The Preacher Says....  
  The Dark Side  
One consistent thing about the sorry history of the Jews is that they were never satisfied. One incident of that dissatisfaction is found in the 8th chapter of 1st Samuel. Samuel was getting old, the judge of Israel. God ruled over Israel , the judges were merely his administrators. But the Elders of Israel said unto him, make us a king to judge us like all the other nations. Israel was constantly envious of and jealous of what they imagined their neighbors had. They wanted the trappings of royalty-the visible trappings of royalty. Despite the fact that God warned them through Samuel that what they would really be getting would be a despot, who would enslave them, who would take their property. Nevertheless. The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel and they said, No, we will have a king over us that we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go before us, and fight our battles. So Israel got what they wanted. They got a king. There was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he. From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. A head taller than anybody. A fine man, but not just fine in his appearance, he was a goodly man, it says here. But power corrupted this handsome, good young man. It is true that the longer I live the more I believe that Lord Acton was right when he said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Kings of Israel in those days had something very close to absolute power. And as Saul grew in power in his reign he didn't become more wise, he became more foolish and vain and disobedient till the time, when dealing with the Amalekites, as God had told him to deal, that is to utterly destroy the Amalekites off the land, he chose to disobey God: to bring the king back, not destroy the spoils, but to save them. So Samuel calls Saul to the carpet for not following the commandments of God--

Wherefore then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but did fly upon the spoil, and did evil in the sight of the LORD? And Saul said to Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the King of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, To obey is better than sacrifice Than to harken than the fat of rams.

Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and Stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected thee from being king. (1Sam 15. 19+)

Now Saul, as you might expect, was never the same after that. We read about these evil spirits coming on Saul. He became, if you will, chronically depressed with little moments of reality in his life. Although Saul didn't know it at the time that God had repented (that quaint indescribable way of describing God's action), that He had made Saul King over Israel and chose David, and although he said earlier in the chapter that the Israelites chose their first King based on his appearance, God doesn't look on the outward appearance, He looks on the heart. Nevertheless, when David is first introduced into the scene he is described much like Saul. He was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance , and goodly to look to. In any event, after the news came to Saul that he was no longer to be King, or would eventually not be King, nor would his son Jonathan succeed him as king, but the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. Saul's foot soldiers, wishing to make Saul feel better, told him about young David who played the harp . And little David played on his harp for Saul, and we read:

And it came to pass when the evil spirit of God was upon Saul That David took an harp, and played with his hand, So Saul was refreshed, and was well, And the evil spirit departed from him.

As we'll see later, David became a part of Saul's court. His armor bearer. Now we have this beautiful, good, young boy David, the youngest of eight sons of Jesse. And we read the Israelites engaged in battle with the Philistines, and three of David's brothers are fighting in that battle, and Jesse sends David, his youngest son into the battle to carry provisions to his brothers so they can continue to serve the King. And David was told about this Philistine giant that the whole nation of Israel was frightened of. David (26th verse of 17th chapter) said, What can be done to the man that kills this Philistine, And takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine That he should defy the armies of the living God?

He was a man of faith. Saul heard about David. Saul said to him you aren't able to go up against this Philistine. You're but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. David insisted, so Saul got him all dressed up in armor and sword and buckler. You can imagine, a young, slight boy with all these trappings of armor, and David had the good sense to say, I can't wear this stuff. I don't know how to use it. He took it off,, picked up his slingshot and went into the battle and killed that uncircumcised Philistine. And he made a big hit with Saul. And Saul, (at the end of the 17th chapter),when he saw David come up against the Philistine said to Abner, the Captain of the host,

And as David returned from the slaughter Of the Philistine Abner took him And brought him before Saul With the head of the Philistine in his hand. (Rough days). And Saul said to him, whose son art thou, And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse, the Bethlehemite. When David was returned from the slaughter Of the Philistine, that the women came out of the cities Of Israel, singing and dancing to meet King Saul, and so on.(18.6) They sang this song-Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth. And the saying displeased him, they have ascribed unto David his ten thousands and to me they have ascribed but thousands. And what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. This powerful king had his pride sore wounded and he never got over it. Saul's dark side got darker and darker. We find in the next chapter that while David plays his harp, Saul hurls his spear and tries to pin David to the wall, but David escapes. That happens several times. Thereafter, David is able to win the battles that ensue between their forces, surprises Saul in his sleep and cut off his skirt--then confronts Saul saying, look, you know I love you-I could have killed you. And Saul repents. And this black mood that came over Saul and the repentance that followed would recur several times, but the black side finally controls Saul-the dark side. He commits suicide at the end of his life. A good man, ruined by his dark side, by pride and arrogance. But what about this ruddy young man of goodly countenance, this David, so full of spirit, so certain that he could conquer the Philistine giant? David, when he became powerful developed his own dark side. The arrogance of pride and power hardened David almost beyond imagination. He saw a beautiful woman and he took her, even though she was someone else's wife. He had the man brought home from battle, and he eyed Uriah, the man he victimized. Home from the battle Uriah wouldn't go home to his wife, and the comforts of his own home. He slept at the foot of the King's house because he didn't want to have pleasure when his brethren were dying in the fields. David seeing these characteristics in the man, nonetheless sends a message back by Uriah, the message of his own death. The message to the Captain of the Hosts was "Put Uriah in the most hotly contested part of the battle', and Uriah is killed and Bathsheba is taken by David. So we see examples of Jekyll and Hyde behavior by this man who is called a man after God's own heart. Well, what do these men have to do with you and me. We don't have these violent mood swings. I look out at you lovely young sisters, nicely turned out this morning with your beautiful soprano voices and single old sisters, and hardworking husbands devoted to family, the characters of Saul and David have everything to do with you and me. These percentages are arbitrary, but they do have a ring of truth. 80% of you are probably given over to the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. 15% of you is given over to what we may think is noble, but are merely natural instincts. Like maternal instincts. You couldn't be bad to your children if you wanted to, like people who are perverted. Husbands couldn't be bad to their wives-it's in their self- interest to be good. Don't take any credit for family virtues, there are family virtues in the Mafia. There are about 5% of you who are what you ought to be. I know I sound like Elmer Gantry, the 19th century preacher, preaching hellfire and damnation. But consider a 2 year old child. I've been around a lot of them and I know that what motivates 2 year old children is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. And mothers-if they're successful-manage to curb those earthly lusts. But what they are successful in doing is only muting them. They are not removed. Think about your own life. What's important to you? House? Home? Job? Ambition? Property? Owning things? Eating things? Being somebody-having a reputation? Paul said to Timothy, having food and raiment, therewith be content. Are you content with that? Look at Hitler's Germany. How many Germans, 40 million? 40 million Germans bought Hitler's message of pride and arrogance. You're better than the rest of the world-you're Aryans, you're pure blooded, our race will last for 1,000 years. If we'd been there we probably would have been a follower of Hitler. I mean, 40 million people couldn't all be perverted or crazy . They were just like you and me. Look at criticism. Look at the things we say and think about ambitious men, striving to be at the top. It's true their motives are probably impure-not perfect, they're mixed, no better, or perhaps better, perhaps their motives are better than yours, they're less impure, they are less mixed. Everything we do in life we do with mixed motives. Nothing we do is done perfectly. Doing alms in secret brings secret pleasure to ourselves. Consider depression. I don't want to oversimplify the illness of depression, but depression is best characterized by loss of self- esteem. You don't have loss of self- esteem if you had self- esteem to start with. And that's the problem-you shouldn't have had it to start with. We have nothing to be proud of. We are the products of our genes and our environment. It's easy for us to be civilized in the world in which we find ourselves because it's easy for us to satisfy most of our lusts. Our sins are trivial compared to Saul's and David's only because we're trivial. They weren't trivial. They were powerful men. It's not in our power to commit the kinds of sins they committed, or we would have committed them. If you say you don't have a dark side, it's because it's so dark on that side you can't see in it. And the thing that troubles me most is that if it is true that we often don't know it-we almost never know it-that our lives are ruled by our passions, by our natural desires, that somehow we would pervert out drive to the kingdom by applying to that race these same natural passions. I mean, you can see how it is. I'll deny myself now so I can get something then. The Persian type of reward: I'll eat bread now, or gruel, so I can gain every earthly desire in Paradise. That was the Persian way of looking at things. The message of the Bible is -Jesus message is-take no anxious thought for tomorrow, and that includes, take no anxious thought for the kingdom. You are saved in the kingdom, if only you have the faith to believe it. All off you know what Paul said in the 6th chapter of Romans, that when we're baptized into his death, we're raised to newness of life. We're supposed to be new creatures, and if we are new creatures (he says in the 8th chapter, v. 37- 39) ,

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, Through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, Nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature Shall be able to separate us From the love of God, Which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Take no anxious thought for your salvation. You're saved. What you're trying to do is to be at one with God, because God is the ultimate good, an ideal we never can achieve, but is one worth striving for. Have you changed you mind yet? You change your mind maybe by changing your habits first, and that helps you change your mind. There once was a man who made a plea, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief". Perhaps we could change that to say, "Lord, I love, help thou my lack of love."