David’s story is really told in two parts and it all centers around a man named Nathan. Nathan the prophet arrives on the scene in 2 Samuel 7, stays until 2 Samuel 12, during which he puts a kink in all of David’s plans. The problem in a nutshell was power; Nathan pointed that out. It was his words, given by God to David through him, that tells Davids story best: “I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel” (2 Samuel 7.8). The power the was given David from God, was lost after he gained the throne because David forgot from where it had come.
The beginning of David’s story is well documented. David, the youngest of a group of brothers is anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel (1 Samuel 16.7). The problems in, no particular order, were these: 1) there was already a king (King Saul); 2) He wouldn’t have even been the first pick of his family (that was usually the oldest); 3) He wasn’t that spectacular (contrast him with Saul in 1 Samuel 9.2 and 11.24).
The thing that made David stand out is recorded from the mouth of God in 1 Samuel 16.7: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Throughout David’s ascent to the throne, there were times that other’s tried to change who David was. “David you have too look like this to have power”; “David, you must do this to be powerful” and so on.
Before fighting Goliath, what did Saul have him do? “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.” (1 Samuel 17.38) Saul was saying: “David, you have to be like me to go do this.” Do it this way and gain power! But it was the heart after God in David that was powerful enough to face Goliath, not the power of armor and the sword of the King.
In 1 Samuel 24, Saul has been pursuing David for some time. Saul knows that killing David will give him the undivided loyalty of the people and cement the throne for him for some time. He got sidetracked with a Philistine invasion as he was closing in on David the first time (1 Samuel 23.26-29). After subduing the invaders, Saul has resumed the chase. But like anyone on a long journey, nature calls sometimes. The King went into the very cave where David and his men were hiding to take a potty break. David’s men saw the fortune in this and said: “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to do as you wish.” (1 Sam 24.4). What do you think the men of David expected? “David, kill him and end our hiding!” “David, finish him and you can be King!” Do it this way…and get power!
Later on David would have the chance once again to get Saul. He and his army were camped alongside the road. David took one of his three closest men, Abaishai (2 Sam. 23.18ff.) down to the camp at night. They saw that Saul had fallen asleep with his spear next to him. Abaishai turns to David and says what we are all thinking: “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I wont have to strike him twice!” (1 Samuel 26.8) Translation: “David, this is how you do it!”, “David, get your throne by killing him!”. Do it this way…and get the power!
Of course David refused all three things, the armor of Saul, the murder in the cave, and the spear by Saul. His idol and hero, his men, and one of his closest friends, all had the wrong way to power. And David withstood all of them. David’s heart towards God was all the power he needed to journey to the throne.
But something strange happens in 2 Samuel 10. David takes Bathsheba, sleeps with her, and then kills her husband. David has the power of the throne and uses it. No longer is his connection with God the source of his power, but the throne. Nathan is the one who calls him on it.
David not only took what he wanted (Bathsheba) and tried to cover it up (death of Uriah), he sought power with the men in his command. In 2 Samuel 24, David counts the men in his army. In short the message was this: “the power is found in who has the biggest army!” David heard the message! Shortly after he had done this, you feel the pain in David’s spirit.
“David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (2 Samuel 24.10)
David’s life is a story of two halves. The first half, was one of power gained by faithfully following God. The second half, was one of power lost, by trying to gain it by himself. Jesus says: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12.23-26)
He says in Mark 8: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (34-35)
The message of the Gospel is this: We live by dying and power only comes by submission. He is most powerful who has no power left to defend. Jesus taught that we live by dying to ourselves. When the glory of God is all that we care about, there is so much that we can look past. David’s power came from his relationship with God, not from what the world said.
David’s heart was powerful because it was in submission to God. When his mentor, the world, and his friend was telling him that power was to be found in a certain way…his heart after God told him differently. He followed God instead of their teaching. Jesus teaches that power comes from himself, not from the places we often look. We look towards things, idols, relationships, and abilities, but the Gospel shows that power comes only when we give it up to God! Go figure…