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Andrew Krayer-White - September 27, 2021

"When You're The Last One Picked"

David was a shepherd and a king, a soldier and a poet, a sinner and a saint. Yet of all the descriptions that the Bible gives of David, the most important is the one given by God, when He calls David “a man after my own heart.” In this series, we’ll examine how you and I can develop a heart for God. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Hi church. It’s good to be with you. In case you’re new, joining us here on campus, or through the livestream, it’s great to have you with us. My name is Andrew, and I serve as one of the Pastors here. We are diving into a brand new series this fall called “Developing A Heart For God.”

Over the next nine weeks, we’re going to look at the life of a guy in the bible named David. As we’ll see throughout this series David was a lot of things: He was a shepherd, and a King, a musician and a warrior, a loving dad, and a terrible Dad, he could be the most faithful servant of the Lord, and he could also be amongst the worst of sinners. But perhaps the most significant thing that might be said about David, was that He was a man after God’s own heart. Throughout our series, we’ll be looking at how the same might be said about us. I know that can sound daunting. But we’re not asking you to take on Goliath, or write a book of prayers – David was the greatest King in Israel until Jesus. So I’m not saying we can be David, nor should we necessarily want to…but none the less, we think it is possible for normal people like you and I to cultivate, or at the very least pursue a heart like His. A heart that is pleasing and acceptable to God.

Our sermon today is titled “When You’re The Last One Picked.” In our time we’ll take a look at David’s anointing by the Prophet Samuel. If you’ve got a bible with you, you might want to begin turning to the book of 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel 16, is where we’re first introduced to David. It’s where God says, this is my guy. But even before we get there let’s take a moment to set the stage. To understand the significance of God choosing David, we should understand, David was not the first one picked to be King.

Perhaps it’s best to start here, the whole king thing doesn’t seem to originate as God’s idea. In 1 Samuel 8, the Elders of Israel approached Samuel “and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” Up until this point God himself led His people through His Prophets and the Judges. Now the people were saying, no, no, no, this isn’t working. We want to be like everyone else, we want a king. The prophet Samuel was probably a bit irked, not just because they called him old, rather because at the time he was God’s appointed leader of Israel. None the less he faithfully took their request to God, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Did you catch that? The request for a King was a rejection of God. You see, God governed them, God protected them and provided for them. Samuel might have been the leader of sorts, but there was no question who was in charge.

And still the people said “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations,” and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

First thing, a desire to be like the other nations is a surprising rationale for a people charged to be a Kingdom of priests and a Holy Nation. They were supposed to be set apart, ultimately for the blessing of the nations and yet in asking for a king they wanted to blend in with the nations. Let’s take a look more specifically at what they were requesting: they wanted a King “ go out before us and fight our battles.” This came on the heels of a loss in battle to the Philistines, so perhaps they were losing faith in “the Lord who fights for us” as it says in Exodus, or “the one who goes out before us like a consuming fire,” as we’re told in Deuteronomy. It’s not as if they didn’t have someone to fight for them. More likely what they wanted was a king they could see, and perhaps even control. We’re not going to go far down this rabbit trail, but I think as American Christians this temptation comes upon us every four years, doesn’t it? And I’m not talking about the Olympics. We know what it’s like to feel pulled to put our hope and our trust in a King we can see, who can fight our battles for us – who can establish the Kingdom through legislation and fiat rather than our trusting in God’s sovereign rule and playing our part. I know some of us couldn’t care less about the whole political thing, but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking for a king in our lives. The king is simply the thing we go to for security, comfort, fulfilment. Our king, or let’s use spiritual terms, our idol, is whatever we go to seeking that thing that our relationship with God was ultimately intended to provide.

It’s hard to tell if it’s grace or discipline, but God gave the Israelites exactly what they asked wanted. “The LORD said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” The phrase “make them a king” is key, we’ll see that in a moment.

Through Samuel the Lord appointed for them a man named Saul. And at first Saul seems to be exactly what they were looking for. “When he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward” and “there (was) none like him among all the people.” In other words, Saul looked the part. But as we all know, looks can be deceiving, and they certainly were in Saul’s case. Sadly he didn’t live up to the hype.

In just a few short chapters, we’ll find tall Saul reticent, even cowering to do the very thing the people wanted a king to do. Instead, it’s his son Jonathan and later David himself, not Saul the King who leads the Israelites into battle. Even more significant than his hesitancy on the battlefield, was his failure to follow God’s command. It was a failure of obedience. In today’s terms we might call it a failure of character that ultimately cost Saul the throne.

It’s amazing we still haven’t changed that much. Well maybe we’ve changed. It’s probably gotten worse. In our visual age of visual media, we are attracted to people like Saul now more than ever. The flashy exterior, the charismatic persona, and the appearance of power. All while turning a blind eye to issues of character, and then we pretend to be surprised when it blows up, as if we didn’t see it coming.

This failure is related in two parts in Samuel: First, Saul, acting from a lack of faith, usurped the role of the priest and offered a sacrifice on the eve of battle. Samuel told him to wait for his arrival and when Samuel failed to arrive, Saul impetuously did what only the priests were allowed to do.

The second instance to place sometime later. The Israelites were to make war against the Amalekites. God had commanded them through Samuel to devote to destruction all the spoils from the battle with the Amalekites.”

Israel went on to do to soundly defeat the Amalekites, but following the battle “Saul and the army spared Agag (the king of the Amalekites) and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed..”

In other words, what was good, valuable, pleasing to them they kept. Why is that an issue? Because while God promised to prosper his people, but he did not intend them to profit from the destruction of the Amalekites.

As their King, Saul knowingly led his people into disobedience. Sure, he tried to shift the blame, but as the leader he was the one accountable. This gets even worse, following the battle, Saul had the audacity, the hubris to build a monument in his own honor as if he was the source of their victory.

Where others might build an altar or set up a pilar to remember and give thanks for what God has done, Saul built a monument to commemorate what he had done.

Even when Samuel declared God’s judgement on Saul, saying “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours,” ultimately it’s Saul’s honor that he’s most concerned with. “Honor me before now the elders of my people and before Israel” he begged.

Let’s sum this up, the Israelites wanted a King for themselves. Saul believed that the role of King was for the purpose of profiting and exalting himself. Now let’s look at the beginning of 1 Samuel 16 “The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” On your notes, circle that word “myself.” It’s as if God said, “Saul was the kind of King you wanted. And I gave you the kind of king you wanted. Look how that worked out for you. Now I’m going to name the kind of King I want, a King for myself.”

First and foremost, David, who’s not yet named, wasn’t chosen for the people, He was chosen for God.

Our lives are not that different. We have not simply been chosen to please people, or exhalt ourselves, we have been chosen, for God’s own delight, glory and honor. This might be mind blowing to you, but your salvation is not primarily about you or the people that will be saved through you, as you spread God’s word. It’s about God’s glory.

He has called you for himself. Now, will we serve people, will we experience blessing? Absolutely, but not if we don’t get the order right.

In our day we’ve got a gospel of social justice that often leaves behind a relationship with God while elevating our service to people. We’ve got a health and wealth gospel, that focuses on the benefits God provides, while minimizing our responsibility to serve Him or people.

But the real gospel means: We are chosen by God and for God, before we are ever called to people. We’ve got to have a right orientation with God, before we can ever be any good to the people God has called us to. Otherwise all too often we end up serving people for the sake of ourselves.

Samuel has an odd response for a Prophet of the Lord. He questioned God “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’” Today we would call this treason. Or at best a coup. What else could you call anointing a new King while the preceding King is still living, that’s not succession.

So, we can kind of see where Samuel is coming from and why he might feel a little reticent. If Saul hears of this, he would surely kill Samuel, with cause. At the same time, in the two previous encounters with Saul, Samuel showed no hesitancy to call Saul to the carpet.

Perhaps Samuel’s old age had softened him or his grief had shaken his courage. We don’t know. But he’s anxious.

I love God’s sense of humor here. Back in chapter 15, verse 15 Saul tried to cover his failure to destroy the Amalekite livestock, suggesting that he was planning to use it for a sacrifice to the Lord.

Now the Lord sends Samuel on his mission to anoint a new king under the auspices of performing a sacrifice. If Saul asks, tell him you’re performing a sacrifice.

“Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.”

Earlier in the book of 1 Samuel, we’re told “From year to year (Samuel) went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places.” That’s the way Samuel ran his ministry and everyone knew it. Bethlehem, was well outside of that circuit… so this mighty Prophets’ appearance in Bethlehem was a cause for concern.

What’s he doing here? Maybe the elders were afraid that there some sin for which their people were under God’s judgement, and they were terrified that Samuel came to bring word of it. Or maybe it was tied to Samuel being on the outs with Saul. Associating with Samuel would then put them equally at risk of Saul’s wrath. Either way they settled down enough to come to the BBQ worship service, and there Jesse’s sons paraded before Samuel.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Eliab was tall and a good looking dude. And Samuel’s gut response was what many of ours would be. This dude is our next leader. Maybe Samuel saw him take control of the situation and get all his brothers lined up before the prophet, or the easy way that he mingled amongst the city Elders, and how people gravitated to him. Eliab was who many of us deep down long to be, but feel as if we are not. And Samuel said this is my guy. To which God said, no it isn’t.

Eliab was essentially Saul number two. At least from the outside. Tall, good, looking, that was essentially Samuel’s job description. Thankfully it’s not God’s. God says to Samuel - I don’t look at the same thing you do Samuel. God looks on the heart. It’s our heart that contains the qualities God is looking for. Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”

Can you imagine the confusion that Samuel was feeling? He wanted to anoint the King and get out of there before Saul got word it, but now seven sons have passed and still God had not designated His chosen one.

Did God misspeak? Did he change His mind? Is there another Jesse in Bethlehem. That would have been embarrassing situation.

Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.”

On one hand you can’t really blame Jesse, eight sons is a lot to keep track of. I’ve got two plus a daughter, and one of them doesn’t even move around a lot yet, but that’s all we can handle. But this seems like more than just forgetting to invite David, or losing track of sons. More likely it’s that David was such an afterthought that Jesse assumed it would have been a waste of time to invite him to the sacrifice.

The irony here is that in the ancient near east, the shepherd was often a symbol for the king. So, David is in a sense overlooked for the position of king, while in that very moment he was doing what a good king was expected to do: take care of a flock. Samuel had everyone stand, as you do when you’re in the presence of royalty. And they wait.

“And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.”

We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t really answer the question “why” does it? What makes this the one? Why did God choose David over the other seven brothers? What was it that made David a more preferable King than Saul? Of course, we know part of the answer from the text, that it was David’s heart that set him apart, but what does that even mean? What is it about David’s heart that stood out to God?

Well think about this, Saul’s heart was filled with what? Pride. Was it not? He demonstrated a consistent preoccupation with and prioritization of himself. In other words Saul was Saul’s agenda. It’s there as he asserted himself, bulldozing ahead and taking the role designated the priest in performing a sacrifice. It’s there in deciding he knew better than God and acting on his will rather than God’s. We see it in the more obvious acts of building a monument to himself, and later in his jealous response to the women’s song “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

I want to suggest that if God rejected Saul for his prideful heart, the kind of king he’s looking for, and more specifically The kind of heart God’s looking for is a heart of humility.

That makes sense when you think of David’s selection doesn’t it? He’s the forgotten one, the youngest of eight. Nobody picked this guy, but God. In Hebrew the word, Jesse uses for “youngest” is Qatan. It means insignificant, some scholars have suggested a better translation would be runt.

Check this out, David’s son Solomon will use the same word qatan in 1 Kings chapter 3. There Solomon prays...

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child (I am qatan) and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Like Father like son. Solomon learned the kind of humility expressed in this prayer sitting on His father David knee. David, in who’s own most famous prayer, he chose the imagery to describe himself as a sheep as the Lord is his shepherd. That’s humility, right?

There’s another son of David, that’s going to have a heart like that. Actually, a heart better than that. A perfect heart. David is only a foretaste of the kind of King that was going to come in Christ Jesus. In his humility David demonstrates a total dependence on God, and point forward to the type of King Christ would be. Christ, who was the incarnate Word of God, none the less depended God, saying “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.”

This connection between David, and Jesus, Son of David is maybe the most obvious in the final verse in this section. Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. Think of Jesus’ forward to Jesus’ own anointing, baptized in the Jordan river, by the Prophet John the Baptist, what happens? He’s anointed not with oil, but with the Spirit, as the Spirit of God descends upon Him, and it is the same Spirit of God, the third person of the trinity, that empowers Jesus throughout His ministry, death and resurrection.

It could be said that pursuing a heart like David’s is really about pursuing a heart like Christ’s. And greatness of heart is measured by the manner in which it reflects and points to the heart of the true King. So here’s my question: is that the trajectory of your heart? Does it reflect his? Is it becoming more like His? That’s our hope over the next 9 weeks. That we will take conscious, intentional God directed and Spirit empowered steps in that direction.

Not just to have a heart more like David’s but to have a heart more like the one David came to point us to. The one who did not consider equality with God something to be taken advantage of, instead he emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in Human likeness, And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” That’s the heart we’re after and more importantly, the heart that’s after us. Even now, God is seeking to fashion that heart and likeness in us. Isn’t that incredible?

I know we covered a lot of ground today, so as we close I want to make this real practical. How do we take a step in that direction and develop a heart like David’s that points to Jesus? It’s got to start here, with the recognition that our hearts are broken. Apart from God even our most virtuous intentions are often corrupt and tainted. Today we have the opportunity to confess, that while want a heart like David’s apart from Christ’s work in us we will forever have a heart of Saul.

There is good news in the promise God made in Ezekiel. There God says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Only God can give us a heart to please Him, and only God can give us the Spirit to live a life pleasing to Him.” And nothing pleases God more than our step of humility, to ask Him for that work in our life.

Would you pray with me?

From Series: "Developing A Heart For God"

David was a shepherd and a king, a soldier and a poet, a sinner and a saint. Yet of all the descriptions that the Bible gives of David, the most important is the one given by God, when He calls David “a man after my own heart.” In this series, we’ll examine how you and I can develop a heart for God.

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