David, King

<<revered Israelite King, sometimes known as ‘Great David’>>

The youngest son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah and the father of Solomon, and an ancestor of Christ (1 Sam 16:10,11; Mt 1:6-16; Rev 22:16). During his lifetime, he went from being a shepherd boy to become the second King of Israel and its greatest in God’s eyes. Under his kingship, the nation was established, and he planned and prepared for building the temple in Jerusalem. He lived from 1040 to 970 BC.  His story is told in 1 Samuel 16-1 Kings 2, 1 Chronicles 11-29.

He was anointed King three times: privately by Samuel, crowned King over the tribe of Judah and reigned seven years in Hebron, then crowned King over all Israel and from Jerusalem reigned for 33 years (1 Sam 16:13; 2 Sam 2:4, 5:3-5).  Consequently, Jerusalem is often termed the city of David.

God made a promise to David declaring his descendants would perpetually rule over Israel if they followed God (2 Sam 7:12,15,16; Ps 132:12). This was conditional upon the people’s obedience – when they later rebelled against God the nation was defeated and no King has sat on a throne in Israel since.  However, the second part of God’s promise, to establish the house of David forever has been fulfilled by Jesus, who descended from David and will reign forever (2 Sam 7:26).

About 75 Psalms were written by David, giving insight into his struggles, beliefs, desire for and praise to God; these give much consolation to Christians today. The following are just a few of the praising statements David made, “O Lord, I will praise you with all my heart, and tell everyone about the marvelous things you do…” (Ps 9:1). “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my innermost being praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion” (Ps 103:1-4).

Lessons from his life: * “God looks at the heart of man not the outward appearance” as we humans do. David’s heart was focused on obeying God. This was in contrast to the lifestyle of Saul and the commendable physical features of one of David's brothers (1 Sam 13:14, 16:7; Act 13:22). The heart is that part of our mind that motivates all thinking and determines what we want or desire. We are exhorted to “guard it more than any treasure for it is the well spring of life” (Prov 4:23). Contrast David with Saul who had the external qualities but a deficient heart, with his motivation to please man and only partial obedience (1 Sam 15:1-30). God sees into our hearts; He judges by character. Nothing can be hidden from Him. We might be able to conceal things from man but not God. Do I put more effort into developing my inner character than my outer self?

* He had a strong belief in God’s purposes and acted courageously.  He allowed God to prepare him for greater things through the trials of his life. He previously had killed a bear and lion before confronting Goliath (1 Sam 17:36,37,45-47,50).  We must progress up through life too, tackling and successfully conquering in the seemingly smaller encounters if we want victory in the big areas. Who knows where our ‘bear and lion’ encounters will lead? Don’t run from life’s challenges – face them with Christ and emerge victorious.

* David didn’t force the situation to become King by taking matters into his own hands and killing Saul when situations to do so presented themselves and even when others suggested this was the right time to claim what he had been promised he waited for God to act (1 Sam 24:3-7). The Bible’s message is “Don’t do evil that good may come” (Rom 3:8). David would have known about Abraham who tried to help God’s promises happen – the world is still in turmoil because he stepped outside the divine plan (Gen 16:1-15). Rather David patiently let God work out the promise in His time and consequently grew in character. Although he was probably only a teenager when he was anointed for kingship this did not begin to be outworked till maybe 15 years later when he was 30 years old (1 Sam 16:13, 24:1-6, 26:9-11; 2 Sam 5:3-5). Could my patience last that long? When eventually Saul died David didn’t rejoice at the news though Saul had tried on numerous occasions to kill him (2 Sam 1:11,12). What is my reaction when misfortune strikes someone who is opposed to me?

* David was a loyal friend who kept his word to Jonathan to whom he declared his intense, brotherly love (1 Sam 18:1-4; 2 Sam 1:26, 9:1-13). However, there is no implication of any homosexual relationship – such actions were strictly forbidden in Israel with death being the penalty (Lev 18:22, 20:13). Do you have a trusted friend of the same sex (besides your spouse), with who you are knitted together in spirit, who can stand with you and encourage you in the faith (1 Sam 23:16-18).

* When he was facing possible death through no fault of his own, he still rejoiced in God – and the situation was reversed (1 Sam 30:6).  When everything is against me, how do I react? Do I try to fight the battles in my own strength? Is my confidence and trust in God? When situations are against me, do I turn to the one who has my times in His hands (Ps 31:15)?

* From a casual glance at another man’s wife taking a bath, wrong desires set in motion lust that led to adultery and then murder to try and cover up his sin (2 Sam 11:1-27). But when confronted about his sin he made a genuine confession from the heart (Ps 51:1-12). Although God granted forgiveness, the consequences of his sin plagued his descendants from that point on (2 Sam 12:10-14). Sexual sins are probably the most destructive in an individual’s life; with a snowballing effect – the consequences affect many lives, tarnish our testimony and bring disgrace to Christ.  Do I have the mastery over my eyes, or do they control me?  Don’t play with sin in any form including pornography – wrong desires can quickly over-ride wisdom.

* David wouldn’t give to the Lord what personally had cost him nothing (1 Chr 21:24). A sacrifice implies a cost to the giver – time, money or effort representing something of self being committed. With my visible service to God is my motivation ‘to be seen of men’ and receive their praise or is it a genuine expression of love, gratitude and devotion that doesn’t need to be ‘noticed’?

* David wanted to build the temple but when God informed him that he wasn’t to build it he graciously accepted the ‘No’. He was not jealous of his son Solomon who would construct it after David had died; instead, he gathered the necessary materials (1 Chr 22:7-10,14). He also rallied the Israelites to get behind the project and instructed them to “Devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God” (1 Chr 22:17-19).

* The greatest lesson we can learn from this OT leader is his absolute confidence in and exuberant passion for God. Let us all learn from his example and pour out our deepest feelings to Him (He knows them anyway) and be unfettered in our praise to the Saviour, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my innermost being praise His holy name” (Ps 103:1).  Why not pause and praise God now, determining to become a worshipper, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips…Every day I will praise you” (Ps 34:1, 145:2).

See also: Bathsheba, entry points, heart, Jonathan, kings, Psalms, Saul, Solomon.