THE BACKGROUND FOR THE LIFE OF DAVID – A TRANSITION OF LEADERSHIP
People just can’t seem to handle peace and prosperity. During the years of battle under Joshua’s leadership God ruled as King and the people followed Him. After they conquered their enemies and divided up the land, the people forgot God. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) When we reject God as King we say, “I did it my way” and experience the consequences of God’s discipline as the people did in the book of Judges. They went from one cycle of sin, chastisement, repentance and restoration to another.
So God raised up a godly leader in Samuel. Samuel’s godly mother Hannah, barren for years, dedicated her only son (she later had more children) to the Lord and took him to Shiloh to live with Eli the priest. There at Shiloh in the temple of the Lord, Samuel heard God speak and then spoke God’s judgment over Eli as the Lord had instructed him to do. Thus Samuel, the last of the judges (spiritual leaders) became the first of the prophets. A prophet first hears from the Lord (1 Samuel 3: 10) and then speaks God’s message to the people (1 Samuel 3:11-18) to keep them right with God in worship and obedience.
Israel under Samuel’s leadership transitions from a theocracy (God is King) to a monarchy (a human king). Of course, the king of Israel, God’s nation, was supposed to submit to the Lord’s leadership. God had promised them a king in His time (Deut. 17:14-20) but in their impatience to be like the other nations who had kings, the people insisted on a king of their choice instead of waiting for God’s king. Saul had the right image (tall and handsome – 1 Sam. 9:2) but ultimately showed that he had the wrong character. “But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) This refers to David’s brothers not Saul but it is a good warning for all of us.
Saul started off well but finished poorly. He had a problem with authority – both with God’s authority and God’s appointed leader Samuel. Unlike David who saw God’s anointed leader Saul as one he was to submit to (though Saul had many faults) Saul rejected God-ordained authority. He took matters in his own hands and offered a sacrifice (the role reserved only for God’s priest, Samuel) and thus rejected God’s authority over him. (See 1 Samuel 13) Then later he acted in partial obedience to God’s Word showing once again his insubordination to God’s leader and God Himself. (See 1 Samuel 15) Partial obedience to the Lord is disobedience and Saul was rejected by God as king over Israel.
This is where David comes into God’s story. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a) God was watching David and saw that he was a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) and later He sent Samuel to anoint David as the future king of Israel whose kingdom would never end (Isaiah 9:7) for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would rule on the throne of David forever. (Luke 1:32)
Worshiper, Warrior and Shepherd-King – We see David hidden away in the fields of Bethlehem tending sheep and developing both a heart for God and skills that God would use to glorify His Name and establish David as Israel’s greatest king. First of all we see David’s love for the Lord grow and develop as later expressed by him in the many songs and poems (psalms) he wrote and sang to the Lord. He developed his skill on the harp and later was known as the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” (2 Samuel 23:1) and the Psalter (the collection of all 150 psalms) became the hymnbook for the temple with David contributing 73 of them. We are still blessed and edified today through David’s love songs to the Lord and his heartfelt cries for help and deliverance from the Lord, and David’s psalms encourage us to worship the Lord. David also developed courage and skills as a warrior with the rod and the staff and the sling as he fought wild beasts to protect his flocks and called on the Name of the Lord. (1 Samuel 17:33-37; 45-54). He also grew as a shepherd-king who cared for his flocks and grew in his confidence in our Lord as the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Psalm 23 is probably the best known and most quoted psalm in the Bible. The Lord used David’s skill as a singer and harpist to bring him to Saul’s attention (1 Samuel 16: 14-23) and his skill with the sling to slay Goliath and be promoted to Saul’s armor bearer. (1 Samuel 18:5) The Lord wants to use the skills He has given us to serve His people and glorify His Name.
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (rationalizing) (Judges 21:25) but “evil in the sight of the Lord.” (Judges 2:11) When we reject God as King we say, “I did it my way”. Rationalizing is just rational sounding lies. How can we know we aren’t “doing it my way”? (See Hebrews 5:14; Isaiah 66:2)
A prophet first hears from the Lord (1 Samuel 3: 10) and then speaks God’s message to the people (1 Samuel 3:11-18) to keep them right with God in worship and obedience. We are not called to be Old Testament prophets but we are called to be prophetic – to be truth speakers. We are to hear the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17) and “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15; also see Romans 10:14) Are you hearing and speaking for the Lord? Share your thoughts on this.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
How can we err today by only looking at a person’s appearance?
What was Saul’s essential problem in all areas of disobedience? (Proverbs 1:7)
Share how God has developed both your love for Him and skills that He can use to serve His people and glorify His Name? Where are you using those skills today to serve Him?