David is an example to those of us who desire to have “a heart after God’s own heart.” David’s heart was characterized as being fully abandoned to God. We can be abandoned to God if we’re moved to give to Him with the passion of David. David’s heart can also be seen as one experiencing deep reflection. We also can have a heart that goes deep with God, especially in times of solitude. David’s heart was also undivided. He loved people with the loyal heart of a shepherd. Our hearts can be as full when we devote ourselves to loving God and people the way David did.
Hi, I’m Matt VanCleave, one of the pastors at Blue Oaks. Today we start a series called Facing Giants.
We’re going to get know a man named David very well in this series.
And I want to say something about why we’re doing this. Why would we devote a whole series to studying one man’s life?
It’s because of what an incredible man David was.
Let me share with you some things about David:
He was such a skilled musician that King Saul would summon him to play in his presence because David’s playing would relieve his depression when nothing else would. It was like musical Prozac to Saul.I
He was such a fearsome warrior that he won a legendary battle against a great champion when he wasn’t even old enough to shave.
He attracted the greatest soldiers in his day to serve under him, and he conquered his nation’s enemies in a way that Israel had never experienced before and would never experience again.
He was also a poet. He wrote Psalms that express the longing of the human heart for God so deeply that now, in our day, thousands of years later, they remain the single most moving and influential devotional literature ever written. David wrote the prayer book for the human race.
He was a statesman of such wisdom and political skill that Israel achieved its highest level of economic well-being and political stability in its history under his reign. His reign would forever be remembered as the golden age of Israel.
And it would exist so powerfully in people’s memories that they would refer to the Messiah as the “Son of David,” because they hoped that he would reclaim the glory of the days of David.
And he was an incredibly attractive person. We’re told several times that he was attractive both physically and in his personality. Men and women were drawn to his charismatic presence.
Think about all this in one man:
He had the poetic soul of Shakespeare.
He had the competitive heart of Tiger Woods.
He had the musicianship of Beethoven.
The statesmanship of Lincoln.
And the physical attractiveness of Michael B Jordan.
He was an incredible man.
But in the text we’re going to look at today, God says what’s really amazing about David was not his external accomplishments, his extraordinary gifting, or his good looks.
It was his heart!
1 Samuel 16 is where we first meet David in Scripture.
Israel had been freed from Egypt. They lived in the Promise Land under a number of Judges like Joshua and Gideon and Samson. And the last judge that led Israel was Samuel.
But the people wanted a king. And so God had Samuel anoint a king.
The first king was Saul. He was an impressive man. He stood head and shoulders above the people of Israel. But Saul became increasingly corrupt and violent and evil.
And God said in 1 Samuel 13:14
But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.
Now in 1 Samuel 16:1-16, Samuel is an old man. His time is close to done on this earth, and God speaks to him:
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.”
Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
But the LORD said to Samuel, “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.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
Alright, so here’s what happens: God tells Samuel, “Samuel, go and anoint a new king.” And Samuel says, “But God, we’ve already got a king, and it’s not good for my health to appoint a new king when there’s still an old one.”
And God says, “Trust me.”
So Samuel goes to this little obscure village called Bethlehem. And you’ll notice in the text it says in verse four that the elders of the town trembled when they saw Samuel was coming.
Samuel was not known for his small talk, and they wondered who sinned.
Someone must be in serious trouble. They trembled. And Samuel said, “It’s okay. God’s going to give a great honor to this town. The leader of his people is going to come from Bethlehem.”
Samuel invites the elders and Jesse’s family to this event. And you might imagine that his arrival would create quite a stir in this obscure little village. And Jesse is so proud he can hardly stand it.
Now, you’ve got to picture this scene for a moment. Jesse introduces his first son, his heir.
He’s always known his first born was destined for greatness. He was class president, quarterback of the football team, an outstanding young CEO. He rolls up in a brand new Tesla – he has a commanding presence. He walks into a room, and he just dominates it.
And Jesse says, “This is my son, Eliab.”
And God says, “He’s not the one.”
So Samuel passes that word on, and then Jesse has son number two, Abinadab, and he’s not the one.
And then son number three, Shammah.
And then he goes through all seven sons. They don’t all get named, but they all, one by one, are paraded before Samuel.
No one is the one.
And Samuel is wondering by this time, “God, why in the world did you have me come into the middle of nowhere to reject seven sons?”
So he says to Jesse, “Are these the only sons you have?”
That seems like kind of a dumb question. Don’t you think Jesse would be aware of how many sons he has? “Are these the only sons you have?”
And Jesse says almost as an afterthought, “Well, there’s still the youngest.” We still don’t get a name yet, just “whats-his-name. There’s still the youngest.”
And it’s important to understand that in Hebrew, the term “the youngest” meant not merely the last born, it also meant the lowest in rank. “There’s still the most unlikely son of all the sons.”
And there’s a real big significance in that day to birth order.
There’s some of this in our day.
If you’re not the first born, have you ever noticed that the firstborn had certain unfair advantages… like in the photo album? Did you ever notice that?
Jesse’s photo album would have been something like this. He’d say:
Here are the pictures of our firstborn Eliab.
Here’s Eliab being born.
Here’s Eliab when he’s one hour old.
Here’s a picture of Eliab on his second day.
And so on, every day of Eliab’s life because he’s the firstborn.
Then there’s number two, Abinadab:
Here’s Abinadab being born.
Here’s Abinadab going to preschool
And so on.
Then there’s number three:
Here’s Shammah being born.
Here’s Shammah going to first grade.
Then you get down to the last photo album and open it up:
Here’s David being born.
We’ve got to get more pictures of David.
Well, Jesse says, “There’s still the youngest, but he’s out with the sheep. He’s not the one.”
Then Samuel says, “Go send for him. We’ll wait.”
Imagine what that must have been like. It had to take quite a while to track down this kid who’s out tending the sheep.
Samuel says, “We won’t sit down until he comes.”
So they’re all just standing there, seven sons, all like the first runner-up in the Miss America pageant trying to look like things are okay when they’re hoping that the real winner dies or something so they can take over.
Well, they finally find David, and he comes pulling up in his old beat up truck. And God looks at David, and says, “That’s the one. He’s the one.”
Now, there’s a theme going on here related to the birth order that I want to point out. It kind of runs throughout the Old Testament.
Remember, birth order was very significant in that culture.
But consider how birth order was followed for the people of God in the Old Testament.
Ishmael is born first, but God chooses Isaac.
Esau comes first, but God has the line go through Jacob.
Ten other brothers are born first, but God chooses Joseph.
Seven other boys are born first, but David, the youngest, becomes king.
What’s God saying?
Is God saying that firstborn kids are all spoiled brats, and he likes middle or younger kids better? I think that might be part of it.
We have to understand that in those days, everything went to the firstborn – all rights, all property, all privileges. That’s the way the power structures went.
It’s like God is saying, “I’m breaking into the ordinary cultural practices of human life.” He’s doing a new thing.
God is saying that old limitations and old boundaries about who counts and who doesn’t count don’t apply anymore. Not in God’s kingdom. God is doing something new, and he’s not bound to any human system or power.
God is at work now, and his kingdom is going to shake some things up.
God summarizes this in verse seven when he says to Samuel:
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
Now I want to say a few things about this because it’s important that we understand this rightly and don’t distort it. So let me say what it doesn’t mean.
This does not mean that gifts or talents or strengths don’t matter to God.
Sometimes Christians, even teachers that I’ve heard, talk as if things like gifts or strengths are bad things. As if God prefers people that have no talent at all.
The problem is, this denies the doctrine of creation which says that God made all things, including talents and gifts and strengths. God gave them out, and God fully intends to use them.
Just a little later on in this chapter, in verse 18, look what we read about David.
One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”
The text doesn’t say, “David is a mediocre musician, a coward, a poor speaker and funny-looking so God can really use him.” It doesn’t say that.
What 1 Samuel 16:7 points out is not that gifts, talents, or strengths are bad things or things that God can’t use. What it points out is that the human race inevitably tends to obsess over external appearance.
We tend to think that charm, attractiveness, and ability that leads to outward accomplishments is all that matters.
So, if I have those things in obvious, visible ways, then I’m blessed. And if I don’t have them in obvious, visible ways, then I’m insignificant; I don’t count. And we forget about the heart.
What God says over and over, and what God may be saying to you right now is – in his kingdom everyone counts.
In God’s kingdom everyone has something to offer.
In God’s kingdom everyone’s contribution matters, the last born as well as the firstborn.
So if we take our best gifts – whatever they are, and we don’t compare them to anyone else – and if we take a heart full of devotion and we lay those gifts, and we lay that heart at God’s feet, watch out because we’re going to see God work in ways that we couldn’t even imagine.
God said to Samuel, “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart,” and that’s what he found in David.
Now, the question is – what makes David’s heart so appealing to God? What is it about David’s heart that makes it a heart after God’s own heart?
That’s what I want to talk about in the time we have left in this message.
Alright, now I want to talk about three things that I believe made David’s heart great in God’s sight.
And I hope these are ways God is going to build my heart and your heart. I hope we become people with great hearts this year.
So as I walk through these three things that made David’s heart great, I’d invite you to do a little heart check and see how your heart measures up.
Alright, number one is this: I believe you’ll see as we get to know David that his heart was characterized by a sense of
We see this characteristic of him a number of times. In 2 Samuel 23, there’s a story where David and his men are pinned down by a band of Philistines.
This is what the text says:
David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David.
This is a moment of unbelievable drama. And, of course, all the troops are there, and they’re watching this. And we would understand that they’re all thirsty. But there’s just enough water for the king. And David is so moved by their courage and their sacrifice. The text says:
He refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. “Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.
He’s so moved by what they did that in spite of all of his thirst, he’s saying to his men, “I’ll be with you in thirst and deprivation as well as in prosperity. I will not use the kingship to get my comfort at the expense of your pain. We’re in this together, you and me, win or lose, live or die.”
It’s like a scene out of a Mel Gibson movie or something.
One day God was being challenged by a pagan giant, and everyone was intimidated. David says, “I’ll fight Goliath. I’ll face the giant.”
I want to have a heart like that.
I don’t want to go to my grave with a heart that was cold and calculating and protected and safe and hard – I don’t.
I don’t think you do either.
I long to have a heart like that, and to be a part of a community like that – a community of passionate hearts.
Alright, the second thing about David is that he was characterized by
David was not just passionate, but he was deeply reflective.
He says at the end of
Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Now, this is a rare combination when you think about just these first two traits – complete passion on the one hand, yet deep reflection on the other, but that was David.
And I’ll tell you what I think. I think David’s heart was formed in all those years he was alone with God, out shepherding sheep.
I think that’s the only explanation for a soul that was so deep that it could write words like:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
You know, David spent much of his life waiting. When he was a kid, he just tended sheep, and then there’s this amazing day when Samuel comes and anoints him king.
Think about this. Imagine the next day because, you know, David doesn’t just march into Jerusalem after this and sit on a throne. Saul is still there. Samuel has left. What does David do the next day?
He goes back to the sheep.
Just imagine this happening to you. You’ve just been anointed king of Israel, and there’s no one to tell about it except sheep. “Hey sheep, I’m the king” – not much excitement there.
All those years he was leading a flock of sheep through the wilderness. They were not wasted years. He was learning to be alone with God. He was growing real deep.
Then there were all the years he hid from Saul. He lived in caves. He ran from one spot to another. Those were not wasted years. He was growing very deep with God. In solitude and quiet, God was shaping a deep heart.
And God wants to do that for you and me if we’ll just give him a chance.
I think I can make a case that the years when David’s heart was most vulnerable to sin were after he had reached the top and became king and had everything… because then he no longer had to be alone with God.
I want to have a heart that goes deep with God.
One of the things that I’ve done in kind of preparing for this series is just started reading through the Psalms, so many of which are attributed to David.
And when I started, there’s a great image in the very first
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
We can be like a tree planted by rivers of water where our roots go so deep into the nourishment of God’s presence that we just flourish. Our lives become an act of love to God and the people all around us.
But you know, the reality is, we can’t develop roots fast. Roots don’t work that way. When was the last time you described someone by saying, “That person is hurried, frantic, and deep”?
You can be hurried or you can be deep, but you can’t be both. You’ll have to choose.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and go out and be a shepherd someplace. That’s not God’s plan. But it does mean you will have to guard regular, unhurried times alone with God. You’ll have to guard that. You’ll have to arrange for that.
Think of how you would be different if you had time to be shepherded by God.
I’ll give you one challenge as we enter into this series. Make this year a year in your life when you commit to reading through the Psalms.
You’ll learn a lot about David in the Psalms.
More people have learned to pray through the Psalms than any other source.
Some of the Psalms will teach us how to worship and how to express great thanks and great joy.
Some of the Psalms will allow us to express to God a confusion or complaint.
Some of them will teach us how to confess, how to repent.
Maybe you’ll want to write your own Psalms of joy or thanksgiving or confusion or repentance. But immerse yourself in the Psalms this year.
I’ll promise you this: If you will immerse yourself in the prayers of David and his Psalms, your heart will not be the same. It will get deeper. It really will.
Well, David had a heart that was characterized by complete passion… and I want a heart like that.
He had a heart that was characterized by real deep reflection… and I want a heart like that.
We’ll talk about one more aspect of David’s heart in just a moment.
Announcement – I thought this would be a good place to promo the discipleship initiative.
Alright the last thing i want to talk about today that characterizes David’s heart and is what I want most of all – and that is an
David’s heart was characterized by the most amazing undivided love.
David loved people with the loyal heart of a shepherd who just keeps loving the sheep, even the stubborn sheep.
Consider some of the people in David’s life.
Saul, David’s predecessor to the throne, was once a promising young king himself, and then he became tormented by his jealousy of David, and so he was constantly deceiving him; several times he tried to kill him. And what’s most amazing is how, through all that, David loved him.
Twice David could have killed Saul, and he would have been justified, but he refused to do it. And he expressed his loyalty back to Saul.
And when Saul finally died, David wrote one of the most beautiful poems ever written to lament for him.
It’s amazing how David could find tears for a man like that.
I mean, he knew all about Saul’s faults, better than anyone, and he knew about Saul’s possibilities, and yet he loved him to the end.
Then there’s Jonathan. Jonathan, Saul’s son, would have been his main rival for the throne. You would expect them to be at each other’s throats. But they had one of the greatest friendships in history.
And when they had to be separated, the writer of Scripture says in
1 Samuel 20 they wept together.
They wept together, but David wept the most.
Then there’s his son, Absalom, this renegade rebel son.
Absalom tried to overthrow his own father and take the throne. And in the end, Absalom was defeated, and he was killed in battle.
And David got word that his forces had been victorious, and his throne was secure, and he would live and he would reign. But his only response was to mourn for his boy: “Oh Absalom, my son,” he said, “if only I had died instead of you. Oh Absalom, my son, my son” – what a heart David had.
When David loved you, you stayed loved because there was grace and love in his heart for the most stubborn sinner.
I don’t know about you, but I want to love like that.
As I was putting together this message, I thought of my wife and my kids, and I thought of my friends, and I thought of some of you.
I thought of some people I know who don’t know God, so many people I cross paths with.
And if I could get to the end of my life and have them say about me, “He loved with an undivided love, and he had grace and love in his heart for fallen people. And when he loved someone, they stayed loved.”
If I could get to the end of my life and have that said about me, I think I’d be a success in God’s eyes, no matter what else I do or don’t do.
And if that can’t be said of me, no matter what else I do, I think I’d fail.
I want a heart that loves with an undivided love.
As I was thinking about David and his undivided love, I got to thinking about us. What if God were to say of us, “This is a people after my own heart. They followed me with passion. And they worshiped me from the depths of their heart. They were deeply reflective. And they loved with an undivided love.”
What if God was to say that of you?
The band is going to lead us in a song now, and I’d like to ask you to reflect on your life.
Let’s follow the example of David, who was a man after God’s own heart, and reflected on his life.
And then sing. Sing with passion like David.
And as you go about your day and your week, may you go with a David-like undivided love for God and for people.
Blue Oaks Church