Theme: “A Man After God’s Own Heart”
Last Sunday we looked at the account from God’s Word when His people demanded a king to rule over them. This was a major transition in Israel’s history that would stick with them all the way up to the birth of Christ. Our primary figure last weekend was Samuel, the last of God’s judges, and the one to oversee this transition. Our lesson from last weekend was a nice segue for the devotions we had at Pacific NW camp this past week, in Idaho. These devotions centered on Israel’s second, and most famous King, David, and how God described him as “a man after His own heart.”
David is unique in Scripture for many reasons. First, he is the only person to be characterized this way by God. It’s not that David was the only person who was after God’s own heart. We’ll learn today what that title means and how, through Christ, we too can be described that way. But, nevertheless, within the pages of Scripture it was quite an honor and a testament to David’s life.
David is also unique because he was a picture of Christ Himself. The technical term for this is called a “type.” What that means is that God chose David ahead of time to be a figurative picture of His own Son, Jesus Christ. When God promised that David’s kingdom would last forever, it was fulfilled in the reign of Jesus Christ over death, sin, and Satan.
Finally, for our purposes today, David is unique because we are told a lot about his life in the Bible. There is perhaps no other person who is talked about more, or in greater detail, than David. Sometimes, that’s good for his legacy, like when his famous victory over Goliath is told to generation after generation. Sometimes, it’s not so good, like when the entire world knows about David’s most personal mistakes and sins. Regardless, there is much we can learn from David’s life, because the Lord saw fit to tell us a lot. We are reminded of what Paul told the Romans, that these stories were recorded “for our learning, that by the patience and hope of the Scriptures, we would have hope (Romans 15:4).”
For our text today, we read from one of Paul’s own sermons, where he says this of David, Acts 13:22-23 "And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, `I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' 23 "From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior-- Jesus--.”
The first aspect of David’s life that we studied at camp was his strong friendship with King Saul’s son, Jonathan. What we learn about this friendship really reflects more on the faith of Jonathan than David, but it also reminds us that David certainly learned from Jonathan, who was 25 years his elder. At a time when Saul’s jealousy was threatening David’s life, Jonathan offered calm and protection. He was someone who had direct access to the king and used that influence to help David.
Jonathan risked much for David. Many people are familiar with the time that Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear, but few remember that on a different occasion Saul tried to kill Jonathan with his spear because Jonathan defended David. We’re also told that Jonathan conceived of the secret plan to notify David whether it was safe for him to return to normal life. While David was hiding in the field, Jonathan would shoot three arrows at a target. If the arrows were short of the target, David was safe. If they went beyond the target, David needed to flee. Regrettably, Jonathan had to fire past the target. In their final moment together, Jonathan said this to David, "Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying,`May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.'" (1 Sam. 20:42)
That was the final time David and Jonathan would see each other. While David was on the run, hiding out in Philistia, Jonathan was killed in battle, along with his brothers and his father, Saul. The Bible described their friendship in this way, that Jonathan loved David as his own soul – a true testament to the second part of God’s greatest command, that we love our neighbors as ourselves – what Jesus Himself said was the essence of the entire law of God.
Jonathan and David’s friendship teaches us how David was a man after God’s own heart, not because of some quality in himself, but in how the Lord blessed him. The Lord blessed David and Jonathan with their friendship. The Lord used that friendship to aid and protect David in a trying time, a time that David described as being “one step away from death (1 Samuel 20:3).” Similarly, their friendship teaches us that God does the same in our lives. The first aspect of being a follower of God, one who lives after His heart, is recognizing that we are His own because of His blessings for us. The Lord has given us relationships in life as a gift – for our benefit. This isn’t just about your best friend. It involves: parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, role models, and so on. Don’t despise these people in your life. They are God’s blessings. They help you live as one after His own heart.
Our scripture reading from earlier chronicled the most remembered event in David’s life – his battle against Goliath. It’s tough to think of a bigger trial than battling a nearly ten foot giant to the death. It’s been said in similar circumstances, when someone accomplishes the seemingly impossible, that they just didn’t think of the odds or what would happen if they failed. They never consider it – perhaps as a matter of immaturity – but it can be helpful mentally to block out the negatives.
At this point for David, there’s certainly a likelihood that he just never considered the odds. His faith in the Lord was so strong that he didn’t know any better. Those who operate by logic scoff at that kind of attitude. However, we know it in Scripture by a different name – a childlike faith. Jesus tells us that our trust in Him should be like that of a child; even a child who doesn’t know better. A child doesn’t logically think through a problem and pick the most likely scenario for success. A child can’t even consider the possibilities because they just don’t know them. A child follows the one they trust.
So it was here with David before Goliath. No one logically sprints toward a foe like this, with only a sling and five small stones.
While David’s victory over Goliath was undoubtedly a sign of the Lord’s power, it also spoke just as clearly about the times that David failed in his life – times when it seemed that he faced much less threatening foes. It was a relatively peaceful time in David’s life when he was entangled with the sins of lust, adultery, dishonesty, and murder. Why did he fail in a situation that didn’t seem dangerous at all? He failed because he didn’t strengthen his defenses. He let his guard down. He stopped trusting in the Lord and chose instead to forge his own way. And because of it David experienced the greatest pain and loss that he would feel in his life.
The story of Goliath is a perpetual reminder of the very thing that David boldly confessed before the giant – “the battle is the Lord’s.” The Lord holds the day in all situations of life. He knows what you’re in right now. He knows what you’re facing. He’s seen it fit to put you in that situation. God doesn’t do this because He delights in His supreme control over you and He enjoys seeing you squirm and suffer. Rather, God is seeking to help you, to protect you, to strengthen you, as He did for David – by leading you to trust Him. As someone after God’s own heart David conquered the unconquerable. But, when he strayed from the Lord, David’s enemies toppled him without even lifting a finger. And yet, in repentance, humility, and reliance on the Lord’s grace and forgiveness David came to realize that even his lowest moments were faith-building lessons from the Lord.
For you, the reminder is the same. A person who follows God is not defined by their accomplishments, as grand as they may be. They are defined by the ability to rise up again after defeat, to lose everything in life and still find the greatest treasure through faith in Jesus.
Our final part deals with how David eventually became king. When you put the pieces of this story together, the way in which David assumed the throne of Israel really shows best how he was a man after God’s own heart. Take a look in your bulletin under our sermon text. I listed several of the most prominent stories about David in the Bible. Their chronological order is randomly printed. I wonder, could you rearrange them accurately? (briefly explain some of the stories).
Perhaps it’s difficult to order them perfectly from memory, but could you remember the first event? (David’s anointing).
Yes, that’s correct, the first story we have about David is when the Lord chose to anoint Him as king of Israel. Many of the rest of those stories describe the uniqueness of this – Saul was still king – chosen and anointed by the Lord as well. David was caught in this difficult conundrum. He knew he would be king. He knew the evils Saul had committed. He was on the run – even from his own nation. He had to ally himself with the very nation that would kill his friend, Jonathan. All this was going on and the Lord gave him two opportunities to take matters into his own hands. (Saul in the cave and Saul in the field).
How could anyone say that David didn’t have the right to kill Saul? David was anointed king. Saul had forsaken the Lord. David had the peoples’ favor. Saul had tried to kill David, retaliation would have just been self-defense. Yet, David himself was perhaps the only one to say no. David refused to take Saul’s life – not because Saul deserved it – but because David respected the Lord. Saul was still the Lord’s anointed king, to act against Saul would be to act against the Lord’s plan. David had to submit to the very one who created so much heartache and danger in his life in order to submit to the Lord. Yet, as painful as the consequences were, David stayed faithful, and this humility and trust were the ultimate indicators that he was a man after God’s own heart.
As in many of the events of David’s life, it reminds us also of David’s greatest Son – Jesus. Paul writes in Philippians, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Phi 2:5 NIV)
Jesus, likewise, submitted Himself to someone inferior, in order to submit Himself to His Father’s will. It wasn’t Saul that Jesus honored, it was you. You, who turned away from Him in sin. You, who betrayed His loyal friendship. You, who grew impatient with His Word. Jesus showed you honor and love on the cross, because it was the only way to show the highest honor and love to His Father’s plan of salvation. Jesus humiliated His righteous life in order to win back yours. And because He chose to do this greatest act of love, you like David, are one after God’s own heart. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.