part one

Tonight we head into the most peculiar, difficult time of the year for a preacher. From the week before Thanksgiving until the week after New Year nothing is normal in a congregation's work. First, we have no idea about who will be here for the next six or seven weeks. Second, in this period there is little continuity. As hopefully is evident to you, I prefer for continuity to occupy a significant role in my preaching. I prefer for lessons to build on each other. This may be more obvious on Sunday evenings.

For the remainder of November and much of December, on Sunday evenings I would like for David, the Old Testament King of Israel, to be the basis of that continuity. The central question that will serve as continuity's foundation is this: "Why did God have such a special appreciation for David?"

  1. That question is not as easily answered as you might think.
    1. I suspect the typical answer of most Bible students is rather simple: "God deeply appreciated David because he was a man after God's own heart."
      1. That is a good answer if we understand it.
      2. If we understand the answer, we can answer another question: "Why was David a man after God's own heart?"
    2. From our Christian perspective in our American society, David is a truly strange person to be called a man after God's own heart.
      1. He was a young shepherd when he was anointed to be Israel's next king.
        1. That means he spent most of his time alone in the wilderness area with animals.
        2. That means he was not surrounded by people developing people skills, and good kings needed people skills.
        3. He probably was the family shepherd because he was the youngest son in the family--it was not a prized responsibility.
      2. He did not live among the scholars.
        1. He was not called because he was what you and I would consider an Old Testament scholar.
        2. He was not the student of some notable Bible scholar.
        3. He was just a plain, ordinary, little brother shepherd.
      3. Many of us would find his actions distasteful.
        1. When he killed Goliath, the first thing he did was take Goliath's sword and cut Goliath's head off (1 Samuel 17:50, 51).
        2. He carried Goliath's head with him from the battlefield back to the city of Jerusalem as a trophy (1 Samuel 17:54).
        3. He paid the bride price for his first marriage with body parts from two hundred Philistine men that he and his soldiers killed (1 Samuel 18:27).
        4. He had several wives (1 Samuel 18:27; 25:40-43).
        5. One of his sons temporarily drove him from his throne and tried to kill him (2 Samuel 14 and 15).
        6. The ungodly antics of his adult children, which included rape and murder, would have made a great television daytime drama.
        7. He had a man killed in the attempt to cover an act of adultery with the man's wife (2 Samuel 11).
        8. On at least one occasion he allowed personal pride to control his decision (2 Samuel 24).
      4. How could a man who did such things and had such a family be a man after God's own heart?
        1. Maybe that designation is a mistake.
        2. Maybe David was a man after God's own heart as a young man, but not as a king.
        3. Maybe we have glamorized David's faith and closed our eyes to David's mistakes.

  2. We do not make a mistake when we call David a man after God's own heart.
    1. For the modern Christian, probably the book of Acts popularized the understanding that David was a man after God's own heart.
      1. Acts 13:22 After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.'
        1. Paul was speaking to an audience in Antioch of Pisidia on his first missionary journey.
        2. He was recalling some of the high points of Israel's history.
        3. He noted that God removed Saul from being king and placed David as king because David was a man after God's own heart, a man who would do God's will.
        4. Paul went on to say that Jesus Christ was a descendant of David.
      2. When Stephen preached his sermon in the Jewish court, he laid the foundation for the point of his sermon by using Israel's history.
        1. Acts 7:46 David found favor in God's sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
          1. Stephen referred to David as a person who "found favor in God's sight."
          2. God permitted David to plan for the construction of the temple because of his special relationship with God.
      3. While the book of Acts popularized David being the man after God's own heart for the modern Christian, that was the common understanding and perception of godly Jews who lived after David.
        1. Paul reflected an accepted understanding among the Jews who lived outside of Palestine.
        2. Stephen reflected an accepted understanding among the Jews who lived in Jerusalem.
    2. From the beginning of God's special relationship with David, the emphasis was on the fact that David's heart belonged to God.
      1. When King Saul became such a grave disappointment to God, God took the rule of Israel from the lineage of Saul's descendants. His sons would not inherit his throne.
        1. 1 Samuel 13:14 "But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."
      2. When Samuel was sent to anoint one of Jesse's sons to be the next king of Israel, as he looked at Jesse's sons, God reminded Samuel that God looks at the heart.
        1. 1 Samuel 16:6,7 When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him." But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
      3. David's heart relationship with God became the high standard for the kings of Judah.
        1. 1 Kings 8:17,18 Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, 'Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.
          1. King Solomon made this statement about his father, King David.
          2. It was in David's heart to build the temple.
          3. Because it was in David's heart, God was honored by David's heart desire.
        2. 1 Kings 9:1-5 Now it came about when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all that Solomon desired to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. The Lord said to him, "I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, 'You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'"
          1. Solomon's future as Israel's successful king depended on living before God in "integrity of heart and uprightness" as did his father David.
          2. If Solomon did that, his sons would rule Israel.
        3. 1 Kings 11:4 For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
          1. Solomon failed as King in his old age.
          2. His wives turned his heart away from God to idols.
          3. His heart was not wholly devoted to God as was David's heart.
        4. 1 Kings 15:1-5 Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. He walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David. But for David's sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, to raise up his son after him and to establish Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
          1. Abijam failed as Judah's king because his heart was not wholly devoted to God as was David's.
          2. David did what was right in God's sight his whole life except in the incident of Uriah.
          3. David's obedience came from his heart.
        5. For the kings of Judah, the standard for devotion to God and obedience was David's heart.

  3. What was it about David that made his relationship with God a special heart relationship?
    1. That is the question that we will examine the next few weeks.
    2. I want to begin with a lesson that I hope is obvious in what we examined tonight.
      1. Being a person after God's own heart does not depend on perfection.
      2. David was not a perfect man.
      3. No person is perfect before God.
      4. Obviously, imperfect people can be people who have a special heart relationship with God.
      5. Two things will be true of anyone who has that special heart relationship with God.
        1. They are wholly committed to God's will as a person.
        2. Their heart is revealed through their commitment and their obedience.
          1. A person can obey God without giving God his or her heart.
          2. But no person can give his or her heart to God and refuse to obey God.

Tonight the issue is not, "Are we perfect." No one is, and no one can be. The issue is, "Does your heart belong to God?" Is that your desire? Is that your choice? If God was on a mission to select a man or woman after his own heart for a special use, would God select you because of your heart?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 19 November 2000
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