David - The Man after God’s Own Heart
William Trew, Cardiff
The second section of these books very fittingly doses with the account in 1 Sam. 15 of the Lord's final rejection of Saul. The terms of his commission from God against the Amalekites were precise, yet such is the deceitfulness of sin that Saul came boldly forward to meet Samuel with the assertion, "I have performed the commandment of the Lord," Saul embodied the spirit of disobedience, and such rebellion against the revealed will of God is nothing less than the dethronement of God as far as man is capable of it.
'Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (I Sam. 15. 23). Manifestly Saul was unfit for the place of rule and leadership with which he had been entrusted, and therefore the sentence was final; "Thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected thee from being king over Israel." (I Sam, 15. 26).
The Man after God's Own Heart.
The third sect ion, commencing with 1 Sam. 16 and ending with 2 Sam. 9, shows the sovereignty of God in choosing David to be the leader of His people, that he might restore the Ark of God to its rightful place in their midst", and to bring them again in heart and life under the government: of the Throne of God,
If our authorized version of 1 Sam. 13. 1. conveys correctly the meaning of the Hebrew text, it would seem certain that the words, "The Lord hath sought Him a man after His Own Heart" (v. 14), were spoken to Saul 7 years before David was born. Thus the Lord was acting in sovereignty to raise up for Himself from among the people, one who would receive from His Hand The Service of Leadership, and who would fulfil His trust in such a way that King and people together would display, as a testimony among the nations, the power and blessedness of the rule of God.
David was a man after God's Own Heart because lie fulfilled all God's will (Acts 13. 22); and this remains for us today an essential qualification for leadership. There are indications enough, especially in the Psalms, and particularly in Psalm 132, of the deep exercises of David's heart when but a youth in his father's house. It was to him a matter of great concern, that the fortunes of the people of God were at such a low ebb; and it sorely troubled him that it was a feature of Saul's rule that the Will of the Lord was rejected, and that they no longer enquired at the Ark of God (L Chron. 13. 3). It was as governed by such spiritual exercises that he began to cherish the ambitions that he expresses in Psalm 132 "He sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob: 'Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.'
Manifested as the True Shepherd
The record of 1 Sam, 16 makes clear that the anointing of David took place in secret; (the expression "In the midst of his brethren" (v. 13) should be translated "From among his brethren") and from the day of his anointing "the Spirit of Jehovah seized upon him," and began to lead him forward towards his destination in the purpose of God. But there was no sudden introduction to publicity or rush into fame, "Humble avocations, retirement, thought, and lonely fellowship with God, would best develop his inner life in constant dependence upon God, and even call out those energies and that self-reliance which, in conjunction with the higher spiritual qualifications, were so necessary in his after calling. Not was it time lost even so far as his outward influence was concerned. It was then that the Spirit-helped youth acquired in the neighbouring country, and far as Eastern story would carry it, the reputation of "a mighty, valiant man. and a man of war," when, ail unaided, and unarmed, he would slay "both the lion and the bear" that had attacked the flock which he tended" (Edersheim) Thus God prepared His man in secret; and when, at last, he was put into the place of leadership to guide the steps of God's people in God's ways, it was as one who had qualified in God's school. He chose David His servant, and took him from the sheep-folds … to feed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands" (Psalm 78. 70 72), His heart! His hands! Shepherd work requires the development of both of these, and upon both makes constant demand. The true shepherds of God's people — and God's leaders are always shepherds—are men of selfless devotion to the care of the flock: intense in love; wise in judgment; skilful to guide to "the green pastures and beside the still waters; ' and courageous as the appointed guardians of the sheep against the attack of every enemy. Such men are made, qualified, appointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Therefore said that shepherd of die flock upon whom came "the care of all the churches,' to others who had like care, "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He purchased with His Own blood. I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Wherefore watch ye." (Acts 20. 28/31 R. V. M.).
It was in the valley of Elah that David was manifested as the true shepherd of God's people. The Philistines, again at war with Israel, had invaded Judah, and were gathered against Shochoh encamped between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. Azekah (Tilled) would speak to us of the assembly garden of God (1 Cor. 3. 9), where fruit is produced redolent with the fragrance of Christ, for the pleasure of the Heart of God, Shochoh (Fence) would suggest the walls of separation by which, unbreached and unbroken, the fruit of the garden is secured for Him to Whom it belongs, While Ephesdammim (boundary of blood-drops) must speak of that precious blood by which we have been reconciled to God and sanctified, in order to produce fruit for His praise. This is indeed Judah's (praise) inheritance, bringing us into the sanctuary, and we can appreciate that it is the object of the attack of Philistines. Goliath (exile) of Gath (winepress) is the champion of the Philistines, and therefore represents, them in what is prominent in the principles for which they stand. "Banishment from God in His wrath" is the thought conveyed by the threatening figure of the giant. "Now the essence of Christianity lies in this, that as the fruit of accomplished redemption, we are brought nigh to God." By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.' Hence there is rest and nearness. But the knowledge of this is the destruction of Philistinism. The essential character of the false sacramental system is the survival of Judaism, the putting back under its shadows and into distance from God . . . Heaven there is, but afar off, and with a dread uncertainty of ever reaching it. But how can the feat of this throw its shadow over the souls of the Israel of God? Alas the type before us answers that sufficiently. Unbelief; the slighting of the word of God; the lack of any deep self-judgment; the mixture of the Church and the world; these are prominent and concurrent causes" (Grant).
It is useless to deny that such attacks are being made today upon the assembly character and testimony. The point of attack is still Shochoh — the separateness that secures and preserves the fruitfulness of God's assembly garden. That separation from the world in every phase and form is but the moral power of the death of Christ; that precious blood shed marks the boundary beyond which we cannot pass to clasp hands with the world that crucified our Lord.
These were the circumstances that brought David into, manifestation as the true shepherd of Gods flock. He himself tells us that he faced the Philistine on behalf of the people of God in the spirit in which he fought with the lion and the bear in defence of his father's sheep. "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock; and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth … thy servant slew both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God." (1 Sam. 17. 34/35).
David the shepherd King, in wham was so fully developed die Spirit of Christ, represents that principle of Divine rule, under the guidance of which the sheep of God's Hock today will be secure against the attack of every enemy.