Summary: The life of David gives us principles for living with the heart of God
A Question of Heart
1 Samuel 8 and 16
©Copyright January 4, 2009 Rev. Bruce Goettsche SERIES: Living With the Heart of God
This morning we begin a new series of sermons which I have titled “Living with the Heart of God”. The title of the series is drawn from Acts 13:22 where David is called a man after God’s own heart.
This phrase, “a man after God’s heart”, has always captivated me. Why was David considered to be a man after God’s own heart and what can we learn from David so we too could live our lives more with the heart of God? David had his failures and that fact actually encourages me because it hints that maybe you and I can also be people who are “after God’s own heart”.
Apart from our Lord, David is certainly a central character in the Bible. Abraham and Joseph both have 14 chapters in the Bible devoted to their lives. Jacob has 11. Elijah has 10. But David? There are well over 50 chapters devoted to the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. In addition there are 28 Psalms that are attributed to David. I can only conclude that God made David such a significant figure in the Bible because he wanted us to learn significantly from his life.
Before we can understand David’s story we have to set the stage. For most of Israel’s history Israel had no king over them. They were a true theocracy; they were governed by God. They had God’s Law and when they needed defense, rebuke, or instruction, God raised up a leader (known as a Judge) who would lead the nation through a difficult time. Gideon, Samson, and Samuel were all Judges. They had authority but it was truly a God-derived authority.
As Samuel neared the end of his life and time of service he started to work his sons into the family business of serving as the spiritual guide of Israel. Unfortunately, the sons of Samuel were no prize. In 1 Samuel 8 we read, “his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” (v. 3)
The civic leaders met with Samuel and they were honest: “Your boys do not cut it” and they made their request to have a King of their own. The people said they wanted a King like the other nations had. They wanted someone who was recognized as the human authority in Israel. They wanted to mesh with the status quo.
Samuel was stunned. Why would anyone want a human King when God was willing to guide Israel? Samuel tried to warn the people that with a King the people would also get taxes, a military draft, corruption, and government bureaucracy. The people didn’t listen. They wanted a King so they didn’t hear a thing. God told Samuel to give them the King they asked for. (Be careful what you ask for . . . you may get it.)
God selected a man by the name of Saul to be the King. Samuel called the nation together for an “Inauguration Ceremony”. It was quite an elaborate ceremony. One by one representatives of the twelve tribes came forward and somehow (perhaps by casting lots…think drawing straws) the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. Each family in the tribe of Benjamin came forward until Matri’s clan was chosen. From that clan Saul of Kish was chosen. The whole point of the ceremony was to convey the fact that this was the Lord’s chosen representative. We are told that Saul, who seemed a little shy and perhaps reluctant, was tall dark and handsome and everyone thought he was a good choice.
Saul led adequately for awhile but he did two things that caused God to withdraw his blessing. First, he was told to wait seven days before going into a battle until Samuel came and made an offering on behalf of the people. When Saul thought Samuel wasn’t going to show up he offered the sacrifice himself (taking upon himself the role of a priest and defiling the holiness of the sacrifice).
The second transgression happened during a war with the Amalekites. God instructed Saul to act as his agent in executing judgment on the nation. The instructions were clear: destroy everything and everyone! This is not the time to debate the ethics of war. The point is that the instruction was clear. Saul did not destroy the King or the “good stuff” they gained as bounty. When Samuel arrived on the scene he was furious. Saul’s excuse was, “We were saving this for a special offering to give to the Lord.” Samuel responded with these classic words,
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)