Recruits For The King
“David, therefore, departed from there, and escaped to the Cave Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him, and he became captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.”
1 Samuel 22:1-2
DAVID in the caverns of Adullam is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ despised and rejected among the sons of men. Christ is the Lord’s Anointed, but men perceive not the anointing. He is persecuted by His great enemy, the world, as David was persecuted by Saul, and he now rather dwells in the Cave of Adullam than sits upon his throne. Just as when David was in his dishonor, it was the time for his true friends to rally around him. And so at this hour, when the name of Christ is associated with much of dishonor and rebuke, now is the time for the true followers of the Savior to rally around His banner and to espouse His cause. To come to David after he had been crowned king was poor work–the sons of Belial could do that–but to ally themselves to David when he was obliged to hide himself in mountain caves from his cruel enemies, this proved men to be David’s true friends and loyal subjects. Blessed are they to whom it shall be given to enlist under the banner of Christ at this present time, who shall not be ashamed to confess Him before the sons of men, or to boldly take up His Cross and to suffer such loss and persecution as it may please His Providence to ordain for them to bear. As it is not concerning David, but concerning David’s greater Son, I propose to address you this evening, let me say a few words at the outset to–
- THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY ENLISTED IN HIS BLESSED BAND.
Foremost among those of David’s troop were his brothers and all his father’s house. So, too, Beloved in Christ, wewho have been called by Divine Grace are regarded by Him as His brethren and all His Father’s house. Looking round upon His disciples when He was here below, our blessed Master said, “Behold My mother and My brethren! For whoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.” Such His condescension that He is not ashamed to call us brethren. As many of us as have given our hearts to Him, rely upon Him and love Him, are really and truly His brethren and of His Father’s house. His Father is our Father, His joy is our joy, and His Heaven shall be our Heaven before long! Now, what shall I say to you, my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ, but this–Let us take care that we boldly avow our kinship with David, our Lord! Let us never blush to defend the cause of Christ. There are different ways of playing the coward–let us seek to avoid them all. The minister who is bold enough when he preaches before the multitude may feel his lips quiver when he has to speak face to face with one individual. O God, save Your servants from this form of cowardice! Or some of you may be able to speak to one or two persons, but if, perchance, you are thrown into a little promiscuous company, where you ought to avow your allegiance to your Lord, you hold your tongue and lose the opportunity for lack of courage. God deliver His servants from this form of cowardice, also! In all companies, on all occasions and under all circumstances, be faithful to your Master–deny Him not, but openly avow Him before the sons of men! How He deserves to be acknowledged by us since He has taken knowledge of us and recognized us when we were infinitely beneath His notice! Oh, ten thousand blushes should cover our faces, to think that we could ever at any time think it hard to acknowledge that He is our Lord and Master! Pray for courage, my Brothers and Sisters–I am sure it is needed! It seems to come to Christians naturally in persecuting times, but in these soft, silken days of piping peace you mingle in society, so called, with such deference to fashion, and you go in and out of your drawing rooms with such dainty conceits, you converse so complacently with your friends, you are such well-bred ladies and gentlemen in your own estimation, that you often forget that you are Christians–in honor bound to keep the faith and bear the testimony to Christ! It is, perhaps, easier for the poor to be bold in confessing the Redeemer’s name than it is for those in more affluent circumstances. Alas, alas, if good fortune imperils your faithfulness! This is wicked, indeed! It is a sorry rebuke to utter from a Christian pulpit! It ought to be the very reverse. Your pecuniary independence ought not to enslave you. God deliver you who love Christ from anything like shamefacedness in connection with the Kingdom of your exalted Head!
Let me urge you, also, as you boldly confess Him, to leave the world in order to join Him. His brethren and His father’s house, we are told, concerning David, left Saul’s territory and went away to Adullam to be with the hunted ones. Let us do the same! Ah, there is too much worldly conformity about everyone among us! I will not attempt to point any finger at any of my Brothers and Sisters, or expose their faults, but a man must be blind not to perceive that many Christians do their utmost to be as worldly as they can be consistently with their idea of getting to Heaven at last. Are there not many who in their dress, in the fitting up of their houses, in the conduct of their business, conform so closely to the times and the fashions, that if they were not known to be Christians by some other evidences, they would not be classed by any observers with those who are on the Lord’s side? I do not think it possible for us to be too thoroughly nonconformist in respect to the maxims, the usages and vanities of this present evil world! What does this text mean? “Come you out from among them.” Is not that enough? No! “Be you separate.” Is not that enough? No! “Touch not the unclean thing.” So thorough is to be the separation that there must be a coming out, a snapping of every link that maintains a connection with evil and the renewal of that communion by even so much as a touch is to be avoided by us! Take David’s part, you that love David. Renounce everything for David! Oh, you Christian men and women, if you love Jesus, you must know He is worth ten thousand worlds! He is to be esteemed before all the pomp and gaiety of this poor world, were its charms and allurements multiplied a million times! He is infinitely to be preferred rather than to court the smiles of the great, or to enjoy the love of your friends, or to be flattered by the good opinions of your relatives! Therefore, I pray you, leave all to follow Him and forsake all other to cleave to Him, and Him alone!
But am I not speaking to many who have confessed Him, who are confessing Him, and who do, more or less every day of their lives, practice a self-denying nonconformity to the world? Oh, Brothers and Sisters, I long that our sense of duty should kindle to an ardent enthusiasm! Can we not do something heroic, or dare something perilous, in token of our loyalty to Christ? Oftentimes my heart grows big with a strong desire that I might see a Church in this place, pre-eminent for consecration to the Captain of our Salvation! I prayed for this just now–nor was it for the first time I offered that prayer. If we did but give of our ample property, or of our scanty pittance, at the rate which all of us should give–or ifwe did but work for Christ at the rate which He deserves of us, or anything at all like it–if we did but live for Jesus in any measure as gratitude might prompt, what a front we would present–what a power we would exert!
As a great Church, how we might tell upon this great city! What a mark we might leave upon our age! But why am I talking about the whole community? I have not yet attained unto this pure devotion myself! Still, God knows I am wishing to press onward. I aim to forget that which is behind, while reaching forward and pressing onward. Beloved, you remember the story of those three strong men who, when David sighed for a drink from the well of Bethlehem, risked their lives to procure it for him? Are there no strong men here–men of faith, men of valor–who will dare exploits for my Master? He cries out for the conversion of souls–will none of you consecrate yourselves to that work? Will none of you break through the conventionalities of society in quest of seekers? He says, “Give Me a drink,” just as He said to the woman at Samaria’s well–and His thirst is satisfied when He sees His Father’s will accomplished! Are there not men here strong, brave, and chivalrous, who can preach Christ where He has never been preached before? There were others among David’s followers who did exploits like these–one of them slew a lion in a pit, in winter time, while of another we are told that he slew the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory! And can we not do something that shall exceed and excel the ordinary service of modern Christianity? I blush for modern Christianity! Its gold has become dim. Its most fine gold is changed. Its glory has departed. The early Christians were full of an enthusiasm which could not have tolerated the languid indifference of these times! They were so devoted, so intense, so passionate, so full of Divine furor for the extension of the Redeemer’s Kingdom that they made their influence felt wherever they dwelt, or even sojourned for a short season! God send us some of this sacred zeal now! We need more of the enthusiasm which burned in the hearts of Wesley and of Whitfield! Where shall we look for the glowing ardor and the untiring labors of the Apostle Paul? Where are the disciples that emulate the zeal of the blessed Master, whose meat and whose drink it was to do the will of Him who sent him? May this be given to us all! God send it to us–send it to us, now, send it to us here, send it to me, send it to you, my Brothers and Sisters–and send it to you henceforth throughout your lives!
I do not think I need say more, unless it is to entreat you to keep up your courage when you know that you are engaged in the cause of Christ. There is a great struggle going on around us. This entire nation is from time to time convulsed with serious questions in which the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ is greatly concerned. Let all those who love Him stand forth with unflinching integrity! Expediency is the mean word that describes the lax morals of the age, butrighteousness is the undeviating, the eternal principle by which the universe is governed! The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world. Be it ours to help the oppressed, to succor the weak and to give liberty of conscience to all men. May God defend the right! Defend the right He will! If our names are cast out as evil. If we are misunderstood and misinterpreted, belied and slandered, let it be so–we are neither surprised nor dismayed! The right has always to be maintained in the teeth of slander and abuse. But, in God’s name, let us not be cowards! Let us always do our duty manfully and lawfully. Let us cheerfully hold fast our profession. Let us adhere with confidence and steadfastness to the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Star of David is in the ascendant–the house of Saul is growing weaker and weaker. Having thus addressed the soldiers, I am now coming for a few minutes to–
II. ACT AS A RECRUITING SERGEANT.
Besides his own relatives, there were others who joined with David. Now, why did they join him? For much the same reason, I may answer, that has influenced many of us. It was because they had need of him. They ought to have gone to David because his character was so good and his conduct so upright. They ought to have helped him because his disposition was so kind and sympathizing. They might well have rallied to his standard because he was the Lord’s Anointed. They might, as wise men, have cast in their lot with him because there was prophecy and promise of his triumph and his reign over the nation. But they were really swayed by other motives. They went to him for three reasons–because they were distressed, because they were in debt and because they were discontented. Through dire dismay they sought shelter and succor.
Now perhaps it were well should I tell you of the sweet Character of the Lord Jesus, but if I did, you would not come to Him. It were well did I tell you of the prowess of my Master, and how He conquered Goliath and slew the foemen who tyrannized over us. It might be well were I to tell you that He is God’s appointed Savior, that He is destined to reign as King, and that they who confess Him, now, shall be exalted with Him when He comes in His Kingdom. Attractive as all this might be to some minds, the master attraction always is that He becomes suitable to you in your present necessities–in those dilemmas which just now press heavily on your souls. So I propose to address the three sorts of people who are most likely to come to Jesus, hoping that they will seize this propitious hour and enlist under His banner at once, without hesitation or delay!
The first sort who came to David were distressed. They were “hard up,” as we say. They had spent their substance.They were bankrupts–their means and their hopes alike exhausted–therefore they went to David. They seemed to say, “Our case is so bad that it cannot be worse–it may be better if we go to David.” Their case was like yours, so well described in our hymn–
“I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try–
For if I stay away,
I know I must forever die.”
I know there are some distressed ones here! I have come to enlist them in my Master’s ragged regiment! ‘Tis thus despair will vanish and thus will hope revive, for being enlisted under Him, their courage may rally while they fight His battles and receive His blessing!
You are distressed because you feel you have no merit of your own. That feeling is very right, for you have none! Younever had and you never will have any! At one time you thought you were as good as other people, or perhaps you even thought you were better. That vain thought has now gone. Your good works, your merits, your best endeavors, your choicest prayers all dissolve–nor dare you glory in any one of them! Come, then, to Christ! He has merits for those who have none. His cause is good, though yours is bad. You are the very sort of people whom He came to rescue, for whom He the sinner’s Savior! Put your trust in Him and live! Others are distressed because they feel they have not any power. You cannot believe, you say. You cannot repent. In fact, you cannot do anything as you would! The more you try, the more powerless you find yourselves to be. You would pray, but you cannot! You feel so dead, so cold. If you attempt to move, it seems all to end in disappointment. Well, my dear Hearers, Jesus Christ died for them who have no strength, for thus is it written, “In due time, when we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.” Oh, you that have no power, take heart, because Christ is the Power of God! There is ability enough in Him to make up for all your impotency! Come and cast yourselves with all your weakness upon His irresistible might, and you shall have a full supply of all that your souls need!
But I know there are some here who are distressed, because, in addition to their having no merit and no power, they have no sensibility. “I do not feel my need as I ought,” says one. “I have not such a sense of my sin and danger as I would like,” says another. Oh, Beloved, Jesus Christ came to raise the dead! He came to give sensibility to those who are callous and careless, to turn hearts of stone into flesh! I believe those persons who think they do not feel their need are those who do really feel their need the most. There is no sense of need so great as when a man feels that he does not feel and thinks that he does not apprehend the depth of his own need, for then he is evidently alive to his true condition! You may possibly have more of the work of the Holy Spirit in you than some others whose sense of need appears more lively, though it proves less lasting. That deep, awful solicitude which makes you fear because you do not feel, and makes you groan because you cannot grieve, is not to be despised, for it is an experience often associated with gracious operations of the Spirit of God! Whether it is so or not in your case, give no place to despondency, but believe that Christ can save you, for He is able and willing to do so! If you cannot come with a broken heart, come for a broken heart. If you cannot come to Himrepenting, come to Him to get repentance, for He is exalted on high to give repentance as well as remission of sins. Hedoes not require any preparation in you. All the preparation He requires, He prepares Himself, and that is the work of His Spirit in your souls! Come, then, you who are distressed and distrustful, you who have not any good thing to recommend you as creatures, nor any good desire to extenuate you as sinners–you who are so consciously bad that there could not be found a good apology for you, even in your own estimation, if you were racked over and over again! Come to Jesus, lost, ruined, undone, poverty-stricken, as you are! Come and trust my Master, the Son of David! The way to be enlisted, you know, into Her Majesty’s service, is to take the shilling. The way to enlist in Christ’s service is simply to trust Him! You need not bring anything nor take anything, but simply trust in Him and you shall become a soldier of the Cross!
The next persons mentioned in the text in coming to David were those who were in debt. I would gladly ask those indebt to come to Jesus. The man thus in debt says, “I have got to pay my life. I have sinned and God has said that the sinner shall die. Yet I cannot afford to forfeit my life. How can I dare to die? I have no hope, no trust, no confidence with which to pass the iron gates of death! And then, after death, there is the terror of judgment for my soul since I have broken God’s Law–and the Law condemns me and demands my banishment from His Presence, and my final destruction. What shall I do? I cannot pay the debt, the thought of being put into prison forever is terrible to me. How, how! Oh, tell me, how can I escape?” Ah, well, I should be glad, indeed, if there were some here who should thus admit their debts and their inability to pay them. Happy preacher to have to address such an awakened audience! Happy hearers to be dismayed with such hopeful anxieties! Blessed, indeed, were our work if we always had those before us who knew the debt of sin, who felt its grievous demerit and feared its glaring doom! Take counsel, then–whatever debt you owe, whether it is great or small–come and trust in Jesus and you shall be relieved of the responsibility! Come and rely on Him who suffered in the sinner’s place and was punished for the ungodly–bearing their iniquities in His own body on the Cross! A look at Him, one look of faith, will disclose to you the transfer of every debt and every sin from you to Him! You shall see how He casts them into the Red Sea of His atoning blood, where, though they may be sought for, they shall never more be found. I would gladly enlist you, poor debtor, and take you out of the Debtor’s Prison, and introduce you to my Master’s table! Bankrupt debtors make good soldiers for the King! Come, then, without more ado, and be enlisted in the King’s army!
Another class that came to David was those who were discontented. Such there are, nor have we far to go to seekthem out. Yonder is one, to whom I would now speak. But a little while ago you were a happy young fellow. You could go into all kinds of revelry and little reckon the sin, so fully did you enjoy them all! You cannot do so now. You do not understand the reason why, but the keen edge of your appetite seems to have been blunted–your taste for dissipation is gone. Those companions who were once such rare jolly fellows have ceased to cheer you with their talk. You do not enjoy their gabble now, it seems so flat, and stale, and foolish! You cannot laugh at their lewd jests, or quaff their sparkling cup as once you used to do. You have been behind the scenes of this poor world and you have pitied the pale cheeks that are painted with the hue of blooming youth–you have heard the heavy sighs of those that raise the merry laugh–and you have witnessed so much wanton disguise that it has filled you with woeful disgust! You have seen enough to know how it will all end. No marvel that you are discontented! You are the man for me! Yours is the ear I want to catch! Yours the heart I love to reach! A blessed case it is when a man gets discontented with this vain world, for then, perhaps, he may seek after another world, a brighter, better sphere! When he is out at elbows with himself and all his foolish companions, then, perhaps, he will make acquaintance with the exiled, but anointed Man of Bethlehem, and find in Him a Friend, a Counselor who will be his Helper, speaking kindly, advising wisely and leading on triumphantly till He calls you to participate in the Kingdom of His Glory! You are discontented with yourselves. Your own reflections bitterly reprove you. When you sit down and think a little–a habit into which, perhaps, you have but lately fallen–you discover that things are out of the square. You cannot feel satisfied. Strange strivings and manifold misgivings perplex you and you get no peace. For my part, I am thankful, a thousand times thankful, that you have come to be so ill at ease when there was so much cause for disquiet! Now there is some hope that you will trust your future and your fate to the Son of David! Close in with the offers of His Grace and be saved by Him!
I recollect an old sailor who, after having been for nearly 60 years a drunkard and a swearer, and everything that was bad, heard a Gospel sermon that touched his heart. And when he came forward to make a profession of his faith in Christ, he said, “I have been sailing 60 years under a very bad owner, and under a very bad flag, but now I have taken on board a new cargo and am running for a very different port, and under quite a different flag.” So I trust it will be with some of you, soon, that you will change your cargo, change your flag and change everything! After preaching in the Wesleyan chapel at Boulogne one day some time ago, a person recognized me and was telling me how he had found Christ through reading the sermons. About that time an old salt came up to me and said, “Do you know me? My name was Satan once, I remember you well. Now Satan came here one Sunday morning and he richly deserved his name, for he was as much like Satan as a man could be! He sat there, and after the sermon the Lord touched old Satan, and gave him another name besides.” The man came to Christ because he was discontented with himself, and so he gave himself up to Jesus, and was saved by Him. Is there any old salt here who will do that now? May there not be some sailor, some soldier, some stranger somewhere here, who shall say this night, “I will approach the King and ask Him to accept me, even me”? If He does not accept you, please let us know, for we have never yet met with a case in which Jesus refused a poor sinner that came to Him! He has said, “He that comes unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” Should He cast you out, it will be a new thing under Heaven! But He cannot do it! If you are black as sin can stain you, yet if you come to Him, you shall be taken into the Savior’s bosom, washed in the fountain filled with His blood, started on a new career and helped to serve Him all your days! But I must come to a finish. I have addressed myself to the Lord’s people. I have beaten up for recruits for King Jesus, and now I want to–
III. TELL THE RECRUITS A LITTLE ABOUT THE SERVICE, and then I have done. Remember the last words of the text, “And David became a captain over them.” Whoever, then, comes to Christ must submit to Christ’s rules. What are they? One of the first is that you should be nothing at all and that King Jesus should be everything. Will you submitto that–that you shall have no honor, that you shall take to yourselves no credit, that you shall never lean on your own strength or wisdom–but you shall take Him to be made of God unto you wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption? I hope you will not kick at that.
Another of our Lord’s rules in His kingdom is that, if you love Him, you must keep His commandments. After trusting Him, you are to become obedient unto Him. One commandment is that you are to be baptized. Do not stumble at that! I think if there is anything plain in Scripture–I will only speak for myself, I cannot speak for anybody else–it is that every Believer is to be immersed in water as a confession of his faith. I think I could as soon doubt that the Deity of Christ is declared as doubt that the Baptism of Believers is enjoined, for the one thing appears to me to be as plainly revealed in Scripture as the other! I pray you, Brother, Sister, be not disobedient to the Lord’s commands, but remember the Gospel which we preach, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Keep to the two points and claim the promise! Then there is the Lord’s Table, of which, if you join yourselves to Christ, you have a right to partake. Do not forget it. It will sweetly remind you of all that your Savior has done and suffered for you. It is nothing more than a remembrancer, but take care that you do not neglect so blessed a memorial! All the precepts and statutes of our Lord Jesus Christ are to be cordially obeyed. Albeit, Christ opens a hospital for all sick folk–He does not mean you to be always cripple, but His purpose is to heal you–and after that to teach you how to walk. He builds up His kingdom as Romulus built up Rome. He receives all the vagrants of the neighborhood, but then He makes new men of them! Even so those that are gathered from the outcasts are to be made faithful in Christ Jesus. Drunkard, you must have done with your cups! Swearer, you must have your mouth washed out–no more of those foul oaths must you utter! You who have given yourselves up to carnal pleasures must be purged from all your defilements! You who have been gay and frivolous must renounce those vanities and seek after weighty, solemn, eternal interests. You who have had hard hearts, before, you must ask the Master to make them soft–and whatever He says to you, you must do.
Now, my young recruit, what do you say to this? You who would bear the name of Christ and get to Heaven, are you willing to come to Him and give yourselves up to Him, henceforth forsaking all your sins? He that gives not up his sins makes a great mistake if he thinks to escape the wrath of God, or hopes to find Grace in His eyes! Oh, will you not give up your sins? They are vipers! They will only poison your souls! They will destroy you! Oh, give them up! Give them up, for what shall it profit you to keep them, and to lose your soul? Come to Jesus first. Trust His merit. Rely upon His precious blood and then, by His help, renounce every evil way and seek to obey Him who has redeemed you by His blood! So shall the blessing of the Lord rest upon you forever! Amen.