"Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites," stood a head taller than any of the others (1 Samuel 9:2) and looked like a good choice to be anointed as Israel's first king.* However, in spite of a promising start, he turned out to be a tragic disappointment.
God chose David to succeed Saul, even though David seemed an unlikely choice. The Lord told Samuel, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Unquestionably Israel's greatest king, David became the standard to which all future kings were compared. He had the priceless distinction of being a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
David's Faith Put a Song in His Heart
David's skillful harp playing brought him to the attention of King Saul. Whenever David played his harp, Saul would find relief from the tormenting spirit that often came upon him. David wrote many of the psalms, expressing his faith in the Lord. He was known as "Israel's singer of songs," or "Israel's beloved singer" (2 Samuel 23:1). Second Samuel 22 contains David's song of praise to the Lord after the Lord had delivered him from all his enemies.
David's Faith Helped Him Succeed in Daily Struggles
After entering King Saul's service, David went back and forth from Saul to tend Jesse's (David's father) flocks (1 Samuel 17:15). While David took care of the flocks, a lion or a bear would come and carry off a sheep. David would go after the predator, strike it, and rescue the sheep from its mouth. When the animal turned on him, he would seize it by its hair and kill it.
David's faith enabled him to succeed in the daily challenges of tending to the flocks and ministering to King Saul.
David's Faith Enabled Him to Triumph in Major Battles
When facing Goliath, David declared to King Saul, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:37).
Armed only with a sling and five stones, David told Goliath, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me" (17:45,46).
David triumphed, and the army of Israel, heartened by his victory, pursued the Philistine army and killed them. In the years that followed, David led the army of Israel to defeat many of Israel's enemies, including the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans, and Ammonites (2 Samuel 8 and 10).
David's Faith Helped Him Make the Right Choice
Saul became increasingly jealous of David and repeatedly tried to kill him. David escaped and went into exile, but Saul pursued him. While David was hiding in a cave, Saul entered it, allowing David the perfect opportunity to kill him. However, because of his relationship with God, David chose not to do so. He told Saul, "May the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you" (1 Samuel 24:12). David rested his case in God's hands, confident that the Judge of all the earth would do right.
When Nabal refused food to David and his men after they had protected his livestock and servants, Abigail (Nabal's wife) reminded David of the lasting dynasty God would give David (1 Samuel 25:28). David wisely chose not to retaliate against Nabal. Several days later, Nabal died.
David's Faith Brought Him to Repentance and Enabled Him to Cope With Tragedy
When God sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David for committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, David admitted his guilt and repented. God forgave him, but took the life of his infant son because David's sin had "made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt" (2 Samuel 12:14).
After his son died, David's faith enabled him to cope with this loss. He told his servants, "I will go to him [his son, in heaven], but he will not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23).
When David's son Absalom conspired against him, David had to flee for his life. Shimei, a relative of Saul's, met David and all his officials as they were fleeing. Adding insult to injury, he cursed David and pelted him and his men with stones, but David told his guards not to retaliate. "It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today" (2 Samuel 16:12).
Joab killed Absalom, and David mourned for his son, "If only I had died instead of you" (2 Samuel 18:33). David returned to Jerusalem and later fought against Israel's enemies.
David's Faith Made Him Desire God's Presence
David, accompanied by the priests and people, brought back the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem with great joy, singing and playing musical instruments and praising God (1 Chronicles 15:25-28). David composed a psalm of thanks to the Lord (16:8-36).
David shared with Nathan the prophet his desire to build a temple for God. Nathan told David that God would not allow him to build the temple, but David's son would build it. David's faith in God's promise prompted him to make extensive preparations for the building of temple, including acquiring the materials that would be needed. David designed the temple and gave Solomon "the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind" (1 Chronicles 28:12). "'All this,' David said, 'I have in writing from the hand of the Lord upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan'" (1 Chronicles 28:19).
David's Faith Enabled Him to Believe God's Promises About His Legacy
David never forgot that God had chosen him to be king over Israel (1 Chronicles 28:4). He acknowledged, "Everything comes from you" (29:14).
God promised to make David's name great and to establish his son's kingdom. He also made an everlasting covenant with him that a descendent of David's would reign forever (2 Samuel 7:11-16). This, of course, referred to Jesus. David believed God's promise and responded with praise and gratitude. He also wrote several messianic psalms (Psalms 2; 22; 16; 68; 11).
David expressed his faith in song. Ephesians 5:19 encourages us to do the same. "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything."
Just as David succeeded in his daily struggles, as well as in major battles, God wants us to succeed. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5,6).
If we seek God's wisdom, He promises to help us make the right choices. "The Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. . . . Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path" (Proverbs 2:6,9).
When we make mistakes, maintaining our trust in God will enable us to repent and receive His forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
David's faith made him desire God's presence. God encourages us to draw near to Him, and He will respond by drawing near to us (James 4:8).
David's faith enabled him to believe God's promises. He recognized that the accomplishing of God's promise was God's responsibility; God determines the method and the timing. If we trust God and allow Him to work in His way, we can be certain that He will fulfill His promises to us.
© by Nancy A. Stevens
* All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.