Three thousand years ago, God chose a young man named David to be the king of Israel. Out of all the sons of Jesse, the favor of God landed on a lad named David. David was the youngest son of a poor farmer from the tiny hamlet of Bethlehem. David was a young man who was not even respected by the members of his own family. He was a nobody, living in a family of nobodies. Yet, by the grace of God, David became the greatest king in the history of the nation of Israel. He also became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is listed among the great heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. During his life, he received great promises and remarkable blessings from the hand of God. But, greatest of all, David became a man after God’s Own heart. This was not David’s own testimony, but this is the testimony of God, Acts 13:22.
I would like to spend several Sundays seeking to understand how this humble shepherd boy became a man after God’s Own heart. Some may wonder why we would even bother to spend time on a man who has been dead some three thousand years. The short answer to that is this: David achieved in his life something that God wants each of His children to achieve. David achieved something that many of us fail to accomplish. David became a man after God’s Own heart and a study of his life can teach us how to do that too.
Now, David was not perfect. In fact, he was far from it! He failed, and he failed big, but he kept short accounts with God. He sinned, but he was quick to confess and he manifested genuine heart repentance. David has much that he can teach us about obedience, faith and worship. So, as the Lord leads in these coming weeks, let’s look together at David: A Man after God’s Own Heart.
1 Samuel 16:1-13
HOW GOD CHOOSES
Intro: This chapter opens with God reminding Samuel of the fact that He has rejected Saul as king of Israel. Saul was chosen as king because the people wanted to be like the other nations around them, 1 Sam. 8:1-5. Up to that point, God had ruled the nation, raising up leaders as they were needed. This was how things operated all way from the time of Moses through the days of the Judges. They were warned that elevating a man to the throne would bring political corruption and trouble, 1 Sam. 8:7-21. When Saul was chosen to be their king, the people were elated. He was fine physical specimen, standing head and shoulders taller than anyone else in Israel, 1 Sam. 9:2. While he may have been a giant among men, he was a spiritual pygmy! Saul was a jealous man, who lived for the praises of the people. He tended to overstep his boundaries and was guilty of gross disobedience to the commands of the Lord. As a result, the Lord proved to Israel the dangers of a human king and God rejected Saul as the king of His people.
As a result of Saul’s rebellion, God chooses a new king to rule over Israel. He chooses a young man named David. When God chooses David, He chooses an unlikely candidate for such a lofty and powerful office. In God’s choice of David as king, we are allowed to see something of the process God uses when He would choose someone to work for Him.
Today, I want to preach for a little while on How God Chooses. It may be that He has His hand on someone in this very room. It may be that He is about to choose someone from our number to go to work for Him. I know He is looking for such people this evening. Let’s notice the teachings in this passage as we think about How God Chooses
In verse 1 we see GOD’S CHOICES ARE SOVEREIGN
- His Choice Involves Sovereign Providence – It is against the backdrop of rebellion and rejection that God begins the process of choosing a new king for Israel. He was ready to raise up a new king and the people had been made ready to accept a new king. God worked behind the scenes during those difficult days in Israel’s history to prepare the way for His plan to be fulfilled.
- His Choice Involves Sovereign Planning – Next, Samuel is told where to go to find the new king. It appears that the Lord had been arranging everything to bring His chosen king into the world at precisely the right moment in history. If you look back at the ancestry of King David, you will find the hand of the Lord moving and shaping events. One of David’s ancestors was a woman named Rahab, Judges 2. She had been saved out of pagan idolatry and brought into the nation of Israel. She married a man named Salmon, Matt. 1:5, and became the mother of a man named Boaz, Ruth 4:20. Boaz also married a Gentile girl brought out of paganism by the sovereign grace of the Lord, named Ruth, Ruth 4. Ruth and Boaz were the great grandparents of a boy named David.
These events were not accidental! They were part of a perfect plan, formulated in eternity passed and worked out in time. This was not coincidence; it was the mighty hand of the Lord!
- His Choice Involves Sovereign Power – Notice the words “I have.” Many people have great plans and dreams, but they lack to power to bring them to pass. Not the Lord! What He proposes, He is well able to dispose!
Note: What lessons can we learn from God’s sovereign choice? I think there are a few that need to be noted.
- First, there are no accidents in life! Everything that occurs is part of a larger plan. God is working, often behind the scenes; in ways that we cannot comprehend, to accomplish His plans and His purposes, 8:28; Isa. 55:8-9; Psa. 37:23; 2 Cor. 4:15-17. Thank God for the truth that God is in absolute control!
- Second, God is well able to bring His plan to pass. He will never propose a plan that He is not able to accomplish! Whether it is a plan to raise up a shepherd boy and make him a king, or whether it is a plan to work out His will in your life; He is well able to see it through, 3:20; Job 42:2; Luke 1:37; Gen. 18:14.
- Third, God’s sovereign choices extend to every area of life. I do not presume to understand it all, but I believe the Bible teaches us that God is in the business of working out all things according to His will, 1:11; and bringing His eternal purposes to pass in time, Isa. 46:10-11.
Some people are bothered by the notion that God is in absolute control of all of life. I, however, find it very comforting! I know that nothing can happen unless the Father ordains it and that of He ordains it, it is for my good and for His glory. Thank God for His sovereign choices!)
GOD’S CHOICES ARE SURPRISING
(Ill. The Context. Samuel is set to Bethlehem to anoint the new king. When Samuel arrives there, he commands Jesse to gather together his sons. They come before the old prophet and pass before him one by one. It is in this process that God makes known His choice for king. But, His choices, while they are sovereign, also carry with them some real surprises.)
v.6-10 His Choice Is Surprising In Its Rejections – The first of Jesse’s sons passes before Samuel v.6-7. His name is Eliab. His name means “God is Father.” He is a fine physical specimen, and Samuel thinks that he is surely the chosen one. But, God says, “I have refused him.” The word “refuse” simply means to “reject.” Eliab might have looked pleasing outwardly, but something in his character disqualified him from being the king.
v.8 Abinadab is next. His name means “My father is noble.” But, he too is passed over and rejected by the Lord. V. 9 Next is Shammah. His name means “Astonishment.” This may refer to his physical size or some other physical trait, but no matter, he too is rejected! V.10 Then, one after another of Jesse sons pass before Samuel until seven have passed by and all are rejected by the Lord.
Surely these men are all fine physical specimens; their physiques having been refined and toned by hours of hard, physical labor. Anyone of them would have possessed the physical requirements to turn heads and rule as a king. But, none of them possessed the right kind of character traits.
(Note: God sees what man cannot see! Even Samuel was impressed with Eliab, but God wasn’t. You would have thought that Samuel would have learned his lesson with Saul. But, Samuel is still looking at men through human eyes.
We are the very same way. We see a young man; he’s handsome, well-spoken and intelligent. We look at him and we say, “That young man would make a fine preacher someday.” The problem is, we cannot see his heart! We see a man; he’s saved, good to his family, been blessed in his work and has some business sense. We look at him and say, “That man would make a good deacon.” Again, we can’t see his heart! We judge people by how they strike the eye; God judges them on a far different level. That person we think will do great things in the church may not even make a blip on God’s radar screen. While that one we think will amount to nothing might just be used in a mighty way by the Lord! You see, God makes His choices based not on what He sees about our outward characteristics, but on what He sees within the content of our hearts.)
v.7 His Choice Is Surprising In It Requirements – God tells Samuel that He does not look at the physical attributes of a man. God looks at the character of a man’s heart. Before Saul ever ceased being King, God had already determined to raise up a man with the right kind of heart, 1 Sam. 13:14. You see, as the sons of Jesse stand there that day, they all looked the part, but what Samuel could not see was the condition of their hearts. Eliab, for instance, caught the old prophet’s eye; but he reveals the character of his heart in the next chapter. There, we discover that Eliab is critical, jealous and negative, 1 Sam. 17:28. He may have been a big man externally, but he was a baby inside! He was not the kind of man God could use for His glory!
(Note: This is a lesson the church needs to learn today. When we look for leaders, we often seek those who possess certain characteristics that we think spell success and ability. We look for people of influence, power, intelligence and means. God, however, looks for people of integrity and character. He wants people who are faithful and holy. What a contrast! God is not nearly as impressed with people’s achievements as we are. He is not concerned about the beauty of our outward man. He is caught up in the condition of our heart!
As God looks at your life, what does He see? Does He see a handsome face, a pleasing physical appearance and a well-kept, well-dressed body? No, He sees your heart. He sees the real you! But, here is the real question: Does God see a heart that He can use? Or, does He say about your life the same thing He said about Eliab, “I have refused him?” What does God see in your heart?
By the way, often we judge people by what they are. God, on the other hand, looks at what they can become. Thank God He judges us on the basis of amazing grace, not what the eye can see.)
- v.11-13 His Choice Is Surprising In Its Receptions – After the seven sons of Jesse have passed before Samuel and all have been rejected, Samuel finds out that there is another son. He is the youngest and he is said to be with the sheep. He is so insignificant within the family that he is not even summoned with the rest of the boys, but he is left out of the feast and the sacrifice. He is out there doing the job of a humble servant. In fact, when he is mentioned by his father, he is not even called by his name; he is simply called “the youngest.” When he walks in, Samuel sees a handsome, young man; bright-eyed, with the blush of your in his cheeks. God tells Samuel to anoint this one, for this is him! The one rejected and passed over by the others is the very one picked by the Lord! No doubt Jesse and his sons were all amazed as they watched the ancient prophet hobble over to young David and pour the anointing oil on his head.
(Note: Again, we must be careful how we assess those around us. We look at people tonight and think we know who God will use and what He will do with them. Friend, you never know! God often passes over the ones others would choose and calls those we would never have imagined. God excels in taking nobodies and making some bodies out of them! When God went after a man after His Own heart, He did not go to the palaces, the temples or the places of influence, wealth and power. God chose the most unlikely person in the most unlikely of places. The key to being used of Him is possessing the right kind of heart!)
(Ill. No one but God would have picked Saul of Tarsus to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. But, God did choose him, 1 Tim. 1:12-16. Who would have thought that Peter would have been used like he was by the Lord, after the way he fell?)
GOD’S CHOICES ARE SPECIFIC
(Ill. It seems crystal clear that God had a specific plan in mind. He sent Samuel to a specific town, to a specific family in that town and then to the specific person He had chosen for to be the next king. Very briefly, there are some indications as to why God made the choice He did in the life of David.)
v.11-12God Chooses Those Who Are Ready – When Jesse and David’s brothers are brought in before Samuel, they are “sanctified,” v. 5. In other words, their sins are dealt with and they are made ready for worship. When David is brought, there is no time for him to be sanctified, but he is ready nonetheless! David is a picture of that believer who keeps his heart in a state of readiness. He does not know when the Lord might call him so he stays ready at all times. That is the kind of person God is looking for today as well. God does not use dirty vessels, but He uses those which are clean and ready for His call.
v.11 God Chooses Those Who Are Reliable – When God calls David, He finds him faithfully doing what he has been told to do. He is keeping the sheep. He is doing a dirty, lonely job; but he does it because it is what he has been assigned to do. After he is anointed, he goes back to his flock, v. 19. Why? Because that is what he does! Even after he is called to Jerusalem to play for King Saul, v. 23, he returned to keep his father’s sheep, 17:15. Why? Because that is what he does! David was given an assignment and he carried it out faithfully. He even placed his life on the line to protect those sheep, 17:34-37. When Jesse looked at David he saw the youngest of his sons. His brothers saw a little brat, 17:28. Samuel saw a cute little boy, 16:12. But, when God looked at David, He saw integrity, faithfulness, responsibility and character. Others saw a nobody, God saw a king!
Friend, if you want to be used by the Lord, let me encourage you to be faithful where you are. The best thing you can do is grow where you are planted. Allow God to develop your character, your integrity, your faithfulness and your sense of responsibility in the ordinary, mundane events of life, Matt. 25:21. Be ready and be reliable, for you never know when the call of God will come. He knows where you are. He knows how to find you. He knows how and when to open all the right doors in your life. Just be faithful and walk with Him. In His time, He will use you for His glory.
v.13 God Chooses Those Who Are Redeemed – When Samuel anointed David and perhaps whispered God’s plan in his ear; this was not David’s first encounter with God. No doubt David had seen the glory of God written in the heavens and His power manifested in the universe, Psa. 19. David had witnessed God’s tender care for His people in his own relationship to his flocks. This is evident in Psalm 23 and others which reveal the heart of David while he was still a young shepherd. He might have walked onto the public stage in 1 Samuel 16; but David had been walking with the Lord for quite some time! Listen to David’s own testimony in 1 Sam. 17:37; 45.
Here’s the point, God calls those who know Him! He chooses His vessels from among His redeemed ones. Those who know Him in a faith relationship; who live clean lives; who are ready, reliable and available are candidates to be used by the Lord. Does that describe you?