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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Character of David and Saul – Part 4

          If we are willing, God will develop our character, so we reflect His character. He is not in a hurry, however, as illustrated in the life of David. David was anointed as king over Israel at the age of 17 but didn’t become king until he was 30 years of age. David’s shortfall, like us, was his humanness. God would build David’s character in solitude and obscurity and through trials and tribulation as He trains David for the throne. His training began in a shepherd’s field tending his father’s sheep and fighting off the lions and bears who came to steal, kill and destroy the sheep. This showed God that David was caring, protective, faithful to his charge and courageous.

Service to Another
            Next, David must learn humble service. He would learn to serve the very king who was in David’s God-appointed position and has now been rejected by God – Saul. This showed God that David was humble and willing to wait upon God to fulfill His promise. It also showed God that David cared for those who have been rejected and are hurting no matter what position they may have held. Because Saul, the peoples’ choice for king, had been falling further and further away from the Lord through disobedience and his fleshly character, eventually “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from God” tormented him. (see 1 Samuel 16:14) God will use this circumstance to bring the “old” (king) and the “new” (king) together just as God would use David’s descendant Jesus to bring the “old” and the “new” together. Jesus will have a body made up of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Him. He also brings the Old and New Testament together as One in Him.
David will use his gift of music to soothe Saul’s tormented spirit. The Spirit of David and his calm music on the harp would temporarily free Saul from the evil spirit that tormented him. God’s Spirit in David and his music were in harmony bringing peace to Saul. Saul’s permanent healing can only come, however, from surrendering his will and ways to God in humble repentance. Because Saul didn’t do this, he descended further and further into evil. He became more arrogant, jealous, fearful and depressed. He eventually fell by his own sword. God didn’t do this to Saul. Saul did it to himself by refusing to turn from his wicked ways back to God.  

God’s Appointed Time
God has an appointed time.Unlike Saul who was unprepared for the throne, God must prepare David before he would let him rule over His “treasured possession” -- His people.  Saul is an example of one who has not been prepared to lead. He failed. David, on the other hand, will wait upon God and learn through his trials and tests as God shapes David’s character into a “man after God’s own heart.”  God wants to align our character with His.
David like Saul and all of humanity had his shortfalls because he was made of flesh. David had a weakness for women (see 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13; 11:2-27) David at times feared. Out of fear, he acted like he was crazy. (see 1 Samuel 21:12-13) David did things that angered God and was sometimes convicted of sin. (see 2 Samuel 24; 2 Samuel 12:13) He was capable of the most egregious sins as we see in his adultery, manipulation, murder and coverup.
David was a man after God’s own heart because of his sorrow over his sin and his desire to become more like God. “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2 David’s prayer of repentance is in Psalm 51. David learned through his sins that going against God’s will and ways makes us make bad decisions with subsequent consequences. David realized the enormity of his sin and accepted and suffered the consequences. There are consequences for sin, but God remains with David. David wanted God to correct his heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” Psalm 51:10a Saul never asked for this.

          David will now go against a greater enemy. David didn’t go to the battlefield at the Valley of Elah to fight. He went at the request of his father to check on his brothers who were fighting in Saul’s army and bring them food. Again, David is carrying out his father’s request to check on the well-being of his brethren, just as Jesus, came to the battlefield of earth to check on His brethren and give them spiritual food, and the power to fight the spiritual enemy of all people.
         Goliath shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Choose a man and have him come down to me.” 1 Samuel 17:8 God had already chosen the “man” – David.
            Once again, David will show his heart for God and His people by coming against a greater enemy – the champion of the Philistines – Goliath. David had shown his heart for his father’s sheep, now he will show his heart for God and His people. David was met with discouragement when he said he would fight Goliath. His brother Eliab discouraged him and put David down. (see 1 Samuel 17:28) Saul discouraged him. “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” 1 Samuel 17:33 David didn’t depend upon his own strength. He depended upon the Lord. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion, and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37 David had been strengthened by the battles with the lions and bears. David didn’t respond with anger or bitterness. Instead, he remained calm and peaceful and kept his spirit connected to the Lord.
           Goliath cursed David and ridiculed him. David responded with, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head……the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47 David had righteous indignation that Goliath had defied the Lord, the God of Israel. David’s motive was pure. He wanted to take away the reproach of Israel and let all there know that God is with His people. David was zealous for the honor and reputation of the Lord God of Israel. David would let God work through him. He knew the battle was not his but the Lord’s. Without God, David would be defeated against the enemy. David would stand alone with the Lord. His faith in God was sure, so David was fearless. David would cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword. Cutting off one’s head is a sign of victory and the cutting off of his authority. Jesus cut off the devil’s authority on the cross bringing the victory over evil to all.
         David’s victory over Goliath came because of his faith in God that had already been tested and proven in his life.
         God is progressively shaping and forming David’s character so he is prepared to carry out God’s call on his life.

God Rewards us for our Character
      David was gifted in many ways and was called to a high office. However, David won’t be rewarded for his gifts or calling. No, God will reward David and us for our character. Our gifts don’t impress God because they are from God in the first place. It is our character that impresses God and that which He rewards. God wants to align our character with the holy character that Christ has given us. God’s discipline isn’t to punish us but to correct our character. He must remove the things in our lives that interfere with our godliness thus making us more fruitful. Our “doing” flows from our character. Our character demonstrates our heart!

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