A Heart for God: David.
The Lord looks on the heart
Readings: 1Sam16:1-13, Ps139
Sermon: Sun 6th September 2015
Setting the scene:
David is a pivotal character in both the Christian and Jewish faith. He is the forerunner and foreshadower of the Lord Jesus Christ – “great David’s greater son”. Interestingly, there are 58 references to David in the New Testament including the oft-repeated title given to Jesus – “Son of David.” This is because Jesus is a direct descendant of David (Matthew 1:1-17; Romans 1:3; Revelation 22:16). Jews continue to revere him and Muslims consider him to be a prophet.
The only significant source of information regarding David’s life and reign is found in the biblical books of 1 &2 Samuel. Scholars date the books differently but the most widespread consensus is that a large amount of the material was compiled in the 8th Century BC and that the books were completed sometime around 650-550BC. 1 & 2 Samuel have historically been known with the books that we know as 1 & 2 Kings as ‘The Books of the Kingdoms’ – it’s not important in and of itself but it does serve to demonstrate how closely these 4 books are related as they continue to tell the story of the life of Gods people throughout a particular period of time. Indeed what we call 1 Kings begins with David preparing to die and anointing Solomon as his successor.
There is very little extra-biblical information relating to King David although modern archaeology is turning up one or two interesting pieces which seem to reference a Hebrew King called David.
The life and reign of David is seen as a ‘golden age’ in the history of Gods people. An age in which the King was a man after Gods own heart. Looking back at David from a 21st Century western perspective we see a complex man with many failings, but none-the-less a man of faith trying to work out what faithfulness to Yahweh means within his own culture and context. It’s important to recognise the cultural and contextual gap between David and ourselves and as modern western readers we need to be especially careful not to assume that kingship in David’s time and culture bears any real similarity to modern constitutional Monarchy. One commentator suggests that if we’re looking for a modern day cultural approximation of King David, he’d be closer to Saddam Hussain than he would our own Monarch! Although in some ways a shocking assertion it is none-the-less true culturally speaking – David’s kingship was that of a middle-eastern military ruler presiding over a complex system of deep tribal loyalties with the ever present threat of violent uprising. It certainly didn’t involve garden parties, planting memorial trees and trying not to make politically biased statements! It’s in this context, with these pressures and responsibilities, that David has to work out what it means to be faithful. Perhaps we sometimes feel the task of working out what it means to be faithful in the modern world is just as complex?
As we consider David’s life and faith together, which is full of highs and lows, we’ll draw out applications for our continuing walk with God as His disciples. As we do so, we’ll seek to continue to grow as a person whose heart is fully for God.
Born in 1040 BC, David was the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz. Tradition has it that he was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse and was brought up as a shepherd. Following God’s rejection of Saul as King, the Samuel is directed to anoint lowly David as his successor. In time, David becomes the second King of the united kingdom of Israel through whom God works to continue his salvation plan.
After the death of Joshua, there was a difficult period of disorganization, tribal discord and defeat in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. This led the people to eventually cry out to God who “raised up judges, who saved them” (Judges 2:16). Successive judges were both leaders in battle and leaders in peace. The Judges ruled for approximately 450 years (see the book of Judges). The last Judge was Samuel.
In 1 Samuel 8, we read that the people of God wanted to be like their pagan neighbours who were ruled by a King. Accordingly, they asked God to raise up an earthly King to lead and protect them. Reluctantly God agreed and Saul was anointed as King by Samuel. However, because of his subsequent rule that displeased God, God was moved to reject Saul as King (1 Samuel 15). Our sermon series continues from this point in the narrative.
It’s likely that we all have a strong impression of who David was and what he was like.
Here’s something to discuss: When you meet someone for the first time, how do you go about forming an opinion of them? (e.g. what might their shoes reveal about them?)
Thinking about our opinion of David: Why do we hold these views? What are they based on? How have we formed our opinions? What would his shoes have said about him!?
Open to a fresh understanding of David, and therefore fresh learning from the Scriptures let’s now spend some time in bible study.
A) Understanding David
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Setting the context for David’s life helps us to begin to understand him and his experience of God and life. So some questions to get the conversation going.
1. What were Samuel’s hopes as he set out to see Jesse and his family (verse 2)?
How do you think he thought that these hopes would be realised?
2. How do you think the Lord’s words in verse 7 may have challenged
Samuel? How might they have been encouraging?
3. In your opinion, what feelings would a) Jesse b) Samuel and c) David have had
as David was brought before Samuel (verses 11-12)? Why?
4. How did God confirm his calling of David (verse 13)?
B) Learning from David
1. In what ways did David’s successor, Jesus, appear an unlikely King?
2. If “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”
(verse 7)... how ought this to affect our walk with God and the way that we
3. How have you seen God bless/use people in surprising ways? How does this
C) Praying with David
Read Psalm 139:1-16
1. Using the examples shared in the previous question, recall those individuals
who God has used or blessed in surprising ways and give thanks to Him for
2. In pairs, share with one another one way in which this study has challenged
you and pray for each other.
Conclude by reading Psalm 139: 23-24 together as a prayer.