Outline of David’s Story
2 Samuel is the story of David. David was considered to be a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) Yet, it is easy to observe that David was far from perfect. He made some huge mistakes in his life. A valid question could be asked when reading 1 and 2 Samuel, “Why did Saul get axed because of his mistakes and David get blessed with an eternal promise in spite of his mistakes?” Does God play favorites or is there something else going on?
To deal with that question we are going to look at this story through two lenses. First we will see a pattern in the sequence of the events in David’s life. Second, we will look at the characteristics of David’s heart.
Starts in humility and rises to the top
In the pattern we see that David started out in humble beginnings and slowly rose to the top of the heap. In 1 Samuel he started out as the last son of Jesse who was worth nothing more than tending the sheep. Then he became the attendant of Saul who had faith big enough to kill a giant. Most of the next part of his life was lived running away from Saul. When Saul died at the end of 1 Samuel, David’s troubles didn’t end. Chapters 1-4 of 2 Samuel are all about the struggle David had with Saul’s heir Ish-Bosheth and the Israelites who were loyal to Saul’s family. Finally, through some treachery on the part of David’s men, not him, David ascended to the rank of king over all of Israel. A key characteristic of David in this phase of the story is that David always recognized that it was God’s movement out in front of him that brought victory, not his own strength. That has been true of him all along the way. He faced Goliath because he knew God would deliver him. He wouldn’t kill Saul when he had the chance because he knew that vengeance was God’s and that the timing of his ascension was God’s problem, not his. He didn’t take the throne from Ish-Bosheth either, he waited for God’s timing. Because of David’s faithfulness and desire to worship God and have the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem, God made an eternal promise to David.
Takes a nose-dive off the pinnacle
There is a strange and abrupt transition between chapter 10 and chapter 11. Just when you think David is perfect, he makes a huge mistake. He doesn’t go to war (where he should have been), he sleeps with another man’s wife, gets her pregnant, tries to cover it up, and eventually has the husband killed and marries Bathsheba.
Suffers the consequences of his sin
Even though David repented from his sin and was forgiven by God, that sin still led to serious consequences. David’s children rebelled against him, he nearly lost the throne, and a rift between the tribes of Israel and the tribe of Judah was started that would eventually lead to civil war.
The Anatomy of a Heart in Process
The previous chronological look at 2 Samuel was the first lens through which we are examining the book. The second lens is to look at the characteristics of David’s heart that we can observe throughout the story. By listing these characteristics we can begin to see what our heart needs to be like if we are going to have a heart after God.
Humble Heart — David started in humble beginnings and knew that he was nothing special outside of God’s will.
Patient/Following Heart — We see in 2 Samuel 5:24 that David followed God’s lead, he didn’t try to make it happen in his own strength. Our job is to be open to God’s leading, and then have courage to obey when He commands.
Worshipping Heart — Here we see that David was a great king because he had deep respect for God and was not ashamed to worship Him. The ark of the covenant was the symbol for Israel that represented God’s presence. When Uzzah touched the ark, an act that showed that he thought God needed his help instead of him needing God’s help, he was struck down. We need to have respect for God, and come before him in humility and show honor to Him. David did this. David also worshipped God with great enthusiasm, joy, and humility. If we are going to grow up to be great men and women of God we need to not be afraid to let the world know how much we love God, even if they make fun of us.
Open Heart – David was open to receive God’s blessing. This may seem like an odd one, but many people are not willing to receive good things from God. We are quick to find our faults and cower from a fierce God, but we are not willing to see ourselves through the loving eyes of our Heavenly Father and let Him give good things to us. David received the Covenant from God with deep gratitude, but not self-deprication and false humility.
Vulnerable Heart – Even though David had many victories with God and had just entered into an eternal, unconditional covenant with God, he was still vulnerable to temptation and sin. Many times, just when we think we have hit a good stride with God and have it all under control – BAM! — we get blind-sided by a temptation that we bit into. When we become complacent we let down our guard and can be sent spinning by a wicked blow. It’s not that we need to have a vulnerable heart to have a heart for God. What we need is the awareness that we ARE vulnerable and never let our guard down. Too often we take pride in our humility and take credit for the blessings of God, and thats when we are in trouble. (Proverbs 16:18)
Broken Heart – When David was confronted with his sin he had two options. He could go the way of Saul and deny his sin, shift the blame, and rationalize his sin. OR, he could let the arrow of truth penetrate the hardness of his sin-filled heart and be broken by the weight of his guilt. A broken heart drives us to our knees and shifts our focus from self to God. When we are broken, we admit that we are empty and powerless to do anything on our own and need God’s strength to live. This is the flavor of the first three beatitudes in Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, those who mourn, and those who are meek. In Psalm 51:17 David expresses the spirit of this truth.
Repentant Heart — it is one thing to be broken by conviction, it is another thing to actually want to change. In Hebrew the word translated “repent” is shuwb which means to “turn around” or “turn back.” In Greek the word is metanoia which means to change the pattern of thinking. To repent is to actually change, not just say “forgive me.” David repented and desired to have a heart that pleased God. He made a mistake, he suffered deeply for his sin, and he invited God to change him. (Psalm 139:23-24)
Humble Heart 2 — There are infinite layers in the process of spiritual transformation. Just when we think we have a handle on understanding God, He reveals a whole new aspect of Himself to us. Just when we think we have a handle on patience, God places us in a job with an incredibly irritating person. Just when we think we are humble, God allows us to become proud in our godliness and fall into sin. When that happens our humble attitude is exposed as arrogance and we are plunged into a new level of humiliation. We emerge from that ugly process with a new understanding of the sovereignty of God and a what a humble spirit means. May God peel back the layers in our lives.