Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29 - David, King of Israel, Shepherd, "a Man after God's Own Heart"


David was "a man after God's own heart." He had been the youngest and apparently least fit member of his family when Samuel came looking to anoint a new king of Israel to replace Saul eventually. They didn't even call him in from the field since they needed somebody to watch the flock and protect it and he was considered so unlikely to be the choice. To be honest, Jesse and the rest of the boys fully expected that it would be the oldest son who was selected yet God didn't move Samuel's hand to the mature and muscular man who stood at the front of the line. One by one, Samuel looked into the eyes of the boys and hesitated to hear the voice of God--nothing happened. He began to get worried as he approached the last boy and there weren't any bells going off in his head. He second guessed himself and must have wondered if there wasn't something that was his fault keeping him from hearing God. Then, he ventured a question: "There isn't another, is there?" As the words left his mouth, the tension that had been building in Jesse and the boys reached a fever pitch--of course, there was one more and as the old prophet had moved on from each boy they all breathed in deeply fearing that they had left the next king of Israel alone in the field with the sheep. Jesse sent for the boy and Samuel heard the voice of God. So, he anointed David and proclaimed that this one would be the next king.But, this wasn't why David was "a man after God's own heart."

David was "a man after God's own heart." He had shown courage when no other Israelite dared test God's faithfulness by standing up to Goliath. He gathered five stones--we cannot forget that Goliath had four brothers back in Gath--and strode into battle without the heavy armor to weigh him down. Saul had wanted the boy to take Israel's best efforts at protection with him but God wanted the boy to take only his faith and a sling. He was mocked by the beastly man but refused to be rebuffed--he had God on his side. He swung the sling and released the stone that would fell the mighty warrior with one precision blow of God's will. The army rode the wave of ecstatic jubilation into battle and routed the Philistines. But, this wasn't why David was "a man after God's own heart."

David was "a man after God's own heart." Saul began to fear David's success because of the conversations and songs of the people--it was clear that they were enamored with the man who had slain Goliath and gained Samuel's approval. This was a man of God who stood in contrast to Saul's impetuous behavior. Saul devised ways to bring about David's death but his own son--Jonathan--worked with David to assure his safety. Saul chased after David but David was always one step ahead.When David had the chance to return the favor and kill Saul, he crept away but left a message for Saul who woke up and deduced that David had been close when he was vulnerable and chosen not to kill him. But, this wasn't why David was "a man after God's own heart."

David was "a man after God's own heart." He became king of Israel and led the armies in many successful battles. Yet once when he was at home and his armies were away, he had the bad fortune to be high in palace and to look upon a beautiful woman--Bathsheba--bathing nearby. His heart burned with lust for the woman and he had her brought to him. In a torrent of passion, the two humans gave into their desire and became adulterers. In an attempt to cover over his sin, he called the woman's husband--Uriah--home from the battlelines to be with her. The hope was that they would have sex and Bathsheba and David's sin would be concealed but Uriah's loyalty to David and Israel meant that he slept on the ground outside the palace because he knew it wasn't fair for him to be home and his brothers in arms to be so far away. So, David's fear gripped him and he made a terrible mistake: he sent Uriah back with an order that he be sent to the front lines of battle to die at the hands of the enemies of Israel. But, this surely wasn't why David was "a man after God's own heart."

David was "a man after God's own heart" because of what he did next. When God's judgment was visited upon David and Bathsheba for their sin, Nathan told David that the child would die. David was struck to the core of his heart with sorrow for his sin and its creeping effects upon others. He recognized how he had injured Bathsheba gravely because of lust--not love--and murdered a man who was loyal to him to a fault. Further, he had brought about the death of his own child because of the sinful expression of his own dominant will. The glass of David's self-delusions began cracking as the sin spider-webbed out into his life and laid its sickly clutches upon all the good things in his life and tarnishing them. He turned to God in repentance and sobbed and prayed. The child still died but David had learned not only the lingering effects of sin but also the power and necessity of repentance. David was "a man after God's own heart" because he knew how to lament, pray, and repent when forced to recognize exactly what he was: a broken and sinful man.

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