The Old Testament history books record at least three occasions when David, the son of Jesse, stood to address vital matters. In the palace at Gibeah, David stood before Saul (1Sam 16:21–23). Later, in the Valley of Elah, he stood over the body of Goliath (1Sam 17:51). Then there was the unforgettable time when he stood in Jerusalem to address the Princes of Israel (1Chron 28:1-10).
1. David, the youthful Shepherd, standing in the palace before Saul
It was a great day for David when the king of Israel sent for him to become one of his trusted servants. He was a cunning player on the harp, a mighty valiant man of war, prudent in matters, a comely person, and the Lord was with him. These qualities in the young man won him a place in Saul’s palace. Initially, Saul loved and appreciated David, but as time went by the king became envious and jealous of him. On more than one occasion Saul tried to kill him with a javelin, but David escaped his wrath and continued with his duties. During this time of training, God allowed the circumstances of life to develop and mature the young man who one day would wear the crown of sovereignty and replace the king who sought his life. As we reflect on this part of David’s life, we can apply its truth to our own circumstances. Younger brethren who, like David, have a God-given ability and deep desire to make their lives count for God may sometimes be called to pass through difficult experiences in order to mold them and equip them for future spheres of service. David was first anointed to be king when in his early teens and, although he knew it was God’s mind that one day he would rule over Israel, yet he was willing to wait God’s time. That does not mean that he just sat back and did nothing. David was actively engaged in fighting the battles of the Lord, and when the time came for him to wear the crown, he already had the confidence of the people, and knew his God experimentally. Even before David became king, God told Samuel that David was a man after His own heart. It is a scriptural principle for older brethren with a shepherd’s heart and spiritual discernment to be on the lookout for younger brethren to carry on the work of God when they are gone. But no amount of legislation or encouragement can produce that desire within the heart. This is a spiritual desire and is begotten alone within the breast of an individual by the Holy Spirit, and in appreciation for what the Lord endured on Calvary when He gave His all. Isaac Watts was right when he wrote, “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small, Love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my all.”
2. David, the valiant soldier, standing over the body of Goliath.
The Philistine armies had gathered together their armies to fight against Israel who were pitched by the Valley of Elah. For forty days, Goliath had brought shame and reproach on the people, calling for a man to come down and fight. In all the armies of Israel there was not a man who was willing or able to do this great exploit for God. David had returned home from the palace to feed his father’s sheep in Bethlehem, and now Jesse, his father, sends him to visit his brethren in Saul’s army. The time that he spent in obscurity with the sheep was certainly not wasted time. He was getting to know his God. He probably wrote Psalm 8 as he cared for the sheep during the night hours. As he considered the heavens and the work of creation, he learned the greatness of God and the insignificance of man. He learned that true strength is experienced only when we realize our own weakness and depend wholly on the Almighty. As David approached the battle and heard the taunts of the enemy, the desire to be used by God to deliver the nation in a day of crisis was begotten in his young heart. God had enabled him to kill the lion and the bear while he was protecting the sheep, and he believed God would enable him to kill this uncircumcised Philistine. With no armor or sword, but only a stone, a sling, and confidence in his God, a great victory was wrought that day for Israel when David stood over the body of the giant, cutting off his head. Our God is still the same today and His Word is the same. Thus one man, emptied of self- confidence and pride, and totally surrendered to God, could be used to deliver an assembly or individuals from a path of disaster and shame. May we have a deep longing to be used by God in whatever sphere He has placed us and whatever the task, be it small or great, to say from our heart, “With God’s help, I’ll be that man.”
3. David, the Sovereign, standing in Jerusalem before the assembled Princes and mighty men of Israel
David was in the eventide of life when he called together all the leaders in the nation and his own sons. It was a solemn occasion as he stood before the people and recalled how God chose him when only a lad to be king over Israel. His time of service was now quickly coming to a close, and God told David that out of his many sons, He had chosen Solomon to be the next ruler. The nation was God’s people and He would raise up those who would rule for Him. In this selection David had no input. God loved David and although throughout his life he made many mistakes, yet he knew much of the restoring hand of the great Shepherd. From his vast experience, he desired to pass on words of advice and warning. David’s message was simple and plain: “Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all the hearts ? if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee: but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever” (1 Chron 28:9). We also can learn valuable lessons from older believers who, like David, are willing to share their past experiences with us, realizing the solemn consequences of wrong choices, and thus avoid the same pitfalls. A spirit of unrest, discontentment, and division prevailed in the nation when David began to reign, but at the end of his forty year reign the national boundaries of Israel were extended farther than at any other time in the history of Israel. When most of the battles were fought and the land conquered, and God had given him rest from all his enemies, he had still one ambition he longed to accomplish. His ambition was to build a house for the mighty God of heaven. As he looked at the prestigious house where he lived and thought of the ark of God dwelling behind the curtain in the tent, this longing increased. God would not allow him this great honor, being a man of war from his youth, but told him to gather material in abundance that would enable Solomon, his son, to build the house after he would be gathered to his fathers. This must have been hard for David to accept, but he graciously bowed to the will of God and did all he could to help Solomon do what he himself desired to do. Even though David was the mighty king of Israel, he had learned from experience that he must act in accordance with the Word of God. By the same token, we learn that the principle remains the same. If those who are in leadership do not lead in accordance with God’s Word, be assured there will be consequences. There are times when we may not understand God’s dealings with us, but, like David, we must bow to His will and not develop a bitter spirit. To be in the center of His will ought to be our highest ambition. No matter what our circumstances, disappointments, or joy, our desire should be to bring glory to Him. May we profit then from the three incidents in David’s life where the Bible records that he stood for God!