July 5, 2020
In the Hebrew Bible, Samuel is just one scroll. In our Bible, we have the books broken up into 1 and 2 Samuel.
Before I teach on 2 Samuel today, let’s do a review of 1 Samuel.
The three main characters are Samuel, Saul, and David.
Samuel is the last of the judges and the first in a long line of prophets.
The leaders of the tribes of Israel went to Samuel and asked him to appoint a king like other nations because he was getting old, and his sons didn’t follow in his ways.
Samuel was disappointed to hear this request because God was Israel’s king. They didn’t need a leader like everyone else. But when Samuel prayed about this, God told him to give them a king. They were rejecting God and not Samuel.
Samuel warned them that if he appointed a king for them, they could expect the king to abuse them. He painted a gloomy picture, but they still asked for a king.
Samuel gave them what they asked for, a king like the other nations. His name was Saul. He was impressive in stature, handsome, and the people were pleased with his choice.
Saul remained king for 40 years, but the people suffered under his leadership. Sometimes you get what you ask for, and experience the consequences for choosing show over substance. That turned out to be the case with Saul.
Saul looked the part, but he didn’t know how to lead. Saul turned out to be a failure. His arrogant leadership disappointed God, too. Eventually, God rejected him as king and removed His favor from him.
Even though Saul remained on the throne, God asked Samuel to look for another king. This time, God asked Samuel to look at a person’s heart or individual character and not be persuaded by a person’s outward appearance.
That’s something that God wants us to do. We are easily persuaded by a person’s appearance, skin color, height, language, even where someone lives or what they drive.
Outward appearances can be deceiving. It’s hard for us to learn this.
The real leadership test has more to do with character, integrity, service, and courage, rather than with big talk and impressive looks or a polished presentation.
To find the next king, Samuel ended up at the home of Jesse in the small town of Bethlehem, and he interviewed all of his sons. Surprisingly, he anointed his youngest son, David, a shepherd, who was still a teenager, as the future king of Israel.
While this must have felt like a great honor, the appointment didn’t go to his head. David went back to tending his sheep.
For a long time, Christians have been making the same mistake Israel made when they asked Samuel to appoint them a king.
Every election cycle, we keep looking for a promised leader that’s going to lead America to some new Promised Land, when God is saying to us, “You don’t need to look to any leader to save you. You need to look to me, to the One who can free you from your sins.”
It doesn’t matter whether you get a Democrat or a Republican, you are going to get a flawed, imperfect individual that will disappoint you.
Sure, politicians can do some great things, but our hope doesn’t rest with them. Our hope has always rested with God.
King Saul started as a king of great promise, but he fizzled soon after he began his role as king. He proved to be an inept leader, especially on the battlefield.
Saul and David met when David’s father, Jesse, sent him to take some food to his brothers serving in Saul’s army. When David found the army, they were at the Valley of Elah.
The Philistines were camped on one side of the valley, and the Israelites were on the other. Every day a giant Philistine named Goliath came out and challenged King Saul to send one man to fight him in a winner take all contest.
When David heard about Goliath, he said he’d fight him, but his brothers told him to go home. But when the king heard about David, he sent for him.
David was confident he could fight Goliath because he’d killed a lion and a bear as a shepherd. He told the king. “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:34-36 NIV).
The day that David felled the giant with a rock and a sling and cut off the giant’s head with the giant’s sword, he became a legend.
Saul brought David into his army, and David won many battles for the king. When they returned from battles, the women would dance and sing: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (I Samuel 18:17 NIV).
Saul heard all of this, and his insecurity grew. Instead of being thankful for David, he came to resent and hate him until David realized that his life was in danger from the very man he was serving.
David had to flee to the wilderness because Saul would have killed him had he stayed.
For many years Saul hunted David like a wild animal, and on more than one occasion, David could have taken Saul’s life, but instead, he allowed Saul to live.
David knew that God had appointed Saul to that position, and he didn’t believe it was his place to remove him from it.
Even if God’s hand is a part of a person coming into a position of power, that doesn’t mean that every decision they make is a godly decision or that they will escape being accountable to God for their choices. Saul is a prime example of this.
We can all learn a lot about humility from David. He knew that Samuel had anointed him as the next king of Israel. Yet David never grabbed for that powerful role.
David placed his trust in God to make it happen in God’s timing. If God ordained it, why should David rush it by killing Saul? Why not be patient and allow God to bring the position to him in God’s timing? That’s what David did.
Patience or delayed gratification is not a virtue that many of us would claim to have. We would rather lay claim to our positions of power and authority sooner than later. We would instead eliminate our enemies when we have the chance.
However, God rewarded David’s patience. 1 Samuel ends with Saul’s death on the battlefield, along with his Saul’s sons.
Soon after that, the leaders from the tribes of Israel came to David, asking him to be their king because he had faithfully served them during these years. David had won over their hearts.
He never arrogantly walked around, acting like he was already the king. Instead, David served the people the way he took care of his sheep. He was a shepherd to them long before he ever became their king. He protected them. He placed his life on the line for them on numerous occasions.
That’s the way leadership within God’s church should work, and even in the business world. Before anyone is elected to a leadership position, they should have already demonstrated a heart for service. Don’t choose someone to a place of servant leadership in hopes that they will become a leader. Catch someone being a servant leader and then give them the title.
Too often, I’ve heard people say, “Well, let’s make this person a leader, and maybe he or she will get more involved.”
You don’t make anyone a spiritual leader. A man or a woman either is or isn’t a spiritual leader. They should lead with humility and servant leadership. Some have not used their full spiritual leadership potential because of lack of opportunity. David is a good example. Once given the opportunity, he used it well.
David also had vision.
The first important thing David did after becoming king was to capture the city of Jerusalem and make it the capital of Israel.
It was an unusual thing for a king to do this, and it showed David’s brilliance. He was from Bethlehem, which was just such a short distance from Jerusalem, so he knew the area well.
Jerusalem was unique in that it had a water source in a desert region. Jerusalem was on a hill, which made it strategically desirable. It was at a crossroads of travel from the north, south, east, and the west. Everyone that traveled through the region had to go through there.
Finally, for centuries, Jerusalem had been a holy place for Jewish people.
Today, Jerusalem is called the City of David. It is still one of the holiest places on earth and is the holiest place for Christians. We trace this all the back to David.
One of the most significant things about Jerusalem is that the temple of God was built there, first built by David’s son Solomon, later destroyed by the Babylonians, and then rebuilt for the Jews by Herod the Great.
Jesus was angered when the temple became a marketplace as people were selling animals for people to use for sacrifices. Jesus ran them all out and overturned the moneychanger’s tables.
On account of this, the Jews demanded, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do these things?”
19Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”
20 “This temple took forty-six years to build,” the Jews replied, “and you are going to raise it up in three days?”
21But Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body. 22After He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. Then they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18-21)
After Jesus was raised from the dead, the Book of Luke says he was walking on the road to Emmaus with some individuals but they did not recognize him.
Luke 24:27 says that “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27 NIV)
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David that David’s kingdom would never end. I feel sure that Jesus would have spoken of the role King David played in preparing the way for His coming.
You and I have a role to play in preparing the way for Jesus to come in the lives of others as well.
When the prophet Nathan told David that he had a role to play in the Savior’s coming, he was overwhelmed. He was humbled. He asked the prophet that God bless his family.
When you pray a prayer for God to bless your family, you have to work with God.
For all that David had going for him, his humility, his leadership skills, his courage on the battlefield, his willingness to serve God and the people, on one occasion, David allowed his guard down and let Satan come in.
Verse 1 of chapter 11 seems very benign. But listen carefully.
“In the spring, when kings went off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
That doesn’t sound like much, or that Satan was involved.
But it’s implied that David changed his usual plans. He always went to battle with his men. Instead, this time, he sent Joab to do his job. David remained in Jerusalem.
Verse two says, “One evening, David got up from his bed and walked around on the palace’s roof. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her.” The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (2-4 NIV)
Because David wasn’t where he should have been, he fell into temptation. (Satan)
Even after he was tempted, he could have just walked back into the palace. Instead, he used his kingly office’s power and sent someone to find out about the women. (Satan)
Even after knowing she was married to a man in his army, he sent one of his messengers to get her. (Satan)
After sleeping with her, she became pregnant. After she became pregnant, he sent for her husband to come home from the battle lines in hopes he would sleep with her, but he didn’t, so David had him sent to the front of the lines and made sure he was killed. (Satan)
Perhaps you will explain it another way but listen to 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
David let his guard down. He abused his power. He took advantage of this woman and then tried to cover his tracks.
It was not until the prophet Nathan confronted him that he owned up to his sin. He repented and asked God for forgiveness.
Psalm 51 contains some of the most heartfelt words of a broken man pleading with God not to take His Spirit from him. He asks God for mercy and tells God that his transgressions and sins are always before him. He asks God to create within him a pure heart.
God forgave David as God forgives us when we ask Him to forgive us of our sin.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
But God’s forgiveness did not erase the consequences of David’s decisions. There are always consequences for our poor choices.
As a result of David’s horrible choice, his family and his kingdom fell apart.
David’s sons ended up repeating David’s mistakes but in more tragic ways.
David lived out his last days saddened by all the pain and grief caused by his sin and his family’s sin.
However, the book of 2 Samuel concludes with a couple of David’s poems that emphasize God’s grace.
In these poems, David is reflecting on his life. He remembers times when God rescued him from danger, so he is thankful for God’s grace in his life.
Because God had promised to make his kingdom last forever, David saw these times as part of God’s divine plan.
God was at work, being faithful to his covenant (promise) to him and his family. This gave David confidence that God would be faithful and keep his covenant to send kings in the future to build the kingdom.
What gives you confidence that God is still working to bring about His redemptive plan in your life and in our world?
I’m sure you are like everyone else. You have made mistakes that you need to seek God’s forgiveness.
What are they?
Can it be said about you as it was about David, that you are a person after God’s own heart?
Instead of looking to systems, philosophies, political platforms, and charismatic leaders to save this crumbling world, why don’t we look to Jesus Christ, the One that David and the Old Testament is leading us to?
In Revelation 19:16, Jesus is given the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Jesus is given this title because, in the end, only Jesus will stand. No one will oppose Him. No one will rule over Him. No one rules over Him now, but many oppose Him.
Even we oppose Him when we disobey Him and go our own way.
Why should we have our attention pulled away from Jesus now? Why shouldn’t we make Jesus the most important part of our lives now? Let’s make Him king of our lives.
That is the problem that is highlighted by the prophet Samuel. Israel replaced God as king.
If we put anything else in our lives in place of Jesus, we make the same mistake.
It didn’t turn out so well for them. It will not turn out so well for us either.
Let’s pray together.
Prayer: Lord God, I pray that you will convict us now if we are placing anything or anyone ahead of you in our lives.
Guard our hearts against temptation. Show us where we are allowing the evil One a foothold on our thoughts, desires, attitudes, and actions.
Help us have the humility to be servant leaders. Give us the courage to lead as David lead, yet help us not to fall as David fell.
If we do fall, pick us up. Save us from ourselves. May your grace be sufficient because we are all flawed in our ways.
Help us to point others to you, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
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