.” What is God’s promise? Well, it’s there 3:18. So he says to them, “You’ve really wanted David to be the king, so why don’t you just go ahead and make it happen?” Because the Lord promised David by saying, “By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.”

Well, you see, the people of God, in need of leadership, found their leadership, then, in this shepherd king. [Phone: “There was a long war between the house of Saul…”] That’s good! See, somebody is doing their homework here. Siri’s helping us out. It’s really quite wonderful, isn’t it? That’s good. There was a long war. There was a long war. And in this long war—thank you for this!—in this long war, the house of Saul was growing weaker and weaker, and the house of David was growing stronger and stronger.[10] And Abner, who was savvy to this, is the one who put that in process. Now, the fact that they’d made a commitment to Ish-bosheth, which was only short-lived, would lead eventually to its collapse.

You see, what good is a king—what good is a king—who is unable to provide victory? They knew that Ish-bosheth would be no good at all. He was a puppet king. And with Abner gone, he was worthless. He would just collapse, which is what he did. But this king—this king is the one “who led out and brought in Israel.” That’s history. “We know that,” they say. And it was to this one that the Lord said, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel.” We’re coming to that.

But let me just pause and say this: Jesus is the King. Jesus is the King who grants us victory. I wrote in my notes during the week one of my choruses from boys’ Bible class:

On the victory side! On the victory side!
No foe can harm us, no fear alarm us
On the victory side!
For with Christ within, the fight we’ll win
On the victory side!

We used to sing that in our tiny little soprano voices. I wasn’t sure just exactly what it meant. But I understand what it means.

What’s the great enemy that the whole world faces? Death. Who has an answer for death? Only someone who triumphed over death. What’s the problem our world faces? Wickedness. Selfishness. A turned-in-upon-ourself-ness. We can’t get of our own way. We don’t need a king who just points vaguely in a direction, who calls to us to try and do our best. We need a victorious King. And David stands before the people in this context as the one who has both led them out and brought them in. He would write eventually in one of his poems, “The Lord watches over your going out and your coming in.”[11] Jesus is the one who has conquered over sin and over death and over hell.

When Paul writes in his great chapter on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians, [verse] 24, he makes the point clearly: “As in Adam all die, so … in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming,” notice, “those who belong to Christ.” Not that lady for the first ninety-one and a half years of her life, the religious lady who did not belong to Christ, but the lady who was brought to Christ by her eighty-two-year-old friend, who then, in Christ, passed from death to life in Jesus. “Each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end.” What is “the end”? When he “delivers the kingdom to God.”[12]

This is vast, isn’t it? You see, that’s why I say to you what we’re studying here, you know, three millennia back is profoundly important and vitally relevant to twenty-first-century life. Because the King who has come is the King who is coming—that he who has declared, “The time is fulfilled,”[13] is the King who will finally fulfill things, “deliver[ing] the kingdom to God the Father after destroying”—listen to this!—“every rule … every authority and power.” “Every rule … every authority and power.” “For he must reign,” as king, “until he has put all his enemies under his feet,” and “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”[14] Read the chapter on your own. It will do your heart jolly good.

“Well,” you say, “if Jesus then reigns in that way, why is everything such the mess that it is? Why do we not see things all resolved?” Because Christ reigns as an ascended King in heaven. And part of the answer to that question—part of the answer to that question—is the patience of God; that God is patient, calling, as it were, softly and tenderly to us, nudging us, seeking us, saying to us by the Holy Spirit, “Come on, now. Bow your knee.” That’s what Paul says in Romans 2, isn’t it? “Don’t you realize that it would be the kindness of God that leads you to repentance?”[15] The kindness of God. Why hasn’t he fixed everything? Because he’s patient, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”[16]


Two more: one, two. The history. Their identity is in their relationship with Jesus the King. Our victory, in the same way. And also, their allegiance is on the basis of his majesty. On the basis of his majesty.

You see, if we would have occasion to meet any of these people, as it were, if that could possibly happen, and we say to them, “Now, why is it that at this particular point in time you embraced David as your king?”—well, they would actually answer by quoting to us the first couple of verses here of 2 Samuel 5. They would say, “Well, first of all, on the basis of his kinship; we were his flesh and bone. Secondly, on the basis of his leadership; he was the one who was leading us out and bringing us in. And thirdly, on the basis of God’s divine decree.” Because it was the Lord, Yahweh, who “said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people.’” The shepherd boy becomes the shepherd king: “shepherd of my people.” Remember all the way back to the book of Genesis, and Abraham, and “I’m gonna make of you a people”—calls him out of Ur of the Chaldees, from a pagan background—“and through your seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed,”[17] and “You will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” Moses knew that the people needed a shepherd, so that “the congregation” would “not be as sheep [without a] shepherd,”[18] they would not be as people “who have no shepherd.”

And what do we read when we find that Jesus, the King, moves amongst men and women in his day? Well, he looks on them, and he sees them as “sheep without a shepherd.”[19] And Peter says, “Here is what it means for us to have come to embrace the King and be embraced by his goodness: we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.”[20]

Majesty in the fact that he is shepherd of the people; majesty in the fact that he is the prince over Israel. In going through 1 Samuel, we came upon this again and again, and I know that some of us paused over it: “Well, why is he the king? Why do we keep describing him as the prince when he’s introduced in this way?” Well, I think in many cases it’s in order to make the point that Yahweh is ultimately the King, and perhaps to make the point that there is an inherent danger in somebody arriving to such a position of authority and power and influence that they might actually become themselves a danger to themselves and other people—that they might become a royal monster, if you like.

And the history of the kings of Europe can testify to many a royal monster that has appeared. And in fact, you will remember back in 1 Samuel 8, when Samuel is approached, and they want a king, and he says to them, “You know, you really don’t want a king.” And then he lists all the things: “He will take this. He will take this. He will take this. He will take this. You’ll just find that he’s on the take. He will overrule you. He will dominate you,” and so on.[21] And, of course, Saul actually proved to fit the bill fairly well. But not this King.

Now, the majesty is seen in the fact that he is the shepherd of the people, that he will be the prince over Israel, and also in his response in the making of “a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord.” They had come to him. Now, when, again, back in the days of Samuel, when the proclamation of Saul as king had been made, we read that “Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the [king], and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord”[22]—in other words, so that the king would be, if you like, framed by the Lord’s requirements. And presumably there is something of that in the fact that David makes this covenant. He as the initiator would establish the terms of the covenant. They would receive them. And you will notice that all of this “before the Lord”: and he came and “made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord.”

You see, for him to be put in this position was a divine appointment. He received the kingship. He didn’t manipulate his way to it. He didn’t engineer it. We’ve seen how when there were times when he could have moved the ball, as it were, in his favor, he didn’t do it. It’s been a long while in coming, hasn’t it? Not just from the experience at Hebron that we read of in chapter 2 but all the way back to the shepherd boy in the Bethlehem fields. And we’re told that he was thirty years old at the start. Interesting that Jesus was around thirty years old as he steps out. Seven and a half years over Judah, and some thirty years.


“Well,” you say, “that’s remarkable, isn’t it?” It’s a testimony. In cricketing terms, it’s a testimony to “a good innings”—forty, not out. But it’s also a reminder—and this is my last word —of his frailty. Of his frailty.

You see, “all flesh is like grass, and the glory of man like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower falls. It is the word of the Lord that endures forever.”[23] The days will come when David is either too weak, too old, or too distracted to go to war. He’s not the perfect king. He merely points us to the one who is the perfect King.

And before all of that unfolds, his installation has then to be, if you like, consolidated. And that’s why we’re told here that he reigned at Jerusalem. But he’s not at Jerusalem yet. But the narrator understands what’s going on. And when we come back this evening, I want to show you that the key to understanding the place of Jerusalem for David’s kingdom lies in our understanding of the Bible’s focus on the new Jerusalem—that the Jerusalem that is established here in 2 Samuel 5 is not, cannot be, the end of the story. The end of the story is with another King and in a new Jerusalem.

The days will come when David is either too weak, too old, or too distracted to go to war. He’s not the perfect king. He merely points us to the one who is the perfect King.

But let me end with a question. By our nature, none of us actually want a king, because we want to run our own lives. We don’t want God’s rule. Nations don’t want Jesus as King. Psalm 2: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples imagine a vain thing? Why do they get themselves so churned up looking to this one and looking to that one? Don’t you realize,” says the psalmist, “that the Lord has set in Zion his holy King?”[24] And the Lord laughs in derision[25] at the attempts of nations and peoples to legislate and organize and secure for ourselves something of lasting value.

But think even of the history of our own nation. Where are we? Where are we? Why? Why is it that we can never, ever get it right? Because we’re not wise enough. We’re foolish, believing ourselves over God. We’re not good enough. We’re wicked. We’re turned in upon ourselves. And we’re not brave enough. Brave enough to do what? Brave enough to say, “I am wrong,” and brave enough to bow down at the knee of Christ and say, “Lord Jesus, you must be my King.” And that same Lord Jesus is the one who says, recorded for us in John 6, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”[26]

Does that fit your history?

Let us pray:

What a wonder, gracious God, that you will send your Son, the Shepherd King, the one who was stripped naked in order that we might be clothed with his righteousness, the one who humbled himself, even to death on a cross, in order that we might be raised to life. Lord, complete your purposes in each of our lives this day, we pray. In Christ’s name. Amen.

[1] Luke 2:8 (KJV).

[2] Hebrews 13:20 (ESV).

[3] 1 Samuel 8:5 (paraphrased).

[4] Deuteronomy 17:15 (ESV).

[5] Genesis 2:23 (paraphrased).

[6] Alexander Gray, “Scotland.”

[7] Hebrews 2:10–12 (ESV).

[8] Wayne Watson, “People of God” (1982).

[9] Diane di Prima, quoted in Fred W. McDarrah, “Diane di Prima Obituary,” The Times, December 5, 2020,

[10] See 2 Samuel 3:1.

[11] Psalm 121:8 (paraphrased).

[12] 1 Corinthians 15:22–24 (ESV).

[13] Mark 1:15 (ESV).

[14] 1 Corinthians 15:24–26 (ESV).

[15] Romans 2:4 (paraphrased).

[16] 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV).

[17] Genesis 22:18 (paraphrased).

[18] Numbers 27:17 (ESV).

[19] Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34 (ESV).

[20] 1 Peter 2:25 (paraphrased).

[21] 1 Samuel 8:11–17 (paraphrased).

[22] 1 Samuel 10:25 (ESV).

[23] 1 Peter 1:24–25 (paraphrased). See also Isaiah 40:6–8.

[24] Psalm 2:1–2, 6 (paraphrased).

[25] See Psalm 2:4.

[26] John 6:40 (ESV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.