David Bisgrove Sermon Notes — Series: The Life of David 2009 — Sermon #14: David Fails the Lord

Sermon preached on September 13, 2009.

The teaching is based on 2 Samuel 24:10-25.

David Bisgrove preached this message. Rev. Bisgrove is one of four Lead Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City; his preaching style is very similar to that of his Senior Pastor, Tim Keller.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at theRedeemer Sermon Store.


With any biblical text, you have to look not only at the story, but the story beneath the story. Otherwise:

1) We’re crushed–none of us will live up to a man whose poetry is sung 2,000 years later.

2) We’re confused–how can a man of God sin like this?

The last chapters of 2 Samuel have “intentional summation.” They are put here at the end to highlight major themes in David’s life:

I. Negatively, spiritual presumption

II. Positively, spiritual discernment

I. Spiritual presumption is at the heart of every sin

  • We forget this simple truth: there is a God and I’m not Him
    • This is the rhythm of the Old Testament: I will be your God and you will be my people
  • We presume that we know better than God, that we know what’s best for us.
  • Spiritual presumption comes from a perfect storm:
    1. Foolish: All sin comes from ignoring the wisdom gap between God and us
    2. Evil
    3. Personal

1. Foolish:

    • Wise people, even if they don’t understand it, embrace God’s law
    • the Bible is a blueprint for ultimate reality
    • the rules aren’t there to restrict us, but to liberate us and help us to live in fallen humanity. We follow them because we want more, not less.
      • For example,holding my daughter’s hand when crossing the street, I don’t do this to restrict her, I do this to keep her alive
    • sometimes you need to disparage yourself enough to ignore that God feels like a killjoy
      • For example, I had a high school teacher who offended me by saying that students can’t grow up and do whatever they want–it’s the only thing I remember from high school

2. Evil; perverted

  • using everything God has given us for our own ends
  • God’s plan for everything is repeated by the prophets: shalom
  • David was seeking to create a standing army instead of a militia; God isn’t having it, he won’t let them become the kind of people who look like the rest of the world, exploiting the weak
    • how do you find life? Give it away. You love and embrace aliens and strangers, you don’t enslave them
    • God so loves the world… “If God were not angry at how we were destroying ourselves, He wouldn’t be loving.”

3. Personal

  • We’re not just breaking God’s laws, we’re breaking His heart. He says, Love me because you trust me, obey me because you love me.
  • Sin is always characterized by adultery; it is barest betrayal
  • Money: We put money away because we want a “standing” cushion, just like David wanted a standing army
  • Power: You’ve got to make it up the ladder–the Bible says look down the ladder, and use what I’ve given you to help those below you
  • Do you really want to find your life? Give it away.
  • We’re getting in bed with the world right in front of God.

II. Spiritual Discernment: David has really grown

  • the more mature you are in God, the more you will repent
  • a spiritually mature person can’t imagine life w/o repentance
  • repentance breaks the ice off our birdbaths
  • ultimately the things we build our lives on leave us anxious, wondering if it’s enough
  • Proverbs 33: No king is saved by the size of his army
  • David models the gospel: He is the shepherd who abused his power, but now he’s going to lay his life down for the flock
    • God says, “No, I’ll take a substitute”
    • until finally, God takes out His full wrath and anger on the perfect substitute

Scott Sauls Sermon Notes — Series: The Life of David 2009 — Sermon #13: David and Absalom

Sermon preached on September 6, 2009.

The teaching is based on Psalm 63.

Scott Sauls preached this message. Rev. Sauls is a Lead Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City; his preaching style is very similar to that of his Senior Pastor, Tim Keller.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.


Psalm 63 shows us David at a time when his exterior life is in shambles and his interior life has never been better. What are the signs of spiritual health that we see here in David?

Outline: Signs of Spiritual Health

I. A Thirsty Soul

II. A Clinging Soul

III. A Joyful Soul

IV. A Tender Soul

I. A thirsty soul: an insatiable appetite for the things of God

  • Children are a better teacher for you than the best preacher in the world about what it is to be in the Kingdom
    • Kids cry out for nourishment; they demand it
    • Paul said crave the milk of the Word; Ezekiel even said the harsh words felt sweet; Jesus said His nourishment was to do God’s will
  • How do you respond when a worship service goes over or Bible study runs long?

II. A clinging soul (same word as cleaving in Genesis 2)

  • I’d rather die than live without your life, because your life is better than life.
  • David is saying, “If I lost my connection to God, I would die inside, I would lose the will to live.”
  • Everyone leans on a crutch that they use to move on out into the world with confidence
    • There are a million ways to self-medicate
  • David’s crutch for a season was the arms of women; God knew that the only way to knock that crutch out from under David was turning his son against him
    • The things we interpret as God’s judgment on us or the worst things that could ever happen to us could actually be the best things, because they will make us more God dependent.

III. A joyful heart

  • Rev. Sauls used to think reverent meant serious and grumpy
  • Luke 15 — the elder son has been good, reverent; the father says, “Come in and sing and dance and drink. This singing and dancing and welcoming in is a picture of the Kingdom: JOY.
  • How do you tell if you have real joy? It flourishes in hard times.
  • Think and and enumerate the glories of your beloved–it’s a discipline sometimes, something you start even if you don’t feel like it.
  • “the humblest, most well-balanced minds praise most” -C. S. Lewis
  • Praise: seeing what is truly valuable and treating it for the treasure that it is

IV. A tender soul

  • If you don’t want things set right, you’re not emotionally healthy
    • If your God is not just, He is an enabling co-dependent.
  • David, upon Absalom’s death: “Would that I have died instead of you.”
  • David, the recipient of this unchanging covenant love, was once a home-wrecker and a murderer.
    • God delights in forgiving even the most heinous sins to show us the roots, the jaded, twisted, misshapen parts of us, the leprosy
  • Personal Example: Rev. Sauls once came to his car in NYC and found that the window had been bashed out. He then had two options:
    • 1) Resent the city
    • 2) Love the city: this means that I must remember my own history; as I pay for someone else’s sins (by paying to get my car fixed), I must remember with joy that I don’t have to pay for my sins


Jesus was the true king who went to the desert (as David went to the desert to flee from Absalom). He went willingly, because He clung to your heart. The thought of saving you was worth death to him.

Kevin DeYoung on King David

In a blog post today, Kevin DeYoung discusses what made David great. DeYoung hones in on two traits: David’s graciousness towards his enemies and his honesty towards himself. My hat is off to DeYoung here, because I think he highlights two ways that all Christians can grow to become more like Christ.

First, because of how secure we are in Christ, we can look at our enemies with compassion. More than once, David goes against the counsel of his friends and decides to spare his enemies. David even weeps at the death of Saul–this is where we get the famous line, “How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19). To me, this is one of the most poignant verses in Scripture. I thank Pastor DeYoung for helping me to understand why. When David laments Saul’s death, he foreshadows Christ weeping for Jerusalem and Christ interceding for His enemies even while he hangs on their cross. May we find the richness in the gospel that allows us to have such self-abandoning love for our enemies.

And second, because of how loved we are in Christ, we can look at ourselves with utter honesty. We do not need to defend ourselves against the rebuke of others. DeYoung writes that he can’t find a place in Scripture where David does not heed the rebuke of godly people. This evidences the lack of self-idolatry that can only come from being wholly loved by the God who came to rescue us.

Thank you, Pastor DeYoung, for this message!

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: James – A Faith that Comes Down to Earth — Sermon # 5: Grace and the New Birth

Sermon preached on November 5, 1995.

Teaching is based on James 1:16-18.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Intro: If you only read the first 15 verses of James—consider it joy to face trials, testing develops perseverance… maturity… brother in humble circumstances take pride… blessed is the one who perseveres under trial—you might think that he’s saying what Mel Brooks says in his book Life Stinks. James is very realistic. He’s a pastor. People come to him in all situations; if you’re a pastor or a policeman or a counselor, you begin to really realize that life is difficult.

James, up to now, has said, you have to be strong, you have to face it. The same sunlight that melts wax hardens clay. Difficulty seems to make some people softer, and some harder. The same troubles can make some people better and some people worse. James says meet them with discipline, faith, self-control.

It’s possible that people would eventually come to James and say, Where do you get the strength for this? Where do you get the resources? Sure, people don’t want to lose it when troubles come, but where do you get the strength for that?

If we look here we’ll see James saying, no, you can’t just suck it up and take it. You need something to get you through it.


I. There’s a motivation that you can have for Christianity (v. 17)

II. There’s a power you can have for Christianity.

I. The motivation

When James is saying here is close to what C. S. Lewis maps out in two places:

1) In a sermon called the “Weight of Glory”

2) In a chapter in Mere Christianity called “Hope”

This is his point: When you get into the presence of the good gifts of life (standing in front of the seashore, being with the person you’re in love with, listening to beautiful music) sometimes you get overtaken with the palpable sense that you’re in the presence of something that you’ve wanted all your life. When that happens, we say buy the music, build a house here, marry her. You go after the good gift; you say, finally. But what you’ll find is that the vision fades. You marry the person, you build the house, you even just take the CD home…. Like for example, sometimes there’s a passage in the music that points to something, there’s some sense in which it seems to embody something that you want, and every time the passage comes by there’s a sort of metaphysical thrill that consoles you. I have found that when you come back to the passage, you can’t get that again, because those things aren’t the light. They are the moon.

One night the moon might be enough to read by, but the next night it’s hardly there. These things are GOOD, but they don’t have in them the thing that we sense in them. Example: he heard a song in a movie that he remembered loving. He went home to find the record, and listening to it it wasn’t anywhere near as good as when he used to listen to it. He realized that the light is not in the music. The thing pointed to something else that he desperately wanted.

In “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis says that when you stand before the good gift (the woman, the seashore), after the landscape loses its celestial beauty, you suddenly realize that the beauty has smiled at you, but not welcomed you; it has not invited you into the dance…. Our lifelong nostalgia to be united with something that we feel we’ve not been connected…. The leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that we will someday be a part of that which we long for.

James mentions the Father of Light—this is what we long for, this is the light, this is the sun not the moon. James says, If you understand that, you’ll be able to get through anything.

Every good gift is from above: this means, get your friends together and have a great meal in front of a fire; go listen to a great piece of music—it doesn’t matter that Mozart was kind of a schnook; go see the wonderful seashore. These are good gifts, they’re all from God, they’re all good, every one of them. This is the doctrine of common grace. God pours talent and brilliance and beauty everywhere, not just to Christians. Every good and perfect gift is to be enjoyed.

BUT do not mistake these things for the reality to which they point, or you will be continually disappointed. The way Samuel Rutherford put it:

“Our little inch of time suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to heaven. When once Christ shall thrust your weary traveler’s head on his breast, you will find just the first one of his kisses will pay for 500 years of sore hearts. Oh my friends, don’t sell all this for Esau’s morning breakfast.”

Esau’s morning breakfast: He had the birthright, this inheritance, but he’s an impulsive man. He comes home one day and is so hungry that he tells Jacob to give him some stew, I’ll do anything for it. Jacob says, Okay give me the birthright, and Esau says, Sure, I’m starving to death, what good is it having an inheritance if I’m hungry?

We say, what an idiot! Who would do this? Answer: you and me.

When we marry the girl, or build the house, or take the job, when it doesn’t turn out, we say, “Ah, life sucks.” If you see these gifts as what they are, you’ll be able to enjoy them. If you don’t, you’ll become a bitter person. You have to look beyond, because you’re not after these gifts, you’re after the morning start.

Enjoy the good gifts, but don’t you dare sell the wedding supper of the lamb for Esau’s morning breakfast. Don’t sell the kisses of Jesus for kisses from anywhere else.

If there’s no God, your life is meaningless—you’re just protoplasm. If there is, then the wedding supper of the lamb means everything.

People: Well, I believe there is a God, and he says what I should and shouldn’t do, but I want this person’s kisses right now. What good is the wedding supper of lamb if I want this right now.

Don’t sell the morning star! Don’t sell the wedding supper!

Your motivation for giving yourself to God is HIM.

I once saw a preacher, preaching through Revelation, the One who overcomes will be given the morning star. The preacher didn’t go Greek, give background, he said: I haven’t the slightest idea of what this means, but I can’t wait for it. Because you can’t break down the morning star! You can’t break down the wedding supper of the lamb.

If this isn’t real, there’s nothing worth being heroic for. If there is a God and we can know Him, then NOTHING is worth losing Him for.

So: that’s the motivation. Christians on the one hand aren’t ascetics, they enjoy life, but on the other hand, there’s nothing they’d not give up for Him.

II. The Power: To be born again

You need a power. Verse 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.

All I can do at this point is summarize. There are people who say, Yes, I know born-again Christians, and most of those people make me nervous. It’s a kind of Christianity, right?

That’s not what this says—it says that us Christians are born-again. The brevity of the reference here shows that this is just something that everybody knows.

There are always people who say Oh my goodness, to have this sort of cathartic experience of “born again” isn’t necessary, it’s just about following the golden rule, following the sermon on the mount, turn the other cheek, do unto others, etc. The important thing is just to live a good life like that.

That’s such a hopeless, naïve thing to say.

Do you know what the Sermon on the Mount means? Anybody who really reads that will have two responses.

1) This is just common sense. The world will only be a good place if everybody does this.

2) The second right response is that this will bring you down to the dust and you’ll say unless I’m born again I will never do this. We know that we couldn’t possibly live like that.

So the first we learn here is that there’s some sort of outside thing that comes in and empowers us. The next thing is that it’s a humbling thing.

Have you seen anyone physically born lately? They’re very immature when they’re born. You can say, okay honey, let’s get dressed and come home, but they don’t. They’re babes and they’re helpless. This is saying that if you want the power to deal with life, you start from the bottom. It doesn’t matter how many PhDs you have. You come as a babe. You have to receive this new life and start with baby steps. It takes a terrific amount of humility. Just the metaphor is saying that if you want this power, you’ve got to start at the very bottom.

This is saying that you’re born again through the word of truth.

On the one hand, it’s saying you go by the truth—but the truth becomes something alive in you. It’s not just an experience or a set of rules, it’s a truth that come inside you and becomes part of you. Look at veggie life, animal life, and human life. If a human goes back to being animal, you feel they’re dead; if an animal goes back to veggie, you see it as dead. What’s the difference?

Sensation. Plants can sense their environment, but they don’t have the senses. Animals can perceive the environment through the senses, but they can’t distinguish between justice and tragedy, right and wrong. Every level of sensation moves you into a higher level of life. Eternal life, when born again, means you are ushered into a new level of life.

It doesn’t mean your IQ goes up, but it means that things that were once theoretical and nonsense become solid. The mercy of God, the crown of life, the morning star. Did anything stir in you when I spoke of these things, or did you say, this is stupid? The way you know if you’ve been born again is if these things become real, begin to affect you.

You will never deal with the difficulties of life unless it becomes real to you, becomes solid, not just theory. A person might say, all my life I believed Jesus died on a cross—but then they began to affect me! When you say, Thou O Lord are the shield for me, you’re my glory and the lifted of my head—does your whole life flash before your eyes? Or do you say, Nice song.

It’s not that you get smarter, but once-theoretical things now console and move you.

Conclusion: In Jane Eyre, there’s a place where she’s being tempted, the married man’s physically incapacitated wife, the guy says, Come and live with me, Jane says, While he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me. They clamored loudly, O comply! Think of his misery. Love him, console him… Still indomitable was this reply: I care for me, and the more unstained by him, the more I will respect myself. I will hold to the principles I well received when I was sane. They are for times like this when body and soul rise against them…. If at my individual convenience I abandon them, what good would they be?

I don’t know if Jane Eyre is being depicted as a Christian here, but the truth is, when truth becomes that real to you.

Because the shield is beaten, I’m whole; because it is splintered, I’m in one piece. When David said thou are the shield for me, He had no idea how true it would have to be. Christ took our blows. That’s truth. That’s reality. So you should be able to say, when your veins are running with fire, you’ll have to rely on truth as a living power in your life.

In fact, life doesn’t stink.

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: The Life of David — Sermon #15: David Prepares His People

Sermon preached on September 20, 2009, in the Ethical Culture Society Location, at the 9:00 AM service.

Teaching is based on 1 Chronicles 29:1-20.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Introduction: There is lots of material on David: 2 biographies (1 written by Samuel, 1 written by the Chronicler), making him one of the most written-about ancient figures of all time.


1. The Problem

2. The Presence

3. The Practice

4. The Promise

I. The Problem

  1. Under David, Israel had never flourished so much; he’s dying now; he brings out their fears right away: Solomon is young and inexperienced.
  2. No one has ever sought God on their own; there’s always someone who acts as a bridge.
    1. David is addressing this: What happens when that bridge person dies? Moves away?
    2. Robert McCheyne gets at this in his sermon, “What Have I to do with Idols?”
      1. Warning: Don’t put your minister above God!

II. The Presence

  1. David is saying, “I want you to stop getting God through me, and instead I want you to bring God’s presence into your midst.”
  2. Ch. 28: David doesn’t want to build a monument to himself, but a resting place for the ark of the covenant.
    1. The ark is a major theme in David’s life
    2. Someone touched it, and they died
    3. It was taken into battle at Jericho, and the walls fell
    4. Philistine battle during Eli’s time: Israelites lost the ark; it plagued Philistine villages;
  3. The point is that God is not a God you can put in a box; He’s not a God you can have at hand; He’s not a God you can conjure; He’s not a tame God.
    1. We try rubbing the lamp with good deeds and tithing and being an obedient son
  4. God doesn’t want to be put in a box and taken into battle.

III. The Practice

  1. If the presence isn’t controllable, what can we do?
  2. We can’t control him, but we can invite him
  3. If you try to control God, he departs
  4. If you come with conditions, he departs
    1. If you say, “I’ll be happy to pray if you can get me a good job, etc.”
    2. The If is your real God; He is only your commodity, your money.
  5. If you have conditions, you’re treating Him mechanically, not personally.
    1. Love Him Himself, not as an object
    2. I want to marry you. Why? Because when I think about your trust  fund I get excited.
      1. You would leave if someone did that to you, and He will too.
  6. Say: I don’t care if my life goes the way I want it to.
  7. The only way Solomon will hav ethe presence is wholehearted devotion, complete consecration
  8. William Borden: He took a trip around the world, and wrote “No reserves” in the back of his Bible; then, after Yale, he wrote, “No retreat”; finally, before his death, he wrote, “No regrets.” Borden of Yale
    1. He had no idea his life would impact anyone. He just did his job, no conditions–and that’s why glory fell on him.
  9. Kierkegaard: Purity of heart is to will one thing.
    1. The problem is, no one can give God that!
    2. Ezekiel 8 and 9 describes the presence leaving the temple forever

IV. The Promise

  1. “You will have a son,” God told David, “and his kingdom will last forever.
    1. This wasn’t Solomon; it was Christ.
    2. David wanted to build the temple; Jesus said, “I am the temple.”
  2. Jesus is the only man who ever gave God wholehearted devotion, unconditional consecration
  3. Jesus earned the presence of God, yet He got the absence!
    1. Jesus’ blood was spread on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant
    2. Jesus was the ultimate David, who didn’t just give us this temple at the cost of his money, but at the cost of his life


  1. If you want to give yourself unconditionally, look at your money
    1. It’s possible to give money while withholding yourself, but it’s not possible to give yourself while withholding money.
  2. Creativity: Revivals have 2 things: extraordinary prayer and communicating the gospel
    1. You can’t get into Narnia the same way twice; God doesn’t want us to think that Narnia is the wardrobe
  3. The possibilities of experiencing God’s glory are immense; if you’re not aiming for that, you’re settling for two little
    1. Repent
  4. Take your hands off your life; give yourself unconditionally

(Notice: the notes below may be partially mine–I can’t tell from my notes)

  1. God, even if you don’t have a calling for my life, even if you never tell me what to do, I love you. The one thing I’ve wanted more than You is a clear calling–forget that. Forget it. I won’t conjure you.
  2. Kill me, if that’s what You want. Renew my heart to “be faithful unto death.” And if you won’t, fine–I’m bound to You. There’s no turning back.

Notes on Sleeping In

Reasons to hit the snooze button:

  1. Don’t feel like facing the day.
  2. Fear of the day.
  3. Don’t feel good (super tired, achy, etc.)
  4. Laziness.
  5. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before (7 hours, based on last night’s guess and this morning’s feeling and vaguely remembered past experiences, seems optimal for me).
Psalm 3:5 says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the LORD sustains me.”
This was probably originally written meaning this: David, running from Absalom, just wanted to lie down and sleep and survive through the night. I used to relate it to how, when I went to sleep, I didn’t want to get up again, but I did because I had faith that God would get me through the day (this was during my first year of teaching, mostly!). Last year, I began to read it like this: though rest and sleep are so scrumptious, I wake up from them because the LORD, not sleep, sustains me.
I think that today, this latter sense of the verse continues to instruct me most. If anything, I tend to idolize sleep, giving it more time, thought, and faith than I do God. I am the sloth written of in the proverbs; I am the foolish man. Apart from God, I would be living in my parents’ basement playing video games right now, fifty or one hundred pounds heavier.
It is only because of God, because of His redeeming work of transforming grace on my life, that I am anything more than a lazy, slothish, foolish slug of a man. It is only God. It is only Christ. It is only the Holy Spirit Who teaches me daily. Apart from them, I am the other criminal before Christ, I am Cain before repentance, I am Barabas before the switch, I am Peter before the restoration, I am Paul before the road to Damascus.
This is why God deserves all the glory for every good thing that occurs in my home, my classroom, my life. Everything.