The Lord Looks At The Heart
1 Samuel 16: 1-13
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.”
But the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.”
4 So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”
5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
8 So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”
And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
Israel’s first king, Saul, was to all appearances, the ideal candidate - tall, handsome and impressive [1 Sam 9:2] but he was also foolish and disobedient.
Worldly standards are put aside when the Lord selects the second king, David.
David lived about 1040 to 970bc. 2 Sam 5:4&5 tells us he was 30 years old when he became king and he reigned for 40 years, 7 years, 6months over Judah and 33 years over all Israel and Judah.
In 1 Sam 16 Samuel is sent by God to anoint the son of Jesse, who has been chosen by God, to be the next king. The first son, Eliab, is brought before Samuel. Samuel's first reaction is to be impressed by the physical appearance of the man but God brings him up sharply in v7, telling Samuel not to consider his appearance because the Lord looks at the heart. Six further sons are brought before Samuel but Samuel is now looking through ‘God’s eyes’ and he rejects all these. Finally the youngest son, David, who is out tending the sheep, is brought before Samuel. The Lord then tells Samuel to anoint David - he is the one.
Would we have chosen David? What outward things do we tend to look at in people? Does our culture influence our tendency to look at outward appearance?
When the Lord looks at our hearts what does He value most?
Dear Lord, help us to view ourselves and others as you see them. Help us not to value people as the world does, but as precious creations of our Lord and Saviour worthy of our love and respect. Amen
David and Saul
1 Samuel 24
Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3 So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) 4 Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.
8 David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. 9 And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? 10 Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. 12 Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15 Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”
16 So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. 18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the Lord delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Therefore swear now to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.”
22 So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
After David’s anointing by Samuel as the next king we read in 1Samuel 16: 13 that the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power but v14 tells us that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul and an injurious spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul seems to have suffered a period of mental torment. He had invited David into his service and we read that David’s harp playing brought relief to Saul and he would feel better.
In 1 Samuel 17 we read the account of David killing the Philistine giant, Goliath. From that time on David remained in Saul’s service and no longer returned home to care for his father's flocks as he had done previously. During this time David’s friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan developed and David became more and more successful in Saul’s service and his popularity with the people increased. Saul, however, became more and more angry and jealous of David. In 1 Samuel 18: 11 Saul attempted to ‘pin David to the wall’ with his spear but David eluded him twice. In chapter 19, Saul tries to get his son, Jonathan, to kill David but Jonathan stands up for his friend bringing again some reconciliation with his father. This reconciliation appears to have been very short lived.
In 1 Samuel 19:10 Saul again tries to kill David but once again David escapes with the help of his wife, Saul’s daughter.
Chapter 20 tells of a further attempt by Saul to have David killed but again, this time with Jonathans help, he escapes.
Chapters 21, 22 & 23 detail Saul’s pursuit of David. Throughout all this time David (and Jonathan) are aware of God’s guidance and keeping, read 1 Samuel 20:12-17.
We then come to chapter 24 where we find David and his men hiding in a cave and who should come into the cave but Saul. David had the perfect opportunity to kill Saul and seize the throne of Israel , instead he relies on God.
When making decisions in our own lives we can seek the wisdom of friends, rely on circumstances, examine our own consciences or a combination of the above BUT most of all we need to ask God for wisdom to know what is right AND ask for the grace to follow His leading. "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1: 5
Lord, when circumstances overwhelm us and we aren't sure which way to turn, please send your Holy Spirit to guide us to you. Thank you Father, Amen.
David Finds Strength In The Lord
1 Samuel 30
Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, 2 and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. 3 So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. 6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?”
And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”
9 So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the Brook Besor, where those stayed who were left behind. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor.
11 Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water. 12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 Then David said to him, “To whom do you belong, and where are you from?”
And he said, “I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick. 14 We made an invasion of the southern area of the Cherethites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.”
15 And David said to him, “Can you take me down to this troop?”
So he said, “Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop.”
16 And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. 18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. 19 And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all. 20 Then David took all the flocks and herds they had driven before those other livestock, and said, “This is David’s spoil.”
21 Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man’s wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart.”
23 But David said, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. 24 For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.” 25 So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.
26 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”— 27 to those who were in Bethel, those who were in Ramoth of the South, those who were in Jattir, 28 those who were in Aroer, those who were in Siphmoth, those who were in Eshtemoa, 29 those who were in Rachal, those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, those who were in the cities of the Kenites, 30 those who were in Hormah, those who were in Chorashan, those who were in Athach, 31 those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to rove.
After the death of Samuel (1 Sam 25 ) we read the account of David and his men in the desert of Maon, his interaction with Nabal and its consequences. In Chapter 26 David again spares the life of Saul. Chapter 27 tells of David’s decision to avoid the threat of Saul and escape with his men to the land of the Philistines. David and his 600 men go to Achish (the son of the king of Gath), David asks Achish to give him a place in one of the country towns where he might live so Achish gave him Ziklag. From here David and his men spend 16 months raiding neighbouring people groups until Achish believed that David would be his servant for ever. However the Philistine rulers did not approve of David and would not allow David to join them in battle, insisting that he be sent back to Ziglag.
In Chapter 30, when David and his men arrive back in Ziklag they are devastated by what they find there. Ziklag had been attacked by the Amalekites, it had been destroyed by fire and all their wives, sons and daughters had been taken captive. Verse 4 tells us that ‘David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep’. David’s men turned against him but ‘David found strength in the Lord’ v6, and he prayed to God for guidance. Once again David is given a clear word from God v8. He meets an Egyptian who is in great need, David helps this man who then helps David recover everything that the Amalekites had taken, including David's two wives.
As Christians, we like David face difficulties and distress, pain and suffering. David’s experience can give us hope. We may or may not receive such clear guidance from God, but like David, in spite of everything we can ‘hang on in there’ . Prayer may well be difficult but we can cling to the promise of 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness’ I cling to this promise daily. May God give us each day the strength we need in the midst of our difficulties.
Father God, thank you for the many times in my life that your have held me aloft in your loving arms. Please keep the memory of your faithfulness fresh in my mind when troubles come, as they will. Thank you Lord, Amen.
God's Promise to David
2 Samuel 7
Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.”
3 Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”
4 But it happened that night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, 5 “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? 6 For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. 7 Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ ” ’ 8 Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. 10 Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 11 since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.
12 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ”
17 According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
David’s Thanksgiving to God
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God? 20 Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. 21 For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. 22 Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name—and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land—before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? 24 For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God.
25 “Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. 26 So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. 27 For You, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You.
28 “And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. 29 Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; for You, O Lord God, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
In 2 Samuel 1, David receives news of the death of Saul and his sons then, in chapter 2, David enquires of the Lord if he should go up to Judah. The Lord again clearly tells David to go and settle in Hebron. There David is anointed king over Judah and eventually in chapter 5 he is anointed king over Israel. David ruled over Judah 7 years and 6 months in Hebron and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for 33 years. Chapter 6 tells us that David and his men brought the ark of God, eventually, with rejoicing to the City of David where it was placed in a special tent and burnt offerings and fellowship offerings were sacrificed by David before the Lord. David ‘blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty’ (v18).
In Chapter 7 David wants to do great things for God, but his wish to build a ‘house’ for God is set aside when Nathan the prophet receives a word from the Lord for David (v.5 – 16). What an amazing promise this is - God promises David that through him, God will provide a place for his people, that the Lord will raise up David’s offspring to succeed him and establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. Through David’s offspring God would provide the way of salvation for Israel. David humbly accepts this promise from God.
David’s amazing prayer follows in verse 18 onwards. David is astonished at God’s promises and he is astonished at God himself (v.22). God’s plans for him are far greater than he ever imagined. These promises find their ultimate fulfilment in Jesus (Luke 1:30-33).
David refers to God seven times as ‘Sovereign Lord’.
Are we trusting God to fulfil His purposes in ours lives?
Do we take time to thank Him for all He has done in our lives?
Dear Lord, thank you for every blessing that you have poured out on us already in our lives, help us to remain faithful in our praise, Amen.
2 Samuel 11
It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.”
6 Then David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. 8 And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 So when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?”
11 And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”
12 Then David said to Uriah, “Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
14 In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” 16 So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.
18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, 19 and charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, 20 if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ ”
22 So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. 23 And the messenger said to David, “Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. 24 The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.”
25 Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab: ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.’ So encourage him.”
26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
Following God’s amazing promise to David in chapter 7 and David’s prayer (from v.18 onwards), David acknowledges God’s sovereignty and the good things He has promised, David seeks God’s blessing for the future.
In chapter 8 we read of further victories for David in various campaigns. In chapter 9 we find David showing kindness to the grandson of his enemy Saul, and in chapter 10 we hear of the defeat of the Ammonits.
It is the Ammonite war which is the background to David’s affair with Bathsheba.
The story of David and Bathesheba shows how easy it can be to fall into temptation, even for a man of David’s standing, who has known such a close relationship with God. It shows how a series of smaller sins can lead to tragic and devastating results. This man, chosen by God, ‘a man after God’s own heart’ was faced with a series of temptations each one leading to the next.
If this can happen to David it can happen to us whoever we are, none of us is immune. We need to be aware of the potential consequences of our own actions, the consequences of giving in to temptations.
Initially David happens to look outside and see Bathsheba bathing - what could David have done at this point to stop himself taking the next step?
At what point does temptation become a sin for David? For us?
David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ but temptation eventually lead David into deceit, lies, adultery and murder. What a graphic warning to us!
Lord, please give us wisdom in our behaviour and protect us from seemingly small temptations. Lead us firmly away from the path and keep us true to you, Amen.