The objective of this lesson: to place the quarter's study in context.
Understanding why David was a man after God's own heart needs to begin with a basic contrast. The contrast is between the man, Saul, who was Israel's first king and the man, David, who was Israel's second king. The two men were unrelated and stood in significant contrast.
So much of David's life has been studied in "happenings" and "incidents" rather than in a continuum. Many ethical questions/issues arise regarding David because David is not placed in the context of his age. Perhaps the best way to have an introduction to David's life is to consider a comparison between David and Saul. God chose both men for the same role. Saul failed miserably and David succeeded admirably. Yet, both men made horrible mistakes. The reasons for one's failure and the other's success is best seen in a comparison of the men.
Perhaps it is needful to consider the expression "after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). The expression contrasts the person who is dedicated to his own will with the person who surrenders his will to God's will. The person who is dedicated to his/her own will is the person who seeks to justify his/her actions. Because self-justification is a priority [either arising from a personal sense of arrogance or a personal sense of personal insecurity], this person is reluctant to repent because he/she is reluctant to accept responsibility for personal behavior. The person who is dedicated to God's will as his/her priority already has accepted a truth about himself/herself: "Compared to God, I am nothing. Left to myself, I make poor choices. In my life, there is never a question about Who is in charge of my life. Even if I make a horrible, embarrassing choice, I know I want God in control of my life. Whatever is necessary for me to reestablish relationship with God, it must occur--and quickly!" This person is continually ready to repent (redirect life and actions) and to accept responsibility for his/her actions.
The focus of this series of lessons will be on the fact that David belonged to God internally because he genuinely possessed the heart of a servant.
It is in this contrast that Saul and David stand as significantly different men. David had to have relationship with God. He was internally motivated. Saul wanted the benefits of association with God. He continually reflected his insecurity in his impetuous, self-serving acts. There is a powerful lesson in that contrast for people of today. Too many seek benefits from God by trying to maintain association with God. What God seeks are those people who want relationship with Him because they belong to Him. God seeks people who serve Him by surrendering self rather than people who seek to associate with Him for self-centered reasons.
In every human interaction, there is an enormous difference between commitment to a relationship and commitment to an association. The most significant of human interactions always are devoted to a pursuit of and a maintenance of relationship. People committed to God always seek relationship not mere association. The manner in which relationship and association react to the realities of personal insecurity are radically different.
Do not blame God for Saul's failure. Saul was hand-picked by God to be the first King of Israel. God did not pick him to fail. God picked him because he had the potential to succeed. God would have made Saul's descendants a continuing dynasty over Israel, just as He later did David, had Saul chosen to depend on God rather than act out of his insecurity (1 Samuel 13:13). Saul had an impressive physical appearance--the physique of a leader (1 Samuel 9:2). Samuel was told by God the day before that the following day he would meet the person God selected to be Israel's king (1 Samuel 9:15, 16). When Samuel saw Saul, God confirmed that Saul was the man (1 Samuel 9:17). Samuel confirmed to Saul the role he was to serve as King of Israel and anointed him to become king with the words, "Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?" (1 Samuel 9:1) God also gave Saul a different heart (1 Samuel 10:9).
This does not seek to deny God is Sovereign and can do as He chooses and wills. However, in Saul's case, it is striking from Saul's "passing the blame to others" that Saul made personal choices with horrible consequences. Saul seemed determined to act on his own insecurities rather than in the confidence of God's assurances and incredible power.
God was extremely patient with Saul. Is your impression of Saul this: God had Saul appointed king; Saul quickly disappointed God; and God quickly yanked Saul from his role of leadership. If that is your impression, you need to reconsider it. Saul was in very difficult circumstances when he became king. To the east, the Ammonites were a strong, formidable enemy who could make Israelites miserable (see 1 Samuel 11:1-5). To the west was the conquering Philistine force that defeated and subjugated Israel from the days of I Samuel 4. There were no blacksmiths among the Israelites, therefore the Israelites had no weapons (see 1 Samuel 13:19-23).
God always has been a God of incredible patience. Frequently when He acted with wrath in the Old Testament, He did so because abusive humans gave Him no choice. He was a God Who, even at the eleventh hour, would respond to repentance. Consider Isaiah 55:6-9. Our compassionate God does not withdraw from us easily or quickly. Saul rebelled repeatedly before God withdrew from him. Opportunities for rebellion also frequently are opportunities for displaying incredible trust in and exultation of God.
A huge Philistine military force was assembling at Michmash (1 Samuel 13:5). The people of Israel are terrified (1 Samuel 13:6, 7). Saul's relatively insignificant army was terrified (1 Samuel 13:7), poorly armed, and deserting. Saul, likely feeling quite insecure himself, chose to offer a sacrifice to God when Samuel did not appear at the expected time (1 Samuel 13:8). What should have been a marvelous opportunity to exalt God became an occasion for Saul to elevate himself. Though Samuel plainly declared Saul acted foolishly by rebelling rather than trusting (1 Samuel 13:13), God did not reject Saul as King. He only rejected the possibility of Saul becoming a dynasty through his descendants (1 Samuel 13:13, 14). It was not until later in Saul's rebellion in the incident of the Amalekites that God rejected Saul as King (1 Samuel 15:26-29). Saul's rebellion coupled with his inability to take responsibility for his actions resulted in his destroying any opportunity for relationship with God.
Saul confronted very stressful conditions and circumstances. Would he take matters into his own hands? Would he show extraordinary trust in God? We commonly face similar struggles.
The point of this study WILL NOT BE that David never made mistakes as king. He made some horrible mistakes. David was not different from Saul because Saul made mistakes and David did not. As we consider David throughout this quarter, you are challenged to see three things. First, never lose sight of David's heart. Second, note how quickly David was willing to assume responsibility for his horrible actions. Thirdly, note David's readiness to assume responsibility by repenting. When David understood his mistake, he correctly assumed responsibility for his poor choice. He sinned! He did not blame others to justify himself!
The foundation reason for the striking contrast between Saul and David is not to be seen in the mistakes they made. It is seen in each man's reactions to his mistakes.
David's attitudes have some powerful things to teach us about our failures. God's responses have some powerful things to teach us about God.
There is much to be learned from David's attitudes. There is much to be learned from God's responses to David's mistakes. To see those lessons many must be willing to allow challenges to their stereotypes. Many must be willing to think about realities they have not considered previously.
This study needs to begin with a basic contrast between the man Saul and the man David.
It refers to a person who surrenders his/her will to God's will.
David had a relationship with God. Saul had an association with God.
God personally selected Saul for his role as king of Israel. God saw in Saul the potential to fulfill that role. God gave Saul the essential tools to fulfill his potential.
God did not reject Saul as King of Israel or withdraw from him as a person the first time he rebelled. There were consequences to Saul's rebellion, but one of them (prior to the Amalekites) was not God's rejection of Saul.
He faced the vicious enemy of the Ammonites on the east and the Philistine conquerors on the west. He faced the massive, well equipped Philistine army with a small, terrified, ill equipped army. He faced a massive army accustomed to winning with a small army accustomed to losing.
God did not reject Saul's kingship. God rejected Saul's becoming a dynasty.
God rejected Saul when he rebelled upon the capture of the Amalekites.
The point is not that Saul made mistakes and David made no mistakes.
Link to Student Guide Lesson 1
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