Summary: David teaches us an important principle of living with God’s heart.

Little Things

1 Samuel 16

©Copyright January 11, 2009 Rev. Bruce Goettsche SERIES: Living with God’s Heart

Every speaker will tell you they long for a captivating illustration that will drive home the point they want to make. We labor finding the right word picture to help people understand and “feel” the point we want to make. Jesus was a master at illustrating truth. He told stories all the time to help people think and to help them “see” what He was trying to communicate.

In Romans 15:4 we read, “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The benefit of studying the Old Testament narratives; like those of David’s life; is that the story serves as the illustration we long for. Old Testament stories illustrate Biblical truth.

In our study of the life of David we are trying to learn what it means to live with the heart of God. Since David is called, “a man after God’s own heart” we hope to learn what this involves by studying his life.

Last week we recounted the story of the first King, Saul, and his loss of God’s favor due to his disobedience to the Lord. Shortly after Samuel announced that Saul had lost God’s blessing Samuel was sent to anoint the new King, David. At this time David was a relatively young man . . . probably in his teens.

David was anointed the new King of Israel in a private ceremony most likely with just David’s family around. The problem, of course, is that there is no opening for the job of King in Israel. The current King was in good health and had no intention of stepping aside.

The Demise of Saul

After David was anointed we are told “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” In conjunction with this we also read, “but the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” The passage raises a haunting question: Is God in the business of afflicting people with evil spirits?

James declares,

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.(Jas 1:13-15)

So, is this a contradiction? Does this prove the Bible is not the inspired Word of God? Not at all. Biblical writers (especially in the Old Testament) often refer to events with God’s ultimate sovereignty in mind. In other words, since God is in complete control, and nothing happens outside of His control, we can say that all things ultimately (in one sense) come from Him. So, even though an evil spirit may be sent by the Devil or invited into our lives by our own actions, ultimately God permits this to happen so in that sense you could say the evil spirit came from the Lord.

At the end of David’s life there is another such event. In 2 Samuel 24 we are told that God led David to take a census of the fighting men (an act which brought judgment from God). I 1 Chronicles 21 the same story is recounted and we are told Satan incited David to take a census of the troops. 1 Chronicles identifies the primary cause of David’s act (Satan), the historian who wrote the history in 1 & 2 Samuel focuses on the secondary or ultimate cause (God . . . who permitted it to happen).

So, Saul was afflicted with an evil spirit. Matthew Henry hits the target when he wrote,

Those that drive the good Spirit away do of course become prey to the evil spirit. If God and his grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us.

When anyone turns away from the Lord they create a spiritual vacuum that makes them vulnerable to the influence of evil. Saul became susceptible to deep fits of depression (and we’ll see later, fits of anger). It was Saul’s attendants (who are probably most affected by Saul’s moodiness) who suggest that what Saul needs is a musician to help his troubled soul. Saul agreed that it was worth a try and asked for the résumés of possible candidates. This is where David enters our story.

Don’t miss the fingerprints of God in this story! God used this circumstance to bring David into the home of the King he was to replace; it was God’s internship program! God uses the circumstances of our lives to accomplish His purposes. If we pay attention and wait on the Lord, the Lord will guide us to where He wants us and when He wants us to be there. Our circumstance may seem like a simple thing at the time, but that simple thing may be opening a door to something we can’t yet imagine.

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