God sometimes finds his most remarkable children in the most unlikely places. David tended sheep on the backside of nowhere. Jesse, his father, didn’t appear to be an especially nurturing father, and we know nothing of David’s mother. As the youngest son, David was belittled by his much older brothers. In short, all David appeared to have as a young man were his flocks and countless hours alone—hours which he used to develop and cement a relationship with God.
God was later to describe David as “a man after my own heart.” In Acts 13:22 this phrase is amplified to signify someone who would fulfill all that God desired of him, no matter how difficult or distasteful. It was always David’s heart that set him apart. He had many talents, much charisma, a powerful presence, but, above all, he had a great heart. It was a heart brimming with worship, integrity, humility, and empathy for others.
While David was still a young man, King Saul became insanely jealous of him and pursued him mercilessly. As a fugitive, David attracted several hundred outcasts, and these became his small band. At this point David could have actively recruited thousands of Israelis to his side, plunging the land into the bloody horrors of civil war. Instead, it is David’s pure integrity that shows through. Though he’d already been anointed king, he was willing to remain a fugitive if and until God saw fit to give him the kingdom. Even more admirable, when several golden opportunities came to assassinate Saul, David flatly refused, leaving Saul’s demise to God’s keeping.
Knowing God and living life’s experiences with Him became second nature to David. Far and away, David’s greatest gift to us is his psalms. The psalms are but reflections of a spirit of worship that never dimmed for David or grew dull. Emerging out of a powerful panoply of contrasting emotions, it is worshipful thankfulness to God that most characterized David’s writings. William Law believed that, like David, the greatest saints in the world are those who are always thankful to God, who want that which God wills, and receive everything with hearts prepared to praise Him for His goodness.
The great King David was also an unpretentious man. Throughout the years, a longing had grown in his heart to build a temple for Jehovah. But when David told Nathan of his plans, the prophet ultimately relayed the message that God had not chosen him to build the temple. However, God softened the rebuff by promising that David’s kingdom would be forever established in His sight. Instead of reflecting resentment regarding the rejection, the king was overwhelmed at God’s mercy. He knelt before God crying, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me this far?” David never got over the sheer wonder that God would choose him, a mere shepherd boy, to lead an entire nation.
It is rare to find a well-known man or woman who is characterized by kindness. Usually they are too proud, too busy, or too impatient to show much personal kindness. Yet, especially in one supreme case, David exhibited kindness in its purest sense. As you recall, King Saul had hounded David for many years with murderous intent. After Saul died and David assumed the throne, he did something that was unheard of in his day. Usually, a new monarch would have all the former monarch’s offspring annihilated. Instead, after finding one who was yet alive of Saul’s family, David invited the crippled relative to his palace, returned to him all the land Saul had owned, and decreed that he would eat at the king’s table every day as if he was David’s own son. Centuries before the New Testament was written, David had apparently already learned the incredible injunction of Christ: “Love your enemies and do good to those that hate you…”
Like us, David was not perfect. When he stumbled, he fell fast and landed hard. Yet even out of the ashes of failure we can still hear his eager voice echoing toward God: “Create in me a clean heart, dear God, and place a new and right spirit within me!”
What can we learn from David?
David stands as an excellent model to us, especially his traits of thankful praise, integrity, humility, and compassion. Above all, David loved his God deeply, and everything he did in life was shaped and motivated by this love. If we could be known for even one of his traits, we would not have lived in vain.
Bible Verses about David
Ruth 4:22; 1 Samuel 16-1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 11-29; authored numerous Psalms; Isaiah 22:22; Jeremiah 23:5; Ezekiel 37:24; Amos 9:11; Zechariah 12:8; Matthew 1:1; Mark 12:36-37; Luke 1:27, 32, 69; John 7:42; Acts 1:16, 2:25, 13:22; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 4:7; Revelation 3:7, 22:16
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was David in the Bible?
- Why did David not kill Saul?
- What was the relationship between David and Saul?
- What was the relationship between David and Jonathon?
- Did David go bad?
- Why did God forgive David
- Was David the best King of Israel?