The Heart of a King

*image originated here

1 Samuel 16 – 20

Saul has been rejected as king, so it’s time for a new one to replace him. Remember in Patience and Obedience how Samuel told Saul he had done the wrong thing by not waiting for him and by not obeying God’s commands.

“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.”

-1 Samuel 13:14

Samuel was deeply saddened by Saul’s failure and has now waited quite a long time before going out to find this man after God’s own heart. God now sends him to Bethlehem to the home of a man named Jesse (Ruth‘s grandson). From among Jesse’s sons God has chosen a king for Israel. Samuel is afraid to go at first because he knows that if Saul finds out he will try to kill Samuel. But God provides a way, by Samuel going to make a sacrifice there and inviting Jesse and his sons to come with him.

The people of Bethlehem too are afraid of Samuel coming, wondering if he will bring more news of God’s judgment for Israel’s disobedience. At the sacrifice 7 of Jesse’s sons pass in front of Samuel each of them tall and strong. Samuel thinks with each one, surely this is the king God has chosen. However, God has different plans.

“…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

Jesse’s youngest son is still out guarding his father’s sheep. When Samuel hears this he has the boy, David, brought to him.

“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.”

-1 Samuel 16:12b-13

Meanwhile, an evil spirit has come over Saul and he searching for someone who plays the harp well to come and sooth him. The amazing God we have has made David a gifted musician and this is well known. So the newly anointed future king of Israel is called to the house of the rejected king to serve him.

Not long after this Israel again goes to war against the Philistines. This time the Philistines have a champion named Goliath. All of Israel’s army is shaking in fear when David arrives. David hears Goliath come out and mock the army of Israel just as he has done every day since they encamped there and David sees the fear of the army. Asking around he finds out what reward will be given the man who defeats this giant. When David’s brother hears what he has been saying he is very angry. His brother asks in this anger,

“‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”‘

-1 Samuel 17:28b

I had never noticed this little conversation here before but is strikes me as incredibly interesting that David has just been anointed king in front of all his brothers because he is a man after God’s own heart. He was described that way by God himself who looks at the heart and not the outward appearance. Then here his angry brother attacks that very core of who David is by accusing David’s heart of being conceited or self-serving and wicked.

Here it is, David’s heart is in the scales to be judged. While his brother shakes with fear in his tent because of Goliath, David is brought before Saul because he alone is willing to face the giant on Israel’s behalf.

“David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”‘

-1 Samuel 17:32

Again this battle comes down to a heart issue. Think of all the enemies God has conquered for Israel when they were weak and unable to do anything on their own. Now they are lead by the king of their choosing, the Ark has been returned, and they have gathered a great army to go up against the Philistines. If their hearts were seeking after God and they were obeying His commands I have no doubt that the Philistines would have been defeated long before David arrived. Instead, the Israelites are hiding in their tents hoping someone else will have the courage to go out and face the giant. Saul laughs that a boy would go out and face Goliath when grown men will not. Goliath himself mocks Israel when he sees they have sent out a boy to face him. Yet with a sling and a stone, and God fighting for him, David takes down the giant and brings his head to the king.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 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 17:45-47

That day Israel defeats the Philistines pursuing them all the way back to Ekron and Gath. David becomes lifelong friends with Saul’s son Jonathan and Jonathan gives him his clothes, his sword, his bow and his belt. Because Jonathan loves David as himself.

The people are overjoyed at David’s victory. They meet Saul and his army singing:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”‘

-1 Samuel 18:7

Saul becomes very jealous of David and spends the rest of his life trying to kill him. After all,

“Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with David but had left Saul.”

-1 Samuel 18:12

Again it comes down to a matter of the heart when Saul refuses to give his oldest daughter to David in marriage as was promised for the reward to the one who defeated Goliath. Saul then finds out his other daughter, Michal, is in love with David.

“…when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. ‘I will give her to him’, he thought,’so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.'”

-1 Samuel 18:20:b-21a

Saul’s plan is that, for David to marry Michal he will have to go out and kill 100 Philistines bringing their foreskins to Saul. Saul expects that the Philistines will kill David. Instead, he returns with not 100 but 200 foreskins, so Saul is forced to give Michal to him in marriage.

Again and again, after this Saul tries to kill David. Everything David touches, God blesses him with success. Once Michal must help David escape Saul’s men from killing him in his own home. Jonathan upon hearing about it, rebukes his father, asking him why he is trying to kill an innocent man who has done so much good for Israel. Saul swears he will not put David to death, but it is not to be.

Jonathan does not believe at first the second time that Saul is trying to kill David. Even though Saul tried to kill him with his javelin twice in his throne room as David played the harp to calm him. So he has David hide in the field while he finds out from his father if Saul really wants to kill David. When he finds out the truth, Jonathan warns David according to the signal they had arranged. But, they are both devastated by Saul’s hatred. He tried to kill Jonathan with his javelin he was so upset about David.

Before they are parted they make a lifelong oath of friendship.

“But show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family–not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.'”

-1 Samuel 20:14

“Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.”

-1 Samuel 20:42

So David’s heart has been tested. It has been tested by how it follows after God, it’s courage in battle, it’s strength in marriage, and it’s faithfulness in friendship. This is the heart of a king! It is by no means perfect, but it is a heart that loves God and serves Him, making him as Samuel declared: a man better than Saul.





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