David, the Man After God's Heart
Lesson 1

Lesson One

The Contrast

Text: 1 Samuel 9-15

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.

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.

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.

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).

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).

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.

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!

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.

Discussion Questions

  1. This study needs to begin with what basic contrast?

  2. To what does the expression "after God's own heart" refer?

  3. What did David have with God? What did Saul have with God?

  4. Discuss why God should not be blamed for Saul's failure.

  5. Discuss God's patience with Saul.

  6. Discuss the awkwardness of Saul's position as leader of Israel.

  7. Did God reject the kingship of Saul when he foolishly offered a sacrifice at Gilgal? Explain your answer.

  8. When did God reject Saul as king?

  9. What is NOT the point of this study?

  10. What three things are you challenged to note about David in this study?

  11. Lessons should be drawn from what two powerful things?

Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 1

Copyright © 2005
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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