The Bible teaches that pride comes before a destructive fall. The Bible teaches that those who are first in this life will be last in the next life, while those who are last will be exalted by God to be the first. The scriptures clearly teach a principle that shows how the people of God should not be focused on building up self in this life. The people of God are called to live in meekness, humility, and simplicity of heart. The people of God are not supposed to strive to better personal and physical circumstances. The people of God are to practice contentment with the position that God appoints for our lives and serve Him to the best of our ability within that capacity. We are not to dedicate our lives to a continual pursuit of increase and improvement. The scriptures show that when people do such things, the result is not only dissatisfying, but humiliating. God resists the proud so that when people seek to live according to self-worth and ability, God resists them so that darkness, foolishness, and folly are the inevitable results. Hence, the people of God have a simple choice to make: We can live humbly now, accepting the grace that God has provided to us with contentment in our circumstances, being thankful simply with the position as His child; or we can yearn for more, pursue more, and fall in our pursuit, being humbled by the mighty hand of God. Either way humbling will take place. We can humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God willfully, or we will forcefully be humbled by the mighty hand of God. Both hurt, but one hurts much more!
An example of this truth can be found in the testimony of Adonijah in 1 Kings 1:5-9. Adonijah was one of the sons of David. He was the child of a woman named Haggith, one of David’s wives. The scriptures state that when David was older and needed his caregiver, Adonijah saw an opportunity to improve his circumstances. Adonijah figured that since his dad was king, if he jumped on the vacancy and was opportunistic to fill the void, he could be the next king of Israel. Adonijah was a man that pursued success and desired position. He was a man that pounced on opportunities and tried to make the most of his circumstances to increase his self-image and worth. In fact, the Bible teaches that Adonijah was even successful in his ventures. When Adonijah sought to take possession of the throne in Israel, the Bible states that Adonijah was able to do so. He prepared chariots and horsemen and runners that went before him. Though he was not the king yet, he acted the part and believed that if he did what kings did, he would will himself to become king. He was right. The testimony of 1 Kings 1:5-9 states that Adonijah assembled his entourage, and people started to believe in him as the king.
When Adonijah presented himself to David’s staff, he was able to get them to buy into the idea of him being king. Adonijah first presented himself to David’s military servant Joab, and Abiathar the priest. Both of these men were on board with Adonijah’s desire and found nothing wrong with him as king. As a result of Adonijah successfully recruiting these men, the rest of David’s servants and even the rest of David’s brothers, were in agreement that Adonijah should be the next king of Israel. The Bible testifies that Adonijah celebrated his rise and the success that he built for himself. Having recruited the priest, he had sacrifices offered and invited all of his brothers, all of the men of Judah, and all of David’s servants to celebrate the promotion that he had worked for and achieved. From the looks of things, Adonijah had made it and was about to be the next king in Israel. In his mind, there was great reason to celebrate for his vision, his ideas, his efforts, and his works had brought him to the throne of Israel.
There is, of course many problems with Adonijah’s plans. Though Adonijah was celebrating success, his circumstances only appeared to be successful. This shows that when people are so consumed in their own vision and desires, it is easy to lose sight of the spiritual reality that God desires more. When people lose sight of God’s will, it can seem as if one’s success is in fact God’s will, but time always shows that God’s will remains supreme over the selfish will of mankind. The first problem with Adonijah’s plans that prove he was not seeking the will of God was that he did not tell his father David. The Bible explains that David didn’t tell Adonijah to stand down in his pursuit because David didn’t know about Adonijah’s selfish ambitions and actions. Adonijah was doing these things behind his father’s back. When personal desires require deception and secrecy, it is important to recognize that one’s personal desires are not in line with God’s will, and will result in a shameful outcome.
The second flaw of Adonijah’s plans actually had nothing to do with Adonijah. The problem lies within the people that Adonijah sought to be part of his court. When Adonijah approached Joab and Abiathar, neither of those men consulted with David or God to verify if Adonijah was to be the next king of Israel. These men responded in agreement to Adonijah relying on the wisdom of their own flesh, not the wisdom of God. These men didn’t exercise what should have been common sense to confirm whether or not Adonijah was to be the next king of Israel. David had many sons. There were multiple options for the next king of Israel. It should have seemed odd to Joab and Abiathar that the news of the new king came from his son rather than direct correspondence from David. Likewise, it should have seemed odd to Joab and Abiathar that the new king of Israel was not publicly proclaimed to be king with the practice of the tradition of anointing him with oil before the people. These were the things that God commanded His people to do in the past; why would He change the patterns of His works now? Thus, it is clear to see that, when circumstances don’t match the patterns of God’s previous works as documented in scripture, one is not working according to the Lord’s will, but for self, and a shameful outcome is on the horizon.
Lastly, The Bible states that Solomon was to be the next king of Israel – not Adonijah. Coincidentally, there were two men that were not invited to Adonijah’s celebratory dinner – Nathan the prophet and Solomon. Though David’s other mighty men, and Benaiah were not invited either, it is likely because of their connection to Solomon and Nathan. Consider that God had made His eternally unconditional covenant with David through the prophet Nathan (the Davidic Covenant). Nathan was well aware of God’s plans for the kingship in Israel. The testimony of 1 Kings Chapter 1 explains that David had previously communicated to Bathsheba that their other son Solomon would be the heir to the throne of Israel, and the heir to the Davidic Covenant that was communicated through Nathan. God did not appoint Adonijah to be king. God appointed Solomon to be king, and God’s will is ALWAYS done according to His Word. The Bible shows that when people seek to exclude God’s people from their plans, it doesn’t not remove God from involvement. Though Adonijah tried to remove Nathan, Solomon, and others that were likely friendly to them from his plans, it did not keep God from being involved so that his selfish ambition could be achieved. The Bible shows that God’s will was ultimately done, and Adonijah was shamefully humbled. When people try to remove God’s servants from the works of their personal and selfish ambitions, it is not effective to remove God from the sinful circumstances that are being orchestrated, meaning that a shameful outcome is on the horizon.
The testimony of 1 Kings 1:5-9 shows conflicting circumstances. From Adonijah’s perspective, his ambition led him to success. In his mind, he had great reason to celebrate. His vision was achieved. His work paid off. His will enabled him to excel in life. He put his mind to it, and it appeared that he was able to get what he wanted. The truth of the matter is, Adonijah was able to have what he wanted for a time. He had a celebratory party and everything. However, the full context of scripture shows that Adonijah’s selfish ambition was conflicting with God’s will (as is always the case). Since his personal desires did not match the will of God, his perception of success was fake. No matter how much fun he might have had, and how good about himself he might have felt, Adonijah’s reign would be short-lived. Such is always the case with those who seek to focus their lives towards the personal effort to improve and increase self. Though there might be seasons of satisfaction and the appearance of success calling for celebration, that time is short-lived. When person affection conflicts with God’s will, God’s will is always going to reign supreme. So when people are “successful” in exalting their own status for a time, it only means that the fall will be much harder when God eventually fulfills His purposes. Such was the case for Adonijah, and such has been the case for millions of men and women since. God gives grace to the humble and those who seek to submit to the simplicity of heart He commands, not those who live to fulfill and increase self in opposition of His purposes and commands.
The Bible explains that God desires for His people to take care of His people. The scriptures call for the people of God to show the compassion of Jesus to one another. The scriptures explain that God’s people should bear one another’s burdens. Jesus taught that the world would know that we are His disciples according to the love that we show for one another. The Bible explains that “love” is the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah unto salvation. This means that the body of Christ is supposed to reveal the characteristics of Jesus to instill and nurture unto one another in selflessness, and by that, the world would know who God’s people are. When examining the testimony of Jesus as documented in the Gospels, it is clear to see that Jesus was 100% selfless. He did not come into the world to teach for His own praise and glory. He came into the world to set the record straight about who God is by teaching for the benefit of those who would hear and receive. When Jesus came into the world, He didn’t fulfill every jot and tittle of the Law so that He could be proclaimed as righteous. As God in flesh, He was already righteous and as the Messiah, already had the approval of the Father. Jesus fulfilled the Law on behalf of believers so that His righteousness could be imparted unto others through the grace of God. When Jesus gave His life unto the point of death, He didn’t die for the sake of His own sin. He died for the sins of the world so that those who believe upon Him would be saved. Jesus’ ministry was only about taking care of the needs of others, and the people of God are supposed to live in the same manner.
This means that God’s people are to be focused on meeting the needs of others rather than gratifying self-centered desires. The time, effort, and resources of a Christian should not be focused on building up one’s own household, resume, bank account, resources or even talents. God provides that which is needed to do the things that He has created people to do. Thus, that which one does have should be exercised unto God’s purposes as modeled by Jesus Christ – for the spiritual benefit of others. This means that God’s people should be focused on understanding the needs of those who surround us. The people of God should be looking for opportunities to serve the needs of others as Jesus would serve, and then humbly embrace those opportunities. This was the case of a Shunammite woman named Abishag. In 1 Kings 1:1-4 the Bible explains that when David grew old in age, he dealt with some of the normal things that come with a body that is expiring. The scriptures teach that when David was old, his body grew weary and sick so that he was not able to stay warm. Desiring their master to be as comforted as possible – especially considering the amount of service David gave unto Israel – David’s servants sought to find ways to tend to his physical needs in the short time he remained on earth before passing on into eternity.
Seeing these details, it is important to see that David’s servants cared about David’s well-being. They respected and honored their master so that they did not want to see him suffer in old age. Seeing that David’s glory days had long passed, his servants recognized that David was no longer able to take care of himself. However, the Bible does not explain that the servants of David found him to be a burden and left him to die alone. Rather, the servants of David took advantage of the opportunity to continue to serve their master in a manner that was honorable and respectable, not only to David as the king of Israel, but also as a human being. Being unable to meet David’s needs themselves, the Bible states that his servants sought to hire a caregiver of sorts. David’s issue was body temperature, and the servants figured that someone should lie with David to share body heat and help keep him warm. They figured in their minds that it would be good to have a young woman who was a virgin, come to lay with David. After searching throughout the land of Israel they found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her on as David’s caregiver in his last days on this earth.
The scriptures state that Abishag possessed certain qualities and responsibilities as David’s caregiver that are noteworthy. First, Abishag was a young woman, which means that she would have been physically able to perform the works that were required of her without having to separate from other responsibilities. This is why David’s servants looked for a virgin. The Bible does not state that there was any motivation to fulfill sexual needs or benefits for David. In fact, the Bible is clear to state that Abishag DID NOT have any sort of sexual relationship with David in any sort of way. The men searched for a young virgin in order to find someone who was physically able to tend to his needs and not have to forfeit her responsibilities or other obligations elsewhere. They did not want a woman that would have to leave her husband and children to lay in bed with another man for medicinal purposes. Many wonder why the servants didn’t inquire of David’s concubines or wives to perform this duty. It is important to recognize that the greatest point of concern was David’s body temperature. Since David was old, his wives and concubines would have been old too, being unable to provide enough auxiliary body heat to meet David’s needs. The servants sought a young woman who was vibrant in order that her body temperature would be sufficient to keep David warm when she lay close to him.
It is not just noteworthy that the servants had compassion for David to find someone to tend to him this way in his last days. It is also noteworthy that Abishag was willing to perform this duty. The scriptures proclaim that Abishag was a very lovely woman and cared for the king, serving him while remaining pure in her virginity. She was not opposed to serving. She was not self-centered to pursue her own personal ambitions. As a young woman that had her entire life before her, she did not seek to go out into the world to discover opportunities and grow in her own experiences. Abishag did her duty as a child of Israel to take care of the needs of her king. She showed compassion that comforted David. She served David in the ways that his failing body needed. The scriptures do not show that she possessed any sort of resentment, dissatisfaction, or even discomfort to do this thing. The Bible almost makes it seem as if she was built for this task and embraced the opportunity to fulfill the need.
This testimony shows the proper attitude and perspective that God’s people should have. In a day and age where diseases and medical issues run rampant, it is important for the people of God to recognize that the care that people need should not come from secular services for hire, but people filled with the Spirit of the Lord who showed us what compassion, mercy, patience, and love is all about. The demonstration of compassion can only be provided when God’s people respond to the needs of people. How can one show the conduct of Christ if one is too self-absorbed in one’s personal business and affairs to notice others in need? How can someone match the service of Abishag if one’s time is continually filled with things that only have to do with one’s own errands, promotions, and leisure? How can one serve the needs of others if one doesn’t have the time to pour into others? The point is that Abishag was a worthy candidate to serve the needs of the king of Israel because her life circumstances were agreeable with the need. She was not overwhelmed and consumed with other obligations and desires; and when the need was presented, she was humble and faithful to respond to the need with humility and dignity to serve the right way.
There are many who look at the life of King David and find that he lived an exceptionally adventurous life! He was a boy that fought and defeated wild animals to protect his father’s flock. He became a young man that fought and slayed a giant. He was an exceptional musician and a good-looking guy that had the women of Israel singing songs about his victories. David led some of Israel’s most vile men and was used to transform them into the fiercest warriors of their time. David won battle after battle and gave glory to God for all of his successes and advancements. David also dealt with exceptional challenges. He was chased by the wicked king Saul for over a decade, being forced to flee from his home in order to run for his life. He was separated from his best friend who later died in battle on account of the wicked king’s conduct. David had to live in hiding amongst some enemies that were lesser threats than Saul and pretended to be insane just to provoke his enemies to treat him with pity rather than in vengeance. David lived in the wilderness and was dependent on the Lord for provision coming from the kindness of his fellow countrymen. David had to live with and serve the king of the Philistines, and was almost forced to fight against his own people in order to save his own life.
When David became king, things didn’t get easier. David’s rule was welcomed and praised but temptations and spiritual attacks were increased as well. David was tempted by his flesh to have an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, which provoked him to orchestrate the murder of Uriah the Hittite – one of David’s mighty men. David lost his newborn child through God’s judgment, and later dealt with problems with dysfunction in his family. David’s life was pursued by his own son Absalom so that David was chased into the wilderness again, where he would have to endure the insults of a man named Shimei. David’s son publicly shamed his wives and concubines, and all of Israel followed Absalom in an effort to overthrow David’s God-appointed kingship. When Absalom was killed against David’s wishes, he mourned greatly and went home to face yet another rebellion by a man named Sheba. The Bible suggests that the conflicts wore David down so that the desires of his flesh overran him again, causing David to submit to the temptation of the Devil to disobey a direct command of God. David was commanded to abstain from counting the people of Israel, but under the influence of Satan, David took a census to measure his “greatness” according to the number of valiant men in Israel. This caused God to bring more judgment upon David and Israel as a whole, which is the last thing that the book of 2 Samuel documents of David’s life.
These are extraordinary events! It is not likely that the average person lives through this much action with such dramatic peaks and troughs. David’s life is an exceptional historical narrative because of the magnitude of work that God desired to do through him. The bigger the work, the greater the successes; but also the greater the difficulties with rejection, opposition, and temptation. However, as the testimony of 2 Samuel concludes, the Bible shows that God allowed David to finish on a high note despite all of the mistakes that he made, and all of the failures that came from his life. Though the last events that the Bible documents of David’s life stem from a wicked desire and evil conduct from David, the scriptures are clear to show the patience, mercy and grace of God, which was sufficient to restore David unto a favorable position with God, and sufficient to lead Israel back to favor with God as a nation. Thus, no matter how dramatic one’s life may be, the diligence of the Lord God Almighty is ALWAYS sufficient to ensure the spiritual success of His people in the end.
In 2 Samuel 24:18-25 the Bible explains how David followed up with his prayer of repentance unto the Lord. He confessed his sin in counting the people of Israel. He acknowledged his offense against God in disobedience, and desired God to purify his heart in order that he would not transgress the Lord anymore. David desired a new heart manufactured by the hands of the holy and righteous God. However, David’s prayer was not just an emotional response to guilt. David followed up with action. David’s faith and hope in the Lord was followed up by works of faith that proved the genuineness of his heart. When God judged Israel with a three-day plague, David was moved with compassion to seek the Lord in hopes that God would be merciful unto the people. God indeed showed restraint according to His promise and Israel was ultimately spared, though 70,000 men were killed in the plague. David was humbled, but thankful to God, knowing that he and Israel deserved far worse, and that God would have been just to punish more.
After the Lord judged Israel, He sent Gad the prophet to David to give further instruction. David expressed his humility and repentance to God, but God wanted David to provide a public display of this humility and repentance to show the rest of Israel that God is indeed powerful, righteous to judge, and merciful to show restraint in it. God told David to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah’s home. Araunah was a Jebusite, and it was on his threshing floor that David saw the angel of the Lord standing with His sword drawn judging Israel through the plague. God considered the threshing floor of Araunah to be special since it was the place that His presence dwelt through the Angel when His judgment was being executed. Here the Bible shows that the place that the Lord dwells to do His work of any kind – judgment or blessing – is holy ground worthy of recognition. As Gad spoke these words to David, he immediately went to do what the Lord commanded. It is important to notice that, while God had communicated with David directly in the past, David was also sure to honor, fear, and respect the Word of God communicated through His people as well. Though David heard directly from God before, he was not so proud so as to dismiss the words that God would speak through His other servants. Regardless of the source, David heard, received, and obeyed the Word of God with fear and trembling.
As David journeyed to Araunah’s home, Araunah came out wondering why David was visiting him. Araunah greeted David in humility and opened his doors to David with respect, but did not understand why the king of Israel was visiting him. The scriptures show that, while God’s presence was on the threshing floor of his home to judge the disobedience of Israel through the plague that took place, Araunah seemed to be completely oblivious to it. Araunah could not see or recognize the spiritual works that were taking place in his own home. This shows that it is possible (and happens often) for God to do spiritual works in the homes and lives of people without their recognition of God’s presence or work. David on the other hand, a man after God’s own heart, was privileged to see the work of the Lord and the angel that conducted it. Since David had a desire to know God and be with Him, the Lord was gracious to provide special and unique revelation to David concerning His work and the method of it – in spite of his folly and failure!
David explained that he wanted to purchase the threshing floor and some animals from Araunah in order to build an altar and offer sacrifices according to the commands of God. Araunah didn’t object, however, he didn’t fully understand the scope of David’s desire. Araunah offered to give David the threshing floor and animals that he desired. Respecting the authority of the king of Israel and his desire to serve God, Araunah offered the things David required for free. Yet David would not accept Araunah’s offer as a gift. David made a compelling statement that should ring true today of all of God’s people. David said, far be it from him to offer sacrifices unto the Lord God Almighty that didn’t cost him anything. David would not let his service unto God be without meaning and cost. David wanted his service unto the Lord to be substantial. David wanted to give of his resources back to God out of gratitude for the mercy and grace that God provided first. David wasn’t about taking shortcuts to serve God. David wanted to ensure that his service unto the Lord was an act of worship with all of his heart, all of his mind, and all of his strength, which included his soul, his mind, and his physical resources (his money). David bought the threshing floor and animals with 50 shekels of silver, which is equivalent to about 2.5 pounds of silver – a meaningful offering indeed!
The testimony of David ends on a high note as God was pleased with David’s obedience and service. The testimony of 2 Samuel ends by stating that God heeded the prayers of David and relented in His judgments, sparing the rest of Israel according to His eternally unconditional promises. It must be noted though that David’s prayers were prefaced with hearing the Word of God, fearing the judgments of God, obeying the commands of God, and providing outward works of inward faith through meaningful sacrifice to honor God. It is true that God hears prayer and responds, but those who are the beneficiaries of God’s goodness through prayer are those who diligently pursue the goodness of God’s own heart in good times, bad times, successful times, and in times of failure.
One of the difficulties of God’s character for people to deal with (whether believer or non-believer) is God’s judgments. God’s judgments are demonstrations of His righteousness in opposition to the wickedness of people. When the Lord opposes darkness, people usually get hurt. People like to discuss the love, grace, and mercy of God, but it is impossible to talk about the God of the Bible – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and not discuss His judgments. The problem with many discussions concerning God’s judgments is that people seldom explain and reveal the fruit of God’s work in judgment. It is true that the Bible shows God respond towards darkness and evil with passionate anger and violence. However, it is also true that God’s passionate anger and violence against sin, darkness, and evil is ultimately good as it is sufficient to purge corruption from the presence of God’s people, thereby enabling them to enjoy the fuller magnitude of His goodness. The scriptures teach that God chastens those whom He loves, and that no one enjoys chastening while it happens, but after finds value in the lesson. This is also true of God’s judgments.
In 2 Samuel 24:11-17 the Bible explains that God made preparations to judge David for his sin concerning the census. David was commanded to keep from counting the people in Israel, but seeking to tickle his own ego, David went against God’s command and the wise counsel of friends to take the survey anyway. Yet, being a man after God’s own heart and a true child of God, it was not long before David felt the conviction of God, recognizing the error of his ways. He sought the Lord for mercy and forgiveness, desiring for the Lord to correct his heart in such a manner to keep him from offending God any further. David didn’t seek to escape the consequences of his actions, but desired to escape the wrath of God. David was wise to seek God for mercy since God was just to punish David for his sin, but preserve his soul unto salvation as promised.
The scriptures state that when God prepared to judge David, and ultimately all of Israel for their corporate sin against Him, God spoke to David through the prophet Gad. God wanted to make sure David understood that he was being disciplined justly for wrongs and offenses that he committed against God. Thus, the scriptures show that when God’s people are convicted in the heart about issues committed against God, the Lord is faithful to confirm those convictions by His Word. God spoke through Gad to present David with three options for his judgment. God said that David could be judged by either seven years of famine in the land of Israel, three months of fleeing from his enemies, or three days of a plague hitting the land. Here it is important to recognize two things. First, it is critical to notice that sin always affects more than the person who commits the sin. While each and every individual is individually responsible for their actions, the consequences of sin always find a way into the lives of other people, showing just how dangerous sin is!
Secondly, it is important to recognize the nature of God’s judgments. Each of God’s judgments were going to affect all of Israel because the beginning of the chapter explained that God was angry with all of Israel anyway. Recall that the Bible showed that David’s position in these circumstances was representative of all of Israel. David’s submission to the devil’s temptation to take the census was representative of all of Israel submitting to the devil to deny God. Thus, David’s punishment would take place throughout all of Israel because all of Israel was guilty of sin that paralleled David’s individual offenses against God. Yet God’s method of dealing with Israel was a way to directly humble David. No matter which judgment David chose, Israel would shrink in size, thereby humbling David’s desire to measure his greatness by counting the people. If the people were judged by famine, Israel would be lesser in size after the starvation of many people. If Israel were attacked by their enemies, Israel would be lesser in size and weaker in stature as the result of lost battles. If Israel were hit by a plague, Israel would be lesser in size as a result of the death toll caused by the plague. Since David decided to sin against God by measuring his greatness through the numbers in Israel, God’s judgments were designed to dismantle the methods David used to display pride.
When David heard these options, he was obviously distressed. He pleaded with Gad that the judgment God deliver be one where he and the people could receive the mercy of God. He did not want the people to be placed in the hands of other wicked and godless men. Therefore, God told David that He would hit them with the 3-day plague. While this wasn’t necessarily good news, David did not contend. He knew that he was deserving of punishment, and God’s justice was perfect and righteous when He delivered it. The Bible testifies that God sent a plague from the morning until the appointed time from Dan to Beersheba (all of Israel). The fact that God had predetermined a set time and stuck to that plan shows that, while God had to judge, His judgment was with restraint. His goal was not to obliterate Israel, but to sternly scold them unto righteousness. God wanted His people to fear, respect, and honor Him rather than submit to false gods, idols, and self-righteous pride.
God sent an angel from heaven to destroy 70,000 men in Israel. Here it is important to recognize that God killed people described in the same manner that were the key subjects of the census. It is clear that God’s judgment and elimination of 70,000 people was aimed at dismantling the source of David’s pride and tool of Satan’s temptation. David grew proud falling for the temptation of Satan over the number of valiant men that lived in Israel so God eliminated a large population of those men. This shows that God will do what it takes to dismantle ANY source of subject that breeds pride and self-righteousness. The plagues that God sends in the Book of Revelation are aimed to do that exact thing so that the things people trust in that aren’t God, are left as rubble and rubbish while God stands supreme! When God’s number was reached and the three days were up, the scriptures state that God commanded the angel to stop and restrain his hand. Clearly God has charge over angels, and those angels have the ability to manifest God’s judgments through things like plagues. God’s sovereignty is clearly displayed as when God said “enough,” the plague ended and Israel was spared as a nation.
The scriptures also explain that David was able to catch a glimpse of God’s judgment from a spiritual capacity. The Bible testifies that David saw the angel standing between heaven and earth with his sword drawn (in the parallel testimony in 1 Chronicles 21:1-17), and also standing at the threshing floor of a man named Araunah, a Jebusite. Upon seeing this angel serve the Lord as a destroyer, David was further humbled and approached God with an even deeper element of repentance. David pleaded with God to show mercy upon Israel by sparing them. David confessed that their folly was on account of his flawed leadership and asked the Lord to inflict him and his family alone for the offense that he brought as an individual against God. This statement of valor and humility from David shows the effect and fruit of God’s judgments. God’s judgments were not only sufficient to repay Israel for their wickedness, but also turn the hearts of God’s people towards Him in repentance and humility, seeking God to do righteously and justly for His glory. David saw the judgment of God and was terrified to the point that he sought the mercy of God for others and was willing to take whatever pain was necessary for others to be spared. This request, while provoked by sin, ultimately resembles the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So while many fear and criticize the judgments of God, clearly the Bible shows that He is able to produce fruit that mimics and parallels the fruit of Jesus Christ, ultimately making God’s judgment good and useful unto glory!
You don’t need to be a Bible student to know that nobody is perfect. People make mistakes all of the time. Many times things start out with people having good intentions, but circumstances, impure motives, and other social dynamics keep people from being exceptional human beings. The Bible wouldn’t call for the people of God to be merciful and gracious if there weren’t so many opportunities for people to fail and require mercy and grace. Imperfection and failure is a normal part of life. The Bible reveals this truth, but also explains how an imperfect person should address this truth in a manner that is pleasing to God. God is not pleased with imperfection, but provides instruction in how to deal with it to leverage His merciful, gracious, and patient nature. This means that, while people – even God’s people – make mistakes, the idea is not simply to dismiss them as natural habit, but instead seek a solution that God provides in order that we would be pleasing to Him in spite of the imperfections.
The life of King David is perhaps one of the most candid examples of how to address imperfection. The Bible teaches that David was a man after God’s own heart. He is referred to as a hero of faith, and is a very popular historical figure to use when teaching about the attributes and miraculous works of God. However, scripture is not fiction. The Bible doesn’t hide the imperfections of its heroes. The Bible is helpful to show the good, and also the bad and ugly when referring to the people that God uses for His work. David made lots of mistakes, and some of those mistakes were horrific and scandalous. While David ultimately walked with the Lord, he had extremely dark moments in his life that make even some of the most merciful of people cringe. Hence, the object is not to revere David as a faith-filled super hero, but instead to recognize his humanity and learn how David dealt with his imperfections as a Godly man. Hence, it is important to know how to live as a Godly person, not a perfect one since no one can be perfect.
An example of this reality is seen in the testimony of David in 2 Samuel 24:5-10. In this portion of scripture, the Bible shows David making another mistake that was influenced by the devil himself. David was a prime target of the devil in this instance because God was seeking to use David as a primary tool in exalting Himself as the Messiah. Satan wanted to corrupt David in order to corrupt the people of God and frustrate God’s plans to exalt Himself through them. Therefore, while David’s actions might seem trivial, they are representative of absolute and direct rebellion against God’s command. The scriptures testify that David sought to take a census in Israel. God commanded David not to do this very thing, but David sought to validate his kingship by measuring the extent of greatness in his kingdom through a census. Most agree in interpreting the circumstances of David that he was seeking to inflate his own ego, and so was willing to disobey God’s command and even reject the wise counsel from friends in order to appraise his rule.
The Bible explains that David sent Joab and many other men throughout Israel to number the people. David exhausted these resources for nine months and twenty days. Rather than protecting the people, David leveraged military resources to count the people for his own vanity. Not only were David’s actions disobedient to a specific commandment of God, but also a miserable use of government resources for an extended period of time. When Joab and his men returned nearly ten months later, they reported to David that they had counted eight hundred thousand valiant men able to wield a sword in the region of Israel, and also five hundred thousand men of the same kind in the region of Judah, totaling in 1.3 million valiant men in all of Israel able to wield the sword as “valiant men.” While this number may or may not be impressive to people, one thing is clear: it does not measure up to the promise of God. This means that David’s desire to know the number of people in Israel, was not only disobedient to God, but counterproductive to His desire to fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
When God made His promise to Abraham concerning his descendants dwelling safely in the Promised Land as “a great nation” and as a blessing to all the families of the earth, God later quantified His promise. God quantified His promise by stating that His promise was unquantifiable. God promised that the children of Israel would be “as the sand on the seashore and the stars of the sky.” In other words, God promised to make Israel so great that they would be innumerable. Yet David tried to assign numbers to God’s work. Though it is true that Moses and Joshua took census’ by the commands of God earlier in Israel’s history, it is important to recognize David’s desire to number the people. God had never commanded others earlier in Israel’s history in order to measure the extent of His great work in Israel. The greatness of God’s work is immeasurable. Rather, God wanted to prove to Israel that He was faithful to lead certain generations into the benefits of specific parts of His plans at those times. David on the other hand seemed motivated to measure His greatness by assigning a number to a work God said would be innumerable.
Clearly David made a mistake. This wasn’t an impulsive slip either. David was calculated in his efforts to do something contrary to God and had to fight people along the way to do it. David wanted his way so that he could feel better about himself. This is commonly the root of the manifestation of many imperfections. However, David didn’t just dismiss this mistake. The scriptures testify that David was convicted about what he had done. He had nine months to consider his actions and the effects of them. In that time, David’s conscience convicted his heart to the point that David was grieved about what he had done. The Bible specifically states that “David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people.” This means that David’s convictions were intense, and thankfully he didn’t ignore them. This shows that the appropriate way to deal with mistakes is to respond to the convictions that the Holy Spirit speaks through the heart/conscience; not dismiss them as no big deal.
When David recognized his selfishness and vanity, he did what the Bible teaches is appropriate for when mistakes are made. He repented by seeking God for His mercy and forgiveness. David first sought the Lord in humility to confess that he had sinned against God. It appeared at the moment that David’s sin didn’t have any adverse effect on anyone else, and compared to his past sins, seemed relatively harmless. David didn’t see it that way. David saw his sin the way God saw his sin and confessed his imperfection to God. David admitted that he failed and was clearly unable to match the righteousness of God, no matter small his sin might have seemed at the time. David flat out said that “he sinned greatly.” This shows that David saw any sin against God as “great” offense against God, and rightly so. The appropriate response to any sin should follow this suit. No matter how lightly others may esteem a certain mistake, God’s true children understand that any offense against God and His righteousness is a great offense worthy of severe punishment.
David knew this as true, which is why he sought the Lord for forgiveness unto his soul. When David prayed to God, he didn’t pray for escape from any consequences. David didn’t say anything like, “Lord, if you get me out of this one, I’ll serve you forever.” David recognized that his opportunity to approach the Lord in prayer was an extension of God’s grace in it of itself, and so sought to leverage the full extent and benefit of God’s grace for greater spiritual purposes. David wanted cleansing of his soul, not his circumstances. When David inquired of God, he said, “I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” David wanted his iniquity removed. David wanted his heart changed so that he would not offend God anymore, seeing that the natural condition of his heart produced foolishness. David desired escape from God’s wrath and also sanctification unto God’s holiness. Understand that one who is absent iniquity would be one that has the purity of God since God alone is without sin. Though David made a mistake, he desired to be like God and humbly sought God for mercy in hopes that God would be willing to purify his heart.
David knew he would pay consequences for his sin. He didn’t seek God to escape that which he knew he deserved. Instead, he sought the power and authority of God to deal with the root of the issue – his own heart. David wanted forgiveness unto cleansing, and went to God because he knew God well enough to know that forgiveness unto spiritual preservation was the essence of God’s promises. David knew he cheapened the magnitude of God’s greatness by taking a census, so he humbly sought God seeking for God to show the essence of His greatness in forgiveness and sanctification. David didn’t just want to be excused for his mistake. David wanted God to change his heart into a condition that matched God’s own heart so that he wouldn’t make mistakes that offended God ever again. David’s repentance showed that he recognized the weakness of his flesh to offend God in a natural condition, so humbly sought God to change the condition of his heart to remove the sin and offense. This is the manner in which people should address mistakes and sin of any kind/measure.
People in the world, including believers in many cases, have a hard time understanding the sovereignty of God. Sovereignty refers to supreme authority and control. The Bible teaches that the One True Living God that created the heavens and the earth is sovereign above ALL things. This means that God has control over every human life that has ever existed at every point in history. This means that God has control over every other living thing and organism in this earth, including the planet and surrounding galactic and universal matter. God controls the temperature of the sun. God controls the distance of the Milky Way from other galaxies. The scriptures also show that God is able to control microscopic organisms like viruses and bacteria as well – all with the power of His Word! The scriptures teach that God controls the dimensions of the spirit realm and administrates over every soul and angelic/demonic creature in that realm. God is able to control, manipulate, and orchestrate ANY thing for ANY purpose that He deems as good according to His work to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises. This is a critical attribute of God to consider at all times.
Some people have a hard time with this. There have been debates that have gone on too long concerning the line of God’s sovereignty and the free will of mankind. Some will ask, “Do we really have free will?” This is the wrong question to ask. When we examine the outcome of human history when people exercise “free will,” we see that the natural person will rebel against God’s perfect will and cause chaos and destruction. Therefore, the question we should be asking is, “How can I surrender the foolishness of my free will to submit to God’s sovereignty?” The real issue of life isn’t about whether or not we are really making free choices or if we are just chess pieces in God’s game. The real issue is about understanding the goodness of God’s control, how He exercises it unto His glory, and how His people benefit greatly from it when His people acknowledge, understand, and agree with God’s supreme control. It is important to understand that it was the very desire to do things apart from God’s control, to exercise “free will” apart from God’s will, that got the devil kicked out of heaven. We should not be so foolish to adopt that form of thinking seeing the tragic result that is SURE to transpire.
That said, there are places in scripture where the sovereignty of God appears troublesome from a human perspective. There are places in scripture where God’s control seems counterproductive to His will or contradictory to other parts of the Bible. One of these such instances can be found in the testimony of King David in 2 Samuel 24:1-4. This portion of scripture documents one of the final events of David’s life that caused Israel to suffer greatly due to the sinful mistake that David made. However, it is the details of the Word that make God’s work seem troubling. Therefore, it is important to approach the scriptures carefully, considering the full testimony of this single event that scripture provides, and put the testimony of this single event into the context of history and God’s previous patterns of work. When scriptures like 2 Samuel 24:1-4 are taken out of context, people have manipulated the Word to make God seem like a hypocrite and the Word of God as false; but let God be true and every man a liar. When the truth of scripture is sought honestly, with the pure objective to know God, His essence, and the works of His promises, truth can be found in a manner that is not troubling, but nourishing to the soul.
The testimony begins by explaining that God was displeased with the children of Israel again. While there is no specific sin that is mentioned in the verse, contextually there are many things that happened in Israel’s history relative to the time period that would have caused God to be angry. For example, when Absalom and Sheba took it upon themselves to cause rebellion against the authority and ordination of King David, they didn’t have to work hard to sway the people. The people were quick to follow the ways of evil rebellion. The people agreed with and facilitated the plans of selfish and wicked men very quickly and in hordes. The majority of Israel quickly turned against God’s truly anointed king in order to follow the leadership of crooked men. This rebellion certainly caused God to be angry with His people; but it is also important to consider the other various effects and consequences that come when people rebel against God. When people turn from following God and submitting to His righteousness, those people inevitably turn to the ways of darkness and submit to the wickedness that comes from it. Since everything reproduces of its own kind, the rebellious sin of Israel to follow Absalom and Sheba would have facilitated rebellious sin in singular households through idolatry, sexual perversity, and corruption within the Law’s sacrificial system. The history of Israel shows that these issues always popped up when Israel was led by wicked and rebellious kings. Thus, there was plenty for God to be angry about concerning the spiritual condition of His people.
It is God’s response that seems to be troubling. The scriptures state that because God was angry at Israel, God “moved David” to commit sin. Many read this and say, “How is this possible?” The scriptures teach that God is not tempted by sin, nor does He tempt anyone to sin (James 1:3). It is important to apply this knowledge to the testimony of 2 Samuel 24:1-4. Rather than accuse God of manipulating and tempting David to sin because of His anger against Israel, it is important find the true source of temptation since God cannot be the tempter. Thankfully, the Bible provides the answers within itself so that God’s people do not have to speculate. The testimony of this same instance is also found in 1 Chronicles 21:1-17. However, the testimony found in 1 Chronicles Chapter 21 provides a CRITICAL detail that is not written in the testimony of 2 Samuel. There, the Bible explains that Satan tempted David to count the people in Israel, which was directly disobedient to the command God previous gave to abstain from doing so. Thus, it was NOT God who put it into the heart of David to sin by taking a census. It was the devil that put it into the heart of God’s servant to disobey God’s command. Scripture makes that clear.
When considering the two testimonies of David’s sin, it is important to reconcile and harmonize the details that are presented. It is true that Satan influenced David to defy God’s command in order to conduct himself in a manner of pride. However, it is important to recognize the control that the Lord exercised in this set of circumstances. While God Himself did not tempt David, he did allow David to be tempted; and according to the testimony of 2 Samuel 24:1-4, God did so in response to the spiritual condition of Israel as a nation. Notice that God exercised His supreme control and administration to permit the devil to do this thing so that in judging David for his disobedience, God would also have outwardly visible “just cause” to discipline the rest of Israel. The sin that the devil tempted David to commit would be representative of Israel’s overall spiritually depraved condition. The pride and rebellion that David ultimately exercised in taking the census was representative of the pride and rebellion that was taking place in all of Israel. Therefore, God permitted the devil’s temptation to be effective so that His judgment against Israel would be blameless and righteous!
While some people have a hard time with this conclusion and still try to paint God as the bad guy, the Bible shows that God STILL provided a way of escape as the scriptures promise that He does. Though David was tempted to sin, and God allowed Satan to influence the sin, God also allowed Joab AND the other captains of Israel’s army to try and sway David from committing this sin. The testimony of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles agree with one another that, when David gave Joab the command to defy God by taking a census in Israel, Joab and many of the other captains in Israel’s army tried to talk David out of it. They told David that such a thing was not right. They assured David that the size of Israel was exactly the size that God wanted it to be according to His promises. They told David that counting the people would bring no greater profit and could bring offense. Nevertheless, though David was warned several times, he was committed to the ploy of Satan, not the command of God. David wanted to gratify his flesh, not submit to God’s righteous commands. David’s conduct was truly representative of Israel’s spiritually depraved condition, and God was fair to let Joab and the other captains try to talk David down from his sin. He willfully refused.
Here, the hand of God is seen to be both big and small. God’s hand is so big that He is able to control and administrate spiritual forces like the devil to use according to His purposes. According to the righteous standards of God, and the previous patterns of God’s work, He was going to judge Israel anyway. However, to outwardly prove Himself blameless, and expose the reason for His anger against Israel, God allowed Satan to have success over David at a particular time. While this might have seemed like a victory for Satan, the greater context of scripture shows that God actually used Satan as a tool of His own justice. Satan sparked sin, which enabled God to display the righteousness of His judgments, which ultimately led Israel to repent. So in the big picture, Satan lost because God is always in control. Those who focus on the work of the devil in the moment fail to see the supreme authority that God has to bring His victory according to His promises in the bigger picture of eternity. It is true that God was angry at Israel, but God has remained faithful to Israel as promised so that His exercise of authority to judge was not malicious as some accuse. Israel is STILL God’s people and WILL BE a great nation! Likewise, though David fell into the temptation of the devil, he is still a man after God’s own heart, a hero of faith, and God’s child and heir to the eternal promises that God made. David’s life had slips and stumbles, but he never fell to the degree that he was separated from His Savior. The testimony of 2 Samuel 24:1-4 CLEARLY shows that, regardless of God’s anger, judgment, and the influence of the enemy, God’s true children can never be separated from Him because He is in total control over ALL THINGS to ensure His people remain His. This is why God’s sovereignty is to be cherished and not criticized.
The Bible teaches that in order to be used by the Lord, one does not need to have any special training, exceptional courage, great wisdom, or loads of experience. In fact, the Bible shows that some of the greatest heroes of faith lacked in all of these things. Additionally, it is worth noting that many of God’s instruments of victory even lacked faith up until the moment that the Lord had them engage in their purpose. The Lord is not interested in amplifying human talents, gifts, qualities, or characteristics in order to do His work. The Bible teaches that the Lord prefers to use people who lack in many areas so that He is glorified when the task is accomplished despite the absence of certain qualities. God provides the traits, skills, courage, and boldness to do the things that He desires to be done at the times that He wants them done. The documented history of God’s work in the Bible proves this to be true.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 23:8-39 lists a number of men that enjoyed great heroic exploits in the name of the Lord, but it is important to recall that none of the men mentioned were men that specially trained for the victories they later received. The Bible lists a variety of men that are generally referred to as “David’s Mighty Men.” The testimony of these men is amazing! The first man listed is noted as the mightiest of the men as one that was able to slay eight hundred men at one time! The battles and victories of these thirty-seven men are exceptional to the degree that they are hard to believe for some people. While one man killed eight hundred men at once, another killed three hundred, another killed a lion in the snow. These men killed the greatest Philistine, Moabite, and Egyptian champions and earned the army of Israel a tremendous reputation under the rule of King David. The testimony of 2 Samuel 23:8-39 reveals that each of these men demonstrated great bravery and resolve as they engaged in impossible circumstances where they were terribly out-numbered, lacking resources and opportunity, but came away victorious anyway.
There is a common thread among each and every narrative given about David’s Mighty Men. First, each of these men were Israel’s least desirable men when they first joined David. Recall that when David was fleeing from Saul and living in caves, there were many people that were faithful to David and followed him. They were despised among the rest of the children of Israel and so they joined David while they lived in the wilderness and caves, hiding from King Saul. The Bible explains that these men were the vile, despised, and dejected men in Israel. They were bums and good-for-nothing men, which was why it was so easy for them to leave their homes to accompany David in the wilderness. These are the same men that later became David’s Mighty Men. These are the same men that later faced impossible odds against some of history’s nastiest people groups and slaughtered the enemies of God’s people. These are the same men that never went to school, never received formal training, never were refined in a helpful craft, but were used by God to perform some of the greatest military miracles in history!
The second commonality to note is that each of these “unqualified” men embraced their duty as faithful servants. They were loyal to their king and followed him according to the purpose God ordained him for. These mighty men knew who they were fighting for and understood the purpose for which they fought. These men were not always the most brave or powerful, but were able to demonstrate bravery and power on account of their willingness to engage, holding the commands and integrity of their master and general in the highest regard. Their lives were not their own and so they faithfully served their king no matter how dire the situation might have seemed. They didn’t always have the right tools, knowledge, or opportunities, but they were willing to do their jobs no matter what in order to uphold the name of their king and the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people. Their purpose transcended the concerns of this life and so this life was not a deterrent to them. They were bold because they were willing to engage at which point God provided boldness. They were strong because they were willing to engage at which point God provided strength. They were powerful because they were willing to engage at which point God provided power. They were victorious because they were willing to engage at which point God provided victory.
The point is that these men were the same ill-equipped men at the end of their lives as they were at the beginning. The difference was that over time, they learned about their king, the anointing that God had over David’s life, and saw that God’s purpose was greater and more valuable than even their own lives. They fully submitted to their king understanding that God was determined to do great things through David and through Israel. These men stood to fight and were able to win because they valued the fulfillment of God’s purposes through David more than anything else in their lives. God leveraged that faithfulness into victory. Hence, God’s work preference is made clear. He does not aspire to use able and qualified men and women that would later boast in their accomplishments on account of manmade traits. God aspires to use faithful men and women who, despite their shortcomings, are willing to engage because they understand the magnitude of God’s purposes and value the fulfillment of them more than anything else in this life. God desires to use men and women to be “more than conquerors,” which means that He will enable victory in circumstances that appear to be defeat. This means that He will leverage “losers” so to speak, and transform them into “winners.” A winner is expected to conquer. To be more than a conqueror according to the promise of scripture requires one that appears to be defeated to win nonetheless – like David’s mighty men.
Examining the historical documentation of David’s victories, it is critical to recognize the pattern of God’s work. Those who desire to share in the Lord’s victory don’t need to be refined in knowledge, strength, influence, or experience. Instead, those who share in the Lord’s victories simply need to be willing to engage in the “good fight of faith,” trusting in the Lord to provide the tools of victory when they’re needed. Those who want to share in the Lord’s victories simply need to value the fulfillment of God’s purposes more than the affairs of this life so that they are willing to give their lives for the advancement of the King. Those who share in God’s victories are those who are willing to engage because they value the integrity of God’s name, purposes, and promises more than anything else, and faithfully surrender to the will of the One True King, Jesus Christ!
The Bible teaches that heaven is good, but it is not often that people are able to explain why. Most people want to go to heaven, but can’t really articulate why heaven is good. Movies tell us heaven is real, but what is heaven that makes it so good? If we say we believe in Jesus or call ourselves JUST so that we can get to heaven, according to the Bible, we are going to be sorely disappointed – for at least 1,000 years! The scriptures teach that when Jesus comes back to the world to judge it, He’s going to bring His church back with Him and stay here for 1,000 years to rule and reign over His people. Yes, those who were in “heaven” will come back to earth for 1,000 years. The Bible teaches that it is not until after this 1,000-year reign that Jesus will make all things new, including heaven. So, understanding these truths, if heaven is so good, why will Jesus spend 1,000 years on earth, and then make a new heaven? For those simply looking forward to heaven without understanding “why,” these are questions that must be considered.
Clearly the Bible shows that the benefits God desires to give have little to do with a place since the fulfillment of God’s good promises require movement. It is true that heaven is good, but it is important to know why it is good. The scriptures make it clear – heaven is good because Jesus Christ is there. Thus, the true children of God should desire, not only heaven, but to be wherever Jesus our Lord and Savior is. Heaven is good now because Jesus is there. Earth will be good later because Jesus will be here. The new heaven, new earth, and the new Jerusalem will all be good because Jesus will be in each of those, fully exercising His omnipresence as the One True Living God! Thus, while God promised believers that they would get to inherit the kingdom of heaven, this is not the basis and foundation of God’s promises. God is good to let us dwell with Him in His kingdom, but God’s goodness is not so small. The Bible shows that God’s goodness is more fundamental in nature because the essence of His promises don’t reside on the foundation of heaven, but in the oath He made to destroy darkness and the works of it.
The scriptures show that King David had a mature understanding of this truth. David understood the essence of why God’s promises were good, and why God’s goodness was greater than the location of His kingdom. In 2 Samuel 23:5-7 the Bible shows that David had a pretty good understanding of the magnitude of God’s grace, and how that grace is expressed in God’s promise to judge the wicked. In the first part of 2 Samuel Chapter 23 David wrote about how God spoke to him to explain the manner in which he should live as the king of Israel. God told David that he essentially needed to walk according to the Spirit. David received the Word of God and needed to walk according to it. David needed to walk in the manner of God’s righteousness, displaying light like Jesus Christ. David needed to lead the people according to the eternal quality of life that God desired to provide, and display the beauty of God according to His promises to Israel. However, when David wrote in 2 Samuel 23:5-7, David confessed that he was unable to live up to God’s standards. He was clearly told what he was supposed to do, and was able to understand it to the degree that he was able to document it in the psalms. Nevertheless, the testimony of 1 and 2 Samuel show that David fell short of God’s expectations for the king of Israel. David did not always shine as the light of Christ. David did not always manifest trust in the eternal nature of God’s promises. David did not always demonstrate the beauty of God according to His promises.
David knew he was weak. David knew that he was unable. David knew that he fell far short of God’s expectations, even though he had the Spirit of God leading him and teaching him. While David was clear to explain the standards that God communicated to him, David wrote that it was not so in his own home. While David was a man after God’s own heart, he knew that he was not a model citizen in the outward sense. He knew his family was a mess. He knew his testimony was good in the sense that God continually delivered him; but David also knew that he had to continually be delivered because he was unable to handle his circumstances on his own. For all of the power, strength, and ability that has historically been attributed to King David, the scriptures show that David didn’t feel too highly of himself. Yet still, the scriptures explain that David’s weaknesses and self-proclaimed failures had no bearing on his identity as an heir to God’s promises. David candidly wrote that while his household was not up to par with God’s standards of righteousness, he was the beneficiary of God’s everlasting covenant anyway!
This is a testimony of God’s grace. David confessed that he had nothing of himself to show for in terms of merits that would please God. Therefore, the favor that David received according to God’s everlasting covenant was on the basis of grace. David acknowledged that his failure disqualified him from receiving God’s favor, but God’s grace made it possible to receive His favor. In addition, it was not as if David was the beneficiary of weak promises. David was the beneficiary of an EVERLASTING COVENANT! When one examines the promises that God made to David in 2 Samuel Chapter 7, one will find that God swore to David that he would be blessed according to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that his soul would be eternally preserved, and that God would take David’s family and do a miraculous work to establish His own throne and kingdom, referring to the revelation of the Messiah! Though David admitted that he was a failure, God desired to involve David in His plan to reveal the Messiah. This was a privilege that has eternal weight, merit, and value and David understood this. Understanding this truth, David cherished God’s promises more than anything else in life.
In order to fully grasp why David desired God’s promises more than anything, it is important to know the role and purpose of the Messiah that would come from David. First, the scriptures candidly teach that God is the Messiah. The Lord swore upon Himself to fulfill His own promises because no one else is able. This is why it is critical to consider Jesus’ identity as God in flesh since He cannot be the Messiah if He is not also God. Upon recognizing Jesus as God in flesh and the Messiah, His work becomes more profound by understanding the focal point of His objective. 1 John 3:8 testifies that Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. Since Jesus God in flesh, He is qualified to do so. Since Jesus is the Messiah, He is the means by which God’s promises are fulfilled. Therefore, the Bible shows that “the Messiah” is the means by which God would fulfill His own promises; and since Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil (sin and death), then God’s promises are centered on that one objective. Jesus’ death on the cross was the work that needed to be done to destroy the power of sin and death over God’s people.
Knowing these things, it is clear to see that the essence of God’s promises are simple. When God saw darkness on the face of the deep, He responded by saying, “Let there be light” on the first day of creation. Thus, God set the standard and revealed the fundamental essence of His promise to destroy darkness (sin, death, and the devil) by the manifestation of light (Jesus Christ the Messiah). This is why David spoke so highly of God’s promises. David had not yet gotten to heaven, nor was he promised to get there at any particular time. In fact, he’s still waiting for the first resurrection! David cherished God’s promises more than the idea of heaven because David understood the basis of God’s promises and how good they are in comparison to all other things. First, God’s promises are eternal. God’s promise to destroy darkness is not a temporary thing in which darkness will find a way to come back to rebel against God, creating problems all over again. David knew that God’s plans were ordered so that the fulfillment of God’s promises would transpire according to a specific plan that God was slowly and methodically revealing and working through. So while David didn’t get to see the full benefits of God’s promises, he was able to see God working according to His order and plans, thereby assuring David’s heart that fulfillment was on its way! David recognized that God’s promises were secure. David knew the immutable power and supremacy of God. David knew that God does not change and no one can contend with Him. David knew that God is faithful. Knowing these things of God assured David’s heart that God’s promises were as secure as secure could be. Who could sway God or weaken God to keep Him from fulfilling His promises?
For these reasons, David referred to God’s promises as his own personal salvation. David knew that his failure entitled him to receive the same judgment as God swore to deliver against all those who resemble darkness. David knew that darkness was in his heart and that darkness was the fruit of his efforts among his family. David knew he was worthy of judgment and destruction. Yet David was rescued, saved, and assured by God that his soul would be preserved. While David failed, he was faithful. David was repentant and did not rebel against God’s proclamations of truth or standards of righteousness. David failed to match God’s righteousness, but at the same time, David treasured God’s righteousness. Hence, David wrote that those who would be judged are those who rebel against God. Those who are judged and are not beneficiaries of God’s blessings are those who despise God and His righteousness while considering themselves to be sufficiently good all on their own without God’s help. This attitude is the essence of sin and darkness so that those who live in this manner will suffer greatly.
David confessed that the pinnacle of God’s promises will be on full display when judgment comes. He equated God’s judgment to the work that is done to purge thorns and thistles from a garden or field. One cannot simply pick up a batch of thorns and thistles with one’s bare hands and expect to remain unharmed. One must have special equipment to ensure that thorns and thistles are removed safely. In the same manner, God is the only One that is specially equipped to deal with “thorns and thistles” (the effects of sin and darkness) without being affected or harmed on account of His holiness. So while many try to match God’s glory and fail, and try to do right but end up doing wrong, God will be exalted when He proves Himself as right and good when He exercises His holiness to remove sin and darkness from the presence of His people.
So why is heaven good? It is not only because God is there, but also because darkness and sin aren’t. Why does the idea of heaven appeal to people? It is because heaven promises that there will not be any more pain, sorrow, grief, frustration, anxiety, or darkness of any kind. However, it is critically important to recognize why these harmful things are absent the kingdom of heaven. They are absent because the basis of God’s promises is to remove them, because He alone is able. So while heaven sounds great, it is only great because God alone takes away that which is corrupt. This is true, not only of the physical location that God dwells, but also concerning the hearts of His people so that those who fail like David will have sin fully removed in order to fully enjoy the benefits of God’s presence, wherever He is! This is why David desired the fulfillment of God’s promises more than anything, and rightly so!
The Bible teaches that when God’s people walk in the Spirit, the people of God receive several benefits. The primary benefit is the sanctification unto God that places the spirit of the child of God into the possession of the Father. Additionally, when the people of God walk in the Spirit, God provides assurance to His people that they are indeed His. The scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit seeks to validate the promises of God and assure God’s people as heirs of those promises. In fact, the scriptures go so far as to teach that the Holy Spirit becomes a seal of confirmation that we are indeed God’s children and heirs of His eternally unconditional promises. When walking in the Spirit, the children of God can walk tall in confidence (not in pride) trusting that the eternal nature of God’s promises are on their way to complete fulfillment! Thus, the people of God have nothing to worry about, and walking in the Spirit is the means by which God’s people can live in confidence, absent fear of circumstances and other temporal issues. When walking in the Spirit, God’s people should be bold in knowing who they are in the Lord and be able to walk without shame, embarrassment, fear, or being timid. When the Holy Spirit is governing the lives of His people, the Holy Spirit speaks clearly and loudly as by the power of the Lord God Almighty!
The scriptures show that King David not only understood this truth, but walked according to this truth – even in the Old Testament, long before Jesus poured out His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost! The testimony of 2 Samuel 23:1-4 is an excerpt of King David’s last documented words that summarize the work that the One True Living God did through him in order to fulfill the covenant that He made with David. While some of the words and proclamations that David made might seem as boasting, it is important to recognize that David spoke proudly in God’s work through him, not of himself. David knew that he had no ability or wherewithal to do as God commanded. David confessed that he was conceived in sin, had no righteousness or goodness of himself, and deserved God’s judgment as much as anyone else. David repeatedly confessed that he was privileged and blessed as a recipient of God’s mercy, grace, and patience being an heir of His promises. David knew the promises of God were profound and was GREATLY humbled to be included in such a powerful way as the root of the Messiah King of Israel.
The testimony of 2 Samuel 23:1-4 first shows that David knew his position in the Lord and understood his place in the context of God’s plans. God communicated to David, and David had ears to hear and understand what God wanted to do. David was then able to recognize where he fit in God’s plan. David stated that he was “raised up on high.” This is not a prideful proclamation from David stating his superiority over others. In fact, this is a testament of God’s exalted position. Notice that David confessed that he was “raised up.” How could David be “raised up on high” unless the One that raised him was already in an exalted position? David does not say he was pushed up on high so as to suggest he was exalted by means of one lower than him lifting him up. Instead, David confessed that he was raised by One that was exalted above all, and because of His position, he was able to be exalted. David’s proclamation was not just an acknowledgement of God’s glorified and sovereign position, but was also an acknowledgement of David’s understanding of his position as an heir to God’s promises. David knew that, though his life was winding down, that he would be lifted up into glory according to God’s promises because God Himself was exalted. David trusted in the promise of God to preserve his spiritual integrity unto glory; not just for God’s glory, but also that David would be eventually conformed unto the likeness of God’s glory! David knew who God was and as a result, trusted in the ability of God to do what He said so that the circumstances of death and the end of his reign on this earth did not take him to a state of depression or feeling of loss.
David also confessed that he was God’s anointed. Again, this was not a statement of pride of self-righteousness. David knew that he was a tool of the Lord God Almighty. David knew that God worked against the traditions of men to place him in the kingship of Israel. David knew that God had protected him in order to preserve his life as the king of Israel. David heard the covenant that God made with him concerning the Messianic kingship, and understood the eternal nature of God’s work. David was willing to confess his identity as God’s anointed simply because he knew he was appointed to perform specific work as God’s servant as a part of God’s big plan. David did not boast in his position as God’s anointed as if such a position exalted him above others. Instead, David confessed his understanding of his identity as one of God’s servants that was appointed to do a certain work at a certain time for a particular purpose that God ordained.
David then wrote that he was “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” This phrase might seem as if David felt highly about his writing ability and contributions to Israel’s history and heritage; and to a certain extent that might be true. However, when one reads the psalms that David wrote, it is clear that David did not think highly of himself, but the God who inspired him to write by the Holy Spirit. Immediately after David identified himself as the “sweet psalmist of Israel,” he confessed that the Spirit of the Lord spoke by him and that the Words of God Himself were on David’s tongue. This means that while David might have held the pen to dictate the sweet psalms, God was the true Author of David’s work. David was “the sweet psalmist of Israel” simply because the Spirit of God was upon David to inspire him to write the particular things that he wrote. David identified himself in this manner to show that God gave him a gift and the motivation and inspiration to write the things that eventually became scripture. David used his time, talents, and temperament to express and communicate the truth of God’s Word in the way that the Holy Spirit led him.
When God spoke to David, the scriptures state that God communicated certain things. David focuses on one point of communication from God in this portion of scripture. David stated that “the Rock of Israel” instructed David in how to lead as king. The Foundation and Stability of Israel told David how to lead according to His strength and wisdom. Since David humbly sought God with a continually repentant heart, he was able to hear Him, understand His plans and purposes, acknowledge the benefits of His promises, and know His position as God’s tool of righteousness to serve in a specific manner. The manner of David’s calling was as Israel’s leader and God was clear and helpful to instruct David in how to lead. God did not give David the liberty to come up with his own ideas and leadership techniques. God told David that the king of Israel must be just. God also taught David that in order for the king of Israel to be just, he must rule “in the fear of the Lord. This shows that it is impossible to lead according to the righteous justice of God if one is not willing to acknowledge God as the righteous Judge and fear His holy and righteous nature.
Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, it is impossible to have wisdom or knowledge to lead as God commands without this fear. Additionally, God explained that the king of Israel must express their fear of the Lord outwardly as “light” and “life.” David wrote that God told him that he must be, “Like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds.” This is parallel to Jesus’ command when He said that His people must let their light so shine before men so that they might see their good works and glorify God. When God commanded David to lead, He commanded David to conduct himself as Christ being the Light of the world. The righteousness that David (and future kings of Israel) were to express was not to be concealed as light by clouds. In other words, sin and corruption was not to mute or distort the righteousness that God wanted to express through his servants that served as king of Israel. Thus, as David possessed the Spirit to understand his position in the Lord and write the Words of God, he was also supposed to submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit with boldness.
Likewise, God commanded David to live like “the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” The Bible teaches that the grass in Israel was a symbol of the life and beauty of Israel, and in many ways, the substance of nourishment to Israel. Therefore, God commanded David and the other kings of Israel to lead as facilitators of life and beauty from God, nourishing the people of God. When David walked in the Spirit, he was able to know his position in the Lord, exercise spiritual gifts to communicate God’s Word, and was called to live in a manner that was parallel to God’s own purpose – to perpetuate eternal life by demonstrating God’s glory according to the Spirit through spiritual nourishment. Thus, while God appointed David to lead and called him to lead the children of Israel in a specific way, it is clear to see that when the people of God walk according to the Spirit, all are called to be leaders, boldly understanding God’s spiritual purposes unto His glory and our eternal benefit!
The Bible teaches that the Lord delights in praise. In fact, the chief purpose of all of God’s people is to worship the Lord God and love Him with all of our being. When God first created mankind, His commands were centered on faithfully keeping His commands, which were centered on praising Him for the glory of His creation and His identity as Provider. Nothing has changed. The Lord still desires praise. The Lord still desires to be recognized as the Author of life and Provider of all things. The Lord has proven that He alone is worthy of praise and the worship that He desires. The scriptures show that God has not only revealed Himself as the Creator, but also Savior. Though people live today as part of God’s creation (whether they recognize this truth of not), all people fall short of the glory of God and are conceived as sinners. This means that until people receive the grace of God through faith in the salvation that He offers, all people are condemned and subject to the wrath of God in judgment. Since God has taken it upon Himself to deal with the insurmountable issue of sin, and freely offers His mercy and grace unto forgiveness and eternal life, God is even MORE worthy to receive praise and worship in the manner that scripture describes!
The Bible shows that King David understood this truth; and this was even before salvation was made manifest through Jesus Christ. In 2 Samuel 22:47-51 the Bible shows that David completed his psalm of thanksgiving by praising the name of God. He first acknowledged that God is alive. Though this seems like a simple statement, it is a profound one nonetheless. There are many subjects and objects of worship that people uphold in their lives. When the scriptures were being written, the Bible shows that God proved He alone is alive and functional. When God delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, the Egyptians sought and consulted with their false gods and idols. They were ultimately defeated. In fact, when God came into the world as “the Destroyer,” God told Moses that He would bring judgment against the gods of the Egyptians. Where were the gods of the Egyptians when the God of Israel killed the firstborn of all in Egypt? Where were the gods of the Egyptians when the One True Living God belittled Pharaoh and took the children of Israel out of their possession?
In a similar manner, where were the gods of Baal when Elijah allowed the false prophets of Ahab to call upon them? All they had to do was ask their god to start a small fire. Their god was unable to do so because their god was dead. Their god was fake. Their god was a figment of their imagination and the cold wood that sparked no flame proved that as true. When Elijah called upon the Lord God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord consumed everything in a fire and the prophets of Baal were shamed and ultimately destroyed. While the images and writings of false gods and idols have come an gone over the centuries, the Word of God remains intact and as powerful as ever showing that the God of the Bible is indeed alive, functionally active, engaged with His people, able, faithful, and productive to do as He promises. This is sufficient reason alone to praise God and God alone, for the Lord is God and there is no other!
David also wrote that the Lord was His own personal “Rock.” Since the Lord was sovereignly active and has authority and power over all things, David entrusted his life into the hands of the Lord. The Lord was the foundation of David’s life. The Lord was the means by which David found stability in life. The Lord was the means by which David found protection and constancy in life. David knew that all other means of hope and trust were futile. Since God is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and has charge over all things, He alone is worthy of such trust since He alone is qualified to deliver upon the words and promises that He proclaims. Knowing this, David’s life pursuit was to exalt the name of the Lord. David wanted God’s name to be known above all other names, including his own. David wanted to make sure that the One True Living God got His due recognition as the Creation, Deliverer, and Savior. David wanted to ensure that all people knew that the Creator of all things was also the God of Israel and was good and faithful to fulfill His promises concerning safety and eternal security. As such, it was not just that David saw God as a distant divine being, but as his personal Lord and Savior. David personally knew God and watched God perform works according to His eternally unconditional promises in his own life. David could vouch for God because David had personal experience with God, seeing the works of His hands and the fulfillment of His word. Since David knew God, He know God’s aims and purposes so that when God accomplished a task, David was able to recognize the spiritual fulfillment of God’s work in the physical world.
One of the greatest areas of God’s work in David’s life was as a Protector. Many people sought after the life of King David for various reasons. However, God had sworn a covenant to David concerning the kingship and revelation of Messiah. Therefore, David could not be destroyed by his enemies, and God was faithful to ensure the fulfillment of His covenant. God delivered David from his enemies, and also avenged David. It was not just that David was able to escape, but when David died, he died peacefully apart from battle while his enemies had died long before in battle. David acknowledge that it was God who brought those victories and it was God who delivered David from his enemies. As a result of God’s deliverance and salvation, David’s name was exalted as an heir to God’s covenant with Israel. Thus, those who trust in the ability of the One True Living God are found to be beneficiaries of God’s work. Those who trust in the sole power of the Lord God Almighty and exalt His name are made heirs of His promises and exalted as He is exalted.
It is important to also recognize that while David had specific reason to exalt God’s name, so do all of God’s people. While David might have been delivered from physical enemies that sought his physical life, all of God’s people face an enemy that desires to steal eternal life. David’s life was not only a matter of God fulfilling His promises to Israel, but was also a prophetic picture of the work of salvation that is done through Jesus Christ. As God delivered David from his enemies like Goliath, Saul, and Absalom, God delivers His children from sin, death, and hell. As God exercised His power and sovereignty to seat David in a position of favor and authority, God exercises His power and sovereignty to sanctify His people unto Himself where He is seated above all people and nations. David was delivered from the hands of “violent men,” just as God’s children are delivered from the one who was a murderer from the beginning – Satan. The things that God physically did for David serve as proof of God’s life, functionality, ability, purpose, and promises to those who seek Him, trust Him, desire Him, worship Him, and love Him.
God was David’s tower of salvation on account of His own mercy. David was just humble enough to recognize he needed mercy, and was continually repentant to receive God’s mercy. God’s mercy resulted in God’s deliverance, David’s salvation, and the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises through the bloodline of King David. David was thankful to God for these reasons and expressed his thanks through praise and worship. David recognized who God was, what God was doing, and the things that God would continue to do in the future, knowing the good results that would be produced from God’s work. David desired God above all things and his life was a testament to that truth, even despite the mistakes he made in life. Clearly this psalm shows that David’s thanksgiving was FAR MORE than a mere verbal proclamation. David’s thanksgiving is seen in the testimony of David’s life and in the declarations of truth that David made concerning the identity, purposes, and promises of God. David’s thanksgiving is seen through the denial of self that David endured so that he could exalt God, and while he didn’t get it 100% right every time, ultimately, David wanted God to be known and praised far more than his own glory and comfort, knowing and trusting that God was worthy!