The Winning Hand | Bars & Battles | Pastor Steven Furtick

I was telling my friend I wanted to preach
a series on David and the psalms. I said, “I’m going to call it Bars and Battles.” He goes, “I didn’t know David was in prison.” I said, “No, man. Like bars. Like hip-hop. Bars. Music. Measures of music, four beats. Bars.” He didn’t get it, so it kind of ruined the
punch line. I do want to set up one thing before I go
to my Scripture today, and that is I want to solve the debate of who is the greatest
rapper of all time. Of course, I’m qualified to speak to this
subject having grown up in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, the epicenter of hip-hop. The greatest rapper of all time… Please suspend your judgment. Don’t throw stuff at the stage when I tell
you this, but the greatest rapper of all time is not Biggie. Did I just break your heart already? The greatest rapper of all time is not Tupac. (Sorry, ‘Pac, if you’re watching from Cuba.) Facts. Not Jay Z. Not Kanye. You seem to be in full agreement. Not Eminem. Not J Cole. I know. That North Carolina pride makes you want to… Not Kendrick. I love Kendrick (clean version), but the greatest
rapper of all time, of course, is King D. King David. His psalms, his bars, have been topping the
charts for 3,000 years. That’s pretty strong. I know what you think about the psalms, how
comforting they are and how cute they are, but I want to show you that the psalms are
more like hip-hop than they are like Hallmark. Let’s take a look today at Psalm 59. I’m really excited to share this with you
today. This series is going to help us get real with
God. This series is going to help us get past the
nice things we think we need to say to God to convince him that we’re doing better than
we are, even though he knows the full condition and intents of our hearts, and show us how
some of the greatest bars come from some of the greatest battles. Of course, through the Scriptures we get a
portrait of David, who is a victorious warrior and a giant slayer and a great king, the most
beloved king Israel ever knew, but we also have the benefit of reading not only what
was written about him but what was written by him. So when you see that little book close to
the middle of your Bible called Psalms, it is over half attributed to King David. So we not only see what was going on in his
life but we see what was going on in his soul. We all have things people see that we go through,
and then we have that other part, the stuff we don’t say, the enemies we don’t talk about
in our eGroup because they’re sitting next to us and they’re called our spouse. Okay, let’s go to Psalm 59. Please look at this with me before I say too
much. It’s only week one. Pace yourself, Furtick. Verse 9: “You are my strength, I watch for
you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Isn’t that nice? Come on, isn’t that great? Don’t you want to screenshot that and put
it on your wallpaper and set it as your background? Put it in a pink cursive font and crochet
it on a pillow and put a coffee mug behind it and a bald eagle and a rock climber and
a hot air balloon, make a motivational poster out of Psalm 59? “You are my strength…” I could see this on Pinterest. “O Lord, you are my strength, I watch for
you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Don’t you love the psalms? Raise your hand if you love that, to know
that God is your strength and your fortress and you can rely on him. David goes on to say, “God will go before
me…” How many are grateful that God has prepared
the path before you and you don’t know what’s there but he knows what’s there? That’s the only way sometimes that you can
go forward: to know that God has already been there. “You will go before me and will let me gloat
over those who slander me.” Whoa. Took a little turn there. The bald eagle just flew off the poster and
the hot air balloon just popped. Now gloating. “Do not kill them, Lord our shield, or my
people will forget.” Oh, that’s nice. He’s coming back to that holy place. “In your might uproot them and bring them
down. For the sins of their mouths, for the words
of their lips, let them be caught in their pride. For the curses and lies they utter, consume
them in your wrath, consume them till they are no more.” Now I’m confused, because this started as
a devotion and turned into a disc track. I don’t know if this is David or if this is
Drake. I’m so confused. Help me understand. “Then it will be known to the ends of the
earth that God rules over Jacob. They return at evening, snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city. They wander about for food and howl if not
satisfied. But I will sing of your strength, in the morning
I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” I want to let you know today that you have
the upper hand. Turn to somebody and let them know, “I have
the upper hand.” Let’s get started. Spirit of God, speak to our hearts today in
such a powerful way that we will never forget this encounter with you. Show us who you are and who we are and make
up the difference in our lives. For all that we are not, be something, God,
right now that we don’t even know we need. Speak something that we don’t even know we
need to hear. Deposit something that we didn’t even know
we were walking around with. Speak to our souls, and we give you praise
in advance. In Jesus’ name, amen. The question I have is…What could David
have been going through at this point in his life that would cause him to experience such
a range of emotions? You saw it for yourself. It was a psalm sandwich. You saw it, where he was talking about the
strength of God and the struggles of his life all in the same psalm. Now I knew David had a range of motion because
I saw him kill Goliath. I knew he had range of motion and the ability
to take down giants, but what surprises me is his range of emotion that he experienced
within himself. I want to talk to you from three points today
to help set up this series. I usually don’t show you the whole thing. I don’t show my hand at the beginning of the
sermon, but I’m going to give you all three points. I want to talk about the wars, the weapons,
and the way. The Scripture declares that I am more than
a conqueror through him who loves me. If that’s the case, then why are there times
where I do not feel his love? The Scripture declares that God is my defender
and that he will arise and that no weapon formed against me will prosper. Why is it, then, that I feel under siege? It is into this tension that we must reconcile
these lines David wrote with the life David lived. So I want to take you over today to a scene
in David’s life. Some of the psalms that are written we don’t
really know what was going on at the time they were written or what situations they
referred to, but David is talking about all kinds of enemies and all kinds of battles. The Bible says this was written at a particular
time in his life that is recorded in Scripture in 1 Samuel 19. Now please understand once again that God
is not your refuge from trouble but he is your refuge in trouble. That understanding alone would answer many
of our questions about the operative nature of faith. God is not my refuge from trouble but God
is my refuge in trouble. Some of the times in your life that you think
you’re in trouble, you’re not; you’re in training. What you see as trouble God sees as training. Go over to 1 Samuel 19. When David wrote Psalm 59, or at least the
period of time he’s referencing here, it’s a very successful time in his life, on one
hand. He has been anointed to be king, and he got
a pretty cool opportunity in front of all of his brothers to be singled out as the chosen
one who is going to replace King Saul. He is called a man after God’s own heart,
and he has oil on his head, which represents the way God is going to use him, the influence
God has given him. God didn’t speak it to him like Joseph in
a dream. God spoke it to him in front of his whole
family. When God spoke to Joseph and said, “I’m going
to make you great,” Joseph had to try to convince people, but when David was spoken of, he was
spoken of in front of his brothers, so everybody knows he’s a little special. If they didn’t know it when he was anointed,
they certainly knew it after he got done with Goliath. How many of you have never heard a good Bible
sermon about David and Goliath? If you never heard this story about David
and Goliath… Well, I’m not going to go into it now because…spoiler
alert…Goliath goes down. By the way, for every Goliath in your life…spoiler
alert…he goes down. He might be bigger. He might be loud. He might be defiant. You might have never seen a battle like this
before, but Goliath goes down. In fact, can I show you something? When David stood before Goliath, before he
hit him with the stone he spit a few bars. Can I show you? You didn’t know David was the original battle
rapper. In your mind you saw him with a harp and a
lamb in his lap, and he’s stroking a lamb with one hand and strumming a harp with the
other hand, but before David was ever strumming a harp or stroking a sheep, he walked up to
Goliath, and he looks at Goliath and begins to declare what God is going to do. Now here’s a principle: write your bars before
your battle. Don’t wait until things turn out positively
in your life to give God glory. Don’t wait until seas part and you’re standing
on dry ground to declare that God is able to split them. Don’t wait until everything is perfect in
your life to enjoy the presence of God. Don’t wait until you don’t have any hang-ups
to say to God, “Here am I; send me. Use me.” God is looking for somebody who will shout
before the first brick falls, who will blow a trumpet while you’re still looking at enemies
in an occupied territory. So David stands up to Goliath, and I know
you know all this already, but just in case nobody ever heard it, he goes up to Goliath
and grabs the mic and tells Goliath, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,
but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel,
whom you have defied.” Next verse: “This day the Lord will deliver
you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day…” Can’t you hear a beat behind this? “…I will give the carcasses of the Philistine
army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a
God in Israel.” David’s confidence is not only something he
speaks of but something he walks in. He has the kind of confidence to declare victory
before battle. When I praise God, I’m not praising God for
outcomes I’m currently experiencing; I am praising God for promises that are still to
come. Can I preach a little bit today? I want to talk about the wars David fought,
because he’s doing great. He’s anointed to be king. He kills Goliath. He cuts off his head. He goes to Saul’s tent, because Saul told
him he was just a little boy. He tried to tell Saul he had the winning hand,
and Saul said, “You don’t have a sword,” and David said, “Not now, but after I get done
using what’s in my hand to knock him down and take what’s in his hand, I’m going to
cut off his head with what he came against me holding. I’ll take his sword and cut off his head.” He stood at Saul’s tent with Goliath’s head,
and if that wasn’t proof enough, when he went back into the city, a whole group of women
started following David into the streets singing about his great victory. David is an anointed future king. He’s a warrior. His music career is taking off. He’s released a mixtape. He’s being called to the palace to play the
harp for Saul, because Saul is going crazy. He just held Goliath’s head, and now the women
are lining the streets, shaking tambourines. Do you want to see this? I promise you. You think I make this stuff up. This stuff is in the Bible. You thought the Bible was boring. The Bible is not boring. Touch your neighbor and say, “You’re boring. Read the Bible. The Bible is awesome.” David is rising in power, and he’s proving
the presence of God, not just through what he says but through what he does, and the
women are lining the streets. They have this little song they’re singing,
shaking timbrels and lyres and 808s. “As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain
his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.'” Well, Saul didn’t like that song very much,
so Saul shut that song down. He actually wanted to kill David. This brings us to 1 Samuel, chapter 19, which
is the historical context of Psalm 59. In Psalm 59, we see David calling on God to
be his strength, but in 1 Samuel 19 we see into his struggle. Let’s look into his struggle in order to understand
his strength. It’s so important that we understand his struggle
or we will misunderstand his strength. As one great theologian has said, the presence
of God is not the absence of trouble. If I could get one thing across to you in
this series it is that your greatest testimonies will come from your greatest tests. Your greatest bars will come from your greatest
battles. Maybe we assume that David killed Goliath
and went to the beach. Not so. The Bible says that David, continuing to serve
Saul, would go out (look at verse 8) and fight against the Philistines. In fact, it says (let me read this from the
New King James Version), “And there was war again…” Because it never stops. You don’t kill Goliath, get the gold medal,
and go home and stare at his head for the rest of your life. Every time I heard Goliath preached as a little
boy it ended when he fell down, but do you know what the Bible says was the reward for
David’s victory? More battles. I know that some of you are about to get engaged,
and before you post the engagement pictures (swipe left) with eight different pictures
so everybody will “OMG” down in the comments section and “Literally just died” and “So
happy for you…” Before you post that, make sure you are prepared,
because the reward for engagement… I mean, just ask Holly about the reward for
engagement. She will tell you that the process of becoming
one is much grittier than the prospect of walking the aisle. So David kills Goliath. Guess what? You get to fight again. You get the promotion. Guess what? You get to manage people. Guess what? People suck. You get the house and you get to clean it. I just love preaching the Bible like it really
goes. If we stop when Goliath goes down, we miss
the whole point. He killed Goliath, and Saul said, “Now I have
something bigger for you to do.” Do you really want God to answer your prayer? And war broke out again, and Saul needed somebody
to fight, and here’s the thing he did. He sent somebody he didn’t even like to fight
a battle for him that he needed him to fight. People will sometimes use you for what you
can do for them while secretly hating the threat you represent to them. Sometimes everything that appears to be a
gift is not a gift. Saul wanted to kill David. One of the ways he tried to kill him was he
let him marry his daughter. He said, “I’ll give you my daughter if you
go kill 100 Philistines.” David said, “No problem. I’ll kill 200,” because he had hustle and
heart and ambition like that. He came back, the Bible says, with 200 Philistine
foreskins. In case you did not drop your kids off at
eKidz, I will bypass the exact meaning of the text. Just let it be known that Saul’s intention
in giving David the gift was not to bless him. Some of the things in your life that appear
to be battles are really gifts, and some of the things in your life that appear to be
gifts are really curses. So David is out fighting the Philistines,
and we all have Philistines we must fight in our lives. We all have Goliaths…not just one but many. When we kill Goliath, here comes another and
another, because Goliath has brothers. In the midst of fighting the Philistines,
because that’s hard enough… It’s hard enough to fight the external battles. I didn’t really want to talk to you about
the external battles, because it seems that David had no problem fighting the Philistines. That’s what he did. David was a killer. Give him a Philistine and he’ll knock him
down. Give him five rocks and he’ll only use one. You can keep the other four. David knew how to fight Philistines. I’m going to prove to you over the course
of this series that the biggest battles David ever fought didn’t stand in front of him;
they lived within him. Because while he is fighting the battles without,
there’s another battle that is being waged within. “Once more war broke out, and David went out
and fought the Philistines.” And he did well. “He struck them with a mighty blow, and they
fled from him.” He sent them scattering, running for cover. But verse 9 says that while that battle was
being won, another battle was being waged. On one hand, David is coming up, and as he
comes up into a greater position, as he comes up into a season of greater usefulness to
God, a distressing spirit from God has come upon Saul. On one hand David is being blessed, and on
one hand David is in a battle. The battle is happening because God’s hand
has been taken off of Saul and put on David. Now David has the unique task of trying to
serve someone who is threatened by his potential. That’s tough. Not only that but Saul is distressed. He knows he’s slipping, but he cannot do anything
to catch himself. Because of this, he’s acting crazy. He’s doing things. You know how you do when you sense that you’re
losing control. You try to fix stuff, but everything you try
to do to fix it in frustration only makes it worse. You would do better to just leave it alone,
but you can’t, so you try to control people, and then you sabotage yourself by creating
the very result you dread by trying to take matters into your own hands. That’s Saul. He’s going so crazy in his mind that the only
way he can get the voices in his mind to stop is if there’s music playing. Now we don’t do that. We don’t occupy ourselves with anything to
try to keep ourselves from having to be with ourselves. David is in the position that Saul’s dysfunction
has created, over in the corner playing a harp for the king, because David is kind of
weird, because on one hand he can whip you with a slingshot, but on the other hand he
can touch the strings and make you cry. He is the embodiment of both a warrior and
a worshiper. Now his gift has brought him into a position
that has created for him an opportunity in the form of opposition. As the hand of God is leaving the life of
Saul and as the hand of God, the anointing of God, is raising David up, the Bible says
that Saul sat in his house with his spear in his hand. This is kind of creepy. Big ol’ Saul, sulking in the corner with a
spear in his hand. Watch what David had to do. David had to sit over there behind a harp,
strumming a harp, while Saul held a spear. David was playing music with his hand. Verse 10: “Then Saul sought to pin David to
the wall with the spear, but he slipped away from Saul’s presence; and he drove the spear
into the wall.” Let me ask you a question. Who is Saul fighting? On the surface it looks like he’s fighting
David, but I wonder how many times in my life I thought I was fighting someone or something
but the real fight, the real war, the real battle was not the battle with them; it was
the battle within. I want to preach about David, but before I
preach about David, I need to confess to you there have been times in my life where I have
been Saul. I’ve been fighting the wrong battles. I’ve been trying to kill what God was trying
to use. I’ve been exploding at people and freaking
out on people and in a bad mood with people, and if they would just… No, if I would just… If I would bless the Lord, if I could get
myself right, if I could get my mind right, if I could get my eyes fixed, if I could get
it together… Saul is a walking, talking civil war, and
he is taking out what is happening within himself on the closest available target. Parents do it all the time to their children. It’s not that you don’t love them. You love them more than you love yourself,
but you don’t love yourself. You cannot give them the love for them that
you have if there is not a love from God that flows to you. You are not fighting them. Stop yelling at your wife. By the way, let me preach to myself. Stop with the road rage. It’s not about the Prius. There is something going wrong in your heart,
Furtick, when a Prius can make you freak out and speed up to 83. I
am fighting myself, and when I am at war within myself and when I am a wretched man and when
I am fighting with what Paul calls the weapons of this world… When I am fighting within myself and fighting
against the very things God is trying to use in my life and slinging spears at David, the
very one God sent to fight my battles… I wonder, are you trying to kill something
that God is trying to use in your life? I want to preach about David, but before I
can get there… I’m not going to lie to you. I want to be David so badly. I want to be a man after God’s own heart. I want to kill Goliath. I think it would be cool to kill Goliath. I want to shake tambourines. I want to be David, but sometimes I’m Saul. Sometimes I’m fighting against what I should
be fighting for. So now David has a choice to make, and so
do you. This is the decision we see again and again
in a series. (This is just the syllabus; this is not the
class.) You have to decide which weapons to use when. Saul, in his attempt to spear David, misses
and hits the wall. I noticed a contrast. It says that Saul was sitting in his house
with his hand on the spear, and David had his hand on the harp. He had his hand on the lyre. He had his hand on the string instrument. I was thinking that if this is a game of rock,
paper, scissors, which one do you want? Spear, javelin, or harp? You choose. Come on. Turn to your neighbor. Rock, paper, scissors. Spear. I want the spear. When Saul misses, David has a decision, because
the Bible says his spear stuck into the wall. Here’s the decision I have to make. Do I take my hand off the harp and grab the
spear and throw it back? Because if there’s one thing we know about
David, he doesn’t miss. Ask Goliath about David’s aim. If you’re going to throw a spear at David,
you’d better lock it in, because if he throws it back, I assure you it will not end up in
the wall. He will off your head. So before you throw a spear at David, take
aim. You will not get a second chance. But David does what must have been the hardest
thing he ever did. Nothing. Do you know how hard it is when you have a
reputation for killing giants to not fight back when you have the opportunity? Do you know how hard it is when you have the
opportunity to manipulate a situation and control a situation and to try to get people
to do what you want…? “They said this about me, and I’m going to
say it back.” I wish you could see some of the replies I
write to people on Facebook that I never publish. They are poetic. Throw it back. I can hit you with this. I do words. I can talk. I can’t fix a car, I can’t bake a cake, but
I can talk. David can throw, and he doesn’t. He does something weird. He ducks. David ducks, because he has no other choice. Really, the harp is not a portable instrument,
so he can’t sidestep the spear. He’s seated behind a harp. The hand of Saul is on the spear, and the
hand of David is on the harp. I want to know who has the upper hand. Who has the winning hand? Because if the hand of Saul is on the spear
and the hand of David is on the harp, it seems to me that spear beats strings. I have one hand on the spear and one hand
on the strings. I know Saul didn’t miss David if he was at
close range sitting down behind a harp, so how could the one with the spear lose to the
one with the…? How could Saul have his hand on the spear
and David have his hand on the harp and David get out? There must have been another hand in the room
that is not mentioned in the text. How many know that the hand of God is on your
life? The hand of God was on David. The hand of God grabbed the spear of Saul
and said, “Not him. Not now.” “No weapon formed against me shall be able…” Keep your hand on the harp, and God will put
his hand on the spear. He won’t let it kill you. He will not suffer your foot to be moved. The Lord which keepeth thee, he will not slumber
nor sleep, if you keep your hand on the harp. See, I thought David had an instrument and
Saul had a weapon, but maybe worship is a weapon. Maybe David knew, “If I keep my hand on the
harp, if I let God fight my battles, I cannot be defeated.” Are there any worshipers in the house? Any worshipers who know he’ll fight your battles? “That’s just emotional.” No, it’s survival, because if you don’t learn
how to duck, if you don’t learn how to say, “God…” The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. I don’t throw spears back. I have the winning hand, and when I clap my
hands my praise confuses the Enemy. When I lift my hands in worship, the hand
of God is on… David knew that the same hand that had plucked
him from the sheep field and the same hand that had delivered him from lions and bears
and Goliaths and the same hand that held the flask that poured the oil… “The hand of God is on my life, and Saul cannot
kill what God has crowned.” So the way I fight is this. I don’t fight for victory. That’s the way the world fights. I fight from victory. My worship is my weapon. I don’t have to prove myself to people in
situations. If I take this spear in my hand and throw
it back… There’s somebody in here who has a spear in
the wall right next to your head, and you are trying to decide right now whether to
do it your way or God’s way. Can I give you a little piece of advice? Duck, David. Duck, and let God have his way. How did David keep his hand on the harp, and
how do you keep your heart at peace with spears flying at your head? David knew, “If I can win the battle within
my soul, God will fight my battle with Saul.” That’s where the real battle is. The war is within, and so are the weapons. Over the course of this series… Are you coming back, by the way? If you come back, I want to show you over
the course of the next 473 weeks or however long it takes us to complete this series how
to do what David learned to do, how to live in a place where you constantly feel at war
within yourself but learn how to speak to yourself what God has spoken instead of letting
yourself tell yourself what you fear. You can’t fight fear with fear. When David says, “God, you are my strength…” I’m so glad for Psalm 59, because 1 Samuel
19 gives me the picture of what David did. With Saul’s spear flying at him, David was
able to keep his hand on the harp. It’s a picture of being able to remain in
a place of trust and surrender in a time of turbulence and trial and frustration. It says that Saul’s hand was on the spear. That’s me trying to control. David’s hand stayed on the harp, and he played
his hand. He knew, “If I keep my hand on the harp, I
cannot be defeated. If I keep my heart at peace, it will not matter
what spears fly my way.” He said, “God, you are my strength.” Can we read the psalm again? Look at this. Psalm 59:9: “I watch for you.” That’s interesting, because David seems to
be saying, “I wasn’t watching Saul. I wasn’t watching the spears. I was watching the one whose hand…” How many believe the hand of God is on your
life? Now we know this from our side of the cross:
the victory has already been won by our King, our greater David Jesus Christ. We know that David was not the last king to
come out of Bethlehem. We know that he was a king who was pointing
to a King of Kings. We know that the Spirit of him who raised
Christ is from the dead, and we already have the victory. We don’t fight for it; we fight from it, and
the hand of God is on your life. You say, “Well, I’m not David.” But you are, because David’s name literally
means beloved, and the same love that crowned David has crowned you. Saul cannot kill what God has already crowned,
and perfect love casts out fear. So here’s what David did. He said, “I watch for you.” “I’ve got a lot of stuff coming at my head. I’ve got battles and problems and brokenness. I’ve got 99 problems, and Bathsheba is one.” We’ll get to that. He said, “You are my fortress, my God on whom
I can rely.” But watch this. Verse 11: “Do not kill them, Lord our shield.” Wait a minute. David did have a weapon, because when Saul’s
spears started flying, David got behind his shield. I need you to receive this, because you have
some stuff flying at you. You have some doubts in your soul, but stay
behind your shield. Come on. Duck, David. Get behind your shield. Paul said it’s the shield of faith, wherewith
ye shall quench the fiery darts of the wicked. I have a shield. Is anybody shielded by the power of God? If I stay behind my shield, Saul cannot kill
what God has crowned. I have the winning hand. I might not look like much. I might just be a shepherd boy, but I have
the winning hand, and God is my shield. Father, I thank you for your awesome presence
in this place. I thank you for your awesome power within
us. Everyone stand to your feet and lift your
hands. This is a worship moment. After all has been said and done, with spears
flying, storms raging, doubts assailing, winds blowing… In the midst of all of it, you have a shield. Say it out loud. “I’m shielded by the power of God.” Father, we declare victory in this place,
not because of battles that have been won but because of battles that are already in
progress. Father, I thank you for the ways that you
are working in our lives today. I thank you for hiding us. I thank you for the shield that you have been. I thank you for the promise that you have
given. God, I thank you in this moment that no matter
what Saul throws, with our hands lifted up and our hearts full of praise… “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is
within me.” “I will bless the Lord at all times, and his
praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Oh magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt his name, his great name, his
holy name!

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