Well this is our last morning with David and of course there is so much more to his life, so much more we could say, but I would encourage you to take that hunger and that interest and to really sit down and read the books of 1 and 2nd Samuel. Today we’re going to try to wrap up his life, to find some harmony to our Summer and perhaps leave today with a better understanding of the life that God calls us to.
But just to give you a brief overview. David’s son Absalom tries to overthrow him and so David is forced back into exile. During a battle between David’s men and Absalom’s men, Absalom gets his hair caught in a tree and he is killed by his cousin Joab.
Then David returns to Jerusalem as King and then in 2 Samuel 19 there is an amazing battle where the brothers of Goliath (4 different giants) join the Philistines and David is nearly killed.
As David’s son Solomon grows older and wiser, David gives him a mission, to build a grand temple for the Ark of the Covenant. But when another attempt is taken on David’s life from his fourth son, Nathan recommends to David that Solomon be made King.
This Summer we’ve been looking at the life of David because the Bible says he was Israel’s greatest King. In our very first week together we read how Nathan first went out to the fields to find the next King of Israel you’ll remember that none of David’s other bigger, more rugged brothers measured up – God told Nathan “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
God was looking at David’s heart. It was the reason God had chosen David. God’s greatest qualification wasn’t intelligence, skills or abilities, or appearance, but a person after God’s own heart. Scripture reminds us that David was a man after God’s own heart. But what does that mean? What does that look like?
It means: David’s heart beat in sync with God’s. Whatever God cared about, David cared about. Whatever God loved, David loved. What God wanted to see accomplished, David wanted to see accomplished.
And it’s those kind of people that God is looking for to use in a mighty way, the kind of people that God blesses are the people after God’s own heart. God works powerfully in the lives of people and in churches who have a heart for Him.
So what does it mean to be a person after God’s heart?
This morning we are going to be in 2 Samuel 22 & 23. And these two chapters are special because not only is one of them the inspiration for Psalm 18, but the second is the recorded last will and testament.
When I first started out as a Pastor I didn’t know what I would do first, a wedding or a funeral. And as it turns out, it was a funeral in fact anyone at our church who are Pastor didn’t have a strong personal connection with, he gave those assignments to me, not because he didn’t want to do them, but because he wanted me to learn.
And what often happens when you are asked to do a funeral for someone that you don’t know is that you meet the family and you are told about their lives, perhaps someone was written down a eulogy, which is a summation, it’s your entire life on a single sheet of paper and it usually contains when you were born, who your brothers and sisters were, where you went to school, where you worked, who you married and basically what you accomplished in your life.
Sometime if I am lucky, someone will bring an object with them and say, “this was their… fishing pole, or golf club, or guitar, or diary or bible.” and you can hold the object, thumb through it and get a better picture of their life.
This is the kind of thing we are left with in 2 Samuel 22 & 23. This is David’s eulogy that he has written about himself, these are his last and final words he wishes to share with you and how he wanted to be remembered.
2 Samuel 22
And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.2 He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
This passage starts off with really great words, are really good words “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” For David, God has been his source of everything in the best and worst moments of his life. David begins and says, “I can’t imagine a moment of my life without God. When I was King on the throne, surrounded by blessings, God was there. When I was in cave hiding in fear of my life, God was there. God fought with him in battle, God helped raise his children.
David begins by telling his reader.. God is his safety, his salvation and his everything.
“For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol (the grave) entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears.
And so here, David begins the question; how involved is God in your life? God is there, but does he intervene? God is there and he hears David’s cries… but does God listen?
v8 “Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth, glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he was seen on the wings of the wind. He made darkness around him his canopy, thick clouds, a gathering of water. Out of the brightness before him coals of fire flamed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen; the foundations of the world were laid bare, at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. “He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
You can see that David was a poet, he is using very descriptive language that paints a picture, but he is not being literal. God doesn’t actually send arrows, he doesn’t actually blast his breath towards the enemy, but rather David is answering the question. “Does God listen?”
And David says, God isn’t a king who sits on his throne and counts his treasure. Rather God is involved, God reaches down and helps, God hears the cries of the oppressed and he delivers. God not only hears… he answers.
And so now the eulogy is going to take a different turn.. listen to this….
v21 “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.
Wait what? Is he serious? What about his multiple wives, Bathsheba? Uriah? How can he say this -who is he trying to impress here? Talk about attempting to embellish on your resume. “I was the chief executive officer over sanitation and environmental control at my company” – no, you were the janitor. David says,
For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.
What could he possibly mean? I’ve heard on dating websites people always stretch the truth or doctor their pictures to paint themselves in the best possible light, but for David to say that he has “ kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.” seems like more than a stretch… right? Let’s see what else he says…
v23 For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight. “With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down. For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.
He’s delusional! Does he really think he is “blameless and righteous and clean?”
No, I don’t think so. So there has to be something more going on here. So here’s what I think. Yes David committed 10 thousand sins, but maybe just maybe when he writes …
v22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.
maybe he’s thinking of the 10 thousand sins he didn’t commit, because he’s a man after God’s own heart. You see, David isn’t just writing his own story, he’s adding another layer just beneath the surface, David is also talking about the people of Israel.
David is their King, he is their representative, so in a lot of ways, David is the embodiment of the people. And God is a covenant God. God makes contracts and keeps his word. Yes, David has sinned, yes… Israel has sinned but he always came back, he always repented, Israel always confessed and … God has honored that. God has kept the contract. They are his people – and he is their God.
So yes, we disobey. Yes, you and I do wicked and evil things, but… when we come back, when we confess… God washes away our sins and we are (as David says) “blameless, righteous and clean.”
David has learned to do something that many of us have never learned to do. He sees himself as God does. Listen to what he say next….
v31 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip; I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, and did not turn back until they were consumed. I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, those who hated me, and I destroyed them. They looked, but there was none to save; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as the dust of the earth; I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets. “You delivered me from strife with my people; you kept me as the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. Foreigners came cringing to me; as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me. Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation, the God who gave me vengeance and brought down peoples under me, who brought me out from my enemies; you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from men of violence. “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.”
David quickly turns his language doesn’t he. He starts by saying, how good and blameless he is and then he quickly turns the attention to God. David says, “I don’t want there to be any doubt, it’s not about me… this is all God’s hand. This is all His work!” David wants you to know that every good thing in our life comes from God – every good blessing every good moment, every feeling of joy and wonder comes from the Lord.
Every time you get to use a credit card that is a blessing from the Lord. You bought groceries or new clothes – those are blessings.
When we give money to the poor, when your children get good grades, or get accepted to A&M who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God!
The surgery was a success! You got a new job, you got a new house! Your pregnant! You have a new car! The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation, Blessings, blessings, blessings. David says if anything in my life is good – then God gets all of the credit.
So how can we look in the mirror and see what God sees? How can we begin this journey and this process to being people who have the heart of God?
1. David’s heart beat along with God (he was obedient.)
The first priority of being a person who has a heart for God is to do everything God wants us to do, and to carry out his will.
Jesus said it this way, “If you love me, obey my commands (John 14:15).”
God says to us if you want to be after my heart, do what I say. The first we hear of David being a man after God’s heart is during his predecessor Saul’s reign. The prophet Samuel had apparently told Saul to wait seven days for his arrival to offer a sacrifice to the Lord to receive his blessing before going off to battle. Saul waited, one day, two days, three days. Meanwhile, the enemy, the Philistines had amassed a huge army of soldiers and chariots ready for battle. With every day the terrified Israelite army became smaller and smaller. Finally seven days went by and no Samuel. So Saul decided he couldn’t wait any longer for Samuel because otherwise he wouldn’t have enough soldiers to fight the battle. So he chose to offer the ritual sacrifice to God himself. Just as Saul finished the sacrifice, guess who showed up? – that’s right Samuel. And he was not happy. Samuel was not happy because Saul violated his direct order by going ahead without him, and on top of that God had specific ways in which to offer sacrifices, and they were only to be done by a priest, no one else. In Saul’s impatience he disobeyed God’s command. And this was Samuel’s response:
1 Samuel 13:13-14
The reason God took away the kingdom from Saul’s descendents was because he disobeyed God’s commandments. Saul didn’t do what God wanted him to do. The kind of king God was looking for was a person who had a heart for God, in other words, one who would obey God’s commands, a person like David.
Hundreds of years later, another guy named Paul, taught about what it was that separated Saul from David he said:
… when [God] had removed [Saul], he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
Having a heart for God means we obey the things God tells us to, we do everything God wants us to do, not just the commands which are convenient for us, but even the tough stuff.
Listen, David experienced God’s grace and God’s blessing, because he was obedient. The last two weeks we looked at David’s indiscretion and his sin, but we also witnessed his repentance and his confession. Of course we don’t have to be perfect, David wasn’t perfect, David turned aside, but those minor failings drove him back to his knees and back to obedience.
There is more to being a Christian than saying a prayer and coming to church once a week.
Are you after God’s heart? Does your heart beat in sync with God’s? Do you care about what God cares about? Do you care about his commands? Do you desire that every person might be saved, know the truth, and have a relationship with God? (every person not just the nice people, or the people like us) Because that is what God cares about. God cares when a person doesn’t have a meal to eat, or clean water to drink, clothes on their back, or a place to lay their head. Does your heart break for the things that break God’s heart? Do you care about justice, freedom, mercy and grace because God cares about those things!
Listen to David’s prayer from Psalm 19:14:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer..
David wasn’t just satisfied with doing things for God to please him. David actually wanted more of God in his life. David’s desire was not just to go after God’s heart but to go after God.
As a poet, songwriter, and musician, David is credited with 73 of the 150 Psalms in the book of Psalms. That’s over half. The Psalms reflect the kind of heart God is looking for. David poured out his heart to God in prayer, poetry, and songs; and through it all beat a heart bent on obedience.
2. David’s heartbeat was for God – (he was passionate)
People who have a heart for God have a desire for MORE of God in their life. Just as you hunger for food, and thirst for water, those with a heart for God have a soul which hungers and thirsts for God.
David wrote in Psalm 63 while he was in the desert fleeing from Saul:
“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Another Psalmist writes a similar song – Psalm 42
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. You alone are my hearts desire and I long to worship you.”
David’s heart didn’t just beat along with God’s heart, his heart beat for God. When the ark of the covenant was being brought into Jerusalem for the first time, David danced with joy, the people were shouting and singing, and excited because the presence of the Lord was returning to Jerusalem.
I’ve seen people with a passion for sports, for their college, for their job and for their kids. I’ve seen people who are passionate about government, about community and even about church… but all those things (while all of them good) do not equate to a passion for God.
We can spend a couple hours at a sporting event perhaps even in bad weather, we can even spend 2 hours in the car driving there and back – but an hour or more worshipping God on Sunday morning seems like a chore.
We can enjoy watching two hours of television a night, but 15-30 minutes of being with God in prayer and reading his word seems like forever.
Our faith has settled for good enough. “God’s ok with it, he understands, my relationship with God is good enough, it has gotten me through this far.” and we become satisfied with normal. But see a person with a heart for God isn’t satisfied with normal. They desire MORE of God in their life and they are passionate about doing the things God loves.
God honors and blesses a person, a church, a community, a group who honestly desires God and more of him.
How do we become more like David, a person after God’s heart? It sounds nice, and perhaps we think, “I would like to do that, but I don’t feel it, or my hearts just not into it.” But see, I think in our culture we often misunderstand what our heart is all about. We think of the heart as being the place of emotions, and we say “I love you with all of my heart.” The heart is where we feel and experience emotions. But in the Old Testament the heart was not just the place of feeling; it was also the center of thought, and of will.
Today it would be more accurate if we called said “our heart and our mind.” In other words we are not just led by our feelings, but we can actually make a choice to have a heart for God. We can make a conscious choice to pursue God’s heart until we feel it, and once we DO feel it, then we pursue God all the more.
You see, it isn’t about doing it when the feeling strikes you, it’s about doing what we choose to do. “Will I obey God in all matters, will I pursue God, will I praise God even if I don’t feel like it?” David did and what he learned was….
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior.”
One last word from David, 2 Samuel chapter 23. David writes…
23 Now these are the last words of David:
Now, just to be clear these are not the words from his death bed. These are not the last words to escape his lips before he died. More than likely David wrote these words himself as is own last will and testament, these are the words that David wants his friends and family to read and this is the legacy he leaves to you and me.
The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:
v2 “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. (David is talking about the Holy Spirit, sitting beside him, whispering to him images and visions of a future many years later)
v3 The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.
“For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire? But worthless men[ are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand; but the man who touches them arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they are utterly consumed with fire.”
David with the help of the Holy Spirit looks out over the vast expanse of time and says “one day there will be a new kingdom and a new King.” The God of contracts and covenants will one day establish a new agreement and a new system of forgiveness. With the help of the Holy Spirit David is able to write down a vision of his great great grandson, another shepherd, another great King, a man named Jesus.
And when the people of his day see Jesus act with obedience, and they see his healing hand move with passion, what do they call him?
“Jesus, the son of David.” Wow… what a life… what a legacy. Listen, when you die, someone is going to pick through your things. Someone is going to take your fishing rod, or your bible to the pastor and say, “this was their life.”
What will they say about you?
What will they write in your eulogy? How will your story be told? What are the last words you will leave to the future generations? Will your legacy be one of obedience… will it be one of passion? Will people say of you that you had a heart for God?
We could be so lucky to have lived such a life.