When Israel worshipped the LORD under David’s command, the song of the LORD God of Israel was skillfully sung with instruments, cymbals, trumpets, harps and lyres 16:1-7:

“And they brought in the ark of God and placed it inside the tent which David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord. He distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman, to everyone a loaf of bread and a portion of meat and a raisin cake.  He appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, even to celebrate and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel:Asaph the chief, and second to him Zechariah, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom and Jeiel, with musical instruments, harps, lyres; also Asaph played loud-sounding cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests blew trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.  Then on that day David first assigned Asaph and his relatives to give thanks to the Lord

The ark of the presence reminded Israel of their God who acts in space time history and reveals His covenant to the chosen ones.  These revelations are to be in song (16:8-36) so that a telling and remembering of Him could be passed down to the generations.  This is why God raised David up as leader, and it’s also obvious to David that his successes are based on the God who is there (17:16-27) not through the arm of man.

Moreover, this warrior-king David, was God’s chosen to administer justice and righteousness for all His people 18:14-17:

“So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and righteousness for all his people. 15 Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 16 and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Abimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Shavsha was secretary; 17 and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and the sons of David were chiefs at the king’s side.

Why do rulers rule?  They should do it so that justice and righteousness reign, not for self-aggrandizement.  Rulers should recognize that they serve those who they rule, but too often, the converse is true.  David as warrior-king was also ruthless when it came to dealing with his enemies and a bloody scene transpired 20:2-8:

David took the crown of their king from his head, and he found it to weigh a talent of gold, and there was a precious stone in it; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount. He brought out the people who were in it, and cut them with saws and with sharp instruments and with axes. And thus David did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.  Now it came about after this, that war broke out at Gezer with the Philistines; then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the giants, and they were subdued. And there was war with the Philistines again, and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot; and he also was descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”  

Perhaps the puzzling to me was the numbering of Israel and the severe punishment meted out by God (21:1-17) toward David.  Why did God allow Satan to move David to number Israel?  (See: Gleason Archer: Bible Difficulties).  According to Archer:

“God’s anger was unleashed on Israel because of their pride thinking their numbers are what gave them victory and prominence as a nation, rather than God’s sovereign grace.”

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the LORD our God.  Whenever we as a people move away from the bedrock of the Savior as our protector, deliverer and our Good Shepherd, we inevitably fall into self-reliance and pride swells up the soul.  This ends in judgement always depicted in the Angel of the LORD’s destruction through pestilence.

After the judgment was met out, David was terrified of the Angel’s sword before the altar of God.  It’s as if his pride melted away before the God of creation, the God who redeems Israel (21:18-30).  We must thus tell and remember with thankful hearts the deeds of the LORD God so that we don’t forget the Creator/creature distinction and His good acts toward His people and opposite wrath toward His enemies.  Today this is very instructive.




            In this section of Scripture there are two big ideas I will consider: First, in what circumstance does the Spirit speak; and secondly, what’s Paul’s central message in his preaching?

First, the Holy Spirit spoke, “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting…” (V.2a)  What it means to minister to the Lord, is not clear here, other than the fasting.  Scripture teaches that one way for us to humble ourselves before God is through fasting and prayer (Ps.35:13).  In light of this, all kinds of prayer must have been offered such as thanksgiving, intercessions, and petition.  Moreover, in this gathering they probably also included the reading or recitation of the Law—Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.

The point here is that as the prophets and teachers from the church in Antioch ministered to the Lord, the “Holy Spirit said set aside/apart for Me Barnabus and Saul for the work which I have called them.” (V.2b)  Here is an example of God doing the unusual and speaking—how though we are not told.  Was it through a vision, or an impression, or an audible voice like at Jesus’ baptism where it’s recorded that the Father’s voice was heard?  The text plainly says, “The Holy Spirit said”.

I think Luke is focusing on something essential that we do well to heed: monumental work which these two are about to embark (the First Gentile mission) comes at a cost.  It’s birthed from a posture of humility (fasting) and dependence (prayer), rather than self-reliance and the latest business model on how to grow or run the church.

Humility and dependence on the Father’s will and purposes is what Jesus demonstrated in his earthly ministry for us to consider and to emulate.  It’s how the work of the kingdom is accomplished as the message of the kingdom is proclaimed and lived, as it’s explained and defended.

Second, Paul gives a salvation history message when he’s asked to speak.  He gives a “topical” sermon using texts from the Psalms, Genesis, Exodus, I Samuel, Judges, Kings, Habakkuk, and Isaiah explaining their own Hebrew history, the promise of the coming Messiah, the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and the doom awaiting recalcitrant souls who reject Yeshua (Vv.14-43).  This preaching as always is first rejected by the Jews (Vv.44-47) even if others received it with joy (Vv.42-43).  The message is fulfillment!  What God promised he accomplished in Christ Jesus!  This is not a new message but the completion of what had already been preached to the patriarchs and the prophets.

This fulfillment included salvation for the Gentiles which for many Jews was difficult to bear.  Why?  It was because they neglected heeding God’s word.  Now, if the word of the Lord that’s central to all this ministry is what caused many to be saved—to those “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed”, ought we do any less?

Consider what the text says, “those appointed, chosen, elected for eternal life—believed”.  The scripture, in other words, was the means of salvation for those “appointed”.  This appointment preceded their believing and is marvelous to consider.  For it seems to me, that something outside the creature, not something within the believer is working to effect salvation.  I think that something is someone—the Holy Spirit.

Nevertheless, the word is central for salvation to be realized and it must always be if our converts are going to be genuine.  Thus, God does extraordinary things when his people choose to like a child walk humbly and dependent before Him—he brings life where death once reigned!  And as always, God’s faithfulness is on display when the fulfillment of prophecy occurs.  Let God be true and every man a liar!




Friendship is something that’s not only difficult to find but takes much work to nurture and maintain.  The relational types like my wife seem to have a knack at friendships that frankly eludes me.  Not because I don’t desire real authentic friendships, but because it seems to be an art that is difficult for me.  Perhaps the fact I’m a man is a factor that plays into this reality.

Nevertheless, God has much to say about this topic in Scripture.  For example, Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm”, and again in 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals”.  What kind of friend ought you and I be and with what type of friend should we associate?  According to God’s word, if we don’t choose friends wisely, we will ultimately perish.

Listen to this week’s sermon offered—CHOOSING FRIENDS WISELY: and give us feedback on what you think.