|THE OBEDIENT HEART
1 SAMUEL 15:13-16:19
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part Two
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 9, 2011
Last Sunday we began looking at David. David is absolutely amazing. The life he lived - going from being a shepherd to being king - rags to riches - his courage and character - how God used him - David is viral. Right? A singular person in history.
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. A man who had some serious family issues. 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 are focusing on as we’re looking at David.
To get into our study this morning we need to begin by looking at Saul and Samuel - in particular What Samuel Knew. Let’s say that together. “What Samuel knew.”
God’s people wanted a king. God - in a sense - gives in to the people - free will and all. God sends Samuel - who was the judge at the time - the recognized leader of Israel - God sent Samuel to anoint Saul and declare Saul as king. The kind of king that the people we’re looking for.
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.
Saul is the people’s choice for king. Not God’s. Does that sound familiar from last Sunday?
Shortly after Saul becomes king the wheels fall off the chariot. Something snaps in Saul. He becomes selfish. Saul is all about Saul - not God. He becomes angry - hateful - mean. During the last years of his rule he looses touch with reality. Literally becomes certifiable - paranoid - psychotic.
Right after Saul became king he made three major mistakes. Three blunders that show us where Saul’s heart and mind were at.
One of which we looked at last Sunday. Saul was at Gilgal waiting for Samuel. Saul - because Saul is about Saul - and at this point afraid of what the people will think of him as king. “I need to do something. The people are losing confidence in me.” Saul decides - in an act of disobedience - Saul decides to offer the burnt offering instead of Samuel. Remember that? Strike one. (1 Samuel 13:1-14).
Saul - who is all about Saul - Saul in trying to seize the momentum of the battle and grab the glory for himself - as he’s leading from the rear - Saul gives this really bad command. “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening, and until I have avenged myself on my enemies.” (1 Samuel 14:24) “Until everyone knows I’m victorious no one eats.” Which is brilliant because now his troops are fighting and starving at the same time.
Jonathan didn’t hear the command. Got hungry. Found some honey. Ate a little honey. Saul found out about it. So Saul said, “I really didn’t mean it.” No. Saul decided to execute Jonathan - his son. “May God do this to me and more also, for you shall surely die, Jonathan.” (1 Samuel 14:44) And would have executed his son if the people hadn’t pleaded for Jonathan’s life.
What kind of mental state is Saul in that he’s going to execute his son for eating a little honey?
Bad decision - strike one. Rash vow - strike two. Look with me at 1 Samuel 15 - starting at verse 13.
Saul’s third strike comes in chapter 15. God sends Saul to take out the Amalekites. God tells Saul - destroy everything - kill everyone - even the livestock. Everything is... everything. Right?
But Saul doesn’t do that. Because Saul is all about Saul. Saul keeps the good stuff for himself. Captures Agag - the Amalekite king - takes the king - Agag - and the spoils of war - from the Amalekites - takes all that on a kind of victory tour - parading them around Israel - showing everyone how great Saul is - even though it was God who won the victory.
Ever been tempted to do that? Take credit for something God does? God provides for us - even the daily stuff. God heals us. God leads us through some really difficult situation. God uses us in someone’s life. Somehow we get the idea that its because we’re clever or we’ve been incredibly faithful that some great blessing or work of God is all about what we did. Never take credit for what God does.
1 Samuel 15 - starting at verse 13. Walk with me through these verses. Saul is at Mount Carmel building a monument to himself. Samuel shows up. Saul comes out to meet him. “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord.” Samuel says, “If you’ve obeyed God why do I hear the bleating of sheep and the lowing of oxen?”
Saul - verse 15: “The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God. But the rest we utterly destroyed.”
Verse 17: “The Lord anointed you king over Israel. The Lord sent you on a mission. God told you to utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, to fight against them until they are exterminated.”
Verse 19: “Why did you - Saul - not obey God but kept spoil for yourself.”
Look down at verse 24: Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.”
Grab onto that request. “Return with me, that I may worship the Lord.”
“I know I’ve sinned. And I even confessed it. So if you’ll just pardon me and then come back and worship God with me like we’ve always done then nobody will know that I blew it.” Who’s Saul concerned about? Saul. Image. What the people think about Saul. Not God.
Verse 26: But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
Samuel isn’t buying it. Strike three - you disobeyed God. You’re out.
Verse 27: As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. Also the Glory of Israel - God - will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man - like you - worried the people are going to get upset with what He does - He is not a man that He should change His mind.” Ouch.
Verse 30: Then he - Saul - said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord your God..”
How pathetic is this? The king - grabbing the robe of Samuel - groveling - begging. “Okay. You’ve got me. Now can we please go back before the people like nothing really happened.”
Samuel saw through the charade - the false humility - the concern for his image. But Samuel - maybe in an act of grace - probably for the people’s sake - Samuel goes and leads Saul and the people through the ritual of worship.
Look with me at the summary of all this - verse 35 - after the worship - after Samuel hacks Agag into little pieces - Samuel heads home - verse 35: Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul.
What did Samuel know? That Saul’s main concern was Saul. That Saul was irrationally concerned about his image before the people. That Saul has no clue about God and worship coming from the heart - repentant and humble. That Saul is not all there mentally. Getting ahead of ourselves a bit - Saul eventually kills himself.
What does Samuel know? That the people have chosen Saul to be king. But Saul is not qualified to be king. Israel is surrounded by enemies. They’re at war. Godly leadership is desperately needed. Someone has to lead God’s people. But who? Samuel didn’t know. The people didn’t know.
Ever been there? Situation desperate - the walls are closing in - the pressure is on - something has to be done - and you have no clue - no answer. There is no way out.
The second part of what we want to look at this morning is What God Did. Let’s say that together, “What God did.”
Listen to Isaiah 65:24 - God speaking: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
When does God answer us? Before we call. Ponder with me what that means.
What Samuel missed - what we often forget - is that before January 9, 2011 ever happened - before this little blue planet was ever pushed into orbit around our sun - before creation was creation - God already had today worked out. Even this coming week - God’s got it. He had all of that in His mind. He had each one of us - you - in His mind.
God is the god with a plan. Who has a plan? God.
Listen to what Chuck Swindoll says about God who has a plan.
God is never at a loss to know what He’s going to do in our situations. He knows perfectly well what is best for us. Our problem is, we don’t know. And we say to Him, “Lord, if You just tell me, then I’ll be in great shape. Just reveal it to me. Explain Your plan to me, and I’ll count on You.” But that’s not faith. Faith is counting on Him when we do not know what tomorrow holds.” (1)
Isn’t that great? If we knew what was going to happen that wouldn’t be faith. Faith in what’s seen isn’t faith. Faith is when we have no clue what comes next and we still obey.
Hear this: God reveals just enough so that we learn that He’s trustworthy. But not enough to rob us of the joy of trusting Him. Try that with me. “God reveals just enough so that we learn that He’s trustworthy. But not enough to rob us of the joy of trusting Him.”
God knows exactly what He’s going to do. Even before we cry out He’s already answered.
Look at what God does - God’s plan unfolding - 1 Samuel 16 - verse 1: Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.
God’s the god with a plan. Who’s got the plan? God. “Fill your horn with oil. Go to Bethlehem. When you find Jesse you’ll find the man I’ve already chosen.”
God chose a man after His own heart. Not the people’s choice. But God’s choice from before creation was creation.
Verse 2: But Samuel said, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me.”
Samuel’s response? “How? If I go and Saul hears about it. I’m toast.”
Where’s Samuel looking? At Saul. Not God.
Happens to us. Doesn’t it? We’re focused on finances or family stuff or what’s going on at work or school or some other Saul. God’s saying, “Go. I got it. Just go. Trust Me.” And we’re hanging back.
Verse 3: And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ You shall invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.”
Don’t you love it? God doesn’t even listen to Samuel whine. God’s answer: “Take a heifer with you.”
Another great Swindoll quote: “You don’t have to be smart to be obedient. You don’t have to be clever. All you have to do is obey.” (2)
It is so wonderful that when we obey God - just follow God in faith - that we don’t have to come up with some clever plan on our own - some plan that God never would have thought of in a million years. God was just waiting around to see if we could come up with something because He - God - has no clue.
This is almost monosyllabic. “Take a heifer. Invite Jesse. Do the sacrifice. I’ll show you who to anoint.” Pretty simple. Yes?
Verse 4: So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem.
God has great things ahead for us - even in the no win scenario. All we have to do is grab the heifer and go. Encourage the person next to you with that. Go ahead, turn to the person next to you and tell, “Grab the heifer and go.”
So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling - literally “quaking with fear” - to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” He said, “In peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He also consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
Samuel was a kind of celebrity. Famous. Prophet of God. Judge. With all that was going on in Israel - Saul losing it - enemies all around - Samuel showing up caused quite a stir. “Why is he here in Bethlehem? Something must be up. Something must be wrong.”
Samuel calms their fears. I’m here to offer a sacrifice to God. Consecrate yourselves. On one hand this is a covert consecration to cover Samuel’s secret mission. Saul is still king. What Samuel is about to do is an act of revolution.
On the other hand - this is a serious call to consecration. God and Samuel know what’s really going on. Consecration is preparation for entering into God’s presence. Consecration probably involved ceremonial cleansing - changing into clean clothing. Maybe some special prayers. Some place along the line the heifer gets sacrificed. All that is preparation for the anointing.
Point being: God is at work here. God’s plan not Samuel’s. This is a God moment.
Verse 6: When they entered - meaning Jesse and his sons - he - Samuel - looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.”
We know how this goes. Right? Son #1 comes before Samuel. Samuel is probably thinking to himself, “He looks good. Tall - handsome - impressive. He looks so Hebrew. Surely the first born son of Jesse is God’s choice for king.”
Verse 7 - critical verse - verse 7: 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 a man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God’s already chosen the man after His own heart. And, Eliab isn’t the one.
Verse 8: Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
Verse 9: Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
Seven sons. Each one gets the gong.
Put yourself in Samuel’s sandals for moment. He has no clue. He’s just obeying God. He’s done the consecration thing. Sacrificed the heifer. He’s watching this parade of Jesse’s sons and just waiting for God to say, “That’s the one.” But the list is getting shorter.
All the prime choices have passed. Samuel is looking at the list. We’re down to numbers six and seven. What’s left is Jesse’s two daughters. This is getting downright uncomfortable. There’s pressure here.
Ever been there? Let’s just call son number 7 it and be done with this. Maybe I misunderstood God. Maybe I should pull the trigger on this one.
Obedience and waiting on God in the crucible of real time life is not always easy. Faith and patience. Tough to trust God if we’re looking at a our list or at what’s on the outside of a person or the circumstance we’re in. Much easier if we’re looking at God.
Who’s at work here? The God with a plan. Who knows what’s in the heart? The God with a plan.
Verse 11: And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he - Jesse - said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”
Imagine if Rick Warren - or Franklin Graham - or Michael Sweet - some well known Christian leader - like Samuel was back then - dare we say it - a Christian celebrity - but well deserved reputation. This Godly man is coming to Merced - to your house - wouldn’t you want your family there? Your kids? To meet him? Maybe even to show them off a bit.
Samuel shows up. Does this whole consecration and sacrifice thing. Nine kids are there. One - the youngest son - isn’t even invited by his own father. How does that son feel? What does that say about what Jesse thinks of his son David?
The daughters - the girls - get a higher billing than David. David is out with the other shepherds - hired hands - servants - watching sheep. He’s just a boy - the youngest. We don’t expect a lot from him. Not like Eliab and Abinadab and Shammah and his other brothers. David tends sheep.
Samuel is beginning to see it God’s way - God’s unfolding plan. Its not how old David is or what he looks like or what he does. God’s the god with the plan. God is looking at the heart. “Jesse. Send for David.”
Verse 12: So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
This is huge. Wouldn’t you have liked to have watched this. Jesse - the seven sons - the older brothers - the daughters - Samuel - all standing around in this room - and in walks David - this young man that no one expects much of. He stinks of sheep. He’s covered in sweat. He has no clue what he’s walked in to.
The old man - Samuel - gets up - walks over - pours oil on David’s head - it runs down off his head onto his neck and clothes. Josephus - the Jewish historian - says that, “Samuel the aged whispered in his ear the meaning of the symbol, ’You will be the next king.’” (3)
How do you respond to that? If you’re David?
The third part of what we want to look at this morning is How David Responded. Let’s say that together, “How David responded.”
Look down with me at verse 17. Saul is being terrorized by an evil spirit. One of Saul’s servants suggests that they should find someone who can skillfully play the harp so that when Saul is terrorized by this spirit the harp player can play and then that will calm Saul down - bring healing to him.
Verse 17: So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.” Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Behlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.” So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the flock.”
Don’t miss those last three words. Where’s David? “With the flock.”
How did David respond to Samuel’s anointing. “You’re going to be the next king.” David’s not down at Target trying on crowns. He’s not posting on Facebook. “Guess who’s the next king?” Twittering “Anointed by Samuel.” There’s no parade. No new wardrobe.
He’s with the flock. Faithfully doing his job. Later on - the whole David and Goliath thing we’re going to look at next Sunday - David goes back and forth from the battlefield to Bethlehem - where he’s tending his father’s sheep.
David isn’t about David. That’s one reason why he’s a man after God’s own heart. He has an obedient heart. He’s faithfully doing the little things trusting God for God to unfold His plan.
Thinking about the obedient heart. Let me leave you with two projects to work on this week.
First: Be Open.
Say that with me, “Be open.”
It is amazing how we can take something so simple and make it so complicated. God’s command to Samuel was, “Go. Just follow Me and I’ll show you who I’ve chosen.”
God is very creative. Sometimes that plan may not exactly make sense to us. God’s timing takes into account His eternal purposes not our short term view of things. God sees the whole picture. We don’t
Who has the plan? God. Faith is obediently following God even if we don’t see the plan.
So, be open to God and His plans. Don’t make them too complicated with your own cleverness. Just follow Him each day through life and be open to what He has for you.
Second project: Be Ready. Say that with me, “Be ready.”
You may think you are a nobody. Maybe people have told you that all your life until you’ve come to believe it yourself. You’ve always been the youngest - the second fiddle - the one no one expects much of. You may seen yourself as damaged goods - second rate - with no hope of ever being anything else.
You may be cranking away at a seeming meaningless job - endlessly pursuing classes - hanging in there in a tough family situation - living out a mundane existence - living out life here in the greater Merced metroplex - cultural hub of the western hemisphere.
One morning David is tending sheep. That evening he’s the anointed king in waiting. Never saw that one coming. Afterwards - he’s tending sheep waiting for God to go the next step. Ready when called to play the harp. Nobody noticed David except God.
If God can send Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem and pick a David out of a field - you can be 100% sure that God can reach into Merced and grab hold of you as well.
Don’t focus on Saul. Don’t focus on your enemies. Don’t focus on outward appearances. Don’t focus on what you don’t see happening in your life. Focus on obeying God right where you are. And be ready. Because you are a somebody. And God has a plan for you.
1. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
2. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
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.