The Loyalty of Ittai
2 Samuel 15:21 - But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”
Who was Ittai? He was a foreigner. He was an exile. He had barely even been with David. And so David, right before the going got tough, told Ittai to leave while he could; this wasn’t his fight. David even sent Ittai and his countrymen off with a blessing.
But Ittai’s loyalty ran deep. We don’t know why, and I’m not sure it even matters. Ittai responded to David with these words,
“As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”
David clearly recognized and appreciated this loyalty and so honored Ittai by permitting Ittai, including his men and their families, to stay on.
This kind of loyalty seems rare today. Whenever I see such displays in a movie or book, they virtually jump off the screen or page at me, demanding to be noticed and honored.
Loyalty to Christ
I wonder how many followers of Christ would follow their Lord wherever he may go and to whatever end. What makes this so difficult is our Lord goes everywhere. He goes into our families, homes, workplaces, thought-lives, churches, TV rooms, cars, grocery-store checkout lines, cultural battles, conversations, and on and on and on. Not only does he go to those places but he claims Lordship over them. And his claim is not an empty one. He has been given authority in those places. Ephesians 1:22 says,
“And God placed all things under [Christ’s] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church…”
Christ is the King over all things, the Lord over every sphere of life. That’s simply a fact about reality. And yet there is a sense in which, in this present age, he is still seeking to extend his Kingdom into every sphere of life. It’s part of the “already and not yet” nature of his Kingdom. What is so astonishing is that he calls those of us who are his followers to be the very ones who extend his Kingdom. Through us! Truly amazing!
You Will Have to Die
The question is, will we be loyal and faithful to our Lord as Ittai was to King David? Will we follow our Lord to whatever end? We don’t have to guess as to whether or not there will be death. There will be. That’s an up-front promise by our Lord himself.
First and foremost there will be death to self. For there to be fruit a seed must die. For Christ’s followers to bear fruit for our King, we must die - to ourselves, our sin, agendas, self-centeredness, egos, idols, and so forth. Make no mistake about it, this is death and it can be quite painful.
And yet there is also the promise of life - real life, everlasting life, fullness of life. And this promised life is just as guaranteed as our death. For just as we die with Christ so too are we raised with him, to be and become as he now is.
The beauty of all this is found in the truth that our King has already been where he calls us to go. Furthermore, he has promised to travel with us to encourage, strengthen, and guide us along the way, the narrow way. That’s a comforting thought indeed.
Will you be loyal to your Lord and King? Will you follow him to whatever end?
· What’s your favorite example of loyalty from the movies or literature?
· Why is that your favorite example?
· What makes loyalty to Christ so hard in our world?
· What are three ways you can grow in your loyalty to Christ?
· What would such loyalty look like in your everyday life?
· Share your answers to these questions with a friend, and ask him what his answers are. Pray for one another.
Ever faithful and loyal God, I praise you that you are steadfast in your commitment to me. You have promised you would never leave me nor forsake me. I ask you to please forgive me that I am not as committed to you. I have forsaken, disobeyed, and even been ashamed of you too many times to count. This realization and admission grieves me, though not nearly as much as it should. But I am grateful for your grace and your forgiveness and for another day to loyally serve you and your Kingdom. I’m clearly not up to it in my own strength, so please fill, direct, and empower me through your Spirit to be your man, your faithful ambassador in every sphere of my life, and to follow you wherever you may lead. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
This Week’s Prayer Guide
[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]
Petitions – prayers for yourself
· Spiritual Warfare
· Growth in Christlikeness
· Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
· My health
· For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities.
· Other needs
Intercession – prayers for others
· My Family
· Mercy for those who are poor and hungry
· Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted
· Love for those who oppress and persecute others
· Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence
· Other needs
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