Posts Tagged 'King David'

Panic Podcast: Wait Upon the Lord, Part 6

Good, soggy morning, all. The rain continues here at my place. The fourth day of it. Who knew there could be so much rain up there?

While we wait for the rain to stop, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Psalm 59, because we’ll be learning about the day David discovered how to wait upon the Lord calmly (and probably dryly!).



Thanks for all your prayers and financial support.


Painting of King David by Arent de Gelder 1645 - 1727

David’s Choice, 2 Samuel 24:1—14

It has been said that “God loves to work in wax, not in marble.”   The books of Samuel conclude with the account of a judgment from God upon Israel because of David’s census of his troops.  It is an apt conclusion to the history of David because it calls attention once again to the extremes in the king’s life; his ambition and pride on one side, and his humility and remorse on the other.  It also illustrates the truth of that axiom; David did not have a marble-like heart, so hard that it could not be molded by the Lord.  God seemed to love working on King David’s heart, even when David was found by God groping in the dark, falling back on his own human wisdom and strength in numbering his troops.

In this chapter, we have the very curious situation of God, becoming so angry with David and the nation of Israel, that He sent the king a trial; God tests David by making him consider taking a census.  Unfortunately for David, he succumbs to the test.

This whole story is filled with unanswered questions and mystery.  God’s motivations as well as the reason why something as innocuous as a census should be considered an offense to Him are never explained to us.   As people with finite brains, sometimes the Lord purposely withholds reasons and explanations from us.  He certainly never fully explained why He asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son or why Job lost his family and suffered the trials he did.  The best explanations for these events are, at best, speculation.

In chapter 24, we should make mote of:

1.  The Subtle Temptation, verse 1

Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

This isn’t the first time the Lord’s anger burned against Israel or one of its kings or even one of its citizens.  You will recall what was said of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6:7 as the result of his irreverent act—

The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.

Thankfully, if we read the whole Bible instead of just picking and choosing a few verses or stories here and there, we get the whole picture and at least some mysteries are solved.  The parallel account of this story provides some additional details, and that account is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1—

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

We know from what James wrote in the New Testament that—

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.  (James 1:13)

We also know that God in His sovereignty allowed Satan to test Job (Job 1-3).  If we are allowed to harmonize all this information, we can safely conclude that in the case of David’s temptation to take a census, the Lord allowed Satan to come and test David for the Lord’s own purpose.

It was to Israel’s detriment and eventual downfall that they came to depend on their sheer numbers and the formidable strength of the nation’s military for survival.  This is the pitfall of all who serve the Lord, whether they be a nation like Israel or an individual Christian; the temptation to trust in one’s own strength and wisdom never leads to a happy conclusion.  This is surely one of the Devil’s most cunning and most effective ways to trip up a follower of Christ.  We may, by God’s grace, “count our blessings” and rely on His promises, but to count on our own resources can lead only to disaster.   The prophet Zechariah, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and with amazing insight, wrote this verse that should be emblazoned on all our hearts—

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:5)

2.  An Honest Confession, verse 10

David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

David’s right-hand-man, Joab, was not keen on the idea of numbering the troops; in fact, the whole idea was “repulsive” to him—

But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him.  (1 Chronicles 21:6)

And he went to far as to warn the king against it—

But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”  (2 Sam. 24:3)

We have to respect a man like that, however, David was the king, not Joab, so Joab carried out the king’s wishes and offered a glowing report—

Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. (verse 8)

That very positive report did nothing to relieve the guilt that David felt for going against the Lord.  What good were all these men if God was not a part of it?  All our talents and gifts; our wisdom and intellect; our lifetime of experience mean nothing if they are used without the guidance and blessing of God.  We may attempt great exploits for the Kingdom of Heaven, but if they are done in the natural they will come to naught and we will be found wanting.   Perhaps many of our failures in the past were due to the numbering of our own capabilities and abilities instead of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Christians seem very adept at numbering their meetings, their members, their people, their gifts, and their blessings, but we are not good at counting on the power of God.

3.  Between a Rock and a Hard Place, verses 12, 13

“Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’ ”

So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

What a choice!  These three choices amounted to three punishments.  The choices are all bad, yet different—

  • Three years of famine;
  • Three months of fleeing;
  • Three days of plague

It is interesting that as the duration of each punishment shortens, each punishment grows in intensity.  David sinned, and so the choice was David’s alone.   It is also interesting that this whole thing was brought about by God’s displeasure with something in Israel’s past, and now the punishment would be more or less decided by King David.   We learn something of how the Lord works in the lives of his people; we may consider the forthcoming punishment to be “deferred chastisement,” for some time must have elapsed between whatever caused God to be angry and David’s numbering of his troops which led to national punishment.

At any rate, yielding to the tempter brought David to a terrible place of having to make choice that should never have had to be made by any king.  David was forced to chose the “lesser of three evils” and that predicament put him in “deep distress.”  Because David knew God’s mercy was great, he expressed the desire to fall into the hands of God, not man.

4.  A God-honoring choice, verse 14

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”

David had already experienced famine (chapter 21) and war (chapters 21 and 23), so he chooses the three day plague.  The rabbis offer this explanation:

If I choose famine the people will say that I chose something that will affect them and not me, for I shall be well supplied with food.  If I choose war, they will say the king is well protected.  Let me choose pestilence, before which all are equal. (cited in Goldman).

All three punishments in themselves are highly suggestive, each one representing the fruits of disobeying God:  soul hunger, soul defect, and soul disease.  God showed incredible mercy toward David by offering him the choice.  David had sinned against the Lord in choosing to number his men, and now he would honor the Lord in allowing the Lord to choose for him.

David braced himself for the worst as he saw the hand of God raised to smite Israel, but we have to admire David for falling on the mercy of God rather than hoping for the best against man!  Once again we see David learning a lesson, for once he was willing to depend on his military to the point where he had them numbered.   Now he’s got to depend solely on the mercy of God, rather than risk falling into the hands of man.   Yes, David knew God’s hand was ready to smite, but he also knew God’s love was always ready to save.

God is still offering man a choice.  Today it is offered in grace, and the choice is between life and death, between retribution and salvation, between Heaven and Hell.   Romans 10:13 puts the ball fully in man’s court—

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

God has already made His choice—

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  (John 15:16)

Will you make the only choice that honors God and makes sense?  Choose to follow Christ and live.  Don’t count on your “good deeds” to get you into heaven.  Don’t depend on your charm thinking it will make God overlook your life of sin and rebellion.  Don’t assume that you can live a selfish, sinful life of rebellion against God, and in the final hours of your life repent and try to make your peace with God.  Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.  (2 Corinthians 6:1-2, KJV)

GOD’S ANOINTED: With neighbors like these…

Abigail asks for mercy


1 Samuel 25

Chapter 25 opens with the death of Israel’s great prophet and priest, Samuel—

Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah.  (verse 1a)

After a very long life of devotion to both God and his people, Samuel went the way of all flesh.  It had been some time since David had any contact with Samuel.  In fact, while David was in the Nob (chapter 22), the town of priests, he was visited, not by Samuel but by Ahimilech.  In all likelihood, Samuel had been dead for a while before chapter 25, even though the event isn’t mentioned until verse 1.  According to the records of Josephus, Samuel ruled over the people alone for 12 years after the death of Eli and he ruled alongside Saul for 18 years.  In all, Samuel held his priestly/prophetic office for 40 years and passed away in his 70th year.

Though not connected in any what with Samuel’s death, David is next seen doing this—

Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran.  (verse 1b)

By now David had lost his source of earthly inspiration and comfort, but the Lord had given King David an army of some 600 men.  These followers of David would need supplies—food, water, and clothing—and this is why they are moving (“roaming”) into the desert region of Paran.  Though referred to here as a desert, this area had extensive pasture lands, perfect for David and his band.

In this story, we will meet three major characters, David, Nabal, and Nabal’s wife, Abigail.  These three characters each give us a glimpse into the three dominant kinds of people on the earth today.  First we David, who is not only God’s anointed, but also represents God’s Anointed as He calls people to Himself.  Then we have Nabal, who in is pride and foolish behavior really serves to represent the kind of person who is given opportunities to follow Christ but stubbornly refuses.  Finally there is Abigail, the picture of the person who believes in Christ and Christ’s Word whole-heartedly.

1.  David’s request,  verse 8

Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.

This is what David instructed some of his men to ask Nabal, a wealthy land owner who lived in the region.  The question was predicated on the fact that while living in Paran, David and his men had given Nabal’s considerable sheep herd and shepherds and herdsmen armed protection against the desert raiders who threatened them often.

Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them.  (verse 16)

This was the testimony of Nabal’s employees, and because of David’s thoughtfulness and generosity in helping Nabal, David respectfully asked Nabal for help, in the form of food for himself and his men.   In fact, it was customary to share of your bounty on the “feast day,” so David’s request was not only reasonable but it was grounded in a custom of the day.

Rather than go personally to Nabal, David sent ten handpicked men—

So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name.”  (verse 5)

These ten men functioned like ambassadors of Christ; Christ sends His ambassadors with the message of salvation to lost souls, and to reject Christ’s ambassador is to reject Christ—

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”  (Luke 10:16)

Notice the message of David’s messengers—

Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!  (verse 6)

The Hebrew word these ambassadors used was “shalom,” or “peace.”  David was wishing the very best personal peace and personal well-being on Nabal.  Is this not exactly the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  To respond to the Gospel results in real and everlasting peace; a peace that passes all understanding that is grounded in Jesus Christ, not in anything temporal.

As Christ’s ambassadors, we carry a similar message to people who have been or are being hurt, misused and abused by the cold, hard world.  The world offers no peace; the world itself is looking for peace.  But we have what they are looking for; it is within our power to give lost and hurting people true and lasting peace.

2.  Nabal’s response

No doubt, Nabal was a man of substantial means, and was a great man of his day.  Unfortunately, great men are not always smart men.  This is especially true of an unregenerate man.  The Apostle Paul observed—

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The foolishness of the unsaved is highlighted when they are brought face-to-face with the challenges of the Gospel.   Notice how utterly foolish Nabal was:

He rejected the claims of DavidNabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days.  (verse 10)

Nabal’s response to David’s very polite and gracious request was contemptuous, even to the point of referring to David as a runaway slave!  Obviously Nabal knew exactly who David was.   Nabal’s response to David was a lot like Pharaoh’s response to Moses—

Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.”  (Exodus 5:2)

In denying his Savior, Peter, during his darkest hour also made a similar response—

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”  (Mark 14:71)

It seems like even the nicest people are very adept at disowning the nicest of people, even Jesus Christ!   Nabal, for his part, not only blew David’s men off, but he refused them the simplest of things:  bread and water.  Nabal, in fact, had a huge ego.  In verse 11, Nabal used “I” and “my” an astonishing 8 times!  This man sees only himself.

He lived only to please himselfWhen Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk.  (verse 36a)

This was probably after the sheep-shearing had taken place, and Nabal was celebrating in a kingly, lavish fashion.  During this feast, Nabal proved the truthfulness of Proverbs 30:22, 22—

“Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat.”

In a telling play on words, the Hebrew word for “godless” is nabal.  This man in certainly living up to his name; rather than seeking to honor the Lord’s anointed; he is honoring his belly and his godless servants.  Nabal, the man who had nothing for David, apparently had plenty on which to gorge himself.

How many modern-day Nabals are there, even in the church of Jesus Christ?  These kinds of people have very little to offer God, but plenty to meet their own desires.  Nabal was a fool, but so also is the one who is accumulating treasures on earth instead of in heaven!

3.  Abigail’s wisdom, verse 3

She was an intelligent and beautiful woman.

Abigail must have been something.  She was intelligent, or as some versions say, “of good understanding,” yet she was married to a total buffoon.  Here is an excellent picture of a believer being unequally yoked to an unbeliever.  Life for this person is difficult because they want to please God, but then they also want to be a faithful spouse to their unsaved spouse.  It’s hard to honor both at the same time, though not impossible.  Abigail’s wisdom is evident when we consider her attitude to David—

When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground.  (verse 23, but read verses 18—23)

Abigail yielded to David immediately.  Note verse 18 carefully:  Abigail acted quickly.

She wasted no time in trying to meet all of David’s needs.  This was surely a labor of faith, but it was also a work of love.  She believed in David and believed in his righteous cause and she also believed the God would cause David to succeed—

The LORD your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the LORD’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live.  (verse 28)

That is truly an astonishing thing to say, considering she never met any of David’s men, according to verse 25.  It was her “good understanding” that enabled her to see the righteousness of David and the faithfulness of his God.

Abigail represents the kind of believer we should all aspire to be.  She was a faithful believer in the middle of the most trying of circumstances.  She did not have a godly husband to encourage her.  She was alone in the world.  Yet Abigail was never truly alone.  The Spirit of God rested with her, and judging by what she has told David, the Spirit of God rested IN her, as well.   She told David that he would indeed be recognized as King of Israel even though at the moment he was on the run, hiding from Saul.  Here was a remarkable woman of faith, who could see what wasn’t there.  Verse 29, though, is a powerful one—

Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling.

The phrase “bound securely in the bundle of the living” is translated by Moffatt as “wrapt up safe among the living,” and is an expression for one whose life is under the safekeeping of God.  How could she know all this?  Abigail was a woman of “understanding,” she was a woman of amazing faith.

She prayed earnestlyPlease pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. (verse 25)

There was likely not love lost between Abigail and her husband, nonetheless, she asked David to ignore her idiot of a husband, who ran around doing things that were “right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15).  But she was a woman of wisdom so Nabal was foolish in her eyes. She also prayed for herself—

Please forgive your servant’s presumption. (verse 28)

She knew what kind of power David had even if David did not.  She knew that her life and the life of her husband were in David’s hands.  Did you know your life is in God’s hands?  We don’t often think about that reality, but it’s true.  Ideally, all of us should bow the knee and serve the Lord in obedience out of our love for Him and out of appreciation for what Jesus did for us, but sheer terror of arousing the anger of the Lord is a pretty good secondary reason for behaving!  The unsaved live their lives like there is no God; they live exactly like Nabal.  The thing is, God is real whether a person believes in Him or not.

She bore witness in courageThen in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.  (verse 37)

Now here is real wisdom on display.  Here is real courage being exercised.  When her loser husband was finally sober, she told this “rich fool” how narrowly he had escaped death.

She was courageous because it would have been easy to talk to Nabal while he was drunk and in good spirits.  How many of us as children approached our parents about some mischief we got into at school while they were distracted?  Abigail was wise because she told her husband the truth about the situation; she sugar-coated nothing.  What an excellent picture of a true Christian who is unafraid to boldly share their faith with others!

4.  The results

Nabal diedAbout ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died.  (verse 38)

This verse calls to mind a parable our Lord told in Luke 12, which ended with this exchange—

‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.”  (Luke 12:20, 21)

Either through fear or rage, Nabal suffered a heart attack or a stroke and a few days later, the rich fool was dead.  God’s will is always done no matter what a man may do.  The schemes made by the ungodly against God and God’s people will never succeed.  What was proven by Nabal is a truth that has stood the test of time:  the one who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ is setting the eternal God against him.

Abigail is exaltedThen David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.  (verse 39)

When the news of Nabal’s death reached David, he was once again thankful that he had been prevented from taking matters into his own hands.  It was Abigail’s wise words that gave David pause, and because David rested in the Lord, the Lord moved on David’s behalf.   Thanks to Abigail’s prayer, God had kept David from doing wrong, while Nabal received the reward for his wrongdoing.

As a reward for her faith, David sends for Abigail and “marries” her.  However, what is interesting about this is Abigail’s response to David—

She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”  (verse 41)

David was no saint!  He already had at least one other wife; he was polygamist.  But Abigail recognized his authority; in her mind she was not his wife, rather, she was another of his servants.

Notice carefully the wording of verse 40—

His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”

And compare it with the wording of 2 Samuel 11:4, which deal with the wife of another man, Bathsheba—

Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.

And compare both of those verses to what the late Samuel had warned Israel about concerning what kings would do to them—

Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use.  (1 Samuel 8:16)

David, as remarkable a man as he was, could never be more because he was a sinner living in sinful world and a bad situation.  Israel was never meant to have a king, but God allowed  them to have many kings and David was the very best.  Yet, even King David could never rise above a certain level of godliness and holiness.  There is a tremendous lesson here for all of us:  No human being can ever be more than a human being.  People will always disappoint us and hurt us whether they realize it or not.  No political leader can ever create a utopia on earth because God has designed His universe to always leave human beings wanting something more that only He can provide.  Wise is the person who stops trying to find those things on his own.  We need more Abigail’s and fewer Nabals in the Church of Jesus Christ today.  Only when we live in faith do we ever rise above the sea of mediocrity all around us.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

GOD’S ANOINTED: The Boy Who Would Be King


1 Samuel 16

The people of Israel wanted a King and they chose, in concert with God, a man by the name of Saul.  Even though Saul was technically Israel’s first monarch, it is accurate to say that because of his continued disobedience to the Word of the Lord, his rule was aborted and with the rapid rise of David, a true and lasting monarchy was finally established.  While Saul’s ascension to the throne was a complex combination of both Divine sovereignty and human desire, the choice of David was God’s alone.

Saul’s decline was long.  However, the fact that he would have no dynasty became apparent early in his reign.  Yet God continued to allow Saul to rule over Israel.  Of course, it is folly to attempt to discern God’s reasons for doing things when His Word is silent, but we may speculate, and our speculations involve all the parties involved in Saul’s kingship.  Clearly God knew that Saul would be a complete failure, but Saul needed to know the price of his disobedience.  Samuel also needed to know the truth about Saul, for Samuel genuinely loved him.  The people who chose Saul needed to see the results of his rebellion and the results of their choice.  So for those reasons, it seems to me, God allowed Saul to linger on and on as a king.

With chapter 16, the subject of the book changes and we now see David in stark contrast to Saul; we continue to see Saul’s decline and David’s rise, and there are many lessons to be learned, not the least of which would be taught by our Lord many centuries later, for Saul’s biggest problem is man’s biggest problem—

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  (Matthew 7:26)

Saul was building his house on the sands of his own imagination and ambition.  If he had only been obedient to the Word of the Lord and tried to do God’s will instead of his own, how different things would have worked out for King Saul.  Man’s wisdom, no matter how clever he considers himself, will always be foolishness to God.

1.  God’s choice, verse 1

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

It is not known how soon the events of this first verse began after those of the concluding verse of the previous chapter, but the Lord’s words to His prophet Samuel, “How long” seem to be a kind of rebuke to him.  One can only imagine how deep and intense Samuel’s grief over Saul must have been.  But God’s will and His work is ever pressing forward, and now was the time for Samuel pick himself up and look forward, leaving the past behind.  “What might have been” would never be, so the prophet was encouraged to look to the future, in which God’s plans would come to pass.

There is a singular lesson here:  the will of God and our relationship with Him is far more valuable and important than anything else or anyone else in our lives.  As dear as the wants or supposed needs of our family and friends may be, if we deem ourselves followers of Christ, then what He wants must always take precedence.   Those special relationships in our lives are important, but putting them ahead of Christ reveals what you think of Christ and the cost of such an action may be expensive.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matthew 16:25—27)

The fact is, while Samuel was busy looking back, God had already been looking ahead and had prepared someone to take Saul’s place.  God’s statement to Samuel is interesting.  He tells the prophet:  “I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  Literally the phrase means “I saw…for myself a king.”  It is true that “saw” here is related to “choose,” yet the phrase gives us a glimpse into the mind of the Lord:  He sees what we cannot.  Before David became king, God saw him as king.  Also of note is the first contrast between the choice of Saul and the choice of David.  Read carefully these two verses—

Of Saul, the Lord said:  And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. (8:22, KJV)

Of David, the Lord said:  “I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  (16:1, NIV)

Clearly, Saul was really the people’s choice, but David was the Lord’s.

David was being prepared, or groomed, to be God’s king over Israel by doing a most remarkable, if unimpressive thing:  he was faithfully tending and defending his father’s sheep—

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. (17:34—36)

God frequently chooses the foolish things of this world, but He never chooses lazy things!  Nobody looking at David could see him as a king, but the Lord could.  David had two things going for him:  He was chosen by God and God saw the potential that lay deep within David because David was already a faithful son and worker.  Do you think for one moment it was David’s desire to be a shepherd for his whole life?  Of course not!  We have the benefit of knowing how David thought and lived and we can read a tremendous body of work that revealed a passionate, ambitious man.

It is fine to be ambitious, but what God wants are servants who will seek to do His will, not seek a promotion.  That is what He found in David.  When God looks at us, He sees the real person.  God knows our strengths and weaknesses.  God knows what we are capable of doing.  We should never be afraid that our “gifts” or “talents” or “wisdom” will go unused.   God knew that Paul would become the greatest missionary and preacher that ever lived, but it 12 years of living in obscurity before Paul would begin the work to which he was called.

2.  Samuel’s commission, verses 2, 3

The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

The Lord’s choice of Saul’s successor would be found among the eight sons of a man named Jesse, who lived in Bethlehem.  Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth.  You will recall that Ruth was not a Jew, but a Moabitess.  It is interesting that the mother of Boaz was also not Jew; her name was Rahab of Jericho.  David, like our Lord, has an interesting lineage!

Naturally, Samuel was concerned that Saul would seek vengeance, so the Lord arranges a clever cover for him.  When Samuel arrives in town, the townsfolk were afraid.  It seems that Samuel, as a reward for keeping the Word the Lord, became fearful and invoked fear in others!  In reality, circumstances were grim in those days, thanks to Saul’s state of mind.  It’s amazing how a country’s leader can change the whole mood of the citizenry.  Equally amazing is the authority a person has when they are a mission from God.

At any rate, what should be noted is the preciseness of the Lord’s directions to Samuel.  David, the son of Jesse, was God’s chosen one, and so God Himself will dictate how David will achieve what God has called Him to.  David may have had an earthly father, but his relationship with God took precedence over that, or any other earthly relationship; Samuel may have had his own good ideas about how to approach Jesse and how to choose the right candidate, but God’s idea about how to get the job done took precedence over any good ideas Samuel might have had.

God told Samuel to fill his horn with oil so as to anoint David as king.  It would take a while before Saul’s monarchy would whimper to a close, but the moment David’s head was covered with the anointing oil, he was, in God’s estimation, Israel’s king; he didn’t look like, and he may not have felt like it, but David was the king.  It took a long time for David to physically claim the throne, but that did not negate God’s will for David.

We tend to be very impatient even with God, but remember these words and remember them well—

[H]e who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6b)

Samuel went to Bethlehem in God’s name, with God’s message, doing it God’s way.  That is real authority; for the man of God, true authority descends from heaven and is received through the Word of God.

3.  Looking for the king, verse 11

So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”   Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

This verse always makes me chuckle.  Jesse had paraded all his sons past Samuel, but the Lord was not taken in with good looks.  How one looks and the charm they may possess means nothing to God.  It is with the heart man believes, so the Lord looks a man’s heart—

[T]he LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (verse 7)

There are so me tremendous principles for Christians to latch on to throughout 1 Samuel.  Remember back in chapter 15, we read this—

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”  (15:22)

Christians demonstrate their love for God, not by the may feel or by what theysay in their testimonies, but by whether or not they are obeying Him.  The Christian life is not a collection of Utopian ideologies, it is  seen in how we live.  When God looks at those who claim to love Him, he looks at the heart.  We are terrible at that; most of us are taken by a smooth talker, a clever turn of words or pleasing appearance.  But none of that has any effect on God because God is the original inside Man:  He sees us from the inside out.

2 Corinthians 10:18 says—

For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

It is not what we think of ourselves, or what others think of us,  it is what God thinks of us that matters.  David, the young shepherd boy, the least of Jesse’s sons, was the very last one they thought of but he was God’s choice.  In man’s estimation, intelligence and appearance are of great weight, but when it comes to God’s scales, a humble, hard working heart is what tips them.

4.  The anointing, verse 13

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.

In choosing David it is interesting that while “God looks at the heart,” the Scripture has this to say about David’s appearance—

He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.  (verse 12)

Is this a contradiction?  Of course not; David was not only the “youngest,” the Hebrew word also means “smallest,” meaning that in terms of stature, David was a short man.  David was not a particularly impressive man, but he was no gargoyle, either.  In fact, David was probably just an average man.

Some scholars have pointed out a clever, but obscure bit of symbolism.  Consider this:  when we are first introduced to Saul, we see him looking for his father’s donkeys, but when we first meet David, he is tending his father’s sheep.  In the ancient world, it was common to refer to Kings as shepherds and their citizens as sheep.   Saul was no shepherd and he did not treat his people like sheep!  On the other hand, David would forever be known as “the shepherd king.”

When Samuel anointed David with the oil, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, we are told—

From that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.

This is the very first time David is mentioned by name in the books of Samuel, and his brothers bore witness that he was anointed both by man and by God.  From time to time throughout the Old Testament, we are told that the Spirit of God came upon Godly men at times, temporarily, for specific purposes; however, David is the only man who, before Pentecost, experienced the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit in his life.   This one event changed David’s life and represented the triumph of Samuel’s long career.  The last sentence of verse 13 indicated that Samuel’s work in the nation was all but over, and although we read about him once in a while later on, he no longer plays an active role in his books.

The power of the Holy Spirit in David’s life, and in the life all believers for that matter, cannot be overstated.  Every life that is dedicated and consecrated to Christ is a life lived in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  It is true that we have the gifts of the Spirit today and that at special times we may experience a special “unction” of the Spirit, but every believer may experience what David experienced.  God does not expect us to live our lives bereft of His presence, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to make living a life that is pleasing to Him possible.

What is particularly interesting about David’s relationship with God is this profound verse found chapter 13; fully three chapters before the events of this present chapter—

But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” (13:14)

David was a “man after God’s own heart” long before he was publicly chosen and anointed.  Long before God revealed His heart to Samuel and Jesse and to the people of Israel, His mind was made up about David because David was a “man after His own heart.”   How did God know this about David?  God knew because He and He alone is able to see into man’s heart, and even though for the present David was mere shepherd, God knew that inside David beat the heart of a king.  And even though years later when David sinned and experienced terrible setbacks, and the future looked bleak indeed,  God never forsook His king because David’s heart never changed.  God sees what we cannot.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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