Few biblical figures are as important in God’s plan of redemption as David, the son of Jesse. He is the second king of Israel and the one with whom the Almighty makes an everlasting covenant for the good of the world. David is a model of loyalty, the writer of over half of the book of Psalms, and an example of godliness for redeemed sinners because even though he sinned greatly, he still remained steadfast after God’s commands and practiced true repentance.
It was in the midst of a great national crisis that David was selected to rule over the nation of Israel. After Saul proved to be a great failure (1 Sam. 15), the Lord came to the prophet-judge Samuel and instructed him to anoint a new monarch, who would replace Saul.
In 1 Samuel 16, after a long process of having each of Jesse’s oldest and most charismatic sons stand before Samuel one at a time, so he might discern which of the lads the Lord had chosen to be the new king, it was God’s will to choose the youngest and “least likely” candidate in David. In this, God teaches us a very important life lesson: “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
When the Lord selected David to be his chosen King, He wanted a man who understood the need to be a man “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David was surely this, as he was the least of his brothers and a humble shepherd, who did not otherwise aspire to greatness (1 Samuel 16:8–13).
This David was a man after God’s own heart, not because he was perfect, but because he was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and knew to repent when he had sinned (2 Sam. 24:10–25; Ps. 51). Men and women after God’s own heart are sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit and strive not to quench Him as He convicts us of sin and guides us in righteousness. One of the best ways to be sensitive to the Spirit is to study His inspired word, that we might hear Him when He calls. We must also be regularly in prayer and committed to our local church where members and elders are tasked by God to encourage us in holiness and admonish us for sin. Our fight against sin and the temptations of this world are too real not to make these God-given things a priority in our lives.
Despite being anointed as king over Israel in his father Jesse’s house (1 Sam. 16:1–13), David did not ascend to the throne immediately; rather, he was pressed immediately into the service of King Saul (vv. 14–23). It was in the first part of his service to this king that David displayed many of the heroic qualities that would be so closely associated with him later on.
It is in 1 Samuel 17 that we get a front row seat for one of the most famous fights in all of history and the true, public coming-out party of David as a strong and worthy leader. The phrase, David and Goliath, has become the illustration of the underdog overcoming the favored champion.
Soon after David entered the court of the king, the Philistines moved to attack the nation of Israel. As was common then, the armies of each nation stood opposite one another on two mountains with a valley in between them — squaring off, so to speak (1 Sam. 17:1–3). From their vantage point, the Philistines and their champion, Goliath, engaged in a bit of psychological warfare, taunting Israel and boasting of their military superiority (vv. 4–10). This was also the usual way for armies to face each other before battle, and the clear atmosphere of the land of Palestine made it easy for shouts to be heard up to a mile away. Thus, Saul and his army had no problem hearing Goliath, and they were “greatly afraid” (v. 11).
Even though King Saul and his armies were greatly afraid of Goliath and the encroaching Philistine army, David rose to the occasion, not in his own ability or reputation as a victorious warrior, but in the strength and name of God. David trusted God to do His perfect will.
I Samuel 17:45-47 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”
Like David, we should not fear when we are pressed into service; indeed, we should be the first to volunteer to face potential suffering for the sake of Christ. We can be sure that God will give us the final victory when we fight for Him according to His ways. Though there will be some casualties on our side, the war’s outcome is decided, and all those who suffer now will be raised in triumph in the world to come.
I Samuel 17:48-51 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
God surely gave a great victory to David and the Israelites that day, as the Giant was slain, and the Philistines fled. But this is not just a story of moral inspiration, as it has commonly been made out to be. It is a great foreshadowing of the truer and better David, Jesus Christ, without whom all of our victories on earth are but a broken plastic trophy with no lasting value. Jesus is the One who defeated the true giant in our place. He is our victor and the One who gives a dead people new life to go out and make much of God’s name among all the nations. While David’s faith to stand up to the giant who should have brutally slaughtered him is great and an example worthy of following, it is Jesus, our bloodied champion over sin and eternal death, to whom David points us that matters most.
David was eventually made king, and the greatest king in ancient Israel he would be. He was a poet, musician, and warrior, and great leader. He was “a man after God’s own heart” (see 1 Sam. 13:14) because of his extraordinary devotion to the Lord.
But David was not perfect or sinless by any means; instead, he is also remembered as one of history’s greatest sinners. 2 Samuel 11 tells the famous story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah to try to cover his guilt and sin.
Like many of our own daily sins, David saw something he shouldn’t look upon, but instead of turning away, he pursued the lust in his heart of the sin. Instead of confessing of the sin and repenting from it, he tried to cover it up by having Bathsheba’s husband killed. How often does our engagement in sin slip fast and hard into addiction or more consequential sin? Oh, how we must fight our sin every day. This is why we are desperate for God’s word to instruct us and lead us unto righteousness. This is why we lean on the Holy Spirit in prayer and petition--not just over our cheerios, but all day long. This is why we do not make decisions alone but lean into our blood-bought family for godly counsel, encouragement, and admonishment when needed. We cannot fight this fight alone, nor should we when Christ has given us so much to armor ourselves and fight for His holy name.
Like God has done for us in Christ, He mercifully forgave David when David acknowledged his sin, but this does not mean David’s transgressions had no horizontal consequences. This we see in 2 Samuel 12, as Nathan faithfully brings to mind and heart God’s view and judgment on David’s sin. David would lose the child in Bathsheba’s womb, but David would not curse God for His righteous judgment; instead, David would worship the Lord even after these consequences were brought to pass (2 Sam. 12:15b–23). This showed that David acknowledged his guilt and the justice of God’s verdict. This is a huge example to us today. Many things that come about in this life or consequences we or loved ones face set the table for us to be angry at God and sinfully curse God instead of trusting His ways are always good and righteous and perfect.
Do you harbor lingering bitterness toward the Lord over the consequences you suffer from your sin or the hardships and loss that come with this broken world we live in? We must always have faith in God. He is God and worthy of our praise no matter the situation. Circumstances do not EVER change the fact that God is worthy of our praise and due our trust and faith in Him.