David and Solomon, Part 1

Israel was never supposed to have a king. In God’s plan, Israel was supposed to be a completely different of nation from any nation on earth. According to Greg Boyd –

Functioning as a microcosm of humanity, and as part of their priestly-servant role to other nations, it seems God wanted to manifest his original plan for humanity by raising up a nation that had no need of a human king, for they had God as their king. According to the biblical narrative, this is how it was for the first several hundred years after their deliverance from Egypt. Moreover, throughout the OT we find the Lord commanding his people to place no trust in human rulers, weapons or armies, but to rather find all their security in him.

That Israel ended up with the likes of King David was a concession of God to His stubborn people. Read carefully what Moses said to the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert wilderness –

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us…” (Deuteronomy 17:14 | NIV84)

That’s a concession; that’s not what God ever wanted for His people, look at the wording carefully: “Let US set a king over us like all the nations around us.” But they weren’t supposed to be anything like the nations around them; Israel was created to be different, yet they wanted to be just like everybody else. That was their downfall. Back to Moses, here was how the king of Israel was to behave –

The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17:16-17 | NIV84)

Good luck with that! Israel wanted a king and God let them have one. Saul, their first king, was a real piece of work. Mentally disturbed doesn’t begin to describe King Saul. Things didn’t end very well for him –

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. (1 Samuel 31:4 | NIV84)

Even though Israel’s desire for a king wasn’t what God wanted for them, He could still work through a king, and God set in motion events that put His man on the throne.

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.”(1 Samuel 16:1 | NIV84)

God chooses David, 1 Samuel 16:1 – 13

Samuel, Israel’s national and beloved prophet, was devastated that God had rejected Saul, but God wouldn’t let him sit around in his misery for long. He was given a new mission. Saul’s dynasty would not be allowed to continue. If Israel would have another king, Samuel would have to leave the past behind and move forward. Moving forward brought Samuel to Bethlehem. The Lord’s choice for Saul’s successor would be found among the eight sons of Jesse. Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. In an interesting twist of history, Ruth was a Moabitess and Boaz’s mother was also from outside of Israel. Her mother was Rahab of Jericho.

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,Obed the father of Jesse,6 and Jesse the father of King David. (Matthew 1:5-6a | NIV84)

It was tricky for Samuel to obey God’s directions in verse one. To go to Bethlehem from Ramah, Samuel would have to pass through Gibea, Saul’s capital. Given Saul’s mental and spiritual decay, he was taking his life in his hands. Samuel didn’t exactly lie to Jesse, but there was a little subterfuge going on –

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.”. (1 Samuel 16:2-3 | NIV84)

The sons of Jesse paraded in front of Samuel but the prophet was given some advice from 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.”. (1 Samuel 16:7 | NIV84)

God’s standards are certainly not the same as ours! We are quick to judge by appearances, but appearances can be very misleading. And yet, oddly enough, when they finally got around to the son God wanted, we read this –

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.”. (1 Samuel 16:12 | NIV84)

God chose the handsome one after all. But it was what was inside David that counted. God doesn’t look for people that look good or are of a certain height and weight or age, rank or position. God chooses whom He will and He sets His Spirit in those whom He accepts.

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. Samuel then went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:13 | NIV84)

David’s confidence in God, 1 Samuel 17:32 – 54

Even though the events of chapter 17 seem to occur right after those of chapter 16, some years have passed between David’s anointing and his encounter with the giant, Goliath. By this time, Saul’s mental state had deteriorated greatly. His mood swings were wild, from depression to rage at a moment. This was God’s judgment on him for his willful, sinful disobedience. Far from a child, David was a young man in chapter 17 and we catch a glimpse of his ability to lead, rule, and inspire people. It also demonstrated that David was not only a man of unwavering faith in God, but also keen military strategist.

Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. (1 Samuel 17:36 | NIV84)

David was anointed but was still waiting in the wings; Saul was still the king and David was still tending his father’s sheep back at Bethlehem. In verse 36, David was trying to convince King Saul that he could defeat the “uncircumcised Philistine.” Goliath was his name and he’s a bit of a mystery. He was a “giant,” probably clocking in at almost 10 feet tall. He was tall and powerful, arrogant and proud. He was probably a descendant of the sons of Anak, who had struck fear in the hearts of the Israelites before the conquered the Promised Land.

The people are strong and tall–Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” (Deuteronomy 9:2 | NIV84)

Apparently David thought he could stand up against one Anakite: Goliath! But David’s “self-confidence” wasn’t based in his abilities. He was riled up against Goliath because Goliath was defying “the armies of God,” or, in effect, God Himself. David’s confidence was in God, not in himself even though he had already demonstrated his skills in defeating adversaries, such as lions and bears.

When David faced Goliath with no armor on, and no weapons in his hands save a slingshot and some smooth stones, the giant’s pride was offended. He cursed David, but David stood his ground and warned Goliath that the giant’s time on earth was quickly running out. And then he announced the theological purpose of is mission.

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 17:47 | NIV84)

David’s guaranteed victory over Goliath was going to be so much more than that. It was to demonstrate to the Philistines – and others – that God exists and that He will deliver His people no matter what. The size of an enemy’s army or the strength of their weapons is of no consequence. This victory did just that, and it also showed David’s true character. The victory was the Lord’s, not his, and everybody knew it. He made his faith known and he inspired others.

You may wonder if David was afraid facing this giant. He wouldn’t be a human being if wasn’t! But David knew the secret of winning a battle. Sinclair Ferguson, Scottish Reformed theologian, remarked,

The fear of the Lord tends to take away all other fears. This is the secret of Christian courage and boldness.

Not only that, there’s also this:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools a despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7 | NIV84)

And onlookers, including crazy King Saul, could see that David feared God more than he feared man and they sensed that there was something very special about this young man.

David increases in knowledge and influence, 1 Samuel 18, various verses

The sun was setting fast on Saul’s dynasty while David’s star was rising.

When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns. (1 Samuel 18:15, 16 | NIV84)

David’s fear of the Lord was bringing him victory upon victory over Israel’s enemies, and he was being noticed and respected. Saul, on the other hand, feared David, and his sanity slowly slipped away. To Saul, David became THE enemy, and he tried to kill David repeatedly.

And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The next day an evil c spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. (1 Samuel 18:9 – 11 | NIV84)

Reading the accounts of Saul’s attempts on David’s life, it’s tempting to chuckle. Saul had become a pathetic character. Saul even put David on the front lines of battle, apparently hoping he’d be killed. The exact opposite happened. Saul just couldn’t kill David. Saul imagined that David was his enemy, but in reality Saul had no better friend than David. He was loyal to the king and made sure the king wasn’t killed by the enemy. He treated crazy, dangerous King Saul with courtesy and respect even though he certainly didn’t deserve it. The Lord, who had abandoned Saul, was with David and He blessed David continuously.

 

 

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