A Man After God’s Own Heart…

May 25, 2010

Why God Preferred an Adulterer and Murderer to a Man who was Impatient and Lacking Trust

Saul Attacking David, by Guercino, 1646

Saul Attacking David, by Guercino, 1646

“Your faith was strong but you needed proof
 You saw her bathing on the roof
 Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
 She tied you to a kitchen chair
 She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
 And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah”
     -from “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands; Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” 1 Samuel 18:7. Right from the beginning of his story, David is already more popular than Saul.  He has gone down in history as the good king, while Saul spent the last years of his life wrecking his reputation. However, when you examine their lives and their performance as Kings, Saul can arguably be considered the better of the two. While he sought to take David’s life many times, it was clear David would be the next king, and it was not unusual for a king of that time to seek to protect his throne. Saul certainly sinned against God, but his sins did not bring civil war and plague against Israel like David’s did. So how is it that he received such a bad reputation, while David became honored as the ideal king? The idea of good and evil in the Bible is always grounded on a spiritual plane. In fact, the only true battleground of this war is the soul of every man and woman; therefore, it is my opinion that there really are no good guys or bad guys in the Book of Samuel. Jesus himself confronted a follower of his and declared, “There is no one good, but God” Matthew 19:17. What marks a man as righteous in God’s eyes is simply faith in Him. The Book of Genesis testifies this concerning Abraham; “[He] believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” Genesis 15:6. It is faith in God that leads to obedience to Him.

Saul was ultimately rejected as king because he was disobedient to God. He did not kill King Agog of the Ammonites, as he was commanded to, and he did not wait for the Prophet Samuel to make sacrifices. Both actions show Saul taking matters into his own hands, as if he knew better than God. Yet even with his lack of trust, I think that Saul’s greatest sin was his unrepentant attitude. When he was confronted by Samuel, he couldn’t understand what he did that was so bad, and he tried to justify his actions. Unrepentance breeds more sin and pride and, unchecked, eventually leads to total separation from God. This separation left Saul wide open for “evil spirits” to torment him. Meanwhile, God began to raise up David in popularity and Saul realized the inevitable outcome. His separation from God and the torment of evil spirits left him unable to think clearly, and he became insanely jealous of David and obsessed over killing him. Evil had, in a sense, won the battle of Saul’s soul. However, before he rejected God, Saul was used mightily. It was Saul who unified the twelve tribes, and he began the campaign against the Philistines that brought safety to many Israelites who previously lived in uncertainty during the time of the Judges. He was even blessed to have the gift of prophesying from the Lord! Saul was a good guy who ended his life in a bad way.  

David is praised as the good king, the correction of a mistake. But God doesn’t make mistakes. When Saul saw red for David, he fled for his life and spent many years as refugee wandering in wilderness areas. Many other refugees and outcasts followed him, and David learned how to be a leader. More importantly, though, was that in this time David learned to be totally dependant on God. He had no choice; he was taught humility before the Lord and he developed into a leader that would remain totally submitted to God. When it came to matters of the kingdom, David always sought the Lord. However, as good as David was, when he became king, pride still seized his heart and caused him to sin. Saul’s sins were acts of foolishness often made in the heat of emotion; he almost seemed confused whenever he was confronted by Samuel of his sin. David’s sins were thoroughly plotted acts made in the coldness of his heart.

David already had a few wives when he became king. After he got the power, his lust became greater than his faithfulness to God. He decided he could have any woman he wanted. When God allowed his married lover, Bathsheba, to become pregnant, David was faced with another test, but this time he failed miserably. He feared for his reputation more than he feared God, and he abused his power as king to try to cover up his sin before his subjects. Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, was off fighting in a war for his God, his country and his king. David brought him home hoping he would sleep with his wife, and that everyone would just think the child was Uriah’s. The problem was Uriah refused to sleep in the comfort of his own bed and in the arms of his wife while his fellow soldiers were forced to sleep in tents in the midst of a war. When David realized this plan wouldn’t work, he sent Uriah back into the war and gave his commanding officer orders to put Uriah on the front lines and basically leave him stranded there. To all of Israel, David would simply look like a man who fell for the mourning widow while he attempted to comfort her.  

If sins are measured, David’s look far greater to me than Saul’s. However, the main difference between David and Saul is that when the Lord confronted David through the Prophet Nathan, David’s heart broke and he immediately repented. As punishment, God caused Bathsheba’s child to become ill and die as an infant. In the presence of the whole kingdom, David wallowed in anguish before the Lord as he appealed for the life of his child. He had been disobedient to God, but he admitted his guilt, and he fell submissive before God once again. David dealt with many consequences of this sin for years to come, but God gave David assurance of his forgiveness and restoration when Bathsheba became pregnant again. She bore David’s youngest child, Solomon, who inherited the kingdom and became known as the wisest man of his time. Unfortunately, Solomon also inherited some of David’s weaknesses as well. But in the end, David went to his grave with his heart right before his God. Despite the trouble this incident brought to his kingdom, David’s actions afterwards revealed a genuine trust and submission before God. In fact, later the author of 1 Kings credits David as doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and not failing to keep his commandments—except for the case of Uriah (15:5). There are no good guys or bad guys in this world. Only the potential to do good or to do evil, to serve God or to serve our own pleasures at the expense of others. In this age, we will often fall from grace and cause harm to ourselves and others, but when we trust in the forgiveness of God through Jesus, it is his love for us that causes us to want to be obedient to him and to live a life that pleases him.

Peter L Richardson

For a better take on this subject see Charles Stanley’s “Serving the Purpose of God,” his May 23, 2010 sermon, which can be found at: http://www.intouch.org/site/c.cnKBIPNuEoG/b.4943223/k.492B/In_Touch_Ministries__Video_Archives.htm

Psalm 51 (New International Version)
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
     according to your unfailing love;
     according to your great compassion
     blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
     and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
     and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
     and done what is evil in your sight,
     so that you are proved right when you speak
     and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
     sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
     you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
     wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
     let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
     and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
     and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
     or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
     and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
     and sinners will turn back to you.
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
     the God who saves me,
     and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
     and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
     you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
     a broken and contrite heart,
     O God, you will not despise.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
     build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
     whole burnt offerings to delight you;
     then bulls will be offered on your altar.


2 Responses to “A Man After God’s Own Heart…”

  1. ISBN: 978-1-60911-248-6

    Press Release: April 19,2010

    Faith is the essence of life



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