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Nov 15, 2015

From Shepherd to King

From Shepherd to King

Passage: 1 Samuel 1:1-31:13

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: The Story

Category: Old Testament

Keywords: all in, anointed, attacks, david, friendship, jonathan, saul, self-image, submission


This message takes a look at the early life of David, his call and the experiences God took him through to make him the kind of King he wanted. David was a "man after God's own heart" because he was "all in" with his commitment to God regardless of the difficult circumstances.


From Shepherd to King

I Samuel 16-31

November 15, 2015

For many of us…maybe most of us…how we see ourselves seems to be built on what other people have said about us…or done to us…throughout our formative years.  This is why parenting is SO important.  Parents, we can get it wrong in so many ways. 

  • Make a child the center of your universe and they will grow up spoiled, egotistical and narcissistic having been taught by our words and deeds that they should see themselves as the most important being in the world…kind of like cats! J
  • But if a child is constantly belittled, blamed, badgered or abused by their parents words and deeds, they will grow up thinking they are worthless, ugly, stupid or a failure.

ILL:  According to legend, the custom for many years on the Hawaiian Islands was for a suitor to pay for the right of asking his beloved’s hand in marriage by giving her father cattle.  Most young women of marrying age would require two, sometimes even three, cows.  If a daughter was a special catch, she might fetch four cows.  It is rumored that one father in the distant past received an unfathomable five cows for his amazingly gorgeous and charming daughter. 

            There was an islander named Sam Karoo who had two daughters, and he faced a serious dilemma.  No one on the islands considered his older daughter beautiful.  Aware that her shyness and plain features were not assets for a proposal, Sam had accepted many years earlier that he would not likely fetch three cows for her.  He dreamed of two but would settle for one.  In fact, if he knew the man would treat her well, he would let her marry without receiving any cows.  He felt fortunate that everyone agreed his younger daughter was definitely a three-cow kind of girl.

            Then one day, Johnny Lingo, a wealthy landowner, came to pay Sam a visit.  Everyone knew Johnny was ready to settle down and assumed he was coming to propose to Sam’s younger daughter.  But to the surprise of the whole town, and to Dad’s delight, Johnny came a callin’ for his older daughter, Mahanna. 

            It was more than Sam could have hoped for.  He dared to let himself think, “I may get three cows for her after all.”  But then he let his imagination get the better of him and thought he might even press for four cows from the wealthy suitor.  Imagine the shock he had when Johnny showed up with ten cows for his daughter!  Everyone was completely stunned, including the bride-to-be.  Some thought Johnny had gone soft in the head.

            After the wedding, Johnny took his bride on a yearlong honeymoon.  When the happy couple finally returned to the island, everyone was stunned by what had happened.  Johnny looked as handsome and strong as ever.  But his wife was hardly recognizable.  Like some non-descript caterpillar, she had transformed into a strikingly beautiful, graceful, poised and confident young woman. She was stunningly gorgeous! Now, instead of wondering about Johnny’s mental state, everyone knew he’d gotten the bargain of his life paying only ten cows for her hand in marriage. 

            What could account for the transformation?  Just one young man who was able to see beyond what life and others had told this woman who she was—a 1…or 0-cow person.  The value he placed on her had transformed her.  Instead of living under the scourge of what short-sighted people had said of her, she discovered the transforming power of extravagant love that said, “You are my beloved, worth whatever I have to pay in order to bring you into my family, my life, my arms.” 

            Sometimes someone else has to show us our true value before we can believe it ourselves.  That’s what family and friendship and God’s family are all meant to teach us when they are functioning properlywhen, I should say, the people in them are seeing each other as God sees us.  But too often, sin messes us all up and makes us destroyers of the image of God we are meant to draw out of each other. 

            Today we’re picking up The Story of God’s work in human history in the Old Testament book of I Samuel 16. 

Last week we left this story on somewhat of a low note.  We’d been talking about how to learn to wait on God in life and hear His voice as we looked at Hannah, the mother of Samuel, Eli, his sort of foster-father for most of his life, and Samuel himself a young boy who learned to hear God’s voice early on.  We left off with a very brief snapshot of Israel’s first king, King Saul

Unfortunately, like too many of us, Saul was a man who listened more to what other people were saying than to God.  In chapter 15, just before this, the prophet Samuel has to confront Saul with his partial obedience (which is really just disobedience).  Saul, more concerned with his dwindling army than his disobedience to God’s command to wait, crosses a line in his spiritual experience that he shouldn’t.  And it costs him his kingship as well as his royal line.  But the working out of that will take a decade and a half. 

This is when we’re introduced to the life of the young man we will focus on today.  We know him as King David.  But when his story starts, he’s just “little brother David,” youngest of 8 brothers.

I Samuel 16 opens with God telling Samuel exactly which family in Israel to go to in order to anoint a new king. He’s to go to Jesse of Bethlehem despite the fact that, if King Saul hears about it, that move might cost him his head.  God tells him that one of Jesse’s sons will become the next king of Israel.  So Samuel heads out to Bethlehem to do what God had commanded. 

When he arrives and explains he is there to offer sacrifices to God and consecrate Jesse and his sons to the Lord, Jesse summons all his sons but David to the feast.  Jesse begins to introduce his sons to Samuel starting with the oldest.  And as soon as Samuel sees this son, Eliab, he thinks to himself, “Wow!  Sharp young man. This must be the one.” 

But then God says to Samuel, “Not so fast.”  Well, not those words exactly.  What God says is recorded in I Sam. 16:7:  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him [for the kingship, that is]. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

You know, if you’re average looking like most of us are, this is really, really good news!  Unlike people who make snap judgments based on personal bias and visual appearance, God looks for hearts that are spiritually handsome—people who understand that it is things of the heart—character, humility, one’s personal connection with God—that matter most to God. 

Apparently, not only had the godly prophet Samuel been tempted to anoint leadership based on physical features; Jesse, the dad of this clan, hadn’t even considered calling in his youngest son from the field to meet the prophet.  Samuel has to ask, “Is this all your sons?” before Jesse remembers, “Oh, yah, there is one more!”

The Hebrew word Jesse uses to describe his youngest son can be translated as “runt.”  Apparently little David wasn’t considered a 5 or 4 or even 3-cow kid by his dad.  But he and God had been cultivating a relationship out on the range, away from everyone else.  That’s probably where the best heart-work happens. 

So David is called in from the back-40 and everyone else now has to wait to eat until David gets home.  As Samuel laid eyes on him, God whispered, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one,” (16:12).  There, in front of his whole family, the prophet of God whom he has probably never met in his life, anoints him with oil and “from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.”  God, through the instrument of Samuel, reached out and put his Holy Spirit on David…and David’s life was never the same. 

APP:  Do you remember the day God gave you His Holy Spirit?  That would be the day God anointed you by new birth in Christ and appointed you to be a son or daughter in his royal family.  I was 8.  My father was 54.  Maybe you were 16 or 60 or 85.  The age isn’t important; the act of faith you took to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is.  And even more importantly, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the work of God to bring you to faith in Christ is important. 

            But one of the big differences between David’s anointing and ours in the Holy Spirit is that God saw in young David “a man after His own heart” and made him king of a nation. However, with us it had nothing to do with how near our heart was to Him.  In grace, totally apart from our relationship with God or lack thereof, God poured out the oil of the Holy Spirit on us and said, “You are now part of my royal priesthood.  You are now a member of my chosen people, my holy nation, my special possession.  Go and declare the praises of the God who called you out of darkness and into his amazing light.”  (I Pt. 2:9)

[Call to faith in Christ.]

God speaks about David in the N.T., in Acts 13:22, when He says ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”  That’s what “a person after God’s heart” means.  It’s a person who has decided to do everything God wants him or her to do.  It’s someone who wants to conform their life to God’s life—His character, his holiness, his goodness, everything that is Him. 

That doesn’t mean they will be perfect.  As we’ll see next week, David was far from that.  But it does mean you’ve made the decision to be “all in.” 

ILL:    Now I’m no poker player.  I think I’ve played once in my life and was smart enough to not wager money…or clothes… on my naiveté and inexperience.  But I’ve watched enough movies to know that when someone pushes all their chips into the middle of the table and says, “I’m all in,” that means they are putting it all on the line.  They’re not holding back or hedging their bets. 

            David is that kind of guy.  And God knows that is the kind of commitment that is required if we want to be anointed for something significant in this life.  There are going to be plenty of days when it may look like you’re losing the battle… or have lost it. But God hasn’t called us to fight single, isolated battles.  He’s called us to a war that will last a lifetime, one that may feel, at times, like we’re losing.  If we’re not “all in,” we’ll be tempted to take what chips we have remaining and go play some other game in life.  But if we’ve wagered everything on Christ, we’ll know that this is not a table…not a life…we can walk away from.

            David needed to know that.  Because there would be plenty of days before he actually became king (some 5,400 or more to be precise) that David would be wondering what God was doing with him and why the journey was so up and down.

            That really is the route from shepherd to king.  There is a lot dirt, dust, blood, sweat and, yes, tears getting from where God finds us to where He wants to take us.  All along the way, He will be asking that little question, “You still ‘all in’?”  And every new challenge, every new battle, we will have the opportunity to say by faith, “I’m ALL in!”  Because the transformation process from obscurity now to royalty later is a process of many battles over many years requiring much faith. 

APP:  Here is one reason why, I think, we are seeing so many people today of every generation, but particularly the younger generations, who have had some sort of church experience in their past, leaving the church and stepping away from public commitment to Jesus Christ.  We’re not a people used to being “all in.”  We’re more like “5% here…12% there…6% over there.”   So when the going gets tough, rather than say, “Either God is going to see me through or I’m going down with the ship in this storm,” we look for the nearest escape pod or life raft that we think will get us out of the storm. 

Let’s take a look at how this played out in David’s life.  Then, hopefully, we’ll be able to figure out a bit more how God wants it to play out in our lives. 

In David’s life, God’s high and special calling started much as many of our journey’s with Christ started—with some wonderful and amazing experiences of growth

Not long after being anointed by God’s prophet, the actual king, King Saul, went looking for a musician who could play for him and help him overcome the evil spirit God had visited him with. Overnight, from the obscurity of Bethlehem and the commonness of herding sheep, God moves David into the center of national events—the court of King Saul.  David did such a great job musically that Saul drafted him into his inner circle as one of his armor-bearers…kind of like today’s Secret Service detail for the President. 

            It was at this time that Israel was suffering under the weight of a Philistine insurgency.  That’s the backdrop for the one story just about anyone who is a Jew or Christian knows about David—David & Goliath.  If you’re not familiar with the story, read in today in I Samuel 17.  In short, this “runt” of a young man goes up against this “hulk” of a seasoned warrior, Goliath. 

David was probably not 6 feet tallGoliath was over 9 feet tall.  David had never been in war before.  Goliath was a  seasoned warrior.  David had no body armor, no sword and no spear.  Goliath had over 150 pounds of armor.  Where others saw a scrawny young man and a big, harry giant, David saw a big, powerful God and an oversized target. 

            One thing David had that apparently no one else in the entire Israeli army had nor any of the Philistines had was a confidence in God.  He knew God had protected him against the wild animals of a bear and a lion when he was tending his father’s flock.  So he simply believed that God would be able to not only protect him from some wild man God had created but would deliver this man…and his whole army…into his hand in battle.  It wasn’t about the 5 smooth stones.  It wasn’t about his sling.  It was about God himself and the journey David was committed to take with Him. 

            As David is being mocked by Goliath, he speaks these words of confidence in the Lord.  (I Samuel 17)

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. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 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.”

            And we all know the rest of the story. Before you can say “Off with his head,” Goliath is dead, Israel is victorious and David is famous.  David’s life of great exploits for God and great ministry to his whole nation seems to be taking off like a rocket.  This “all in” heart towards God really worked out well…for a while. J

            In I Samuel 18, we find that Saul is sending David out on military mission after military mission.  David succeeds at every one of them.  In fact, his success is so great that the female pop-culture song-and-dance group of the day write a new song for him and perform it as he comes back from battle.  It soars to the top of the charts with everyone except his boss, King Saul. 

Saul is one of the few people in Israel who knows that his dynasty is about to crumble.  Samuel had told him so on two separate occasions (I Sam. 13:8-14; 15:20-31).  It’s very possible that only Samuel, Saul and his son Jonathan knew that Saul had been disqualified for the monarchy. 

Jonathan, Saul’s son was heir to the throne.  But he had already apparently come to terms with that. Jonathan is at least 25 years older than David.  Yet the two become closest of friends.  And Jonathan does all within his power to not only gracefully let go of the monarchy but also protect David.   

Saul wants none of it.  He explodes at his loving and faithful son Jonathan for not being more jealous for the throne.  What Goliath couldn’t do, Saul seems bent upon doing, namely killing David.  His madness and his jealousy combine to try and make David a dart board on the palace wall.  For 7 years, David serves Saul in this very dangerous and volatile royal palace.  Finally, when it becomes clear to Jonathan that his father Saul will not stop until David is dead, he sends David away to flee for his life and go into hiding.  That hiding…and running…and hiding lasted another 7 years. Seven years! 

That’s a lot of days waking up wondering if today is the day the government finds you.  That’s a lot of cold caves and dusty camp outs.  Surely David must have wondered what had gone wrong with God’s anointing and call. 

APP:  There are going to be days…weeks…years like that in our walk with God.  The path from sinner to saint is not a short, straight line.  It is sometimes agonizingly long with many twists and turns we had no idea were going to be in the journey.  But it is in the journey that God grows us into the people we’re going to need to be in order to finish well the course God has set out for us. 

            When David was in his mid-teens, and Samuel came to town and anointed him…the youngest of all his brothers…do you suppose David had any idea about how difficult the process would be?  Do you think he had any inkling that he would be hunted and hounded for nearly a decade of his life before he would be ready for the throne?  Do you think sleeping in caves, living in the cold and being often hungry and always homeless was anywhere in his vision of what it was going to be like to be “all in” with God?  I doubt it. 

            Just think of the litany of unforeseen pain and difficulty David had to pass through before God brought him to what He had promised through Samuel some 15 years before.

  • He narrowly escapes Saul’s 2 assassination attempts against him while at court.
  • He loses the closest friendship of his life when Jonathan sends him away to save his life.
  • He begs food from the priests and at Nob and is given barely enough to survive on.
  • He’s ratted out by some foreigner named Doeg, an Edomite, whose biggest claim to fame is that he tends Saul’s sheep.
  • That betrayal leads to the death of 85 of God’s priests at the hands of this clown, Doeg. 85 men who harbored David lose their lives because of him. 
  • But it doesn’t end there. This dog Doeg goes on to obliterate the entire town of Nob at Saul’s order—every man, woman, child, baby, cattle, donkey and sheep.  As if sleeping on the hard ground wasn’t enough to keep you awake at night, David had to contend with the horrific reality that hundreds of people had died just because a few of them had been kind enough to share a little bread with him and not betray him to Saul. 
  • David seeks refuge in Gath only to find that he must feign madness in order to escape with his life.
  • His family has to run for their lives and join him living in caves (ch. 22).
  • The only army David can attract and hold are about 400 men who are described in I Sam. 22:2 this way: “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander.”  Not exactly the dream team of followers he must have envisioned when it all started. 
  • So fearful for his life is David that he decides his chances of survival are better living in the land of the Philistines (of whom he has made thousands of enemies by killing hundreds of them earlier).
  • Twice David spares Saul’s life only to be rewarded with more attempts on his life by this mad King Saul.
  • His own men talk of stoning him when their families are taken captive while they are doing what David has called them to do.

On and on the running, the narrow escapes and the punished good deeds go.  

But David steadfastly refuses to let life and evil people turn him away from God.  Rather than becoming just like those who are trying to destroy him by resorting to the very evil they are trying to use against him, David takes his fears and hurts and lonely fatigue to God.  He’s a man who stays “all in” when everyone else is “all-out” to get him. 

Let’s read exactly what is going on in his heart…in his prayers to God during those dark days.  Psalm 59 records David’s heart-cry during one of those dark episodes I mentioned.  Listen…and see if you don’t find your own heart echoing the same words during long days of difficulty on the way to realizing God’s story in this world.  [UNISON?]

Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
    be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
    and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me!
    Fierce men conspire against me
    for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
    Arise to help me; look on my plight!
You, Lord God Almighty,
    you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
    show no mercy to wicked traitors.

You are my strength, I watch for you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
10     my God on whom I can rely.

16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

The strong, strengthening love of God has the ability to turn every one of us who may see ourselves as a one-or-none-cow kind of person into people who reflect the beauty of Christ in the hardest of times. 

APP:  Have you let the love of Jesus Christ for you penetrate your heart?  Have you said “yes” to his “proposal” of forgiveness and life with Him forever through faith in His death on the cross for you?  Have you let the price He paid for you…the highest price ever paid for anything in the entire universe—His own pure, holy, life—transform you into the beautiful, blessed person God knows you can be in Him? 

APP:  Have you come to the place where, like David, you have decided you are “all in” with God?  That gaining Christ and sharing life with Him is worth potentially losing everything in this life? 

Is God asking you to reaffirm that you are “all in”…willing to walk away from everything and everyone in order to keep walking with God?  Will you affirm that publicly this morning by standing?

APP:  Are you allowing God to show you how the obstacles you are facing on the way to becoming, not some earthly political leader, but an eternal son or daughter of God, are transforming you into what God wants you to be?  Will you say to God this morning, “Yes, use whatever or whomever you want to grow me up into the child you want me to be.  I will trust You in regard to the tough things you bring my way.”

APP:  Is there some Saul in your life who seems to have it in for you? 

  • Tempted to sink to their level by using their tactics against them? How will you refuse to adopt their tactics?
  • Will you use the troubles they bring into your life to move you to take refuge in God? Will you let their evil intentions and actions move you to write your own Psalms?  Enter into your own heart-felt prayers to God and worship of Him?