People who were Close to God: David: Loved both God and Sin
Intro: A different time
I want to talk about two events in David’s life that will show some great lessons about his relationship with God. But first I think there are some peculiarities about David’s time that we should understand. There are some differences between his time and ours that if we don’t understand, will make for some real confusion. For one thing, in David’s time, God was working with the nation of Israel. Now he’s working with the whole world. Then, he only worked with the nation of Israel. His plan was very narrow in scope. What this amounted to was a very conservative plan. God’s plan at that time was not to reach out and tell everyone about himself, like it is today. Instead he was focused more on preserving this tiny nation. He wanted to preserve them, because they were the ones who would write down the scriptures. And through them he would also bring the Messiah. The reason for that is that Jesus Christ had not yet come and died. So the Holy Spirit was not yet given. It’s God’s Spirit that makes us distinctive. It’s God’s Spirit who changes us. He gives us spiritual power for daily life. So God’s people were not in any way distinctive. They were no different than anyone else. That is why they constantly fell into the same sins as those surrounding them. They constantly fell into idolotry, having multiple wives, etc. One result of this is that the goals of a believer’s life were not too different from the goals of anyone esle’s. For example, today a beleiver in God might want to live his life to see people meet Christ. Not so in those days. A believer in God might life his life to become a better warrior or a better farmer. And that would be it. So, David was a warrior king, not unlike other kings in the world. That’s what he did. In the course of it, he had to count on God. That’s where his relationship with God became dependant and needy. He didn’t want to be the average king who established a kingdom. He wanted the credit and glory to go to God. He wanted God to defend the nation of Israel. I think this is real important for us to understand. Because where we might be concerned with having God change us into more loving people so we can have more of an effect for God in this world, that was not so much their concern. We don’t find these OT believers praying for the same things because they didn’t have the same goals in life. But the same elements of needing God, wanting to be close to God, etc., were there. That’s why they are good examples for us. With those differences in mind, I’d like to look at a couple events in David’s life that show us his great understanding of his relationship with God.
Getting strengthened by the Lord (1 Sam. 30)
The first happened early on in his life, before he was even king. David led a band of men and they had been part of a warring party. And when they came back, another warring party had come and taken all their things, their women, and their children! It tells us that they wept until they had no strength left. But then, on a more ominous note, “They were talking of stoning David!” They were upset with him. What a terrible position to be in. Here your family has been taken away. Your possession stolen. And on top of it all, the people blame you! They want your head now! Here’s a situation where it would be very easy to collapse. Pressure situations sometimes come into my life, and my first instinct is to run and hide. My first instinct is to want to quit. If I had been there, I could imagine myself saying, “To hell with you guys! You can find yourselves another leader! I lost my family too, you know!” But that was not David’s reaction. Read carefully, “He went to be strengthened by the Lord.”
In the Psalms (see Psa. 31:19-24; 33:13ff.;
Here we see a key to David’s relationship with God. He knew how to go to God for strength. He knew the secret of going directly to God and getting encouraged and strenthened, even when all the people around him wanted his head! If you know anything about David, you know that he was a man of prayer. He wrote most of the Psalms, which are prayers to God. And you would be amazed to know that about half of the 70+ Psalms David wrote were prayers asking for God’s strength. David drew his strength from God.
We don’t normally go to God
This would be such a great thing. But the problem is that’s not what we normally do. When I’m drained, or depressed, or intimidated by something, my normal course is not to go to God for strength. When I’m anxious, I try to ignore it. I watch TV. I work on something. I do anything to ignore my anxiety. Example: I remember when I was in school, during finals week, I would go fishing, build something, work on my car, anything to avoid the pressure. When I’m depressed, I become a TV hound. Example: I’ve watched shows like the Brady Bunch, The Price is Right, numerous televangelists, even the Juiceman! All because I just didn’t want to think about anything. Of course the result of this is that you don’t really get energized. You don’t really get any strength. So I wish I was better at this. I wish I knew more about how to go to God directly and get strengthening, encouragement and energy from him. The kinds of things that intimidate us today are a little different. The prospect of making friends with people is intimidating. Relationships with the opposite sex are intimidating. Serving Christ, stepping into positions of leadership, sharing the gospel with people, public teaching, are all things that are intimidating. There are things that are draining and depressing are things like failure, work, school, rejection, and so on. So there’s no doubt that all of us struggle with the same type of problem. And we also experience getting let down by other people. In any of these hardships, there are times when other people can’t help you. Example: I’m one of those people who always tends to think no one can help me. “Nobody understands me!” But I know there are other people here who always, automatically go to others for help. And you know how disappointing people can be. Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew how to go directly to God for strength? Like I said, I’m not the greatest at this myself. I feel like I need to learn from David. There are definitely a couple lessons we can learn from his practice of going to get strengthened by God.
David knew he was weak
First of all, David knew he was weak. You can’t go and be strengthened by God if you don’t really think you need it! This is one key to David’s success. There were times when he really knew his own weakness. Look at this Psalm (109)ÿ.ÿ.ÿ. The feeling that he is communicating here is neediness and weakness. The description of his physical state is not so much how he really is, as much as it is about how he feels. He feels like he’s wasting away. This is why it’s so hard for me to get strength from the Lord. I never let myself feel weak. I never want to get to the point where I’m really desparate. So I handle it. I take care of it. I watch TV. I power through.ÿ I don’t have the experience of getting refreshed and energized by the Lord.
By the way, this attitude right here is what we need to become Christians in the first place. To become a Christian is to get to the point in your life where you realize you need God. It’s to come before God for the first time and say, “God, I need your forgiveness. And I need you.” This is somethign you do in prayer between you and God. The basic idea is that God does love you. And he does want tohave a relationship with you. But first, we have to get to the point where we realize we need him. Specifically, we need to get to the point where we realize we need his forgiveness. And when we come to him humbly, asking for his forgiveness and asking him to come into our lives, his answer is yes. He is waiting.ÿ I hope some of you will think about that.
He spent time with God
Then, David spent time with God. Knowing his weakness, he went before the Lrod in prayer. And this is what the Psalms are all about. These are just a few samplings of David’s times of prayer with God. Here again, what do I do? What do we normally do? We’re feeling bad. And so we go to God and say, ‘God, I’m feeling bad.” And that’s it! What are you supposed to get from that? Example: You could imagine walking by my wife in the hallway. And as you pass by, “Hey, I’ve been kind of depressed lately.” But what David did was he spent time. He thought things through with the Lord. And as he spent time with God he was strengthened. I have experienced this. In fact, on numerous occasions I have been needy enough that I stopped, got before God, and really talked things through with him. And it does feel good. It is an excellent experience, one that I come away from energized. But I have to admit that usually I’m either not needy (or don’t feel like it), or I won’t spend the time.
Willing to sacrifice (2 Sam. 24)
The second event I want to look at is similar to the first, because it also revolves around this notion of self-confidence. You see, David, on the one hand was acutely aware of his weakness. So he depended on God for strength. But he always had this tendency to be self-confident. He was a winner. And he knew it. And if he didn’t keep that self-confidence in check, it wound up destroying him. This happened several times in the course of his lifetime. A lot of you mighit be familiar with the incident with Beth-Sheba, where he killed her husband in order to carry out an adulterous affair. And this all came about because David was lax about his own weakness. But there is an incident late in his life that was similar because of that self-confidence. This is recorded in 1ÿChroniclesÿ21
He wants to count his armies
What does it mean to say that Satan stood up against Israel? It means that there was an enemy that came against Israel. Some kind of a threat was posed against Israel, probably another nation. But it incited David to number his army. Well his main general, Joab, objects. He says, “May the Lord add a hundred times as many as there are!” His point is that their strength is not in the number of people they have. Their strength is from God.ÿ God is their protector.ÿ To number the people is to say, “Well, the God-thing is OK, but how strong are we really?” It was exactly the opposite of the attitude we saw in the first story. David himself knew better. Look at one of his own Psalms (33:16-18). This is why, then, the Lord moves in discipline against David and Israel. At the end of the chapter he sends a plague against them.
I will pay for sacrifice
The story itself is fascinating, but we don’t have time to read it all or derive all the lessons that are there. I wanted to focus in on the end of the story for another great attitude David had. It explained his special relationship with God. What happens with the plague is that it is sweeping across Israel. And David actually goes down into the path of the plague as it’s spreading, and begins to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. The place he chooses is on the property of this guy named Aruanah. So David is going down to offer a sacrifice in the path of the plague, on Aruanah’s property. This is where our story picks upÿ.ÿ.ÿ. This is the verse that gets me. “I will not make an offering that cost me nothing!” How contrary to our attitude today! Example: You could imagine in some area of service for the Lord, like giving. We pass a plate here at the end. And you’re about to put some cash in, when the guy next to you grabs your arm, “Let me put this $50 in there for you.” What do you think? “Hey, a 50’s a 50! Besides, mine was just a five!” And David is saying, “No way!” I want to sacrifice for the Lord!” I think this is a great lesson for us. In a day of ease, convenience, and escapism no one wants to sacrifice anything. And our spiritual lives show it. The Lord is worthy of sacrifice. He’s worth the time it takes to study the scriptures. He’s worth the hard work of prayer. He’s worth rejection. He’s worth doing without.