A Man after God’s Heart
Called to be a king; are you worthy to be chosen as one?
Andrew C. Phiri
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst,
“He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave a
How our hearts get thrilled and awestruck when we read of such mighty acts of faith by devout servants of God. Surprisingly enough, however, is that among all the men, used by God in various astounding and innumerable signs and wonders, to none are the words “man after God’s heart” ascribed, but to one – David. This is no simple insignia – it means one who is at the heart of God, as a man’s wife is at his heart – how fitting for the name David means “beloved”!
David, as a man after God’s heart, is a symbol of the Bride of Jesus Christ – the true church, not a denominational group or organization, but a body of true believers of the Word scattered around the world.
It certainly is the desire and passion of all those that love the Lord Jesus Christ and earnestly wait for His coming to grow in His grace towards perfection which is required for their ultimate union to occur in that day when they “which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [resurrected saints] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes.4:17). The Holy Scriptures are full of records of events and people’s lives which serve as examples to inspire our faith in our daily walk towards perfection required for this long awaited great event. The vision, Apostle John saw and recorded in Revelation chapter 19, indicates that all the true saints of God will one day come and rule with Christ as kings. Oh, what an honour and what a promise of ruling with the Lord Jesus Christ as King and Lord of all nations in that Millennium when every knee shall bow and give honour to Him. In that day peace, tranquillity, true joy and the knowledge of God shall fill the earth. But before anyone can be chosen to this great and high favour of ruling with Christ, he or she has to live a life worthy of that calling in this present world.
Now, consider this: what made God choose David to be a king over Israel and call him a man after His heart?
The present societies and politics of mankind elect or choose a leader on the basis of how one is eloquent, charismatic, educated and perhaps handsome or beautiful. But God never chose David on this basis; He looked at the heart and not his physical impressive appearances.
So, David being an example and type of what God expects from us, the “beloved” (bride) of Christ, it is important that we take a look at David’s heart and learn about why it so very much impressed God. But, how can we know and study the heart of a man when it is deceitful above all things (Jer.17:9)? We can learn by observing the man’s life. A man’s heart is known through his life. Life is a manifestation of the intents and desires of the heart. So, what better way can we learn the heart of David but through his life? Come with me to this interesting journey through the life of this great, yet, humble servant of God. His life tells what God is looking for in a people after His heart – the apple and love of His heart!
The Son of Jesse Anointed as king
…It may have been a quiet and tranquil afternoon as the little beads of sweat meandered through his thin streaks of wrinkles down through the whiskers of the now grey beard and finally escaping into the hot air of Bethlehem; the prophet Samuel, aging through the many years of leading Israel as a judge and a prophet. He has had to put up with a rebellious people who had recently demanded a new system of government patterned after the ways of Gentile nations which surrounded the nation of Israel. Saul, the first man the people desired for their king, failed to live up to the way of God, and here is the prophet, on account of the leading of the Spirit of God, standing before seven men, all of good stature, seeking out the one whom God had chosen as the next king. This was a secret and highly treasonable ceremony as Saul was still the King of Israel, but only Samuel knew that God had appointed another man in his stead. Everyone else in Israel looked upon Saul as king but the eyes of the LORD were on another man…
Eliab – handsome countenance with a noticeable appealing height – stood before the prophet. Everything about him was obvious that he would be the right person to be chosen. But…“Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD Iseeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart”, came the LORD’s rebuke and command to the ears of the prophet.
Surprisingly, all the seven children of Jesse passed before Samuel and yet God still never said anything about whom he had chosen. Astonished, the prophet asked Jesse, “Are here all thy children?” “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sh%ep” he answered. The young man was the youngest and so insignificant in the family that his father never bothered to invite him to this secret ceremony. It is often customary for a last born child of a family to be given the most attention, but it was not so with David who many times dwelt in the woods at the danger of wild animals. The young shepherd boy was always in the backyard taking care of the flock.
At the urgent request of the prophet they quickly looked for him and brought him in before the prophet. The old wrinkled eyes of the prophet looked at him carefully as the LORD spoke in his ear, “Arise, anoint him for this is he!” Amen; though despised by man he was the chosen one of God. He wasn’t chosen or anointed through some ballot box of man’s choosing but by “THUS SAITH THE LORD”. That olive anointing oil must have felt so good and cooling on the sun browned skin of the young lad, having come from the scorching heat in the bushes whilst tendering the flock. He wondered what this was all about. The ego of youth in him may have pondered with joy at the thought of being a king – a royal crown and clothing, and commander of an entire nation! He shook his thoughts back to reality, making this whole ceremony look unreasonable. However, one thing was sure and convincing, Samuel was not and never a fake; his prophetic words .ever fell to the ground but always came to pass (1 Sam.4:19). “How long will it be before I am king - tomorrow, a week or a month?” The young man may have muttered to himself, without knowing the consequences and new experiences which the anointing would expose him to. The real anointing will not actually be as cooling as the symbolic oil poured on his body but actually a ‘baptism of fire’ through which the ‘precious stone’ would be subjected to intense heat for melting and purging all impurities, until it is ready in the smith’s hands for moulding and making into a vessel of honour. However, it is important to note that the Kingship anointing came on David’s head that very day of the secret ceremony. David’s responsibility was now to live a life that would prove worthiness for the honour and grace God had called him to. God’s gifts require time tested character.
THE PROPHETIC FIVE-FOLD DESCRIPTION OF DAVID’S LIFE
No sooner had the Spirit of God departed from Saul than an evil spirit began to trouble him incessantly. He was continuously troubled until his servants observed that the situation was getting out of hand and something needed to be done. One man spoke and suggested to the king: “Let our Lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on a harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well” (1 Sam.16:16). The king agreed to this, and one man suggested a young man he knew – David, a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, “that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, a.d a comely person, and the LORD is with him” (1 Sam. 16:17). Now watch this prophetic five-fold description unfold in David’s life:
question is: what was special about David’s harping and singing that
could make the evil
presence of demons uncomfortable? Was David such a gifted singer as the
modern various so-called artists who are skilled in tuning their voices
in a stylish and make-up way? Not so.
Such singing is for entertainment and has no spiritual value and place
in God’s holy presence.
David wasn’t an artist; he was a worshiper who loved God. The psalms of David were a product of deep and prayerful meditations on God and His greatness. As a shepherd he spent much of his time out in the woods taking care of his father’s sheep. With time he became so attached with these animals. He would lead them across the forests in search of good pasture. I wouldn’t doubt that sometimes, when the season wasn’t favourable, he would go so far from home in search of better pasture that it would take him to sleep out in the woods. The nights were scary as he heard the “hoos” and different sounds of wild animals. All he wanted was the flock to have something to eat and live. Wild animals would threaten him but only the grace of God could save him from such fiery moments. Think of one time when a lion came and snatched one sheep; he fought the lion until he overpowered it to death. The natural and expected thing would have been for him to run away. But the young man was a good shepherd who loved his animals so much that he was willing to risk his life to save them (cf. John 10:11-13). Even so, all this wasn’t by his strength but the grace of God guiding him.
…Early at the break of the day I can see the shepherd boy listening to the stillness of the water of a river as he lay on the grass with his arms behind his head, a shepherd’s staff by his side with a shepherd’s bag and a sling around his waist… He is recalling dreadful events that have pursued him in the forests. Certain events were too scary and even unpleasant to reminisce about; what if he got overpowered by that lion and its hungry jaws and cruel claws found their way into his flesh? Certainly the Angel of God was present when all this happened! Once could have been a coincidence, but twice - this time with a bear - was certainly the hand of the Great Shepherd of his life protecting him. Words of worship began to flow from his mouth, as smooth but yet as deep as the pure crystal river before him:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
I imagine him stretch himself up as he exclaims…
“Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
He thinks about God’s promises to his life and about the day Samuel
anointed him with oil… “Certainly no work of the enemy can prevail
against my life for God has a purpose to fulfil in me. That physical oil
has long dried, but the anointing it represented is still with me...It
is the very anointing that has been protecting me; one time from a lion
and another a bear”, he may have pondered. I can see tears of worship
streaming down his face as he says;
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
In another place he expressed his desire and thirst for God in these
“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after;
And in Psalm 42:1-2,
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
David would take his harp and sing these words as he played. His worship, proceeding from the heart, blended with the beautiful sound coming from the harp as it ascended to the throne of God as sweet savour. The words of David went to God’s heart. As God looked at this man’s desire, not after riches or vanities of life, but to stand in His presence, He loved him. God was certainly delighted to be around David and fellowship and commune with him. That anointing and presence of God would manifest when David sung and played the harp before King Saul, and caused the evil spirit to leave. Spiritual and solemn playing of sound, singing and sincere worship invites the presence and anointing of God. For example, one day the prophet Elisha was consulted for the Word of the LORD and he responded by requesting for a minstrel – “But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches. For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts” (2 Kings 3:15-16). The anointing to prophesy on Prophet Elisha was invited and stimulated by the playing of sound. It is the same thing which happened to David when he played the harp and sung songs to God. The presence and anointing of God would come around him. It is this same presence of God that was his protection in time of trouble. David had faith and trust in this God who was always by His side. In God he found a comforter, a protector and defender in time of trouble and even need.
MIGHTY AND VALIANT AT WAR
It came to pass that the Philistines organized themselves to war with Israel. This was no small match for Israel – it was a nation of giants and champions at war. Saul, already with a problem of an evil spirit constantly troubling him, now had another serious worry on his mind; the Philistines were so determined to take on Israel in this war as they gathered themselves to battle in a place called Shochoh, in Israel. Saul and his men of war also gathered and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.
A mighty giant and champion went forth from among the Philistines to challenge Israel. The monstrous man challenged the Israelites to also send their champion into a single combat with him so as to settle the issue of war between the two nations. The nation that loses in this combat would become slave to the other. The strength and power of this man was terrorizing. With his mighty voice he cursed and scared the children of Israel. When Saul and all Israel heard his words, they were dismayed and greatly afraid (v.11). This is the Saul for which “there was no goodlier person than he: from shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” in Israel (1 Sam.9:2), but all this good stature amounted to nothing when compared to Goliath’s who was 6 cubits and a span high, had a helmet of brass upon his head, and was armed with a coat of mail (scaled armour); the weight of his coat was five thousand shekels of brass. It would be suicidal to even attempt wrestling with this man!
As the Israelites beheld the incredible stature of a man in Goliath and his words of threat they got more afraid and discouraged. Listen; just as God uses His Word to produce faith in His children’s hearts, the Devil also uses words to produce FEAR in them. But FEAR is nothing more than false evidence appearing real. The armies of Israel looked and got bewildered at the ‘evidence’ of strength in Goliath – the thick twisting biceps, heavy helmet and shield and spear which was as a weaver’s beam. But that was not true evidence, for there is an Almighty God who reigns in heaven and who takes away a man’s breath at the time He determines. When that simple breath escapes the body, the thick biceps, tall stature and stamina of a man becomes nothing more than a pile of smelly dirt.
As Goliath continued to speak, David heard the words, and his faith (instead of fear) got provoked! (v.23). The armies of Israel heard the words of Goliath, looked at his stature and became filled with fear; David on the other hand heard the same words but instead looked away to God’s promises for Israel. David didn’t look at this battle as a mere natural occurrence. He looked at the two spiritual forces that were at war and that is why he responded to the threat by asking; “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v.26). That is faith! Faith doesn’t look at things which are seen to the natural eye but at things which are not seen (2 Cor.4:18). Faith does not look at the threats of a situation or circumstance; it looks and rests in what God has promised. But before there can be faith in God there has to be trust in Him. Trust grows through time in a relationship or fellowship. It is through companionship that two parties learn to understand and trust each other: As David looked back to how the presence of God had always been his refuge and protection in time of trouble when God saved him from a lion and the paws of a bear, he could not help but have faith in the power of God to destroy this seemingly mighty and formidable giant!
Now, notice the sharp contrasts between Goliath and David as they faced each other in readiness to fight: Goliath had a helmet of brass, armed with a coat of mail. He also had greaves of brass upon his legs and a target of brass between his shoulders. Those are the things in which Goliath had his faith; they were his evidences of being a strong warrior! Facing him on the field stood in plain clothes with only a shepherd’s bag around the waist was a small statured body with a ruddy and gentle countenance – too ridiculous to be on a battle field! King Saul tried to arm David with a helmet of brass, a coat of mail, and a sword; the same type of armour Goliath had. That’s where the trouble was; King Saul trying to approach Goliath the way of Goliath! Many of God’s children today still make the same mistake of trying to overcome the forces of darkness using their own natural means. Beloved, the contrary forces that often we wrestle with, although taking on physical forms, are actually spiritual; the real enemy is unseen to the natural eye – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Cor.10:3-4). That was the faith of David; he knew that the real war was spiritual and that the real weapon was faith in God!
After David was armed with a helmet of brass and with a coat of mail, he felt uncomfortable with all the weight of the armoury they gave him; he had never used such type of uniform. Many times man fails because of wanting to conform to a standard of “uniformity” and not faith. Yes, for generations and since time immemorial a soldier’s uniform had always been a coat of mail, helmet, shield and spear, but it took one sincere and humble man to challenge the tradition and demonstrate that war is won not by what appearance or custom is at play but by pure faith in God. Concerning the armour David was clothed with, he said to Saul; “I cannot go with these for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a script; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine” (v.38-39). Oh, what faith! This young man had never fought a war before but had faith in God. When Saul discouraged him by telling him that he was only a youth and Goliath had been a man of war since his youth, David responded by giving testimonies of how God fought battles for him when he faced a lion and a bear. To David, it didn’t matter what form the warfare was – whether in the disguise of a lion, bear or Goliath – these were just different masks of the same old Devil, but it was the same God on his side all the time! No words can better describe the faith of David than these - his own words – which he challenged the Philistine with as they faced each other – “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands” (v. 45-47).
These words must have reached up to the heart of God as pleasant and sweet smelling incense (cf. Heb.11:5-6). Here is a man risking his own life as he stands before Goliath; He is not doing this to make a name but that people may know that the God of Israel is the LORD. Oh, what pure faith!
“In the Name of the LORD”
Notice what David said when confronting Goliath: “I come to thee in the name of the LORD”. To do something in the name of the LORD is to do it in His will and by His command. So, David was not playing a ‘trial and error’ trick, but actually had a revelation from God concerning what he was doing; as recorded in the books of Samuel, it was customary of David to always inquire from the LORD before he went for war (1 Sam.30:8,2 Sam.2:1, 5:19,23). If a child of God is faced with a troublesome situation and Satan is standing in his way of something; when he or she seeks the LORD prayerfully and God promises victory, there is no amount of demons that can prevent that victory. That child of God can boldly stand his ground and face Satan in the Name (or authority) of the LORD. To do or speak something in the Name of the LORD involves knowing or having a revelation of His will. Remember the seven sons of Sceva who took “in the Name of Jesus” as merely a mantra for casting out demons. They saw Apostle Paul using the phrase and imitated him. But one day in trying to cast out an evil spirit from a man, they provoked it and it responded by asking them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know: but who are you”? (Acts 19:15)
things are noteworthy; first, the demon was able to mention the
Name of Jesus. This implies that evil spirits can cite the Name of Jesus
contrary to what some Christians think that Satan is afraid of the sound
or pronunciation of the Name. Interestingly enough, some Christians even
prefer to use the Hebrew version of the name – Yahushua - believing that
it is more appropriate and more powerful. But the sons of Sceva knew
better that fateful day when the demon possessed man overpowered them,
beat them up and stripped them naked! Secondly, the demon
perceived that the young men had no identity with, or authority from,
Jesus Christ to cast them out, and hence the meaningless and
powerlessness of the command “we adjure you by Jesus”! They were
trying to do God some service in their own will. They were merely
presuming and performing a ‘trial and error’ exercise with no definite
leading of the LORD. But, David was fighting Goliath not on his own
accord but in the Name of the LORD. On his own he would have failed, but
in the Name of the LORD all victory was assured for “the name of the
LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is
safe” (Prov.18:10). Amen. The Name of the LORD – the revelation of
His Will and Word (which spells FAITH) – is our might and strong
tower. That is where our true safety is!
Now watch the drama that unfolds before the Israelites and the Philistines as they all anticipate and feel sorry for the young lad who, to some people, seemed to have been deceived and possessed by a strange and a fatal ego, perhaps megalomania:
…Before the giant could make any move David quickly shot the stone fro- his sling. Accelerating towards that herculean and formidable head the stone ignored all the portions of the face shielded by the helmet - as though being intelligently aware of the intentions of the shepherd boy – it pushed through the thin tender muscles of the forehead, and finally broke through into the skull. To the unawareness of the audience of what had transpired and the impossible feat accomplished by the little stone, silence ensued as people gazed at the drama; the champion is standing still… No, he certainly is not thinking about the correct aim to throw the spear at David; his legs seem to be tumbling… Is Goliath dead???... This time every Philistine got awe stuck, every mouth gasped… Yes, Goliath is dead!... Like a heavy trunk of a chopped Baobab tre% the champion fell down as every Philistine began to run for his life…
All this wouldn’t have been had it not been for the one man taking courage and faith in God.
God in the congregation of the mighty
David declared to Goliath that “all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s” (v.47). The congregation of Israel had a faithful God who was ready to fight for them, but fear distracted their faith. It was supposed to be a mighty army but they didn’t know where their might was. The mighty and strength of the saints is their faith – “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Faith is what made David mighty and valiant at war. This faith is a complete rest in the power of God to let him fight battles for you – “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech.4:6, cf.Prov.21:31; 18:10). Yes, true victory can never be wrought through human might or power. In this world there is ‘mighty’ and also ‘mighty’. There is the mighty that comes through physical means and achievements of man and the true mighty which is divine.
Hear the words of Psalm 82:1 – “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods”. What is this congregation of the mighty and what are these ‘gods’ that God judges among? And why does He judge these gods? Are these gods angels in heaven? Not so; these are children of God for in verse 6 of the same chapter the scripture continues with the statement, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High”. Thus, the congregation of the mighty is the congregation of gods, which are children of God. Yes, children of God are gods for the Word of Life of God comes to them and imparts its life on them which subsequently and continually changes them to conform to the image of their father, Yahweh (cf. John 10:34-35,1:12). All those who receive this Word and get transformed by it become sons of God, and if sons of God then heirs with Jesus Christ (the firstborn of God) and if heirs then also rulers as kings with him in that age to come (Rom.8:15-17). This is what all creation is waiting and groaning for; the time when this earth shall be in possession and under the rulership of sons of God; in that day when they begin to rule with Jesus Christ, the king of all nations – “for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom.8:19). But before that day comes when the children of God shall be manifested and rule with Christ, they need to be moulded into the perfect image of God. As a metal is subjected to the heat of a furnace for purification so God permits suffering, persecution and the cleansing process of His word on his children to prepare them for their future role as kings in that day when the Kingdom of God shall come with power – “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom.8:17). “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.1:6-7). This fire is more than the tribulations and troubles which God often permits for the moulding process of His children; it also refers to the Word of God. Yes, the fire of God is the Word of God. God’s Word in a symbol or metaphor of fire refers to its power of judging and purging the impurities of sin just as literal fire is used to purify minerals. In a gathering of the saints, God sends his anointed Word through God-called men. That Word continually ‘judges’ and convicts them of their sins. In humility and sincerity the saints cleanse their lives of any guile that the Word of God finds and judges in them. This process shall continue until one day Christ sees a bride with no spot or wrinkle. Only then can the sons of God be in a state ready for their manifestation (Eph.5:26-27, Rev.19:7).
A PRUDENT MAN
After David defeated Goliath he became highly esteemed by people. Saul became so impressed with David that he made him a chief captain of the armies.
It is in such a situation when all seems to be well and favourable that God tests a man’s prudence. When the Devil smells a good future for a child of God, he presents situations and circumstances that are tempting or even pleasurable enough so as to thwart his judgement and force him to face the consequences of his actions. To be prudent is to act with care and thought for the future - “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Prov.27:12). Prudence is an attribute of wisdom. David knew what would be the consequences of people praising him for the victory – jealousy in King Saul. This happened exactly so after the killing of Goliath when women, out of all the cities of Israel, came out dancing and singing that “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (v.7). This singing displeased King Saul. So, instead of being overly excited with people’s words of praise, David became the more careful to exercise good judgment and consider any likely consequences of his actions and act wisely. This is exactly what defines prudence, and David lived this definition as the record of 1 Samuel chapter 18 testifies in three places:
“David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants” (v.5).
“Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them” (v.13-14).
“Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by” (v.30).
Here is a man, called by God to be a king, exhibiting wisdom and prudence – vital requirements for a king. God looked at the wisdom of David and was pleased knowing that this man was worthy to be a leader of Israel. The position of a king requires wisdom and prudence. It requires a person having a good sense of judgement in dealing with all affairs and the consequences of the actions that are made. The above scriptures have shown us how David’s character met these requirements. But how can we approve of his true character when all was well with him? A man’s ‘juice’ of true character manifests when he gets ‘squeezed’ through the winepress of temptations and trials. But so far David seemed to be lying on a flowery bed of ease and comfort, and one may suggest that little wonder he behaved himself wisely. How could he not when everything was so favourable and everyone adored him? The same old Devil that brought these similar words of accusation against old Job was at play again! By and by the Devil started stirring jealousy in King Saul as his popularity among the people began to dwindle in favour of David. As Saul kept meditating and continuously entertain thoughts of jealousy, his anger kept growing against David. This is Saul; a man once anointed of the Spirit of God and who was once told to kill everything of the Amalekites but he spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen in the name of wanting to offer them as sacrifices to God – a seemingly spiritual man who cares for the things of God but what becomes of him from now onwards manifests his real nature!
The plot begins
As Saul’s anger towards David kept growing in his heart, another drama began to unfold; Michal the daughter of the King began to have a liking of David. She loved him. A predicament for King Saul? No. He saw an opportunity to fulfil his wicked plans. When a man has a will to accomplish evil, he will always find a way of accomplishing the feat, but God will have the final say!J
When people finally told King Saul that his daughter loved David, he was pleased and said, “I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” (v.21). He went further to conspire with his servants instructing them to secretly commune with David and lie to him that “Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son in law” (v.22). But the requirement for dowry was for David to kill a hundred Philistines and bring their foreskins as a token of this unfath/mable task! Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. How mischievous! But when God’s hand of protection is on a man, no amount of Satan’s treachery can overcome him – “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa.59:19). David, being ignorant of Saul’s conspiracy, was glad at the ‘tiding’ and took it as a favour. His heart fell for beautiful Michal and he would do anything to get her: he went on with his men and slew two hundred philistines – twice what was required - and presented their foreskins in full tale to the king! This was certainly the hand of God; even evil backslidden Saul perceived “and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him” (v. 28). So the plot to use Michal shamefully failed. But, Saul was thinking of something else to use as a plot.
“And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David” (v.1).
This is what happens when a man’s heart gets so filled with anger, envy and jealousy; there is no feeling of remorse or shame in his heart. He will be able to even speak publicly the evil intentions of his heart. Wrong things start with a little, seemingly harmless, thought. That thought is like a seed in fertile grounds of the mind. When it is entertained, its little tender ‘roots’ begin to take a hold and dig deeper; eventually it grows into a ‘big tree’ with enough ‘fruits’ which can’t be hidden from the public. That is why God’s Word admonishes us to cast down “imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor.10:5).
To the dismay and frustration of Saul’s plans, Jonathan, his son, also loved David! Jonathan was a very sober young man. Without fear he decided to approach his father and tell him how sinful his anger and conspiracy against David was. It was baseless and without purpose. Jonathan advised his father and said, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?” (v.4-5). The words pierced Saul’s heart and he felt guilty and swore saying, “as the LORD liveth, he (David) shall not be slain” (v.6). So, the conspiracy ceased and David lived as a free man among the family of Saul and his servants. He even continued to play the harp before the king. But in the process of time it came to pass again that there was war between Israel and the Philistines and David fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter. This was another astounding victory which further increased his popularity among the people of Israel. It was certain that the LORD was with this man. Saul felt more insecure and determined to kill David. It so happened that one day as David was playing the harp before the king the evil spirit came on Saul and he threw his javelin, aiming it at David. But David slipped and ran away, unharmed. At this point King Saul could not anymore suppress his anger and jealousy. So, he ordered his messengers to seek for David and kill him. A once secret conspiracy turned into a full-fledge public scout to seek and kill David! When Saul discovered that Jonathan his son was always leaking out conspired plans against David, he got so furious that he attempted to kill him by also throwing a javelin at him. This was too shocking for Jonathan who once thought he could always reason with and persuade his father against the evil intentions of killing an innocent servant. He now became sure that the determination of his father to kill David knew no boundaries; if Saul couldn’t mind killing him, his own son, what more could he care for David, a servant? The next events to transpire were so nasty. David had to flee at one point to the prophet Samuel in Ramah; perhaps hoping that Saul would be afraid of the man of God. But this was a different Saul; a demon possessed Saul! Next, he fled to a place called Nob, to Ahimelech the priest.
The priest apparently had no knowledge of what was going on between Saul and David. David took that as a chance to lie to him that that he was on an urgent assignment from the king and that he needed some food to eat. David (with the young men he was with) had gone for some three days without eating. They were so hungry and desired to eat something. The kind priest gave them some bread to eat. A man called Doeg was around as they ate. Their bodies felt a little refreshed and revived as they thought of the new way to run to. Even so, their hearts were not at rest as they were fully aware that something was still going on and eventually the men of Saul would discover their whereabouts. Not wanting to put the priest in any trouble they decided to leave as soon as possible. But trouble was already there; If only they had been aware of a dog around that place that watched them as they ate! But, where could they run to in Israel seeing that Saul’s messengers were all over Israel looking for David? Their own country was no longer a safe place to be in. They had no option but to flee. But where?
Yes, to Gath the home city of the late Goliath whom he slew; this was the land of the Philistines, the number one enemy of Israel! What more, David went to Achish the king of Gath, thinking that they obviously wouldn’t recall that he was the young man who killed their giant and defeated the armies of Philistines. This certainly wasn’t a wise move; but was there any other option?
David may have disguised himself to look like a free person in Philistine but he obviously knew that trouble was eminent any time. Yes, it wasn’t long until the servants of Achish identified him: “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?” they asked among themselves (v.11). David heard the words and was sore afraid of his life. What could he do seeing that he was right in their midst and there was no way to escape. There was no way to fight them – he was unarmed and standing on foreign ground of Israel’s arch enemy! He had often fought and defeated the Philistines and here he was right in their hands. So many thoughts must have gone through David’s mind: “What should I do? Did the prophet Samuel make a mistake when he anointed me? Has God forsaken me and brought me in the hands of my enemies? Is this the end of my life?” But this wasn’t time for thoughts or contemplations; danger was eminent and he needed to act quickly. But what could he do in such a deadlock? David quickly resolved to do the most ridiculous thing that anyone could never even imagine to do…
Pretend to be mad?
Yes, David changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in
their hands. He put a play of things that a mad person would do; he let
saliva flow from his mouth to his beards, and started to scrabble on the
doors of a gate. Still convinced that this was David and was merely
pretending to be mad the servants of Achish arrested him and brought him
before the king. But David continued with his play of madness until the
king was disgusted and ordered the men to take him away. Achish got
angry and said to them, “Have I need of mad men that ye have brought
this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? Shall this fellow come
into my house?” (v.14-15). So, they released him and he fled away to
a cave. As David replayed this fearful and embarrassing experience, his
heart was broken and bitter and he cried these words in prayer to God:
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire,
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.
They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down:
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.
How great this man’s faith was. Despite all this trouble and seeming silence from God to his prayers, he still declared, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise”. Amen, the winds and billows of life could not move his heart away from God – it was fixed and firmly settled on God. This man’s prayer shows us that he did not serve God just in order to get blessings from Him. His love for God was so much that no matter what the circumstances would be to tempt him into thinking that God had abandoned him his heart was still fixed and settled on God. That is true love for God.
A Kingdom of Poor People
When the sad news of David having feigned himself mad in Philistine reached his father, brethren and friends, they were so displeased at the events that they decided to follow him into exile and suffer with him. That is a true family; they could not continue in comfort when one of their blood-member was in distress. And, it wasn’t just David’s family folk who got displeased but also other poor people – “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men” (v.2). One would wonder: what attracted those poor impoverished people to follow David into exile? David was in a desperate situation, running for his life and with no money or wealth to take care of himself much less of other people. People in such a state often look to someone with wealth and influence for their protection and livelihood. Those poor people must have seen something in David which other people didn’t. They didn’t look at what the present circumstances were but the calling of God in the man. David became a captain over these four hundred people – poor, in debt and discontented. What a paradox! God had promised this man to be king over a nation and what happened here was but a ridicule when looked upon with carnal eyes – instead of being king he was now captain of the lowest class of people. Yes, David had to be tested in simple things before God could entrust him with bigger things. Now, here is the trouble for those who decided to follow David; he who decides to take sides with a God-called man must need be tested as well. But, were those four hundred ready to drink the cup of suffering with David?
Saul Kills the Priests of Nob!
Doeg the Edomite informed Saul that David had passed through Nob to Ahimelech the priest. The ‘dog’ added on a lie that the priest inquired of the LORD for David and gave him victuals. This inflamed Saul’s anger against the high Priest. King Saul then summoned Ahimelech the priest, all his family and the priests that were in Nob. “Why hav% you conspired against me; you and the son of Jesse?” Saul asked. “You have given him bread, and a sword, and you have inquired of God for him that he should rise against me” (v.13).
Caught unaware and ignorant of the events that were at play between Saul and David, the high priest answered: “who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house? Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more” (v.14).
Saul fumed as he ordered his footmen to kill the priests: “Turn, and slay the priests`of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not show it to me” (v.17). But this was too much for the footmen; they were afraid to lay hands on the servants of God. But as foolish and as ignorant as a dog, Doeg the Edomite agreed and took action of the instruction: he killed eighty-five priests! This is King Saul – no little fear of God remained in his heart. In a fury of madness he committed unimaginable sins. As though this wasn’t a nasty atrocity enough, Saul went ahead to kill with sword: men, women, children and even animals (sheep and oxen) of the city of Nob. By this time it must have become quite clear to everyone, as it did to Jonathan, that Saul’s intent)on to murder David knew no boundaries; the man no longer had any remorse for committing iniquity and atrocities!
David saves the Israelites in Keila…
Shortly after David was informed of the shocking event at the city of Nob, news reached him that the Philistines had attacked Keilah, one of the towns in Israel. Against all odds, David went before the LORD to inquire if he should go ahead and fight for Israel! How could he even think of this feat when his own life was in jeopardy, being sought by his own countrymen? This is a man who had a passion for his people. He wasn’t fighting battles for the sake of popularity but for the love and passion he had for the people. The LORD answered David, “Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah” (v.4).
One would wonder; were there no other people that God could use apart from David who already had enough problems to contend with? No. God doesn’t just look for any capable and available human resource; he looks for`people with the right heart and character to perform His duties.
As David informed his men of war concerning his controversial decision to fight for Israel in Keilah; they got dismayed and even afraid. They couldn’t help but try to reason with him of how illogical his decision was: “we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” they asked him (v.3). There sure was all the sense and logic in what his companions advised but David was more concerned about the welfare of his people and also the will of God. He had le!rned to have faith in God. As long as God said “Go”, then that settled it; He believed God’s Word can never fail. He trusted in God’s protection no matter how illogical a situation seemed. He inquired of the LORD and the LORD gave him the Word. This Word produced faith in him. When his friends discouraged him of the decision, he went before God to inquire for the second time and God reassured him the second time – “Arise, go down to Keilah: for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.” (v.4). That settled it; he had to obey!
David and his men went to Keilah. Just as the faithful God had promised, they fought with the Philistines and smote them with a great slaughter. They even brought away their cattle. How incredible; Keila was saved by a man in exile!
…but should he trust them?
The people of Keilah had a great victory and restoration of the things that were taken from them. The people must have been thankful to David and his men of war. But this event only fuelled up more problems for David for rumour spread that Saul planned to besiege Keilah in order to capture David. This was another predicament for David – would the people of Keilah protect him (in consideration of the victory and restoration he wrought for them) or would they betray him in the fear of the mighty army of Saul? Looking at the praises and appreciation many people were giving him, the most probable thing would have been for the Keilans to protect him. However, faith is not based on the probability of how friendly or unfriendly the people are or how a situation is, but it is “the substance” of things hoped for and the “evidence” of things not seen; faith is certain! This little man who had an unwavering faith in His God decided to seek God because only He knows the secrets and intents of men’s hearts (no matter how sincere they may seem to look) and only God could reveal this to David:
“Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, ‘He will come down’. Then said David, ‘Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ And the LORD said, ‘They will deliver thee up’” (v.10-12). At hearing this, David and his men (now about six hundred) fled from Keilah. They had no specific destination – “they went withersoever they could go” (v.13). Finally they decided to stop at a mountain in the wilderness of a place called Ziph, but then shortly realized that that they had delivered themselves into the hands of their enemies for the Ziphites leaked out the information of the whereabouts of David. The Ziphites went to Saul and revealed that David was hiding in Ziph. What more, they even promised Saul to deliver David to him! Why were the Ziphites doing this? Was it out of royalty to King Saul or being afraid of his madness and fury which he did at Nob?
David was troubled of this development. His heart was in anguish. Will he continue being on the run for the rest of his life? What wrong had he done to deserve all this? As he cried and pondered over these unfair circumstances that haunted his life, he agonised in prayer with these words:
Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.
Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my
Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.
He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.
I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.
For he hath delivered me out of all trouble:
These were surely bitter moments in the life of this wanderer. His humbleness and dependency on God were being severely put to a test. But then one would wonder; what kept this man going with an unwavering trust in God? Was he just a mere courageous man, OR was there a supernatural hand guiding him and giving him strength? Certainly there was; take note of these words in his prayer above – “He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth” and then he concludes by saying, “mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies”. This man had the supernatural hand of God guiding him; his eyes already saw, by revelation, the fate of his enemies. Although the present conditions and miseries of his life seemed to make God’s promises seem like wishful thinking, the testimonies of God’s hand on his life were too assuring for him to doubt God this time. He may not have understood why God had to work things this way, but he never relied on the finite reasonings of his mind, for God’s ways are not man’s ways and as the sky is high above so are the thoughts of God. This is why David constantly depended on the LORD. In one place he proclaimed; “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:9). And to this agrees the words of Isaiah – “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa.40:31). But the question lingered on David’s mind of when the LORD would set him free and also give the just reward on his enemies, even as he had seen by vision. By now, had he not passed through enough trials? Had not God by now tested and proved his royalty to Him?
As David tried to escape by moving further to the wilderness of Maon; it was too late; the armies of Saul had already surrounded the mount where David hid with his men. The ultimate victory for King Saul was eminent. David was very afraid for his life. There was no way for him to escape. Whilst David was caught up in this predicament, King Saul received…
A messenger came to Saul informing him that Israel was under attack from the Philistines. The Philistines had invaded the land. Saul immediately had to discontinue his pursuit of David and went to fight the Philistines. As the soldiers of Saul, as a matter of urgency, withdrew to go and fight the Philistines, David immediately took this opportunity to flee to the wilderness of Engedi. At Engedi a paradox and real drama unfolds which reveals the real character in David! Watch the drama.
A COMELY PERSON
…“This is an answered prayer! It is exactly in accordance with what the LORD spoke to you about how He will cut off your enemies!...” exclaimed the men of David as they looked, with amazement, at the old man lying down in deep slumber. This is the cruel man who, for no cause, put David in unexplainable misery. And just as God had promised, here was David’s enemy right in his hands. This was unbelievable but true. How it happened: David and his men found themselves inside the cave in which Saul had entered. They found him taking a rest and fast asleep. His bodyguards were not with him for he had withdrawn himself for a quite time to rest. This happened after Saul had returned from pursuing the Philistines. Information then reached him that David and his men were hiding at Engedi. Without hesitation Saul took three thousand soldiers to pursue a ‘flee’, and here he was only to present himself asleep in the hands of David and his men!…
Surely God’s hand had delivered Saul in David’s hand. His friends reminded him of the faithfulness of God’s Word: “Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee” (v.4). A lot of thoughts must have gone through the mind of David.
…David picked up the sword as he looked at the man lying on the ground; this is the man who gave him all those bitter and worst humiliating moments of his life. In Gath he even had to feign himself as mad in order to escape from the hands of the Philistines. What did he do to deserve all this? David had to act quickly as Saul would wake up from sleep at anytime... and what if the soldiers got to find them in the cave?...
David moved closer to Saul and cut off a piece of his robe. As the young men with him wondered what he was doing, he turned to them and said; “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD” (v.6). Oh, what a heart of man! No, but what a test God gave David! David knew that he had every right given to him by God to kill Saul. But he had a heart that was just as comely (beautiful) as his physical appearance. A tender heart which is full of humility, repentance, forgiveness, kind words and consideration for other people defines comeliness. Comeliness denotes beauty in countenance or appearance; and, beauty in turn is often characterised by ‘softness’, ‘tenderness’ or ‘gentleness’ (Read Song 1:10, 2:14, 1:5, 4:3; Isa.4:2, Jer.6:2, 1 Cor.7:35, Prov.30:29). What mattered most to David were not his rights but God’s will. Regardless of all the evil that Saul had done to him; he still regarded him as the anointed of the LORD. It is not Saul he feared but God.
Afterwards, David and his men arose and went out of the cave. After Saul got up, he also went out of the cave, going his way, perhaps thinking of the new way to chase after David. But Saul suddenly heard a familiar voice calling for him from behind. As he turned to look; David stooped and knelt down to give respect to the king. “Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt? Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee today into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my Lord; for he is the LORD'S anointed. Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea. The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand” (v. 9-16).
What could guilty Saul do but weep? He said to David, “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou has rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil…For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? Wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day” (v.17-18). Saul could not help but see the divine nature that was manifesting itself in the life of David; David’s comely character was far more powerful and paralyzing than Saul’s vehement and violent anger against him; armed and ready to kill David but only to be defeated by his humble character! Surely, this was the nature of Christ being prefigured in David. Little wonder the saviour of the world would be called “Son of David”. Not son as in biological child; neither as in junior, making David senior as father, but as in having the same substance of Spirit; Christ will be a righteous king; full of mercy and truth. In Isaiah the Spirit of prophecy uttered the following words:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of
Isn’t prudence the spirit of wisdom and understanding? Isn’t our faith the might by which we overcome Goliaths of this world (1 John 5:4)? And didn’t David have that comely character because of his fear for God? Surely the Lord Jesus Christ was being prefigured in David.
One would think and expect that the events at Engedi ended the years of David’s misery and exile. But against all odds he continued to live in exile, for fear of Saul. But one needs not wonder for Saul was an unpredictable man. At one time the events at Engedi even replayed at Ziph wherein Saul went on again to seek to kill David, and David and his men had again found him in a cave, but this time, with his bodyguards, all asleep! When Saul woke up and was challenged by David for the second time as to the reason why he was doing all this, he cried and repented just as at first. But David knew that Saul’s mind was under an evil spell and was not to be trusted. The years that followed on in David’s life were even more bitter. However, David’s companions and his men of war always stood with him in those years of trouble. Nothing is more comforting in a time of distress than the company and fellowship of friends who truly love and care for you, and yet nothing hurts more than the sting from a closer friend who has always stood with you!
A great distress at Ziklag
It came to pass one day that the Amalekites invaded Ziklag, the area where David and his people use to dwell (temporarily whilst in exile). By this time David had hundreds of people that were under him. His men now had wives and children, daughters and sons. They had also raised animals for their sustenance during this exile.
On this fateful day David and his men of war had gone out and the Amalekites took the opportunity to attack the south of Ziklag. They set their houses on fire, took away their families. Ziklag was in flames. As David and his men returned to behold the flames and smoke, and with no sign of life around, it proved too much for him and his men. Their hearts beat, eyes couldn’t hold the pressure of tears as every man wept and wept until they had no power to weep anymore. But the worst anguish came on David when his own men turned against him. Yes, at Ziklag David’s friends were too disgusted to continue partaking of David’s cup of sufferings. To them, he must have been the causer of all this. “Maybe God’s curse and mischief are on David”, they may have thought. What man can handle such mental exhaustion? David had not invited any of these people to accompany him. It is them who thought of sharing the burden with him that time when he feigned himself mad before Achish the king of Gath. But here they failed to share the bitter cup of persecution they had willingly chosen to partake with David. The test of a servant of God has reached its zenith when people close to his heart forsake him. (Did it not happen to our blessed Lord and saviour when the persecutors arrested him and stripped him naked to be beaten by those unholy religious people just before his crucifixion – all his closest disciples and friends who always communed with him fled and were watching their master from a distance in the crowd?) It was so tempting for David to have given up on his faith, but strange enough, he “encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (v.6). There comes a moment in a person’s life when God makes him pass through a fiery furnace of purification during which no encouragement from human lips will do anything; he has to encourage himself in the LORD. When all of God’s ordained tests reach this climax, know that the morning draweth nigh for “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5); this wasn’t a memorized verse for David but an experience!
Instead of being filled with self-pity and bitterness against his men who were now contemplating of stoning him, this comely man decided to seek the LORD concerning the matter. He didn’t look at the weakness of hearts in his men; his heart was still filled with forgiveness and was determined to restore what they lost. To David nothing was impossible as long as the LORD showed him the way. So, he “inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (v.8). That settled it; God spoke and David had faith in the Word of the LORD! He took six hundred men and went after the Amalekites.
After pursuing the Amalekites for a long distance some men got weary and were giving up. It seemed to be a futile effort. By the time they reached a brook called Besor about two hundred men became faint and gave up and only four hundred continued to wait on the Lord’s victory, and God renewed their strength so that they ran and did not faint as they had an assurance to receive their joy at the end of it. How fitting for the word ‘Besor’ means ‘cheerful’: it is at Besor when some fainted and others continued on running in faith with a determination to receive their cheerfulness (joy) at the end of their pursuit – Isa.40:31.
“His ways are past finding out”
As David and his men continued to pursue and search out what direction the Amalekites took, on a certain spot they found a young Egyptian man who looked fainty and sick. They gave him some food to eat and water to drink after which he revived. Here is an account of this dramatic episode:
And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days ago I fell sick. We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.
And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company. [When this young man fell sick it was painful for him but God had it in mind to use him to show David and his men the direction of the spoilers. Truly, “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom.11:33).]
And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.|/p>
And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.
And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken 4o them: David recovered all. (v.13-20)
As David and his men were returning from the great slaughter, they found the 200 men on the way which had failed to follow on with the pursuit. Some men who were with David decided that the two hundred should`never have any share of the spoil as punishment. But David reproved them and said; “Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand” (v.23). David was here telling them that their victory was not out of their strength or power but of the LORD, and therefore it would be unjust to deal thus with their friends who had become weaker in strength. From that time onwards it became established among them that “as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike” (v.24-25). David’s character was surely as gentle, calm and beautiful (comely) as his physical appearance.
The Death of Saul
All these events of Ziklag took place at a time when the Philistines were engaged in a tense war with Israel. The Philistines fought so hard that Israelites became so weak and fled. In the process of the war Jonathan was killed. However, the Philistines followed hard against Saul and the archers hit him so much that his body was sore with wounds. Not wanting to fall in the hands of his enemies and knowing that he was in a hopeless situation he decided to kill himself by falling on his own sword. On the following day of the battle the Philistines took the body of Saul, cut off the head and fastened it on a wall.
David Learns of Saul’s Death
After staying for two days in Ziklag following the slaughter of the Amalekites, a young man with rent clothes came to David with a crown of King Saul in his hands. Thinking to please David by announcing to him the death of King Saul, David instead took hold on his clothes and rent them weeping for King Saul. All the men of David also joined in the weeping and fasting.
This was the lamentation of David:
The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how
are the mighty fallen!
David anointed king over Israel
…He is now 30 years old; his face not looking as ruddy and chubby as that day when Samuel anointed him with oil. He is now a man and of age. His hands and stature have marks of one who has had so many years of trouble and fighting. As a metal, ready from the furnace, with all impurities having been purged, he is now ready in the maker’s hands to be made and presented as a “vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim.2:21)…
THE LORD IS WITH HIM
“David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah… And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him” (v. 4-5, 10).
The LORD had been with David all throughout his life and not only after he became king (1 Sam.18:14,28; 2 Sam.5:10). It is this presence of God in this man’s life that gave him strength and courage to press on and win battles. His dependency on God and humility did not stop after becoming king; he continued to submit himself to God and the LORD wrought even more victories through him.
After being declared king by the people, David captured Jerusalem, which was the land of the Jebusites. He “waxed greater and greater: for the LORD of hosts was with him” (1 Chron.11:9; 2 Sam.5:10). That is what made him victorious – the LORD of hosts being with him! The fame and strength of David’s kingdom spread to the different nations of the world. Never before in history did the kingdom of Israel experience such victories in war as during his time. David himself “perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake” (v.12).
At one time it came to pass that when the Philistines heard that David was now the new king of Israel that they went down to stir up war. They may have wanted to take advantage of him being a new king and perhaps thought that he lacked experience in organising and fighting war being a new king with a new administration. But how mistaken they were; this man’s experience was faith, which is the most powerful weapon that anyone can ever have and use in this world! The Philistines went forth and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And, as his custom was, David “inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them into my hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand” (v.19). Just as the LORD had promised, he smote them and gave testimony saying, “the LORD hath broken forth upon my enemies before me, as the breach of waters” (v20). The Philistines were so defeated that they left their images of idols and David’s army burnt up the idols: what a testimony of serving a mighty living God who is ever present with His children! Surprisingly, the Philistines attacked yet again and spread themselves in the valley. David, never taking for granted the usual victories he always had, again inquired of the LORD, and the LORD this time answered, “thou shalt not go up, but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines” (v.23-24). Notice the specific instructions God gave to David; he had to wait for the sound of the presence of God from the tops of the leaves of a mulberry tree. It is that presence of the LORD with David and his men of war that wrought the victory – “David did as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer” (v.25). Oh, saints, if only we can be patient, seek and wait on the LORD, in the different challenges that often betide us, the victories of God will always overtake our enemy!
Remember how every time when David wanted to do something he would consult God for direction. If God said “Do it”, then no matter how ridiculous it seemed David would go ahead and do it. And also when God said “Don’t do it”, no matter how positive or appealing it may have looked, David would not do it. (Read 1 Sam.23:10-13; 2 Sam.5:19-25). See, God’s Word (His will) is our only fotress. It is a child of God’s security. When we seek for “THUS SAITH THE LORD” over a situation, and then the LORD speaks and grants us permission to do something; at that point what we do is being done in the Name of the LORD. When Satan comes to confront a child of God in such a situation; he or she can safely say, “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ get out of my way Satan”. Amen. The Word of God (which is the “Name” [Authority] of God) is the Will of God – Revelation 19:13. There is nothing of such prevailing power as the revelation of the Will of God to a child of God. No amount of devils from hell can challenge “THUS SAITH THE LORD”. The revelation of the Word of God signifies His presence. And it is this presence that always made David victorious.
A Testimony of William Branham
William Branham one time testified of how the Holy Spirit came to him and gave him a message. He narrated the account and the message as follows:
The Holy Spirit told me to pick up my pen and write. As I grasped the pen to write, His Spirit gave me a message for the church... It has to do with the Word and the Bride [Now here is what God said to him]:
Jesus never did anything until it was first showed Him by the Father (John 5:19). This harmony is now to exist between the groom and His bride. He shows her His Word of life. She receives it. She never doubts it…The Word is in the bride (as it was in Mary). The bride has the mind of Christ for she knows what He wants done with the Word. She performs the command of the Word in His name for she has “THUS SAITH THE LORD”. Then the Word is quickened by the Spirit and it comes to pass. Like a seed that is planted and watered, it comes to full harvestl serving its purpose. Those in the bride do only His will. No one can make them do otherwise. They have “THUS SAITH THE LORD” or they keep still. (SEVEN CHURCH AGES, Pg. 172.)
Amen. Only when God’s will is truly revealed to our hearts can we sincerely say a.d do things “In the name of the LORD”. When God reveals His mind to us, it becomes our strength, our authority, our shelter, our protection and nothing can challenge the will, and hence the hand, of God on a matter – “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov.18:10).
Having gone through the different events in David’s life, it should be noted here that all this doesn’t mean that David never made mistakes. There are some terrible mistakes David made that are perhaps even more shameful than those which were done by Saul. This may tempt us to ask why God showed mercy to David and not Saul. The simple answer is that a person may appear to be good but not with a right heart. David was not a perfect person but had a repentant, meek and humble heart that was always ready to stand correction when rebuked by God. The following two outstanding events in the life of this comely person illustrate this.
David Goes to Bring the Ark
2 Sam. 6 & 1 Chron.13
King David was a man who cared for the things of God; it came to pass one time that he desired to bring the Ark of Covenant to its rightful place in Jerusalem. Concerning this matter he consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds and with every leader, and, the decision seemed good in the eyes of everyone. The people of Israel could now perceive that they had a God-fearing king. Now, pay attention to the events that transpired as David gathered all Israel together for the bringing in of the ark. It was such a big event he organised to celebrate the procession:
“And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.
And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.
And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets” (1 Chron.13:6-8).
This must have been a great event full of praises, jubilation, singing, worshiping and the people dancing with all their might. That was wonderful and very good but have you spotted any mistake David and his people made in the above verses of scripture? It should be noted M and emphasised here that God called David “a man after mine heart” because He believed that David would fulfil ALL His will – “he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22); the will of God is His Word. But, in the event of getting the Ark of the Covenant, David and his people broke a certain command of the Word of God – “they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart”. God in the Law of Moses commanded that the Ark should only be carried by priests on their shoulders (Deut.10:8; Exod.25:14; 1 Chron.15:15). But David had his people put the Ark on a new cart. The new cart may have been a goo$ and expensive model and so well built and admirable, but God’s Word and commands are forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). A person should never try to please God with worship or doing some service M for him at the expense of His Word. God’s Word is His will, and God and His Word are one; one can’t claim to love or obey God and at the same time disobey His Word. Note what happened as the people continued with their singing, praise and worship:
“And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his (and to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God” (2 Chron.13:9-10).
This man Uzza tried to protect and prevent the Ark from stumbling and falling from the cart but yet the LORD killed him because he was not a priest! That is how serious God regards His commands. You can not try to offer Him some service and goodness by disregarding what His Word requires. This, unfortunately, is the condition of many so-called Christians and churches today; so much filled with praise, worship and preachings but which have no spiritual value and relevance before God – “vain oblations”!, as declared by God in Isaiah (Isa.1:13).
After the jubilation of singing, praising and dancing was brought to a halt by the death of Uzza, David became afraid and stopped the whole procession. He began to seek the LORD and find out what went wrong. Finally when he discovered the error, in humbleness and meekness he called upon all the priests and said unto them these words: “Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order” (1 Chron.15:12-13).
This was a humble man who could recognise his mistakes and correct them, even before the people. That’s an attribute of a comely person and a man who fears and walks with God.
[There is another important lesson to learn from the words of David in the above verses: there are two ways people seek God: one which is not in accordance to his due order of the Word and one which is. This should be an important admonishment to all those who diligently seek God in their lives. It’s not enough just to seek God; we need to seek Him “after the due order” of The Word. The Word of God is the standard and absolute of our faith].
David Dances before the LORD
After recognising the error they made David was now even the more determined to bring the Ark. This time he was very careful to pay attention to detail. He consulted the chiefs of the Levites to appoint singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and to lift their voices with joy in praising God. A man called Chenania, chief of the Levites and skilful at music, was appointed to lead the procession in singing: “Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps” (1 Chron.15:28). But out of all this dancing one was notable; the one for the king. He did not dance in a reserved way as a senior official. David danced with all his might that his wife, Michal, felt ashamed and despised him in her heart (2 Sam.6:14). After the procession, as he went to his house, his wife approached him and mocked, “How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!” Oh, what a horrible mistake Michal made, calling that humble servant of God who was pouring out his soul before the LORD, a vain fellow! David answered her and said, “It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.” (2 Sam.6:21). These are touching and deep words which can only come from a person who has died to all his egos, ambition and pride and only delights himself in the LORD! Because of the foolishness of her words and despising the servant of the LORD, Michal was struck with a curse of barreness, and she never had a child unto the day of her death. But God continued to bless David throughout the years of his kingship. It would take volumes and volumes of books to write the so many lessons to be learned from the life of this great patriarch.
King David types the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ (consisting of true and sincere believers of God’s Word). The Bride of Christ has been called to rule with Christ in the world to come. In Revelation we have a preview of the Bride of Christ, as kings, coming down to earth on white horses to rule with the Lord Jesus as the King of kings. The challenge is: for the many who have been called to be kings, will they live, here in this present life, a worthy life to be ultimately chosen as kings. A solemn admonishment remains: many are called but few are chosen. The anointing to be king had already come on David the very day he was anointed by the prophet Samuel, but the ultimate manifestation of the purpose of that anointing could not materialise until David got tested and approved as a worthy candidate. It therefore remains that we, the children of God, have to be tested through the fiery trials and furnace of this present life before we can be chosen and crowned as kings – “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom.8:16-17). Amen.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Voice of the Word Ministry
PO Box 37919