Section Four: Life of David, Fall Forward Into Life
As we move from the life of Joshua in the narrative of perfectly inspired Scripture, we come to a book in the history of Israel in which God’s people were led by judges. These judges let the people for a time, and then they didn’t. Under the judges the people were faithful to God, and then they weren’t. We find in the book of Judges a cycle in which the people were faithful and then sinful and then cried out and then saved. This cycle repeats over and over in the book of Judges. The book of Judges illustrates that following God is not in our nature. At least, it’s not natural. The Apostle Paul reflects on the same Truth in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (NIV 1984). Human beings struggle to follow after God and to follow LIFE.
People that allow God to lead are needed at the time of the judges. God sought out those among the Israelites who would allow God to help them in defending the land given to Abraham. More often than not in the book of Judges, we find people falling back into oppression and death. What God wanted for them was to fall forwards into LIFE with Him. Stepping forward in faithfulness leads to LIFE. Falling forward in God when life trips you up leads to LIFE in Him…every time.
In the midst of the time of the judges, the Bible records for us the book of Ruth. The book of Ruth is significant in the entire narrative of Scripture and that it shares with us the need for Redeemer. Specifically, in the book of Ruth, that redeemer has the name, Boaz. The story of Ruth is one ripe with meaning.
First, we find great meaning with the character Ruth. Much like the character of Rahab from the book of Joshua, this non-Israelite woman expresses faith in the Almighty God, which marks her different from those around her. Ruth 1:16-17 says, “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me’” (NIV 1984). We find Ruth leaving her people to join the community of God. She understands faith. She places her faith in God. We find with Ruth that God grafts into the family of the faithful anyone who expresses good correct belief. God is certainly at work in this situation through the Holy Spirit and is knitting this entire situation together for His good purposes.
Second, we find great meaning with the character Boaz. Boaz is the redeemer that Naomi and Ruth need in order to make their life right. Again, God is at work in the situation and allows Ruth and Boaz to meet and redeems the situation for his good pleasure. God is active and directly involved in the lives of these people so that His will is done. He draws them into a relationship with Him and gives them LIFE.
Wait a minute! I thought this chapter was about King David? It is. However, we cannot get to the deep meaning of King David’s life without understanding that God worked in his family line well before he was a twinkle in his father’s and mother’s eyes. The faithfulness of Boaz and Ruth was transferred to their family to David. Boaz redeems the life of Naomi and Ruth through a series of providential events. From this union of Boaz and Ruth, comes a child through whom we have David.
In addition to understanding David’s family line, we also have to understand some history right before David comes on the scene. We’ll get to David, we promise. The book of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel record for us history which tells us great TRUTH about who God is and His role in the history that is unfolding…and it definitely relates to the life of David. For example, 1 Samuel Chapter 5 records for us a narrative which explains the TRUTH of God’s claims that He is Lord of Lords and the only true God among those that claim to be gods. 1 Samuel 5 records for us the statue of Dagon falling down in the presence of the Ark of the Lord which shatters the belief of the Philistines that their God is preeminent in the heavens (feel free to read this narrative in 1 Samuel 5 to be familiar with it). This narrative shows us that God the Father, the Creator, is the Lord of Lords. We even find in the next chapter a verse that explains this TRUTH about God, “Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?” (1 Samuel 6:20, NIV 1984). The TRUTH is God is God and there is none like Him.
The book of 1 Samuel also records for us in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’” (NIV 1984). In this passage, the heart that being looked at is actually David’s. We find in this passage the TRUTH that God looks at the heart of people who serve Him. External appearances do not matter to the Lord, but rather the heart of those that serve Him. This is true in the life of David. This is true in the life of Jesus Christ Who chose 12 disciples that many times left much to be desired. This is true in the life of the early church when Jesus Christ chose the persecutor Saul. This TRUTH that God is looking at the heart of people is not something that comes from nowhere in the New Testament but is woven throughout the narratives in the Old Testament.
The book of 1 Samuel also records for us the advent of David son of Jesse son of Obed son of Boaz (and Ruth). Why is David important? The future King David is most certainly a Christ-like figure (a type) in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, we see God giving examples of Christ-like figures that become prominent in the narratives we read. He does this to draw us to Jesus Christ. He does this to foreshadow His Son who would come in the New Testament and make all things new.
David is introduced to us in 1 Samuel 16 starting with Jesse and all of his fine sons. All of Jesse’s sons seemed to impress the prophet Samuel, but Samuel was directed in 1 Samuel 16:7 (as we just saw above), “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (NIV 1984). In this passage, we are given a glimpse at the uniqueness of David’s heart. David’s heart is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture as well. Acts 13:22 echoes 1 Samuel 13:14 when Luke writes, “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’” (NIV 1984). A survey of David’s life shows him to be a man of God who falls forward into LIFE.
Shortly after the narrative in 1 Samuel 16 when we are introduced to David, we find him in 1 Samuel 17 checking on his brothers on the front lines of battle with the Philistines. Well, it was almost a battle. “The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them” (1 Samuel 17:3, NIV 1984) and the next verses describe the giant Goliath leveling unmet challenges at the cowering Israelites. Through a series of providential events, David volunteers for a solo mission to face off against Goliath. We find David in 1 Samuel 17 speaking TRUTH about God which feeds directly into his relationship with God. You see, the TRUTH that David believed in his heart led him directly to LIFE in God. The TRUTH in his heart and in his head lead him to do what was faithful to God in LIFE.
David said to the massive menacing warrior, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47, NIV 1984).
David explained TRUTH about…
…the power in the Name of God in which he personally trusted (verse 45)
…the sovereignty of God Almighty who was in control of the situation (verse 46)
…the God in Israel is One who saves (verse 47)
This entire episode (including the refusal to wear armor) is about the denial of self and the lifting up of God in one’s life…specifically in the life of David. David stood against the evident military power of the Philistines and spear-wielding Goliath (denying self) and placed faith in God (lifting God up). David squashed his knee-knocking doubting fear of being defeated in battle (denying self) and trusted in God (lifting God up).
We also see one other “episode” of David’s life in which he denied himself. David ended up being on the run from King Saul (his predecessor) for a few obvious reasons you might guess even if you haven’t read 1 Samuel deeply. In 1 Samuel 24 and 1 Samuel 26, David had an opportunity (two in fact…once in each chapter) to kill the pursuing King Saul and rid himself of the madman who pursued him. He did not either time. Instead, he denied himself and followed the plan God laid out for him. He took no shortcuts. He exclaimed to those around him in 1 Samuel 26:9, “Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?” (NIV 1984). David denied himself, his desires, shortcuts sin offered, and fell forward into LIFE with God because He knew the TRUTH.
Remember…David is a foreshadowing type of Jesus Christ…which means Jesus also must exhibit this same characteristic. Indeed He does:
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ 4 Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone.”’ 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ 8 Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”’ 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’ 12 Jesus answered, ‘It says: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1-13, NIV 1984).
Notice if you will the total denial of self by Jesus Christ. Jesus denied His human hungers and the temptation to use His anointed Godhood for “personal physical gain.” Jesus denied His human desires for ministry success and the temptation to follow His own path rather than the path set up for Him by God the Father. Jesus (the 100% man) denied Himself (His human hungers and temptations) and fell forward into LIFE with God because He knew the TRUTH.
Denial of self is something Jesus most definitely talked about. Denial of self and following after God is something mentioned in each of the Synoptic Gospels:
Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (NIV 1984)
Mark 8:34, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (NIV 1984)
Luke 9:23, “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (NIV 1984)
David is a prime example of what this type of lifestyle looks like with flesh and bone. Denial of self and following God is not a theory. It is not a “pie in the sky” idea with no basis in reality. David put skin and bones on this idea long before Jesus Christ made it a centrepiece of Christian living.