We have reached one of the most important sections of the Bible, namely the life and times of David, son of Jesse. David occupies a most prominent place in the Scriptures for many good reasons. For one, he was the first king of Israel from the tribe of Judah, the tribe designated to rule in Israel according to the prophecy of Jacob. Also, David was a valiant warrior who freed Israel from their enemies and united all the twelve tribes of Israel under one banner. David taught Israel why and how to worship the God of Israel in spirit and in truth: he composed an extensive array of Psalms; he instituted choirs to worship and sing in the Tabernacle of Assembly; he expressed a deep desire to build a house for the God of Israel; he transported of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David truly loved the Lord God with all his might, soul, and strength, and desired to do His will and be pleasing to Him.
David was by no means perfect. He had many flaws and shortcomings, more than many of the other kings of Israel; but one thing that made David very special was his humility and sincerity and willingness to be disciplined by God. He was truly a son to the Lord and considered God his father, a father wanted to discipline him for his own good and to ultimately conform him to the image of his distant son, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The New Testament makes mention of David and Abraham more than any other Old Testament character. And as I mentioned earlier, in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, David and Abraham are prominent names, federal heads of the lineage of Christ.
In the previous chapter, we concluded the period of Judges, a very dark era during which the people of Israel, God’s special vessel for preserving His divine Seed, succumbed to idolatry and pollution by the detestable and demonic spirits who had no other intention but to destroy the vessel, Israel, and the Seed, the coming Lord. In such a time, as hopeless and perilous as it may have been, God preserved a remnant for Himself who were going to remain pure and maintain the lineage of the Seed despite the failure of the masses. This same condition currently persists in Christendom where God has maintained for Himself a remnant among His people who are preserving the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament is a frightening picture of how miserably God’s people failed; the church, God’s New Covenant is in danger of a similar failure, as warned by Apostle Paul in numerous occasions (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:1-10).
In such disastrous times, and prior to the entrance of King David on the Biblical scene, we encounter the book of Ruth, inserted between the book of Judges and 1 Samuel.
On the surface, the book of Ruth seems to be the romantic story of a young Moabite woman and Boaz, a Jewish man of fame and wealth. But underneath the “romance”, there hides a deep truth regarding the plan and purpose of God and the relevance of the Seed in fulfilling the desired goal of God.
We become aware of the ancestry of King David for the first time in the book of Ruth. During the period of Judges, Satan had been ruling with all his might among the Canaanite nations who persecuted and corrupted Israel with their cruelty and idolatry. Israel was under severe pressure which was created as a result of their refusal to be the nation that God had meant them to be: an expression, manifestation, and representation of the life, sovereignty, and kingdom of God on earth. Instead, Israel pursued its own ways, seeking pleasure, conforming and mingling with other surrounding nations who in fact wanted nothing but the utter destruction of Israel and its testimony.
During the time of Judges, the carriers of the Seed were in obscurity. Later, we read about them in various genealogies in the Old and in the New Testaments; but historically, very little has been said about them. Interestingly enough, the book of Judges covers a period of about 400 years, from the time of Joshua to David, exactly the same amount of time that elapsed between the end of the Old Testament period and the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world! Just as the world of that time was lost in idolatry and religious darkness, in need of a redeemer/king, so was the period immediately preceding the appearance of our Lord. After all, he was the son of David, and David was a king after the manner of Christ. David was a type of Christ in his arrival and his rule.
So the Seed was securely hidden in Judah and the remnant of the tribe who had remained faithful to the Lord, the Seed carriers, continued passing the Seed on from one generation to the other.
The book of Ruth begins with a severe famine and the flight of some of the residents of Bethlehem to the neighboring country of Moab. Famine in the Old Testament was a sign of the failure of nature, and the failure of the people who cultivated the land. In spiritual terms, however, famine was the evidence of spiritual decline and judgment from God. Famine in Israel, the land which was supposed to flow with milk and honey, was not only unusual but also certainly a sign of spiritual problem. God was using a natural phenomenon to remind His people of their spiritual condition.
Elimelech (whose name means “God is King”) also moves to Moab. Even though his name bears witness to the sovereignty of God, Elimelech leaves the failed people of Israel and ventures into Moab, a type of the gentile world. God, in like manner, after the failure of Israel at the time of Christ, and their betrayal of Jesus, left the nation; a long period of famine began – a famine of revelation, presence, and blessing that has lasted two thousand years. God ventured into the gentile world to obtain for Himself a vessel compatible with His Son’s needs. As Ruth became part of Elimelech’s family and heir to his estate through marriage and through the death of his sons, so has the church, who is mainly gentile in makeup, has become covenanted to the inheritance of the God of Israel by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. We read about this is Ephesians 2:12, “That at that time you [Ruth as a type] were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel [the inheritance of Elimelech in Bethlehem] and strangers from the covenants of promise [the promises all had to do with the arrival, blessings, and effects of the Seed upon the whole world], having no hope and without God in the world [Ruth’s condition before meeting and marrying the son of Elimelech].” Thus, gentiles were brought into the promise of the Seed’s blessing.
Ruth, in her faithfulness and diligence to her call and the awaiting inheritance, journeys to Bethlehem along with her mother-in-law Naomi. She is then betrothed to Boaz, who is a type of Christ in His priestly and kingly ministries. Though the redemptive work of Boaz, Ruth becomes the rightful heir of the family inheritance and comes to possess what was hers by right upon the death of Elimelech’s son. Orpah, on the other hand, who was also related to the inheritance by the death of the son of Elimelech. forfeited her right, even though she always remained related to the family by virtue of the covenant of marriage.
In similar manner, the faithful and overcoming church of Christ will be assisted and strengthened through the High Priestly ministry of Christ (chapter 2 of Ruth) and be made ready for His judicial assessment of her worthiness to be redeemed for the inheritance, the millennial kingdom’s throne of Christ (as seen in type by the birth and reign of David). She will thus appropriate her rightful possession and calling. The result of her faithfulness is, interestingly, the last word of the book of Ruth, David. The believers and churches who stand on the truth of God’s kingdom and strive to make it to the end, will see the King’s appearing for the reward of the throne.
The promised Seed is thus successfully passed from Boaz to Obed through Ruth, and ultimately, to Jesse, the father of David.
Now Satan knows the exact location of the promised Seed: in Israel, the tribe of Judah, the family of Jesse. He knows that the battle over the coming Seed of the woman, as promised in Genesis chapter 3, will be waged with the family of this one man, David, who is the ancestor of the Seed. Who and when will the Seed come, he wonders! Satan is relieved in a sense, now that he knows the precise location of the Seed’s carriers. God and Satan must now unleash their greatest arsenals and use all their tactics. The next thousand years of history would see Israel and Judah in dire conditions, as God and Satan would each do their utmost to achieve their goals. Of course, we know how the story unfolds and who ultimately triumphs, but let us travel back in Biblical history. Let us put ourselves in the shoes of the people who did not know what awaited them. Sometimes they rejoiced as they triumphed over their enemies; sometimes they despaired as they became captives in strange lands; sometimes they sang songs of deliverance; sometimes they lamented beside the bodies of their slain children; sometimes they shouted in victory; sometimes they mourned the brutal rape of their wives. They suffered and bore the unbearable pain of being who they were: God’s prince who needed to be trained and disciplined for royalty, and Satan’s enemies who needed to be annihilated from the surface of the earth so they would not be the womb which would give birth to the Glorious King of Israel and the Redeemer of the world. In like manner, we as the new Israel of God, who live by and through the indwelling of His Spirit, are exposed to trials, afflictions, and tribulations in order to be trained and disciplined (from God’s viewpoint) or be utterly destroyed (from Satan’s viewpoint). This is the history of God’s people – the arena in which God and Satan would battle for sovereignty. God’s people are called to victory in sufferings and triumph in afflictions as David and his family, along with countless other heroes in God’s book of remembrance (the Bible) experienced the fury and wrath of Satan, and at the same time experienced God’s unfailing love, grace, and faithfulness!
David enters the scene of Israel’s history when their first king (Saul) had not only failed to destroy their enemies but had also failed to accomplish anything spiritual in the lives of the people. The nation had not fulfilled its mandate. Samuel was crying out as the voice “in the wilderness saying, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’”, but to no avail. King Saul was immersed in his own selfish and blind ambition; the people were in hardship and under oppression from enemies. There was no spiritual life in Israel. Everything was dry! Everything was shallow and superficial! Everything was pretence and insincere! Everything had become religious and ceremonial with no proper understanding! It was chaos! Doesn’t that remind us of the current state of Christianity?
Now enters David, a young shepherd boy who tends sheep, plays the harp and sings beautiful melodies of praise and adoration to Jehovah!
David’s life is a series of victories followed by failures, followed by tragedies, followed by more victories, followed by more discipline from God, and endless lessons in becoming the man God had intended him to be. I Samuel and II Samuel are primarily and to a great extent the story of the life of David, with all its ups and downs. Many books are and more can be written about David’s life and experiences.
My intention is not to study every detail of the life of David, but to highlight a few key events and principles from which we can derive a better understanding of what God did in David to make him the royal ancestor of our Lord, and what God is doing in our lives to make us the vessel which will bring forth the Lord’s testimony and life to all men and in all ages.
At this point, let me clarify one important fact about the usage of the word Seed in this book: when I refer to someone as the Seed, I do not imply that that person was Jesus Christ, for we know that only Christ is the Seed of God’s divine life. However, when we examine a natural plant seed, we observe that a seed is primarily made up of two essential components: the outer shell or covering and the inner germinating part or the “endosperm”. God has placed this beautiful example in nature: it speaks of the dual aspects of the person of Christ. Jesus Christ, at His conception, received the outer shell of His being from His mother Mary who herself was a descendant of Abraham and David. The inner core or the life that brought Christ into the world was the divine life of God breathed into Mary by the Holy Spirit. In inner life, Jesus was divine, the second person of the trinity; in physical life, a perfect man whose human life had been derived from the ancestry of Mary, the names of whom are in her genealogy in Luke 3.
This outer coat, or the cloak of humanity that the Lord had to wear, was of the Seed of David and Abraham. So, the people who stood in the lineage of the Lord were themselves the seed of the previous person and the carrier for the next generation. What they passed on to each other until the Lord was manifested, was the physical life of the Seed, with all its history, heritage, and experiences. I am the product of many generations of people who stood in my lineage and reproduced until I was born in 1958. My physical life (and spiritual death!) have been handed down to me directly from these previous generations. Every one of them had a history and diverse experiences which now form my heritage and who I am today. As a matter of fact, genetically speaking, my ancestors have given me every single gene that was present in them with all their diseases, characteristics and character-shaping factors. The only difference between Jesus and us is the fact that He did not inherit sin and sinfulness and spiritual death as we do, because in order to be a sinner and a spiritually dead person, one needs to be born of natural, human parents. Only Jesus had a perfect human and physical body void of sin and spiritual death. The other main difference is that Jesus, from conception had the divine life of God, because he was always the Son of God; but we only receive that life by a personal repentance and restoration of relationship with God through the atonement of Christ on the cross. The outer shell of the physical body of the Lord, and His human life were the culmination of all the experiences of the last 4,000 years. The part of Him that was of human seed was tested, refined, and touched by God’s grace. What perfection! As man, completely perfect! As God, always and forever perfect!
I would like to outline several important facts I have observed in the life of David, as he is about to become a juncture in history for the Seed to take many of His ancestral characteristics from David!
1. David was a true seeker of God.
An outstanding feature of David’s life is his constant and unrelenting pursuit of God. David was interested to know who God was, what God wanted, and how God viewed things. Read the Psalms and you will see a beautiful portrait of a man in constant pursuit of God. (Psalm 40:6-8; Psalm 42:1-2).
David’s yearning and thirst for God was unique. None of the men who preceded him ever displayed such intense desire for God. This seeker attitude and character of David became his strength and the cause of his survival and prevailing throughout the many years he ruled as king. Let us not forget the insecure situation of Israel at the time. The ongoing threats and attacks from within and without would cause any king to have nightmares and be in constant anxiety; and yet we see David surviving and triumphing through them all because he sought God all his life. We as believers in Christ, are also exposed to the same, and sometimes even greater and more subtle dangers from within ourselves and from the world around us; unless we sincerely and constantly seek God, we shall also experience anxieties, tensions, defeat, and severe testing of faith. Let us not forget the exhortation of the writer of the letter to Hebrews: “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). David sought God on many occasions and was rewarded. If we seek to know God as He is, as David did, and as Paul did (Phil. 3:10), and if we seek to know His mind in all matters, His plan and purpose, and His view of things in life, we will also prevail and survive the assaults of the enemy and remain standing in the day of testing. In Ephesians chapter 6:13-14, Paul exhorts the believers in Ephesus to stand; but don’t forget that before writing these verses, Paul wrote five chapters revealing who God was, what God desired, and how God viewed matters. Without a proper knowledge of the person of God, a knowledge that is not just theological, but a theophilical, and without knowing what it is that God is pursuing and seeking to establish, we will be short-sighted, even unto blindness, and will miss the great opportunities of rising to higher levels of understanding and relationship with God. David escaped many pitfalls and potentially life-threatening situations because He had sought God and God had sought him.
2. David had a personal relationship with God.
This aspect of David’s life is truly amazing. No king ever before or after him, had such a close and intimate relationship with God. We read time and time again that David asked God concerning matters at hand and God answered him. It is as if David is treating God like his father. God was a real person to David, not just a theological concept or a teaching. God was REAL! Is God as real to us and for us as He was to David? Or are we just going along with what we are told and taught by our church without ever establishing the certainty of not only His existence, but of His very ‘realness’ in our lives. This realness of God made the relationship with God real to David. One reason we Christians do not really get full enjoyment from being in a relationship with our heavenly Father is that we don’t have a firm and real conviction in our hearts, that God is not only real, but that He is very much personal. The ‘personalness’ of God, of course, does not mean that we can use this fact to abuse the person; rather, I use the fact to have a moment to moment, loving and trusting relationship with Him. Once again read the Psalms and the life of David and you will see how real and personal God was to David. He had a real and personal relationship with God. He could talk to God and he knew God would answer him somehow. He knew his God so well, there was no doubt in his mind that God was there and that He would keep His promise. Even in the bleakest of moments, when doubts would invade his mind, David did not abandon the reality of that personal relationship with God. Even when he was angry and “disappointed” with God’s way of handling things, he discussed it with God rather than just complaining and turning his face away. He told God his deepest thoughts and feelings and let God take care of his problems and wounded heart. This is how personal God was to David. (Psalm 38; 43; 57).
3. David was a true worshiper of God and knew the value of worship.
Worship was the very heart of David’s life. This fact stemmed from the previous two points, David’s seeker attitude and David’s personal relationship with God. When a person begins seeking God continually in his life, and builds a real and personal relationship with God, he/she cannot but be and become a true worshipper. David was such a person. He worshipped God in spirit and in truth. Do you remember the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well? The entire discussion between Jesus and the woman was over the issue of worship. She told Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship”. Jesus corrected her superficial and religious notion of worship by telling her, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”. Jesus directed the attention of this woman to the true nature of worship. He showed her, first and foremost, that in order to worship God, one must seek Him. God is not to be found in a certain mountain or a certain building! He must be sought in spirit and truth! As we seek him in His Word and in prayer, we also become worshipers of Him. Seeking God will result in worshiping God! The word ‘worship’ in English comes from “worth-ship” – anything of value is said to be of worth! True seekers of God will become true worshipers of God. Jesus was telling this woman that neither the Jews nor the Samaritans had really understood what worship was; they therefore were not true worshipers. They only worshiped buildings, mountains, monuments, or even a concept of God that was inaccurate, incomplete, and defective.
Secondly, true worshiper, of necessity must have a personal relationship with God in order to enjoy His worth and value in their lives. David had also arrived at this conclusion. Religion invariably paralyzes us from the true worship of God, because it is not based on spirit and truth, but on human efforts to ascribe value to God rather than acknowledging the inherent and self-existent value of God. Just as Abel recognized the inherent worth and value God had to him and the creation at large; whereas Cain wanted to ascribe and attach a certain value to God that was based on his own estimate and assessment of God’s worth in his life and the creation at large. Isn’t this what people do all the time? Each person ascribes a certain degree of value and worth to God that is different from the other person. Why? Because that is how we humans are! We attach a value and worth to something based on how much that thing or person serves our needs. Therefore, different people ascribe different values to God, none of which are accurate or a true estimate of who God is. Such worship is useless and selfish at best!
David never ascribed his own measure of value to God because he knew better than that. He knew that doing so would violate the most important rule in being a true worshiper of God: “You do not decide God’s worth! You simply acknowledge it!” True worship is the true reflection of God’s worth declared and experienced! In the Psalms, once again, we see how David acknowledges God’s inherent value and worth.
4. David was a resilient person.
This particular characteristic of David is very fascinating and worthy of mention. David always bounced back. He hit countless walls and barriers in his life. He was constantly being challenged and defeated; and yet, he bounced back and recaptured lost ground. David simply did not quit. He did not give up. Resiliency comes from an intentional determination to strive for a worthy and noble goal no matter the process and difficulties. David had been promised the kingdom of Israel, not only for himself, but for his children and the generations to come. He never gave up this vision and dream. He was challenged many times because of this vision, even by his own son Absalom, who usurped the kingdom from him for a short while, but David ultimately prevailed and re-established his legacy as the true and legitimate king of Israel.
David could not let go of the promise God had given him. He knew how much he and his family would be tested and assaulted by his enemies with regards to the promise of the kingdom, but he would not waiver in his determination to make it to the end. This caused great resiliency in David. He was stretched, pushed, dropped, hard pressed, and mistreated, yet he bounced back, because he was obsessed with the calling in his life. How about us? Are we obsessed with God’s calling to strive and desire to rule and reign with Christ in His kingdom to the extent that we are willing to endure all and then bounce back? All great men of God either have or acquire by experience the capacity to ‘bounce back’. Look at what Paul said, “But we have this treasure [the promise and the deposit of the millennial kingdom] in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed [resilient]; we are perplexed, but not in despair (resilient], persecuted but not forsaken [resilient]; struck down, but not destroyed [resilient], always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live, are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh [resiliency]. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (II Cor. 4:7-12).
Are we also resolute and determined to go for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus, ruling and reigning with Christ in the coming kingdom? Are we willing to be or become resilient so that we may at any cost and by all means attain to that outstanding and select resurrection and reward? David did so. David bounced back better than any ball, stretched better than any elastic band, took pressure better than any metal, and won the race!
5. David did not succumb to the mindset of the people around him, whether friend or foe.
One of the greatest temptations facing man is the adoption of the mindset emanating from his surrounding. This temptation, as destructive as it may be in the spiritual life of any believer including David’s, was the cause of the downfall of Israel on numerous occasions. As a matter of fact, the first open mention of such a mindset is when the people of Israel demanded Samuel the prophet to install a king for Israel. They wanted to be like other nations because they had acquired the ways, the tastes, and the mindset of other nations. They were no longer content with God alone as their king. They had succumbed to a mindset that demanded visible and tangible things. They wanted to operate and govern themselves in the realm of the “seen”, doing away with the “unseen” that was governed and driven not by sight but by faith. Faith, only in name and on the surface, would always remain a national and cultural badge upon Israel; and yet the reality of faith would be literally non-existent. This is what the surrounding nations had done to Israel during the four-hundred years between Joshua and David. Today, the church is in a similar danger and peril if it is to adopt and succumb to the mindset of the world – the full exercise, dependency on, and living a so-called “faith life” based on sensuality (dependence on the senses) and operating in the realm of the “seen” rather than the “unseen”. The book of Hebrews chapter 11 exhorts us to walk by faith in order to please God (11:6). It defines what faith is: “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen… by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (11:1, 3). Israel was supposed to live by faith in Jehovah, who was invisible, as their provider, protector, and preserver.
The greatest failure and fallout for any nation or individual believer arises out of a change of perspective in the matters related to the “seen” versus the “unseen”. Once we put our spiritual eyes on the “seen”, as Israel did, failure is imminent. That is why the Lord, throughout the Scriptures, encourages us to walk by faith and not by sight. How tragic it is to see so many of the Lord’s children today, especially in the West where affluence and prosperity is so easily available and achievable, setting their sight on things “seen”. The apostle Paul refers to this notion in all his letters, in some form or another; the saddest reference, however, is in the letter to the Philippians whose pride was in their stomach and their glory in their shame! The 21st century “Christianity” puts greater emphasis on the “seen” benefits, e.g. bigger house, better car, more cash in the bank, and etc. This is nothing but a diversionary tactic of the enemy to entice the people of God into seeking the “seen” as the object of their faith, rather than the “unseen” reward that God has for His people. Even Jesus warned His disciples of this danger. In Matthew 6, regarding giving alms, prayers, and other spiritual matters, Jesus exhorted His true disciples to keep these practices away from public viewing and praise, and instead earning the “unseen” reward from the “unseen” Father. Even in the matter of His second coming, the Lord warned His disciples not to look for signs and occurrences as the basis of their Christian walk. External signs were not for the church, but for Israel, who in spiritual near-blindness, needed external signs to find their way around. Israel has always demanded signs, and the Lord will give them signs to know that the end is near. The church has been given no signs to look forward to. The rapture of the Church can happen at any moment. Christ warned His disciples to “watch and pray”. The word ‘watch’ does not mean fascination with the signs of the second coming, but a state of ‘watchfulness’ arising from a deep knowledge of and intimate walk with God. Watchfulness is related to being on guard against “watching” for signs! We ought to be watchful in matters of the “unseen” realm, from where our real spiritual battle originates. Today, Christianity has become a multi-billion dollar industry based on so-called “prophetic and end-time” issues. Literally, every week a new book, with so-called new information and new twists on world events comes on the market, arousing the curiosity of sincere believers who should be praying and watching rather than speculating on the news of the day. Christian authors, in order to establish themselves in the Christian book industry, must write book about the Second Coming! How many books are there written about the deeper knowledge of God through adversities and trials of faith? How many books are there written about praying on our knees lest we fall asleep in our Christian life? How many books are there written about the cost of discipleship? Very few! Such books don’t generate big dollars!
David did not succumb to this mindset. For David, God was always God, the invisible was what determined the visible. He did not care about public opinion and political correctness! He didn’t care how silly he looked when he danced in front of the Ark of the Covenant when it was being brought back to Jerusalem. His wife Milcah, the daughter of King Saul (who himself was the embodiment of a mindset that valued public opinion more than God’s opinion) mocked David for his strange behavior. But David just danced and worshiped God sincerely, because for him seeking and obtaining God’s approval was more important than other people’s opinion.
David had a mindset that was pretty much shaped by God’s truth, risen out of a long and enduring personal relationship with the God of Israel. Do you recall David’s attitude towards Goliath? Once again we see a mindset that was not influenced by other people’s estimate of God’s power and might. Saul and the whole army of Israel, including the brothers of David, had adopted the mindset of an “ordinary” army and had completely forgotten whose army they were. They had come to believe that they were the army of King Saul and that Saul was sovereign over Israel! How tragic when God’s people come to a false conviction that their physical circumstances, their possessions or lack thereof, their achievements or lack thereof, their position in society or lack thereof, dictate the outcome of their battle with an opposing giant of the enemy. Israel had succumbed to a militaristic mentality, where they considered themselves inferior to the army of the Philistines and Goliath the giant, having forgotten that the God of Israel was the real factor in the equation, not the extent of their weaponry.
David had no such mindset. As a matter of fact, his choice of weapon, and his refusal of Saul’s sophisticated armor, proved how much he was removed from such a worldly mindset. He defeated the giant with a small pebble! That is David! That is David’s God!
6. David dared to push the boundaries of the “norm”.
This point is really fascinating about David. He did things for and in Israel that were certainly different and not the norm up to that point in time. There are a number of examples that come to mind, but I will mention only one. The way David defeated Goliath is a prime example of how he went against military and acceptable conventional thinking and used a sling and a handful of pebbles to kill the giant. He changed the paradigm which connected real warfare with real weapons! David broke that norm and showed the irrelevance of the weapon in warfare as long as it was viewed correctly. If God was in the battle, then victory was assured. God, and not man, was the deciding factor! Later, other kings adopted this same strategy when faced with enemies. A distant son of David, King Jehoshaphat, employed Levites and singers from the temple to be the frontline soldiers of the army, with strict orders that there would be no fighting since God was going to fight the battle. So the singers sang the praises of God and God defeated all their enemies! (II Chr. 20:1-28).
Another very interesting example of how David moved purely conventional boundaries, was the worship and praise in the temple. Nowhere do we read prior to David, about choirs of singers and professional worship leaders in the service of the Tabernacle or in the Temple. They were not mentioned in the instructions given to Moses by God. Yet, we see that David takes it upon himself to introduce worship as a continual and integral part of Israel’s religious rituals. He introduced the art of singing, Psalm-writing, and choral worship with stringed instruments in the service of the tabernacle. Note the significance of this act. We read repeatedly that God asked that nothing be added or be taken away from the exact and accurate instructions He gave to the children of Israel through Moses. The penalty of such alterations of the ceremonies and rituals was certain death. God had never asked for singers and choral worshipers along with bands of musical instruments to assemble in the tabernacle and sing songs and Psalms. Yet, He allowed David to introduce this beautiful form of worship without ever punishing him. God liked this quality in David that arose from his sincere seeker attitude (point #1), his personal relationship with God (point #2), his true heart of worship (point #3), his resilient character (point #4), his refusal to succumb to the mindset of the world around him (point #5), and his leadership and insightful attitude towards extending the boundaries of the practice of faith, so long as they enhanced, enriched, and empowered the people of God. David’s act of incorporating music and song in worship is perhaps one of his greatest legacies. Today, thousands of years after David, the Church of Jesus Christ, who is by faith from the seed of Abraham, and in royal calling in the position of David, is the realm of the most beautiful music and lyrics ever written in praise of God! David made worship not only an obligatory and ceremonial expression, but incorporated the participation of the total person, mind, emotions, and the will in the act of surrender and submission to God as a “living sacrifice”. The world in general, and the church specifically, are forever indebted to David for extending the boundaries of worship beyond a purely ritualistic form to an experiential participation.
7. David had a heart void of selfishness – a priestly heart.
David was never concerned for himself as much as he was for the welfare of his nation and the testimony of God. Throughout his life, time and time again, we see David’s heart of compassion and mercy aroused for the cause of the afflicted and the oppressed, never seeking sympathy from people, but seeking approval from the Lord. He reflected the priestly heart of Christ beautifully, even though he was called to function as king and not officially as priest. A priest, by virtue of the word itself, is and must be a person void of selfish ambitions and desires, living for the sake of his God and the people he represents. The duality of the priestly calling – representing man to God and God to man – is the most blessed and the ultimate of spiritual achievements and vocations. A priest represents the heart of God to men and the heart of men to God. In representing the heart of men to God, the priest seeks to procure cleansing and purification from defilements deep-seated in the heart. The heart is the seat of emotions and the center of self-awareness. In seeking the grace and the judicial forgiveness of God for the wickedness of the heart, a priest offers heartfelt offerings of blood to obtain mercy and compassion for himself and his people. David, on many occasions, sought such favor from God. One incident that stands out in his life is the numbering of Israel. Both II Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 recount this incident from two different perspectives. Satan intends for this event to become the downfall of David because he is aware of the fact that David is the chosen one and that in due time, through him, the promised Seed will come. So, the best thing is to throw David out of favor with God, and thus frustrate God’s plan and purpose for the Seed. God, on the other hand, uses this experience to elevate David’s heart to the level of His own heart and to show David what it means to intercede and to stand in the gap for the people. One thing any believer must learn is to have a heart fashioned after the heart of our Lord, our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. David had to rise up to that level. He had to be completely emptied of himself and desperately seek the welfare of his people, God’s flock. David knew that the true and “good” shepherd had to lay down his life for his sheep. He had practiced that selfless attitude towards his father’s sheep; now he had to practice it for his heavenly Father’s human flock, Israel. Ultimately, Jesus did become that perfect and flawless great shepherd of our souls, who laid down His life for His sheep and in resurrection from among the dead, led His flock to the heights of victory en route to the house of God.
As to the other aspect of a priestly heart – representing God to men – David demonstrated successfully, by his lifestyle and attitude, the most important attribute of God. He beautifully showed how God was sovereign over Israel and how he, David, reigned on behalf of God, representing His interests and kingdom on earth. The Psalms of David coupled with his life, reveal to us in a magnificent way, the many different facets of God’s character and workings. Through his many experiences, some pleasant, mostly bitter, David had gained a heart that was full of compassion and mercy, something God wanted for His people more than dry doctrinal and scriptural accuracy. In revelation 2, Christ rebukes the church in Ephesus for having lost the heart of priesthood, only adhering to dry and often heartless doctrinal orthodoxy. I am not advocating casting off doctrinal restraints in favor of a “mushy” and sentimental theology! No, what I am implying is that believers cannot be true and worthy testimonies of the counsel of God if they fail to have both scriptural orthodoxy and priestly hearts operating in concert with each other. One without the other is useless. Jesus warned the church in Ephesus that He would remove the lampstand, or the testimony and the life element of the church, from their midst unless they repented and went back to their “first love”! Any misrepresentation of the heart of God is severely judged by God. Moses lost the greatest chance of his life after having misrepresented the heart of God to men. As a proto-priest, he displayed God to the thirsty people, as an angry and intolerant God; whereas God had no such feelings towards the people in that particular instance. Even though his son Absalom had risen against him, usurped the kingdom from under his feet, raped his concubines in public, murdered his son Amnon, and brought much grief and shame on his father, David never sought to kill his son. He acted like a priest towards his son, demonstrating the love, mercy, and compassion of God. On the other hand, Joab murdered Absalom in cold blood, demonstrating the heartlessness of religion void of grace and mercy. Joab was right from a judicial point of view. Absalom deserved death and yet, David sought to spare him, not necessarily because he was his son, but because he needed mercy. Mercy would have brought correction not death. Religion does not dispense mercy, it eliminates the offender. Christ came to bring us the goodness of grace and mercy. Some may still doubt saying David spared Absalom because he was his son. What about Shimei who hurled insults upon David? His commanders asked permission to put Shimei to death. But David showed mercy and later, in his last will and testament, asked Solomon not spare him if he violated the boundaries of grace (Jerusalem symbolized grace and a refuge from judgment). What about Mephibosheth, the grandson of his enemy Saul? What about Abigail’s husband? David represented God’s heart for His people in directing them towards the worship of Jehovah, the recognition of the sovereignty of God in the national life of Israel, the intercessory nature of the calling of the people of Israel in being the light and the salt of the earth by dispensing the blessings of the revelation of the one true God, and the immense love God had for His people as their king and great shepherd.
8. David never ever limited God!
I kept this last point to the end because it happens to be the capstone of David’s life, character, and legacy.
Never before or after David, do we read about anyone (except the Lord Jesus) operating with a mindset that in no way limited God in who He was and would be to His people, how He would do things, and why He would do them. David not only did not limit God, and gave God an open field of operation, he also encouraged and invited God to do even more.
God achieved the greatest victories for Israel in David’s lifetime because His hands were ‘free’. I personally think God was freer during the time of David than during the time of Solomon. Even though Solomon extended the boundaries, the prosperity and the security of Israel to their highest, his achievements were reaping the harvest of David’s planting. Solomon, like Isaac, reaped the rewards of a father who had been through many furnaces, who had seen the bitterness and pain of failure, and the shame of defeat, in order to make the life of God a reality and experiential for himself, his family and his nation. David had shed many tears; Solomon shed none! David suffered in shame and rejection; Solomon paraded with honor and acceptance. Yet, Solomon failed in his mandate to be the upholder of God’s sovereignty due to his excesses and distractions, but David clung onto His God, and despite massive failures and sins, finished the course of his race and rested with the fathers, a man blessed with “fullness” and with spiritual enlargement. In Acts 13, Paul elaborates on this truth by saying, “For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and …” (13:36).
Through David, God could do whatever He wished to do for Israel, because He was not hindered; David was the agent executing God’s will and purpose for the nation.
Perhaps the greatest problem we as believers face is limiting God. I am reminded of Psalm 78:41 where the writer says that the people of Israel limited the God of Israel. Limitations in our spiritual life are due to the limits we place on God. We, in our finite and weak minds, decide what God can or cannot do, where God should or should not go, how God should and should not work. We seriously limit God and therefore our testimony is limited, our lives are limited in the blessings we can withdraw from the resources of God’s all-sufficiency, and we experience spiritual setbacks and defeats. Jesus had the same problem with His disciples. On numerous occasions, He had to demonstrate the unlimited person of God to them. When they limited God in feeding people, Jesus showed how God could use a young boy’s school lunch to feed thousands. When Mary and Martha could not believe in the power of God in raising the dead, Jesus raised Lazarus! When the wedding host limited God in restoring the joy of the wedding, Jesus turned water into wine! Jesus’ mission alongside the plan of redemption was to train and prepare a group of people who would learn not to limit God. Jesus never limited God in anything. He was an open highway for God to pass though in order to touch, love, save, deliver, heal, and bless people. Jesus did not limit God because He was God. The best of human beings cannot so perfectly and completely give God an infinite open field of operation. David however, was very much in tune and in line with this truth. The apostle Paul (and all disciples eventually after the day of Pentecost) strived not to limit God. One of the saddest acts of limiting God was done, in the name of protecting God’s interests: the church in Jerusalem fell prey to a Jewish and nationalistic mindset in assuming that the Gospel and the redemption of God was exclusively Jewish in scope. They limited God, by refusing to “go” and make disciples of all nations. God detested this attitude because they had limited Him in what He desired to make happen for all humanity. Therefore, God allowed persecution to come against the church and raised a new entity called the church in Antioch –church where God was not limited! A church where the Holy Spirit spoke freely and commissioned Saul and Barnabas to go to the ends of the earth! A church where the Holy Spirit speaks in the first person (as recorded in the New Testament – Acts 13:2). Antioch was the liberation of God! This further proves the poisonous and malignant danger of religion, no matter what the disguise and the cover, paralyzing God and limiting Him in a severe way. Religion sets boundaries and limits what, where, how, and why God should do something, purely and arbitrarily from a human mental and emotional point of view. Later, Paul also fought this cancer of the early church; unfortunately this cancer recurs and persists in the contemporary church as well. Judaisers, or what I would call those who limited God to ceremonial eating, washing, and keeping certain ordinances, had infected the church with the poison of their doctrines and practices. Paul had no tolerance and mercy for them. He fought them with every weapon of the revelation of the Word and the authority he had received including his supernatural gifts to combat this demonic spirit! We as believers in Christ must be extremely careful and cautious in not limiting God on any basis, especially in the matters of the corporate welfare and the integrity of the Body of Christ; we should use utmost caution in order to keep the church void of these limitations placed on God under the disguise of distinctions based on race, color, language, culture, and other factors.
David is an outstanding testimony of how he as an individual in his life, and as king, in the life of the nation set no limits on God and was thus tremendously praised and commended by God. We will receive God’s commendation and praise when we refrain from limiting Him. In Hebrews 11:6 the writer states, “for he who comes to God must believe that He is.” This word “is” speaks of allowing God to be God! To free God so He can act as God! And what is the key that frees God? Faith!
Faith frees God to operate in the realm of the unseen, because what can be seen is temporary. The physical universe and all that is in it are subject to limitations. Therefore, anything that is limited and limits is not the realm in which God works. God works in a realm where there are no limits because He is not limited nor can He be limited, nor does He wish to be limited!
That is why Paul states that our battle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers and the rulers of this dark age. He implies that if we were to fight spiritual battles with the seen, we would certainly lose, because the source of the conflict is in a realm where there are no limits; therefore, we must also ascend to that position and understanding, and release God by our faith to face the enemy for us.
Faith does not limit God. Lack of faith limits God. Remember the man who came to Jesus begging Him to heal his child? Jesus replied and said, “Can you believe that I can do it [are you limiting God or are you freeing Him to operate as He would]?” The man answered, “Lord heal my unbelief!” In other words, “Lord I am guilty of limiting God! Please help me and set God free in me!” Praise the Lord! Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen! Faith sets no limits for God!
David, like his great ancestor Abraham, freed God in Israel and taught us the greatest lesson a believer can learn: NEVER LIMIT GOD!
The eight points above regarding the life of David, were meant to bring the reader into a greater appreciation of the ancestry of the promised Seed. After all, the Lord Jesus, who was from the seed of David, and also from the ancestral lineage that goes back to Adam, inherited a legacy and an outer shell (His body) from a generation of people who had learned many precious truths and revelations from God. Every one of them, in their diverse and colorful experiences, had contributed to the preservation and the development of the promised Seed. Their time-tested and precious experiences with the God of the universe had qualified them to pass on these traits and characteristics to their ultimate Son, Jesus of Nazareth. As we shall see later, Jesus both humanly and divinely possessed all of these characteristics in fullness and perfection! The 4000-year process of nurturing and infusing into this promised Seed all that God wanted man to come to know and experience had paid off.
In conclusion to this chapter, I want to ask a few questions from you and from myself:
- Are you a true seeker of God?
- Are you in a real and intimate personal relationship with God?
- Are you a true worshiper of God, knowing His value and worth in your life?
- Are you resilient, bouncing back from defeat and failure?
- Are you resistant to the mindset of this world by not following its patterns?
- Do you dare to move the boundaries of your faith and the “norms”?
- Are you void of selfishness and do you possess the heart of a priest?
- Do you limit God?
If your answer to any of these questions is no, then you, like myself, are disappointed in yourself, desperately seeking His healing presence and touch!
Let us go to His throne of grace to find grace in time of need!
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