Week 21 Devotion
This week we are going to read about David in his twilight years and see what happens to him after the sin with Bathsheba and the problems with his son Absalom. We’ve been following David since his childhood and along the way, we’ve seen some pretty amazing scenes from his life. But at this point in the story, he is older and is beginning to slow down and reflect upon all that God has brought him through.
In 2 Samuel 22 we read David’s song of Deliverance where he recounts all that God did for him throughout his life. This song also appears in the Book of Psalms as Psalm 18 and it recounts how God has been gracious to his people by establishing the house of David over them and it is David’s testimony of God’s protection throughout his life.
It would have been real nice if that had been the final chapter in David’s life, but it’s not. The final chapter of 2 Samuel shows David fall into sin yet again when he calls for a census of the people and then confesses that he has sinned before God. The text doesn’t tell us why it was sinful for David to do this but in 1 Chronicles 21 we read the same story and learn that God was displeased with what David had done.
So we are left to wonder what was David’s sin in calling for a census? Was it pride? Was it simply David taking initiative in a direction that God hadn’t led him? Was it connected to some military plan on David’s part that God hadn’t approved? Was it associated with David’s desire for money to be gained through a census tax? We don’t know, but we do know that in the end, this decision brought about God’s judgment on David and the people of Israel.
So as we’ve seen David’s story unfold and now come to the end we are left with some big questions: Why did God choose this man to not only be king but also to be the earthly great-grandfather to Jesus? What was it about David that made him a “man after God’s own heart?”
Here is something to Discuss…
What was it about David that made him a man after God’s own heart? Going back to the time of David’s anointing as the next king over Israel we have to recognize that there was nothing that he had done to earn that blessing. At that point, David was just a child and God’s choice of David over all the other men in Israel was not to prove David’s worth but to prove God’s worth.
Saul, on the other hand, was a man that fit the mold of what people had come to expect of a king. He was tall, strong and handsome. He was the type of man that other men want to follow. He was the type of man that most women are naturally attracted to. He was a man’s man, but he wasn’t exactly God’s man.
David was God’s, man. He wasn’t the most imposing figure in the eyes of men, but he was a young man who trusted God with his life. He was first a man who loved God and who possessed a bold and fearless faith in the power and might of God. David was jealous for God’s glory and was even willing to walk out on the battlefield with no armor to face the greatest champion and war-hardened soldier in the entire Philistine army simply because that soldier was mocking David’s God.
So one of the factors that I think contributes to David being a man after God’s own heart was his uncommon trust in the providence of God and the desire for God to be glorified no matter what it might cost him.
We also learn that David was a man with a tender heart that leaned toward poetry and praise; both of which were directed as worship to God. His heart was sensitive to the emotion of life and he expressed that emotion in the writing of songs of praise. As king, he organized a group of Levites to take on the responsibility of leading worship around the temple. David also played instruments and was himself a singer who sought to engage with God through the emotional vehicle that is music.
In other words, he wasn’t just a military strategist nor was he simply a systematic theologian; he was a man who worshiped God with all of his heart, mind, soul and strength.
But there is at least one more thing that might have contributed to David being a man after God’s own heart and it has to do with one of the duties of kings. In Deuteronomy 17 God tells Israel that when they come into the Promised Land He will give to them a king. And in order that this king doesn’t lead the people into sin God requires him to do this:
Deut 17:18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
The heart of the king was to be led by the word of God and David was a man who sought to follow in this statute. No, he didn’t do this perfectly but it seems to have been his common practice to meditate on God’s Word. In 2 Samuel 22:22 David writes:
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside.
So what was it that caused God to call David a man after his own heart? Was it one thing? Was a combination of things? Perhaps you think it is related to something I haven’t mentioned, if so that’s ok. The reason I want to ask this question and encourage you to discuss it is so that we can think not just about David but ourselves. I want to be a man who pursues the heart of God and I want us to be people who pursue the heart of God. So let’s take some time to study, think and discuss what that truly means.
Here is something to Meditate on…
Psalm 57 recounts a time in David’s life when he was on the run from king Saul. You will remember that Saul had been hunting David down out of jealousy and he was intent on taking David’s life. But in David’s desire not to stretch out his hand toward God’s anointed, he would flee from Saul and often took up hiding in caves so as not to force combat with the king.
This Psalm in particular gives us a glimpse into the emotional struggle that David was going through in those times. He was filled with grief over the situation. He was afraid for his life and lamenting the event that was taking place. But here in Psalm 57 we see that one of the ways that David would seek to comfort his soul in these times was to remember the merciful promises of God and to sing about them.
In verse 6 we read that David’s soul is bowed down, which is a reference to the brokenness and sorrow that he feels. It’s not hard to imagine feeling this way. Most of us can identify with times of sorrow, deep sorrow, perhaps not related to the same circumstance but we know what it feels like to be fearful, hurt and overcome with deep sadness.
But the thing I want us to learn from this psalm is not the fact that we can identify with David’s emotion, but I want us to see what David does to address the sorrow in his heart…he sings. In verses 7-11 David battles against sadness and fear by praising God. He remembers God’s love, he sets his mind on God’s faithfulness, and then he wakes up at dawn and begins to sing.
He writes, “I will sing and make melody…I will awake the dawn…Awake, my glory…awake, o harp and lyre…I will give thanks…I will sing praises…Be exalted o God, above the Heavens.”
Is this a strategy that we employ when our soul is bowed down? It should be. Let us remember to turn to the Psalms and sing to the Lord from them. Let us practice the soul restoring discipline of praising God. There are a whole host of songs that we can sing to the Lord but don’t neglect to sing the Psalms. Let your songs of praise be filled with the deep truths of God’s Word and let the joy of the Lord be our strength, especially in times of deep sorrow.
Here is something to pray about…
As our study of David’s life comes to a close we have plenty to think about and learn from, but I want us to pray about one specific thing. David was a great man but he was also a deeply flawed man, but in His Mercy God used David to accomplish great things in the world. I want us to pray that God would use us, imperfect though we be, to accomplish His purpose in the world.
Let’s pray that we would be sensitive to our sin, broken over our sin and quick to confess it, seeking God’s forgiveness. But also let’s pray that God would use us to accomplish his purpose of salvation in the lives of others.
Let’s pray that God would teach us to be men and women after His heart. Let’s pray that we would be able to leave a godly legacy for others to follow.