SHEPHERD, FUGITIVE, KING IN TRIUMPH, KING IN CRISIS, RESTORED SINNER
Why study the life of David? Because God says David is “a man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). The Holy Spirit wrote this epitaph in the New Testament even after David’s great sin of adultery and murder. And even in the midst of God’s discipline for his sin, (“the sword shall never depart from your house” – 2 Samuel 12:10) David was a man who worshiped and served God and a man God used till the end. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a)
Larry Libby in Bible Personalities looks at the various stages of David’s life. He saw four stages and I have added a fifth. This can serve as a template for us to learn how to stay close to the Lord in the various stages of our lives – the ordinary days of life, the good times and the bad, in the highs and lows of life.
1. The Lord is my Shepherd – The need for solitude – time alone with God. We are a culture that is amused to death. “A – Muse” means the absence of musing – of thinking, of considering, of reflecting on life and God. David, unlike his older brothers who took their turn at shepherding the sheep, took advantage of this time alone and “mused” on the things of God. “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” David came to know the Lord as His Shepherd Who fed him and protected him with His rod and staff. (See Psalm 23) And David saw the majesty of God as he lay on a lonely hillside at night and looked at the starry host in the heavens. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (See Psalm 8) David’s life as a shepherd calls us to follow the example of Jesus Who “ often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16) and make time to “muse” on the things of God.
2. The Lord is my Shield – David’s life as a fugitive. David finds himself thrust into the national limelight. Anointed by Samuel as king to later replace disobedient King Saul (10 years later) David is promoted from shepherd boy to court musician to armor bearer to giant killer to victorious army captain until Saul is enraged with jealousy. Finally Saul is determined to kill his rival and David flees from his honeymoon suite (with Saul’s daughter no less) and runs from cave to cave for the next ten years. It is in these years of intense struggle that David grew even more dependent on the Lord (“Lord, You are my shield, my fortress, my strong tower”) and even more in love with Him. “ O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (See Psalm 63) Our relationship with the Lord is either growing or declining and often the Lord knows trials are what we need to keep us from cooling off toward Him and becoming autonomous. But suffering can make us bitter or better – bitter toward God and life or better lovers of God and people. David grew more like our Lord in his trials, Who “learned obedience from what he suffered,” (Heb. 5:8) and like Jesus, David waited patiently on God’s timing to remove Saul although he had opportunities to take matters into his own hand.
3. The Lord is my Strength – from pasture to palace we see the king in triumph. David goes from a fugitive to being king over Judah and in seven years king over all of Israel, establishing Jerusalem as the capital city. He honored the Lord by bringing the Ark of the Covenant back into the center of Israel’s national life, worshiping unashamedly as the Ark enters the great city. God gives David military victory on all sides and expands the kingdom. In David’s zeal for God’s glory and for His Name to be promoted he wants to build a temple for the Lord. Although God denies his wish, He promises David that his own son will build the temple and that David’s dynasty will never end. (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1 31-33)
4. The Lord is my Salvation (Deliverer) – the king in crisis. As Mark Twain put it, “We have never seen a civilization that could handle prosperity.” Unfortunately this is true for many a man. David’s success goes to his head and he becomes proud and lazy, especially spiritually lazy. He stayed home from battle (2 Samuel 11:1) and ended up in a battle against temptation which he lost, and fell into the double sin of adultery and murder. How could a man after God’s own heart fall so far? As Paul in Scripture tells us later (Romans 7, 8) the “flesh” is neither removed nor improved and when we become independent of God we too can crash into sin. David’s reputation as king and spiritual leader meant more to him than being right with God and he “hid” his sin for almost a year. Like all the kings after him (42) David didn’t obey Deuteronomy 17:17- 20 and money, sex and power brought him crashing down, and “the sword never departed from his house”. Rape, incest, murder and rebellion within his own family broke his heart and haunted him the rest of his days. God forgives but He doesn’t take away all the consequences.
5. But God –“ The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” David is a wonderful example to all of us “fallen sinners.” He took God’s severe discipline in humility and went on to serve and worship the Lord in the very midst of his great pain. Though God allowed the fruit of his and Bathsheba’s sin (their first child) to die, He gave them another son, Solomon, whom God used to build the temple and rule as king in the glory days of Israel. He allowed David to make “abundant preparations (for building the temple) before his death” (1 Chronicles 22:5) and to arrange for administration and worship in the temple. (See 1 Chronicles 22-29) David the warrior king and sweet psalmist of Israel fought to the end and died with psalms of praise to his God. (2 Samuel 21:15 and 22, 23) Because of his true repentance and broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 51) God restored unto David the joy of His salvation.
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” David through the psalms and his life story has spoken the Word of God to us. What qualities of David’s life speak to you? What about his faith do you want to imitate?
Are you “A –Mused” to death or are you “musing” (meditating) on God and life? Ponder Psalm 1.
Suffering can make us bitter or better – bitter toward God and life or better lovers of God and people. Do trials draw you closer to the Lord (and people) or drive a wedge between you and Him?
“We have never seen a civilization that could handle prosperity.” Does prosperity draw you closer to the Lord or move you toward autonomy? "Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Do you believe that the Lord can even use your sins and the sins of others to work together for good and for His purposes? Explain your answer.