Sunday, March 24, 2013
Pastor Joe Wittwer
When God’s Story Intersects Yours
Part 4—David’s Story



Even though we just re-elected our president, the race for 2016 has already begun.  If you were looking for the next president, where would you look?  In the Senate or the House of Representatives?  In a governor’s mansion in one of our 50 states?  In the current cabinet?  Among the party leadership?  Those are the usual suspects.

Would anyone look at farm boy tending sheep?  Probably not.

But God did.  When God was choosing a king for Israel, He looked for “a man after my own heart”—someone with a heart for God.  And God found him in a pasture, tending sheep.

His name was David and I’m going to tell you his story.  

Introduction and offering:

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story with us.  It’s another example of how different our stories are after we meet Jesus.  When God’s story intersects yours, you begin to live a new story!

Welcome to part 4 of the Story series.  We’re telling the story of God and of us. We are looking at the Big Story—God’s story—in the Bible, and seeing how it transforms our little stories.  The Big Idea for this series and this talk is:

The Big Idea: The Bible is the story of God and us.  When God’s story intersects yours, you begin to live a new story.

God’s Story, the Big Story has four major parts to it:

  • God created.  God created a good world.

  • We rebelled.  We ruined God’s good creation.

  • God redeemed.  God acted to reconcile all things to Himself.

  • God sends us.  God uses us as change agents in a broken world.

This is the Big Story—God’s story—in the Bible.  But it is told in a series of narratives—lots of little stories. We are telling the story of God by telling 9 individual stories—arguably the 9 stories that best summarize the Big Story.  

  • The start of the Story.

  • The story of Abraham.

  • The story of Moses.

  • The story of David.

  • The Story of Jesus.  (Easter weekend)

  • The story of Peter.

  • The story of Paul.

  • The story of us.

  • The end of the Story.

We began with the start of the story and then moved from Abraham  Moses  David.  God made covenants with each of these, and each covenant built on the others.  Promise  Law  Kingdom.  Each of these people and their stories points to Jesus.  

Here is the story of David.  

1. The Story of David.

David’s story is remarkable! David was Renaissance man before the Renaissance.  He was a shepherd, a warrior, a king, and a superstar musician and poet.  He’s famous for great exploits and a great failure.  

David’s story divides into two halves: BK and AK.  Before King and After King.  Let me tell you the story.

A. BK: Before becoming king. 1 Samuel

Moses led the people to the edge of the Promised Land, then Joshua led them into the Promised Land.  For the next 300 years, the 12 tribes of Israel lived as a loose confederation of tribes, ruled by regional judges.  The last of those judges was a prophet named Samuel.  The Israelites asked Samuel to appoint a king for them.  God led Samuel to appoint Saul as Israel’s first king.  Unfortunately, Saul had issues.  In short order, he disobeyed God, and the Lord sent Samuel to anoint a new king.  

  1. The call. 1 Samuel 16

God spoke to Samuel, “I have rejected Saul as king.  Go to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem; I have chosen one of his sons to be the next king.”  Jesse had 8 sons; the first one Samuel met was Eliab; and he was tall and good-looking, and Samuel thought, “This must be the one!”  And the Lord said, “Beauty is only skin-deep; but ugly goes all the way to the bone.”  Not quite.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God looks at the heart, and Eliab wasn’t what He was looking for.  Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and none of them passed muster.  The Lord said no to every one of them!  

“Are these all the sons you have?” Samuel asked?

“Well, there is one more—the youngest.  He’s out tending the sheep.”  Jesse was so sure he wasn’t the one that he hadn’t even bothered to invite him to the party!  

“Go get him,” Samuel said.

When David arrived, Samuel saw that he “was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.”   What’s ruddy?  It means he had red cheeks (pic of Malya); a healthy glow.  Red cheeks are often characteristic of young people; it could be a reference to his youthful health and the fact that he wasn’t shaving yet.  He was just a young whipper-snapper!

The Lord said, “He is the one; anoint him.”  

God chose a boy, a young whipper-snapper to be the next king.  God didn’t pick #1, the obvious choice; He chose #8; the runt of the litter; someone so young and obviously unqualified that he wasn’t even invited to the party!  God looks at the heart, and when He looked at David, He saw “a man after my own heart.”  (1 Samuel 13:14)  Later, the apostle Paul was preaching the gospel and referred to this:

Acts 13:22–23 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.

Tuck that away for later.  

God chose David because David had a heart for God.  That heart for God shines out in many of the psalms that David wrote.  And it will shine out in the rest of this story.  God looks at the heart.  

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

God is still looking at hearts.  I want to be one of those people God is looking for, don’t you?

The Lord said, “He is the one; anoint him.”  So Samuel did, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David.  But he didn’t become king right away; in fact, it would be years before he became king, because King Saul wasn’t about to give up his power to a boy.

  1. The battle.  1 Samuel 17

Not long after this, the Philistines invaded Israel.  The Israeli army, led by King Saul faced off with the Philistine army, led by a giant named Goliath, in the valley of Elah.  There, the two armies camped on opposite hillsides, and every day for a month, they shouted trash talk at each other.  Something like this: “There ain’t no flies on us; there ain’t no flies on us; there might be flies on some of your guys, but there ain’t no flies on us!”  Real mature stuff like that.  The trash talking stopped though when Goliath showed up.  The Israelites saw him and ran—and with good reason.  The dude was over 9 feet tall.  His body armor weighed 125 pounds, and just the iron tip of his spear weighed 15 pounds!  Imagine trying to throw a spear with a 15-pound tip!  This guy was a beast!  Huge, gnarly, and super strong!  Goliath shouted out a challenge: “Send me your best warrior and we’ll fight like men.  Winner takes all.”  

Nowadays, we would just shoot him, like Indiana Jones.  But in those days of hand-to-hand combat, he looked invincible, like the Zags!  So the Israelites ran in terror.

David’s three oldest brothers were in the army, so David’s dad, Jesse, asked him to leave the sheep for a few days (he was still tending sheep even after being anointed king), and run some supplies to his brothers.  David got there just in time to watch the spectacle: the trash talking followed by Goliath’s challenge.  

David was outraged when he watched the Israelites run in fear.  This Philistine was insulting God!  Would no one stand up to him?  (There is that heart for God again.)  Where was their faith?  Did no one believe that God was bigger than Goliath?  When David started talking like this, word got back to King Saul, who invited David to his tent.  

David said, “Don’t worry, King.  I’ll take care of this Philistine!”  

Oh, that’s swell!

And Saul said, “You?  You’re just a boy!  He’s been fighting longer than you’ve been alive!  You’ll get creamed!”

David said, “I’ve had more experience than you think.  I watch my dad’s sheep.”  (Saul was thinking, “That’s how I train all my warriors.”)  “I’ve had to kill bears and lions; this Philistine will be like one of them.  The Lord that delivered me from the bear and lion will deliver me from this beast too!”  

Saul said, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”  And he must have been thinking, “You are going to need the Lord, because you are no match for this giant.”  

Trying to be helpful, Saul offered David his armor.  But after trying it on, David decided to go with what he knew: his trusty sling.  So David went out to meet the giant armor-less with nothing but a leather sling and five smooth stones.

I’d love to see the video of what happened next!  The giant saw David and roared with laughter.  “Am I a dog that you chase me with sticks?”  Was this the best Israel could do?  A boy?  “Come here, you little runt, and I’ll feed your flesh to the birds.”

David shouted, “You come against me with sword and spear, but I come against you in the name of the Lord, whom you have defied.  The Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll cut off your head!  Then everyone will know that the battle is the Lord’s!  Prepare to die, you big baboon!”  

David charged, and slung a stone that caught Goliath in the forehead and knocked him out.  Then David grabbed Goliath’s sword and whacked his head off.

To this day, David and Goliath are metaphors for the triumph of the underdog.  (The Zags have been David most years; this year they are Goliath!  But the good news is that Gonzaga is a Jesuit school and the new pope is Jesuit, so hopefully the Lord is fighting for us even though we’re Goliath!)

David won the day because of his heart for God.  Goliath was big, but he believed that God was bigger, and God was fighting for him. God used David to deliver Israel; later, God would use David’s descendant, Jesus, to defeat our enemies and deliver us.  David’s victory over Goliath was a shadow of the greater victory to come.

David was an instant hero…and that led to the problem that is the next chapter in the story.

  1. The chase.  1 Samuel 18-31

After taking out Goliath, David went on to become a very successful army commander.  As his victories mounted and his fame grew, and King Saul became insanely jealous.  He began stalking David, chasing him all over Israel, trying to kill him.  

This went on for several years.  On two separate occasions, David had the chance to kill Saul, and didn’t.

The first time (1 Sam. 24), David and his men were hiding in a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself—that’s all I’m going to say about that!  David snuck up and cut off a piece of the king’s robe. After Saul left the cave, David revealed himself and pointed out that he could have killed the king, but didn’t.

The second time (1 Sam. 26), David and Abishai snuck into Saul’s camp while he was sleeping.  This is the inspiration for the movie, “While You Were Sleeping.”  Abishai wanted to kill Saul, but David refused.  “I won’t harm the Lord’s anointed.  The Lord will take care of it.  He’ll die a natural death, or die in battle; but I won’t take matters into my hands and kill him.”  So they stole his spear and water jug.  When they were safely out of camp, David called out and woke everyone up.  Again, he pointed out that he could have killed the king, but didn’t.  David refused to play God, to take matters into his own hands.  (There is David’s heart for God again.)

Both times, Saul was remorseful and promised to stop pursuing David.  And both times, he quickly forgot his promise and resumed the chase, fueled by his insane jealousy.

David was right.  Saul eventually died in battle.  And David became king, first of the tribe of Judah, and 7 years later, of all Israel.  

B. AK: After becoming king.  2 Samuel

The second half of David’s story is found in 2 Samuel and is the story of his reign as king.  There are three big events in the AK story.

  1. The kingdom.  2 Samuel 1-6, 8-10

After David became king, he began consolidating his power.  At first, he was king only over the tribe of Judah.  The rest of Israel crowned Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth as king.  There was a long civil war; David got stronger, Ish-Bosheth grew weaker, and was eventually assassinated.  Then all Israel joined and made David their king.  

With his internal enemies vanquished, David now turned his attention outward.  He began to expand his kingdom, gaining victories over the Philistines to the west and the Ammonites to the east.  Under David’s leadership, Israel became a regional power and expanded her borders.  

His first conquest was Jerusalem.  He defeated the Jebusites and made Jerusalem his capital, and called it, “The City of David”.  David then brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, making it the center of religion as well as politics.  That was when he decided to build a great temple for God in Jerusalem.  

  1. The promise.  2 Samuel 7

David told Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”  (There is David’s heart for God again.)  Nathan said, “Go for it, dude!”  

But that night, God spoke to Nathan and gave him a message for David. God said, “I took you from the flocks and made you ruler of my people.  I have been with you wherever you went.  I have defeated all your enemies.”  Who was responsible for David’s success?  God was.  God had done it all.  God recited what He had done in the past to give David confidence about what He said next.

“I will make your name great, like the greatest men on earth.  I will plant my people safely in this land and I will give you rest from all your enemies.”  Then the big promise.

“You want to build a house for me; thank you very much.  But I will build a house for you.”

2 Samuel 7:12–16 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”

God said that it wasn’t for David to build the temple; that job would fall to his son who would succeed him.  More importantly, God promised David an everlasting dynasty, that David’s “kingdom will endure forever”.  It’s not just that David’s son or grandson or great grandson would follow him as king.  He would always have a descendant on the throne, and his kingdom will never end!  

Of course, we know the rest of the story; it’s recorded here in the Bible.  Roughly 40 years after David’s death, during the reign of David’s grandson, Rehoboam, the kingdom would split in two—Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  And 400 years after David’s death, both Israel and Judah would be conquered and deported into captivity.  Since 586 BC, there have been no kings in Jerusalem, no descendant of David on the throne.  

So did God’s promise fail?  Was God wrong?

The Jews believed that a deliverer would come, a Messiah, who would be a descendant of David, and would restore the kingdom and fulfill God’s promise.

Christians believe that promised one was Jesus.  Listen to the words the angel Gabriel said to Mary.

Luke 1:30–33 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Jesus is the Son of David whose kingdom never ends.  

David’s story points ahead to the story of Jesus—that’s the story we tell next weekend for Easter. Abraham, Moses, and David: all their stories point to Jesus.  And it’s the story of Jesus that transforms all our stories.

So far, everything about David has been good.  The dude is like a super hero!  Did he ever mess up?  Yep—big time.

  1. The failure.  2 Samuel 11-20

One day, David was strolling on the roof of his palace and he saw a beautiful woman bathing.  Instead of looking away, he looked again, and again—until he decided he had to have her.  He abused his power as king, had the woman brought to the palace and slept with her.  Her name was Bathsheba.  She was the wife of one of David’s most trusted soldiers, Uriah.  It was not only adultery, but a terrible betrayal of a trusted friend.

When Bathsheba turned up pregnant, David designed a cover-up to rival Watergate.  He brought Uriah home from the war, counting on the fact that this soldier would be eager to sleep with his wife.  But Uriah was nobler than David bargained for, and wouldn’t do it; he said, “How can I sleep with my wife when my brothers in arms are sleeping in tents at the battleground?”  

David had to improvise; he went to Plan B.  He sent Uriah back to the battle with a sealed note that was his death sentence.  “Put Uriah in the front lines; then pull back and leave him alone so he is killed.”  So David had Uriah killed and then took Bathsheba as his wife.

David was guilty of adultery and murder, violating two of the ten commandments.  He thought he had gotten away with it.  But “the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”    

God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David.  When David confessed his sin, God forgave him, but also said that he would reap the consequences.  For the rest of David’s life, violence and trouble would dog him and his family.  His son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar.  Another son, Absalom then killed Amnon for revenge, and later led a coup against his father, and was finally killed by David’s soldiers.  Another son, Adonijah, tried to usurp the throne when David was old.   It was one disaster after another—all brought on by David’s failure.  

But here’s what you need to know: David’s failure didn’t negate God’s promise.  God forgave David and the promise was still intact.  Even though David failed, God didn’t; God didn’t renege on His promise to David.  God remains faithful even when we are faithless.

2. The story of God, David, and you.

David’s story is an important part of the story of God.  God called this insignificant young man—#8—into His Big Story, and it changed David’s story forever.  Imagine where David would have been without God—probably just another nameless sheep-herder.  But when God’s story intersected David’s story, he became the king of Israel, and more.  The promised blessing of Abraham, the promised prophet like Moses, would be the Son of David.  

Abraham  Moses  David Jesus.  Jesus is the fulfillment of all those promises.  All the verses listed on your outline are New Testament references to David, and all of them refer to Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to David.  Jesus is the promised Son of David who will reign forever.  

There are many lessons to be learned from David’s story.

  • I want to have a heart for God.  God looks at the heart; that’s why He chose David.  He found a man with a heart for God.  God looks at the heart; what does He see when He looks at yours?

  • I want to trust God when I face impossible odds.  David took on Goliath because he had a heart for God and believed that God was bigger than Goliath.  Do you believe that God is bigger than the giant you face?

  • I want to trust God to fulfill His promise, and not take matters into my own hands.  David could have killed Saul twice, but refused to take matters into his own hands.  And God took care of him.  Later, he took matters into his hands with Bathsheba and made a mess that cost him dearly.  In every story we’ve told—Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David—the lead character takes matters into his or her own hands, and God has to redeem them.  Are you trusting God, or are you trying to do it for Him?

But the big lesson for us is this: God changed David’s story.  God got a hold of David and did something amazing with his life.  He turned a sheepherder into a king.  He turned #8 into #1.  And God made David a central part of the Big Story that leads to Jesus, the story that changes all our stories.

Months ago, I thought about how my story has changed because of Jesus.  God has changed my story as dramatically as He changed David’s story; as dramatically as He changed Jessica’s story.  For hundreds of us here, God has changed our stories, and like David, our stories are now part of His Big Story.

How about you?