David was a a man after God’s own heart: Saul was removed for David to come into position…
God is looking for men and women whom He can trust with the outworking of His purposes and the Bible is a record of God working in and through the lives of individuals so He can use them in the way He wants to. David’s life shouts this message.
When the people of God demanded a King ‘like the other nations’ (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 19-20) it displeased Samuel and God said they had rejected Him as King. Nevertheless God gave them a King and the prophet Samuel was charged to anoint Saul as the first King of Israel.
Saul rejected as King (1 Samuel 13-15) – During his reign Saul was at war with the Philistines and was waiting for Samuel to arrive and offer sacrifices to God in order to seek His favour. Samuel did not arrive as soon as he expected, so Saul offered these sacrifices himself, assuming the role of a priest. When Samuel finally arrived, he told Saul in 1 Samuel 13:13-14, 13 ‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.’
Then in chapter 15 Samuel comes to Saul with a new assignment saying “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel” (15:1). This time God commanded Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites. They were not even to take any plunder because they were not in it for themselves but acting on behalf of God. Saul and his army however spared “the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good” (15:9). They only destroyed what they thought was undesirable and worthless and once again Saul was failing to obey God. This may have been a second chance for Saul but it only served to show that he still hadn’t learned to respect the limits of his authority as king. Saul begged for Samuel’s forgiveness but is again told that God has rejected him as King in 15:24-26, 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord’. 26 But Samuel said to him, ‘I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!’
Even after these things, God was still gracious to Saul and allowed him to remain as King throughout the remainder of his 42 year reign. 30 Saul replied, ‘I have sinned. But please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.’ 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshipped the Lord (15:30-31). We are told however that “…the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel” (15:35). God had rejected Saul and in time would remove Saul so that He could make David King over Israel.
David chosen as King (1 Samuel 16) – God directs Samuel (who is still mourning for Saul) to go to Jesse of Bethlehem because He had “chosen one of his sons to be king” (16:1). Its no huge surprise that Samuel is fearful of Saul but nevertheless he obeys and travels to Bethlehem where he meets the elders of the town who we’re told were ‘trembling’ when they met him. Samuel says that he has come in peace and to sacrifice to the LORD. He asks them to consecrate themselves and come and sacrifice with him. When they arrive Samuel sees Eliab and straight away jumps to the conclusion that this must be the LORD’s anointed. God however says “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (16:7). God makes Samuel look through all of Jesse’s seven sons before he comes to the youngest David who was tending the sheep. David was thought to be around 13/14 years old at the time and it is noteworthy that he is only even mentioned by Jesse once Samuel has seen all of his other sons. David was not the choice of King that anyone expected!
God however was not looking for the obvious choice but for someone who was committed to Him. It’s very challenging yet deeply encouraging that God chose David; he saw David a shepherd boy; he saw how he looked after sheep and chose him to lead his people because he was trustworthy. We live in culture that affirms image, appearance, reputation and success but God we are told looks at the heart and He was looking for a ‘man after His own heart’ to lead His people.
God turns the accepted worldly standards of the world on its head; for as Paul writes “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor 1:28-29). God is still doing this and God is still looking for people who are committed to Him. Whatever role you are in at present, you must realise that God can use you as you commit yourself to Him. God’s eyes are looking through our communities, cities and nations for people He can trust, people who He can work through. The key question however is whether we willing to be such people?
When God called me into Christian ministry and leadership I cannot say I was looking for it – it was not exactly part of my ‘master plan’! If you had told me as a teenager or even as a student at University that I would be working full-time with a Disciple-making ministry I would have laughed! It is humbling therefore to look back over the years at how God has used me in spite of my weaknesses and in spite of my reluctance. What a privilege to be involved in God’s purposes and God has great purposes for what He wants to do in and through each of us. We need to be totally committed to God and ready to go wherever He wants us to go. Did we plan to do what we do? No, God chose us, God provides what we need to do it and, God-willing, He is using us.