Biographical Sermon on David
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue SDA Church 4/13/2019
©2019 by Maylan Schurch
(To hear the audio for this sermon, click the triangular play button on the line below.)
Please open your Bibles to first Samuel chapter 13.
This is another sermon in a series I’ve been preaching since the start of the year, called “Bible Sidekicks.” The dictionary says that a sidekick is a colloquial word for a “close companion or comrade.” In the Bible, such a person is an assistant to a Bible leader of some kind. Moses had Joshua, Naomi had Ruth, and today we’ll be looking at the time when David was, for a while, a sidekick to King Saul. Actually, this will be “David—Part One,” because I found a lot of great sidekick information which I couldn’t fit into 30 minutes.
The main point of this Bible Sidekick series is that even though, for example, Joshua was a sidekick to Moses, both men were close companions or comrades with God. Naomi was close enough to God that Ruth was attracted to Him, and Ruth grew so close to God that she turned her back on her family and her idolatrous Moabite culture, and followed Naomi to God’s country.
And Jesus very clearly told His disciples that each one of them – which includes you and me – must be a light in the world, drawing people to God. So that makes you and me God’s sidekicks, and we need to let the Bible’s sidekicks be our mentors. In Romans 15:4 Paul says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
So let’s take a look at the life of David. Actually, we’ll be only looking at the part of his life where he was a sidekick or assistant to King Saul. And this is a pretty unusual Bible sidekick situation, because usually the mentor is a righteous person, and while spending time in his or her presence, the sidekick is learning how to be closer to God as well.
This wasn’t the situation with David. Because by the time David came on board with Saul, Saul was no longer God’s choice for the king of Israel. In fact, when David first went into Saul’ service, even before his one-on-one combat with Goliath, he himself had already been anointed to become the next king of Israel. Sometimes in our workplaces we end up a “sidekicks” to people who aren’t the best mentors or examples. At that point we need to be God’s sidekicks, and mentor them.
And maybe it is this very unusual situation that makes David such a wonderful sidekick to study. Because as he stands before King Saul, David clearly remembers the cool trickle of olive oil on his own scalp. David was anointed king by a prophet of God. And if there had been any pride or ambition within David, he would have been seriously tempted to simply depose Saul and take over the throne. After all, wasn’t that God’s will?
Anyway, let’s look at David’s work for Saul and see if we can discover some “Bible sidekick” principles we can ask the Lord to put to work in our own lives this week.
Our first Bible passage doesn’t even include David at all. He’s not mentioned by name. But he actually is prophesied by God. And here’s where we’ll find David’s first quality.
But first let’s set the stage. The army of the Philistines, which includes 30,000 chariots and lots and lots of soldiers, is gathering to attack Israel. The prophet Samuel has told Saul to wait seven days until Samuel arrives, after which Samuel will lead out in offering a major sacrifice. Watch what happens.
1 Samuel 13:5 – 8 [NKJV]: Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
What God is doing, of course, is testing King Saul. God is trying to get Saul to think back to other times when God provided an amazing victory over intimidating enemy forces. God is challenging Saul to just be calm, just wait until Samuel arrives, and not be bothered by all those thousands of Philistines.
But Saul cracks under the strain.
Verses 9 – 12: So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”
Now this is very definitely NOT how to be a sidekick of God. God had a plan, and had communicated it clearly to Saul through Samuel, but the more panicky Saul gets, the more he is tempted to scrap God’s plan and take matters into his own hand. And when Samuel calls him out on this, Saul begins to make excuses. That’s not how to be God’s sidekick.
So Samuel gives him some stern counsel, and offers a prophecy of what the next king is going to be like.
Verses 13 – 14: And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
Here’s what I would consider Sermon Point One, as we study the life of David for his sidekick principles:
David was God-hearted.
What does it mean to be “God-hearted”? Well, notice the reason that Saul did not fulfill that criteria. Samuel told him, “you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
And Paul drives this point home more forcefully. In Acts 13, he is speaking in a synagogue in Antioch. He is summarizing some of Israel’s history. He talks about Saul for a few words, and then says this.
“And when He [God] had removed him [Saul], He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ Act 13:22
So if David’s first sidekick principal is that he was “God-hearted,” then this means that David had resolved to do all of God’s will, everything God wanted him to do. King Saul was not God-hearted, because Saul gave himself the permission to consider God’s commands as a sort of salad bar. Saul would walk along that salad bar, and choose only the commandments which suited his own purposes at a particular point. Others he would ignore – especially if a crisis flared up in front of him. Saul’s default setting was to do what he (not God) thought was best.
But David had faith in God. As I read through the story of David again this week, I discovered that even back when he was Saul’s sidekick, David wasn’t perfect. And you will find that true if you read that story as well. Yet again and again, David tried to find out God’s will. Again and again he would ask the priest to come with the ephod, which was the breastplate of the high priest’s costume. David would ask God a question, and God would provide an answer, and we don’t have any record of David doing something different than what God had specifically asked him to do.
Nowadays, of course, we don’t have a high priest with an ephod we can call. Of course, if God thought we needed something like that, He would’ve provided it. But we have a whole lot more Bible than David did. David probably just had only the first five books of Moses. But nowadays we have 66 books (750,000) words within the covers of our Bible, words which give many principles and examples which tell us what God wants us to do. Almost every verse in Bible’s longest chapter, Psalm 119, sings the praises of God’s Word as a guide for life.
So as a God-hearted person, David mostly did his best to make sure that he was always on the same page God was.
By the way, as you will see by looking at a green insert in your bulletin, a week from tonight there’s an event called “Dinner with Dr. Luke.” It’s at the Kirkland church fellowship hall, and it has nothing to do with health, the way that church’s other “dinner with the doctor” programs have.
No, “Dinner with Dr. Luke” will allow you to watch as our two sojourner Pathfinder Bible Experience teams match their knowledge of the book of Luke with the two pastors of the Kirkland church, and with me. Even though I am going to feverishly read through the book of Luke this week, these kids will end up knowing more about the details of Luke than any of us pastors, and they will trounce us thoroughly.
So come and watch them do it (and, of course, give a freewill donation to the journey they will be making to the North American Division Pathfinder Bible Experience competition in Rockford, Illinois). On the green insert, you will see the names of Pathfinders which make up the two teams.
Those young people have spent a lot of time and work learning about a portion of the Bible. Which is exactly God’s plan. And Luke contains the acts and the words of Jesus. I’m just so proud of them, and look forward to having them show me up.
Now let’s go hunting for David’s second sidekick principal. What’s another quality that made him such an effective sidekick, and laid the groundwork for when he eventually became king? Turn a couple of pages ahead to 1 Samuel 16.
1 Samuel 16:14: But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.
We’d probably better stop and talk about this for a moment. What it sounds like is that God has at His disposal not only the Holy Spirit, but also at least one kind of distressing spirit. Is God the source of depression?
Here’s what the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary has to say about this puzzling verse.
“The Scriptures sometimes represent God as doing that which He does not specifically prevent. In giving Satan an opportunity to demonstrate his principles, God, in effect, would limit His own power. Of course, there were limits beyond which Satan could not go (see Job 1:12; 2:6), but within his limited sphere he did have divine permission to act. Thus, although his acts are contrary to the divine will, he can do nothing except what God permits him to do, and whatever he and his evil spirits may do, is done with God’s permission. Therefore when God withdrew His own Spirit from Saul (see on 1 Sam. 16:13, 14), Satan was free to have his way.” Nichol, F. D. (Ed.). (1976). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Vol. 2, p. 531). Review and Herald Publishing Association.
This is one of those Bible puzzles where, rather than allowing it to destroy your faith, you simply make a mental note to ask that question of God sometime during eternity.
One of my seminary teachers told us that one of God’s main purposes back in the Old Testament was to wean His people away from the idea that there were many gods they need to be concerned about. So maybe it was actually safer for the people to let them think that this disturbing distressing spirit was from God, rather than from another so-called God.
Anyway, God’s Holy Spirit departs from Saul, and a disturbing spirit shows up. Watch what happens.
1 Samuel 16:15 – 19: And Saul’s servants said to him, “Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.” So Saul said to his servants, “Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me.” Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.” Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.”
Here comes what I would consider Sermon Point Two. What’s another of David’s successful “sidekick” qualities we can adopt?
Not only was David God-hearted, but David developed and used his talents for the Lord.
Since David was so accurate at using the stone-sling, and since he played the harp so beautifully, he probably took those two items out sheep-herding with him. He also probably took as big a bag of stones as he was able to carry. Maybe he set himself a goal of slinging 25 stones at a target, and then resting his arm by fingerpicking the harp, and then trying another 25 stones. Word had gotten around that he was a skillful harpist, so it must’ve been much more than a simple strum.
The bottom line is that David could have just gone out there herding sheep and sat twiddling his fingers, getting bored. But David had a zeal to improve himself. Later, as he is trying to convince King Saul to let him go fight Goliath, he casually mentions that he had killed both a lion and the bear. So he might’ve even done push-ups or some other sort of exercise, along with carefully plotting what he would do if one of these animals threatened his flock.
In other words, David must’ve had the mindset of self-improvement. He probably said to himself, “I have all this time on my hands – I might as well use it to develop some skills.” Maybe he started writing his first Psalms out there in the pasture. Maybe he first plucked “the Lord is my shepherd” while sitting on a rock by a brook, keeping his eye on the sheep.
I get a real thrill when I see people in this congregation who have either developed a skill – or in some cases gone back to an earlier skill and resurrected it – to serve the Lord. I can think of many examples. I won’t give names so I don’t embarrass people, but one of you had never played a musical instrument in his life until he decided to learn the bass guitar, and then the 12 string guitar. Some of you young people are learning to play the ukulele, a very useful skill. Others learn the guitar.
Years ago, a man and his wife, who sadly moved away to another state, each bought a saxophone, and would play duets for us during the service, and also over at the Evergreen Court Retirement Center. Around that same time, a group of women learned to play an enchanting little instrument called the bowed psaltery, and played special music with those psalteries.
Another of our members who also has moved to another state just emailed me to say that a book he’s been working on for 25 years will soon be published! Our audiovisual team is in a constant state of skill-development as they purchase and learn to operate new equipment, including our live streaming camera. One of you designed the three angels logo here on the front of the pulpit. Some of our young people have produced video features which we have put on our church website. One of you is selling the artisan bread he bakes to fund-raise for the Lord’s work.
One of you in the past few months has just begun teaching a Sabbath school class, a first for that person. And of course there are our talented young pianists who help us worship every Sabbath.
And David had another important skill which I’d like to spend a bit of time talking about. Glance back at verse 18:
Verse 18: Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.”
Now this is before David faced off against Goliath. So I don’t see how he could have developed a reputation for being a man of war, or even a mighty man of valor, but he must’ve done things that would give other people that idea.
And it also says that David was “handsome.” Now there is probably not a lot you or I can do to make ourselves prettier or more handsome. Once in a while, as I’m trying to take a picture with my cell phone, it somehow switches around, so that I am no longer looking at the scene I’m trying to photograph but at my own face. This is always a severe shock. I always rear back from that image, knowing that I’m stuck with it and there’s nothing I can do about it.
But the “David quality” I’d like to talk about is the one where word has gotten around that David is “prudent of speech.”
And when you come to think of it, maybe this is the most valuable quality of all. Because long after David no longer needed his giant-killer slingshot skill, he needed prudence of speech. Long after his handsome grin had hardened into weary lines of sorrow, and long after his bright eyes were surrounded with wrinkles, David still needed prudence of speech.
So what is prudence of speech? There’s a surprisingly large amount of information about prudent speech in the proverb compilation which David’s son Solomon put together. Part of prudent speech is thinking before you say something, rather than always saying the first snappy thing that comes into your mind. Part of prudent speech is not getting angry quickly or needlessly.
Back when I had just become a pastor, I would sometimes try to insert a little irony into my sermons, maybe a bit of gentle sarcasm. Shelley would be listening carefully, and afterward she would say, “I know you. I know what you were trying to say. But other people may not know you as well, and what you say can give them the wrong idea.”
Don’t you just appreciate it when you know someone who speaks thoughtfully and courteously, and who listens to you carefully when you’re doing the talking?
I think maybe the basic principle of prudent speech is to always deeply respect the person you’re talking to. Maybe some people aren’t as easy to respect as others, at least to your way of thinking, but David probably realized that anyone who was a creation of God deserved thoughtful and prudent speech.
So, this morning we’ve found that David was God-hearted. Do you want to become more God hearted this week? Do you want to go back and open the pages of the Bible and gaze reverently into the heart of your Creator?
And we also found that David developed and used his talents for the Lord, including speaking prudently. This coming Monday, our church’s nominating committee will begin its work. If you haven’t filled out a nominating committee survey, there should still be some in the foyer. Or just email me at my home email address which you’ll find in the back of the bulletin. And if a nominating committee member calls you, before you say “no,” remember David, who allowed his talents to be used by God. Like him, you can make a great difference in the lives of other people.