THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE showed that from God’s angle Israel’s first king failed because of self-will and presumption. In contrast ‘David … a man after mine own heart which shall fulfil all my will’, Acts 13. 22, is God’s description of the man He called to rule in Saul’s stead. Sometime in his youth David had come to know and love God; the outcome of this was his delight in the fulfilling of God’s will, Ps. 40. 8.
The Lord observes His assemblies today, as He did Israel of old. When they are led by ‘men after his own heart’ who endeavour to effect His will it must give Him pleasure; and, on the contrary, grief when unscriptural practices are introduced by self-willed leaders who assume, as Saul did, that they know better than God. The account of
1 Sam. 16 shows that Samuel, attracted by the appearance only of Jesse’s eldest son and being about to recognize him as the Lord’s anointed, was told that ‘… man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart’, v. 7. David, too, was handsome, v. 12, but it was his heart being in tune with God’s that fitted him for the outworking of God’s purposes. ‘Lay hands suddenly on no man’, wrote Paul to Timothy, of those who were to be spiritual rulers in the assembly; such should have proved themselves for their task as David had done for his.
‘And the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward … but … departed from Saul.’ Thus em¬powered, David accomplished great exploits for God, whilst Saul remained powerless. ‘Without me ye can do nothing’, said the Lord Jesus; only ‘Spirit-filled Davids’ can rightly guide God’s assemblies, or achieve His purposes.
From David’s heroic
Conflict with Goliath
three points must suffice.
Firstly, his unassuming modesty. He had reason for pride in his killing of the lion and bear in defence of the flock, but we would probably not have known of it were it not that his ability to kill the Philistine was doubted. The Lord Jesus said, ‘For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest’, Luke 8. 17, and this applies to good and evil. All service done for God, often in obscurity, is noted by Him and will be brought to light – if not down here, certainly at Christ’s judgement seat. What encouragement! David’s early training fitted him for greater things.
Secondly, David could not ignore the challenge to the honour of the living God (see 1 Sam. 17. 36, 45, 46). God has always had men ready to counter such defiance, e.g., Moses versus Pharaoh, Elijah versus Ahab, Daniel versus Nebuchadnezzar, and in New Testament times Peter and John versus the Sanhedrin. The challenge of God and His Word is continuous. Dare we fail Him? ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto me’ were Christ’s parting words to His own.
Thirdly, David’s certainty of success rested on his confidence in God, ‘… but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God … whom thou hast defied; this day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand’. Faith like this is the secret of success in spiritual things and removes mountains as well as giants.
David acknowledged King
David had been anointed king at Bethlehem, again at Hebron as king over the house of Judah, and seven and a half years later as king over Israel. Much of the fifteen years between his first anointing and his accession was spent in and around the cave of Adullam. Preserved by God whilst hunted by Saul, he manifested self-discipline, content to bide God’s time. The distressed, the debtors and the discontented that gather unto him there (we love to think of great David’s greater Son in respect of this and other events in David’s life, but this is not the purpose here), were by his example and influence trans¬formed into a loyal band, whose exploits are set out in 2 Samuel 23. Power for good rest upon men of David’s calibre, for when their godly example is evidenced among the saints it redounds to the glory of God.
Jerusalem became the capital of the ‘united kingdom’. The ark of the covenant, symbol of the divine presence, had been laid up a long time at Kirjath-jearim. David thought to have brought it to Jerusalem, but in doing so disregarded with sad results the divine instructions for its transportation. Sad results always follow a disregard of God’s Word. The motive was good but for full blessing God’s work must be done in God’s way. 1 Chronicles 15.1-28 shows that David learnt this lesson. Have we?
David’s love prompted his desire to build
A House for the Lord
especially as he had noted that whilst he dwelt in a house of cedar, the ark of God dwelt ‘within curtains’, 2 Sam. 7. 2. Though he was not permitted to build the house ‘because he had shed much blood’, God graciously allowed him to collect some of the materials for it; his son Solomon erected it later. We note from this that God appoints whomsoever He wills for a particular task and this is confirmed in New Testament practice.
Absalom’s Rebellion Absalom was one of David’s sons from his forbidden mixed marriages. When reading of his stealing the love of the ten tribes, the Holy Spirit’s counsel in Acts 20. 28-30 should be borne in mind, especially verse 30, ‘also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them’. Solemn warning!
The rebellion which caused David much suffering ended dra¬matically with the death of the rebel – whose own vanity contributed to it. Rebellion against God’s man was rebellion against God.
We do not stand in judgement here, but humbly observe the warning ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall’. Apart from his lust in acquiring many concubines and wives, and the numbering of the people in a spirit of vainglory, David’s outstanding sin was his adultery and the attempt to conceal the murder. This would have been bad enough if committed by one of the common people – but David was a man in high position whose life should have been exemplary. In the light of this the Holy Spirit’s counsel to shepherds, ‘Be ye ensamples of the flock’, 1 Pet. 5. 3, will be the more appre¬ciated. In love for His erring child, God put His hand heavily upon him – repentance, confession and forgiveness followed. David’s experiences under discipline recorded in Psalms 32 and 51 have been a comfort to others who have yielded to sin, only to find, on repentance, God equally gracious.
But - ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’; he had ruined another’s home, family factions ruined his; he had murdered another’s son, his own son suffered the same fate. ‘No man liveth unto himself.’ David’s actions illustrate the far-reaching effect of sin.
let us be thankful for the example of a man who had an intense love for God, His Word and His house. Let us be grateful for his writings – some extolling his Lord, some recounting his own joyful or sorrowful experiences. Often have his words been used, as from our own hearts, to the praise of our Lord, often have they ministered comfort on sorrowful occasions through which we all p