|THE GODLY HEART
1 SAMUEL 13:2-14
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part One
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 2, 2011
This morning we are beginning a study of David.
If God had not created David... Hollywood would have. David is larger than life. Courageous. Loyal. Brutal. Sensitive. A lover. A warrior. A musician. An architect. An adulterer. A murderer.
In David’s life there’s the transformation from rags to riches - shepherd to king - a common villager rising to heights of great power and wealth. There’s the epic sweep of battle and civil war. Political intrigue - romance - villains and heroes. Great immorality - scandal - murder - a royal family tearing itself apart. There’s the whole God dealing with His people thing. There’s even a musical score and dancing.
Next to Jesus and Moses - there’s more written in Scripture about David than any other man. The great patriarch Abraham has 14 chapters. Joseph has 14. Jacob has 11. Elijah has 10. David alone has 66 chapters plus 59 references in the New Testament. In Scripture and in history David is viral - larger than life - absolutely over the top.
Through all that - what God has preserved for us of David’s life - through all that we’re reminded - over and over - we’re reminded that down at the heart level David was a man like us. A man who lived by his passions and at times succumbed to them. Who struggled to live life with the living God and fell short. And yet, a man that God deeply loves and that God holds up to us an example of what it means to live life with God at the heart level - at the core of who we are.
That heart shaping work of God in David’s life - that having the core of who we are molded by God - that living life with God at the heart level - is what we want to look at for ourselves over the next few Sundays.
To get into our study - first - we need to grab onto some background. What’s going on with God’s people.
Coming out of Egypt, Israel - through a series of conquests - Israel had established its dominance over the people who were living in the Promised Land. Leadership was a kind of loose tribal confederacy. Authority for individual tribes and villages was given to the local elders. When the tribal groups were threatened - by some other nation - God would raise up a judge to deal with those situations. Then - for a time - there would be a judge that had some kind of authority recognized by all the tribes. Sound familiar? That’s what’s described for us in the book of Judges.
The last of those judges was Samuel. In Samuel’s day - as Samuel was getting towards the end of his life - the people had heard about the old days - the Exodus - the conquests - about when Samuel was at the high point of his career as judge. When Samuel had judged wisely and subdued the Philistines. But those were things they’d heard about not experienced first hand for themselves.
What they did know was that Samuel was old and getting really old and that he’d appointed his sons to succeed him - to judge Israel. Which was a huge mistake because Samuel’s sons were complete jerks. They had no respect for God or anyone else. The took bribes. They perverted justice. If there was a criminal way to make money they were in on it. (1 Samuel 8:1-3)
So God’s people have had enough. Things are going from bad to worse. Something has to change. So the elders of Israel get together - travel up to Ramah - which is this little town up in the hills about 5 miles north of Jerusalem. Ramah was where Samuel was born and its his home base. So the elders of Israel travel up to Ramah - show up on Samuel’s doorstep - and demand that Samuel appoint a king.
They give Samuel three reasons. First: “Samuel you’re older than dirt.” Second: “Your sons are jerks.” Third: “All the other nations have one.” (1 Samuel 8:5)
"Samuel, when other nations ask us, ‘Where’s your king?’ its embarrassing. ‘He’s in heaven.’ What kind of answer is that? We’re tired of inviso God. The Moabites are talking trash about us. We want to be like them.”
Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble because you did what seemed to make sense at the time? What was the general consensus? A knee jerk reaction to things without waiting to see what God would do?
What was it the people didn’t say? “We’re going to seek God and wait on God and see what God is going to do to meet this need.”
Samuel goes to God in prayer and God answers. In 1 Samuel 8:7 is God’s answer: The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them…
Who are they rejecting? God. (1 Samuel 8:7)
Hold onto two things. One: The motivation of the people is fear. What will happen to us when Samuel dies? Two: Their solution doesn’t include God.
Which brings us to Saul. Saul is a strapping young specimen of a man. Stood head and shoulders above everyone else. Swarthy. Handsome. Humble. A mighty man of valor. Good family stock. Probably even had a little dimple on his chin and a twinkle in his eyes. He just looks good.
He’s the kind of king the people are looking for. Someone to impress the Moabites. God warns the people that they’re in for trouble. But - free will and all - God gives His consent. Samuel anoints Saul. Saul wins the people’s choice award.
At the age of 40 Saul begins to reign. Rallies the people. Puts an army together. Good times. Until Saul descends into depression - becomes hot tempered - murderous - vain - proud - psychotic. One minute he’s listening to music the next he’s throwing a spear trying to impale the musician.
10 years into Saul’s reign - David is born. The nation is on a long drift away from God. They’re disillusioned with their choice for king. The wheels have fallen off the royal chariot.
Ever been there? When God let’s you have your own way and too late we realize we made the wrong choice? Like something’s terribly wrong and we can’t quite put our finger on it?
Please turn with me to 1 Samuel 13. The straw that breaks the camel’s back comes in 1 Samuel 13. Its here that we get a really good look at God’s perspective of Saul and of David. Walk with me through these verses.
1 Samuel 13 - starting at verse 2: Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan - Saul’s son - at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he - Saul - sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it.
Who smote the garrison? Jonathan with his 1,000 men.
Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines - wait - who smote the Philistines? Jonathan. Who’s blowing his own horn? Saul - whose taking credit for his son’s victory. Never mentions Jonathan in the report.
Hang on to that. We see this over and over again in the life of Saul. Saul is about Saul. Who is Saul about? Saul. And Saul is very concerned about what people think about Saul.
Going on - verse 4 - All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gigal.
“The Philistines are ticked. Saul’s rallying the troops. Let’s go.”
Verse 5: Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped at Michmash, east of Beth-aven.
The Philistines who are now ticked have put together a rather formidable fighting force and they’re out for revenge. Blood will be spilled. People are going to die - horribly.
Verse 6: When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed) - meaning they’re way out numbered and they know it - then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead - Run away! East across the Jordan towards the desert. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
Verse 8: Now he - Saul - waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him.
Gilgal is just north of Jericho in the Jordan River Valley. Gilgal - for God’s people - was a sacred place. You might remember that Gilgal was the place where God’s people first camped in the Promised Land. The place where they had set up the 12 memorial stones that they had carried out of the Jordan River. Remember that? Gilgal was the first place Passover was celebrated in the Promised Land. It was one of three places that Samuel held court. It was the place that Samuel had crowned Saul the king.
Back in 1 Samuel chapter 10 Samuel had told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait there 7 days until Samuel shows up so that Samuel can offer the sacrifices. Go to Gilgal and wait and then I’ll come and we’ll ask God’s blessing and find out what God wants to do.
To Saul’s credit he went to Gigal and waited. But 7 days go by. The sun is setting on day #7 and still there’s no sign of Samuel. Imagine Saul - this huge Philistine army is gathering - the people of Israel are starting to panic. They’re looking for places to hide. Saul is checking his sundial. Still no Samuel.
Saul is starting to get nervous. “Samuel said he’d be here. Samuel’s not here. The people are panicking. The Philistines are coming. I need to do something.”
Verse 9: So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him.
“Its okay Samuel. I’m taking care of things.”
But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw the people scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord,’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”
Life is about Who? God. Saul is all about who? Saul.
Saul’s solution isn’t about God. This burnt offering isn’t about Saul surrendering his heart to God and seeking God. Saul - taking matters into his own hands - Saul’s not concerned about what concerns God - what God desires to do. He’s not open to obeying God or serving God. The burnt offering isn’t about God. Its about Saul. Its about appearances - doing the religious God thing in front of the people - and earning God’s favor.
Why? Because Saul is afraid. What will happen to me if Samuel doesn’t show up? What will the people think of me if I don’t do something?
Do you remember this? God has not created us to live in… fear but by... faith in Him.
When we live our lives focused on ourselves we live in fear. Life becomes about us and our understanding of things and our solutions. Jesus compared that to building a house on sand. Pretty scary when we’ve got innumerable Philistines gathering to tear us apart. Or finances that don’t exist. Or our family is in turmoil. Or we’re facing some long slow illness and death. Or a new semester of school.
When we’re depending on ourselves its easy to knee jerk react based on the common wisdom of the day - and make really really bad decisions that only get us deeper into only worse trouble.
“I saw the people panic. The Philistines were coming. I needed God’s direction. So I forced myself to do what you should have been here to do.”
Verse 13. Here’s the sad commentary on Saul’s disobedience.
Verse 13: Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. If you had just waited. How foolish we are to build on sand.
Verse 14: But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
That is our introduction to David - God’s choice for king. Did you see the introduction there in verse 14? God is going to choose for Himself “a man after His own heart.”
Twice in Scripture David is called a man after God’s own heart. On both occasions that description is given as the criteria by which God saw David as worthy to be king.
What does it mean to have a heart after God’s own heart? Contrasting David with Saul - thinking about heart qualities that we’re going to see over and over again as we look at David’s life. As God looks at us what heart qualities is He looking for? Let me suggest three:
First: A Spiritual Heart. Let’s say that together, “A spiritual heart.”
God saw in David a man after His own heart. That’s a person who’s heart is in harmony with God’s heart. Who’s living life in harmony with His Lord. Our heart beats with God’s heart.
To live that way means that our lives are about seeking God. Seeking to understand Him. Seeking to hear His heart - to understand what moves Him - to learn what God is passionate about - what pleases Him. Or, what grieves Him - even our sin - which keeps us from pleasing Him.
We live seeking greater sensitivity to God’s promptings in our heart so that we’ll hear His voice as He speaks to us in His word and through others and in prayer. Sensitivity to God so that we’ll see Him at work and know how He desires to use us. How to trust God and to follow Him into His world.
When God says go - step forward in faith trusting me - we go. When God says stop - get that out of your life - we stop. When God says wait - do this in my way and in my time - we wait.
What’s important to God is important to us. What burden’s God burdens us. What God is passionate about we’re passionate about. What moves God moves us.
When our heart is God’s then what motivates us - in what we do - think - or feel - what motivates us is not us - but God. Pleasing Him.
Second heart quality: A Servant Heart. Let’s say that together, “A servant heart.”
Psalm 78:70: [God] also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit here. We’ll come to this in more detail next Sunday. But God sends Samuel to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse - to anoint the son who’s out tending the sheep.
Brothers 1 to 7 are at the house primping for Samuel. David - the runt of the sons of Jesse - is out in the fields - in the foothills around Bethlehem - faithfully keeping his father’s sheep - doing what his father has asked him to do.
Its as if God says, “I don’t care what everyone else thinks. Image isn’t everything. I’m looking at David’s heart. What I’m seeing there is the humility of a servant.”
The one great goal of the servant is not to bring glory to themselves but to the one they serve. The goal of a servant is to make the person he or she serves look better. To make that person successful. To keep that person from failing.
Saul’s heart was about Saul. David’s heart was about God.
Third heart quality: A Surrendered Heart. Let’s say that together, “A surrendered heart.”
Psalm 78:71,72: From the care of ewes with suckling lambs He - God - brought him - David - to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.
David shepherds according to what? The integrity of his heart.
Integrity translates the Hebrew word “tome.” Listen to some of the meanings of this word: upright, complete, sound, whole, morally innocent, wholesome, simplicity of life, unimpaired.
Chuck Swindoll writes this: “Integrity is who you are when nobody’s looking. It means bone-deep honesty.” (1) What you see is… what you get.
There’s nothing hidden in the closet. Nothing swept under the rug. Even when it comes to the deepest part of who we are - God has complete access. What God wants to clean gets cleaned. When we sin we admit it - come to terms with it - turn from it - and don’t turn back. Our lives are completely surrendered to God.
That is so far away from the places we live our lives. We’re constantly being bombarded with the message that image is everything. Israel bought the lie and ended up with Saul. Saul bought the lie and ended up with… Saul - and a whole lot less. If we buy that lie we are in serious serious trouble.
God looks past all the outward stuff - the dimpled chin and the manly man good looks. God looks at the integrity of the heart. There is no way to fake that. To make a good impression on God when our hearts are full of sin.
God is looking for men and women who are deeply spiritual - willing to be passionate about what He is passionate about - that are humble willing servants - who aren’t trying to fake life with God. Men and women who’s from the heart desire is to live completely surrendered to Him.
Question: When God looks at your heart what does He see? That’s a brutal question. Isn’t it?
Let me leave you with a last thought. This may help a bit.
Here it is: God isn’t in a hurry. Say that with me. “God isn’t in a hurry.”
If you’re like me, I’m looking at my heart and I’m looking at these heart qualities and I know that that isn’t me. Not yet anyway.
Alan Redpath - who was the pastor of Moody Memorial Church - wrote this: “The conversion of the soul is the miracle of a moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.” (2)
God choose a “man” after His own heart. That word “man” is really encouraging. Who are the people that God chooses to use?
Listen to what Paul writes to the Corinthians: Now remember what you were, my brothers, when God called you. From the human point of view few of you were wise or powerful or of high social standing. God purposefully chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. This means that no one can boast in God’s presence. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 GNB)
God takes nobodies - like a shepherd - or you or me - and turns them into somebodies - because God sees past what everyone else is looking at - including maybe even what we look at - and God is in it for the long haul - transforming us into men and women of God - from the heart.
That’s what we’re going to be looking at over the next few Sundays - God at work in David’s life - and seeing how God can be doing that transforming work in us.
1. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
2. Alan Redpath, The Making of a Man of God
As a general reference for this sermon/series I have been using the book by Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny - I highly recommend this book as a tremendous study on the life of David.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.