What did David do to earn God’s attention? What was it about that the shepherd from Bethlehem that garnered God’s attention to the point that he was the one chosen to be the future king of Israel? That is the question, and it is the starting point of our look into the process of New Beginnings and how God can take us from a promise all the way up to its manifestation in reality.
To get a good look at this process and how we can work along side God to see it come to pass we will be looking at the lives of two people in the coming weeks. Later we will look at the transformation of Saul into Paul but today I wish to begin taking a look at the life of David. Before David became a king and received the fulfillment of God’s promise he first had to receive that promise in the first place.
All the way back to the beginning at we find this teenager out among the sheep living a normal quiet life. The son of Jesse and the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, David was just ordinary, he as the youngest of eight sons took care of the family’s heard of sheep. He would have spent long lonely nights out in the wilderness as he completed his yearly grazing circuit (see Psalms 23) throughout the region. During this time it is evident that David used that isolation to build his relationship with God.
At this point in his life he was mostly sheltered from the controversy unfolding in the life of Saul, Samuel’s prophetic ministry tour between Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah, and the Philistines encroaching on his tribe’s territory. Those were problems outside of the realm of control for a simple shepherd boy, but it seems that David did not waste his time outside of all that was going on. David sought God, he learned how to worship through music, he meditated on the scriptures (Psalms 63:6) and he learned the lessons of protecting his flock with God’s help (1 Samuel 17:34-35).
Earning The Promise
Eventually the day came when Saul took things too far, he disobeyed the words of Samuel the Prophet/Judge and took his place as priest so that the people would be appeased and the battle could commence. Following the rebuke God gave through Samuel it was clear that in God’s eyes that it was time to appoint a new king. Samuel was then sent by God to seek out Jesse of Bethlehem to find this new king. However, God wasn’t looking for another man that was literally head and shoulders above the rest like Saul was, a man the people assumed would make a good king. Instead God lead Samuel to appoint someone whose heart was worthy to lead the people, more as a shepherd and less as a warlord (1 Samuel 16:7). Eventually after turning down Jesse’s seven other sons it was revealed that an eighth son was out in the field, so David was sent for and appeared before the prophet.
1 Samuel 16:12-13 12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. (NKJV)
Just like that, in an instant David went from being the lowest of his family to being commissioned to become king, of not just his family or tribe but of the entire nation. This is the kind of calling many Christians dream about, especially those who aspire to be in ministry. The idea that one day a prophet, or preacher or denominational leader will be commanded by God to come to your house and hand you the keys to the kingdom. This is something many people want and desire but very few ever encounter, and for good reason as we will soon see.
You see David didn’t do what He did to become King or hope someone would notice what he was doing. He wasn’t playing his harp to impress the tabernacle’s band-director, David wasn’t at the hunting lodge showing off the bear and lion pelts and David wasn’t in the gate of city advertising himself as the next great leader in the tribe of Judah. David was just living his life for God and in relationship with Him, it wasn’t about impressing other people, but it was about drawing closer to God out in the field where no one saw him.
I fear that today we often try to earn God’s commission through our works and actions and miss the point entirely. We do volunteer work, attend bible studies and do a host of other things to try and impress the right people and hope that they notice enough that they play the role of Samuel in our own lives. It’s about impressing everyone else other than God, because we convince ourselves that if the people are happy and impressed that God must be as well. Especially when we use the results of whatever we are doing to justify it as helping to build the kingdom.
Using Work As Currency
I find it hard to believe that David would have developed his relationship with God because he was hoping to convert those hours, songs and prayers into some sort of currency or rewards points which he could exchange for a blessing or commission. I don’t think for a second that David ever expected anything like this to happen to him and that is why God was able to choose him and say that he had a heart like his own.
It’s because David wasn’t working towards receiving a calling, rather he was just loving and worshiping God simply to love and worship God. So much of what came later in David’s life is rooted and grounded in those early years alone with the sheep, when no one was looking. It’s becoming more and more common today that we base everything we do in relationship with God and what we do in and around the church around what the “net benefit will be for ourselves.”
I’m not immune to this either I was led into this trap as well where I volunteered and oversaw ministries not only because of the impact it could have on people but I saw them as stepping stones to something better than what was in front of me. When you have a heart that is corrupted (or at the very least flavored) by this lie eventually we learn how to do life, ministry and relationship without God being involved. That’s because we are serving the system instead and prayer, worship and devotion are just seen as necessities that need to be done to keep the machine running.
We have it all backwards and the life of David confronts us with that truth.
God Is Looking For Those Who Love Him More Than His Benefits
We don’t serve God to become superstars, or to get popular among people, or even to get a promotion at work/ministry. The end result or our life and actions isn’t to reap the rewards our benefits (be it financially or in any other arena) for ourselves, but it’s in becoming closer to God. Then and only then do we progress and succeed because that kind of promotion in life comes out of the overflow of our relationship with God, not the other way around.
My prayer life is not about advancing my ministry or career, rather those things are advanced because I regularly spend time with God. I think we have everything backwards. It is like we see ministry, or whatever our calling is as being like a boat on the water, pushing forward and leaving waves and ripples behind. We them assume that those waves and ripples represent our relationship with God. However, the opposite is true our relationship with God is that boat, while our life and calling is represented by those ripples. Everything else is supposed to come afterwards and like ripples and waves they remain as the evidence to other people that we were there while God was moving across the water.
Our attention must be placed solely on what is happening inside that boat which is our relationship with God. We pray, we study we communicate with God and we set our face towards His then as that happens our boat continues to push forward faster and faster leaving behind a greater wake behind us.
That is how ministry works, that is how we live out our callings (no matter which arena of life your day is spent in) and that is how we change this world. Not buy serving some ideal or mission that we think will please God and change the world but by loving and serving God. This is the lesson from David he worshipped in the wilderness not because He as trying out for Israel’s Got Talent but because he loved God. Doesn’t the phrase about David having a heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14, Acts 13:22) after God’s make so much more sense now?
We see this lifestyle of David’s demonstrated in his psalms:
Psalm 13:5-6 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (NKJV)
Psalms 18:1-2 “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (NKJV)
Psalm 25:12-15 12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. (NKJV)
Psalm 63:3 “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.” (NKJV)
These aren’t the words of someone putting on a show for God or people, but they are the declarations of a person who knows God and is seeking Him out. That kind of knowledge and wisdom only comes out of relationship, true relationship with God. Not because you deserve it, or your think it will benefit you in the long run or because God’s owes it to you as payment for previous services rendered.
David in these verses is talking about trust, love and reverence towards God, they are the foundation stones to a real relationship with God. As opposed to the false foundation stones of obligation, duty and tradition which lead us not into a relationship with God but into a business arrangement where we exchange service for blessings. This is another example of why God could trust David to no just be a king but also a person declared to have a heart like His own (1 Kings 9:4, Acts 13:22).
Having a heart after God’s also means being obedient to His words (Acts 13:22) and that is one of the missing links in all of this. How is it any different than what Jesus said in John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” David was faithful to the covenant between God and Israel and used those words to ensure that his heart was following after not just the idea of God but the standards he commanded through Moses.
What’s The Great Key?
What is “The Key To Receiving A Promise From God” the key is relationship, and it is relationship that is not self-serving but is based out of a desire to be with God just for the sake of being with God. Is it any different in the natural, do you have friendships or even a spouse that you only spend time with just to get something tangible out of it? Did you marry that person to impress their parents enough to hire you (this applies to business and at times even more so in the church!), or do you use friendships to advance your career (even if you’re not even qualified for that promotion)? We take these ideas and try and use them against God but He can see through our façade and that is why we never seem to get what we want out of a relationship with Him.
We could also picture our relationship as a great key and upon that key of are ridges of faithfulness, obedience, hope and love which are used to unlock our purpose in life. Now we begin to understand the heart of David and why he was chosen by God to become king. Simply because David as a boy was not trying to become a king but was rather focused on pleasing and following after God. As David loved and followed God he found himself in the place where God elevated him to the place of being a king. We need to keep the order correct, serving and loving God results in destiny being unlocked, and we do not chase after our destiny in the hopes that it will lead us to serve and love God.
Hebrews 11:6 “… for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (NKJV)
Even with me personally my biggest “advancements” in ministry didn’t come because I was advertising myself or trying to outwork or out maneuver others around me. Rather those opportunities came because someone else in prayer heard God say to give me an opportunity, or to help them out in what they were doing. While on the other hand whenever I have tried to “play the game” so to speak it never resulted in anything beneficial and usually brought me to places of burden, frustration and hopelessness.
I can’t base my prayer and devotion time around trying to impress God or other people. Those times are for me and God and what I’ve found is from those times of relationship is that ideas, books, concepts, and articles just naturally flow out of those times. To a much higher degree than when I “set aside time to get a word to talk about.”
Ministry is supposed to be an overflow of your relationship with God, and your relationship with God is not supposed to be a by-product of your ministry. I am not just talking about full-time ministry here I am talking about whatever place or opportunity God has placed you in to either spread the gospel or to strengthen/support existing believers. This also applies to every arena outside of the church as well along with your job/career, everything you do should be an extension of your relationship with God and God is looking to use you in a variety of different ways beyond just preaching about the great commission.
David’s heart made him a king in God’s eyes and we must never forget that being a king didn’t make David’s heart like God’s. This is the beginning, David’s life, devotion and relationship with God paved the way for everything that happened in his life afterwards. It propelled him into a life of twists and turns and when David backed away from that relationship or he silenced his heart that is when trouble arose in his life. It is that heart of devotion, worship and closeness to God that set him apart and when he drifted away from that is when things went wrong.
Now David has gone from a live of sheltered devotion to receiving a grand promise from God and next week we will learn how David started to live a life that would cultivate the promise into a reality.
To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth
The Key To Receiving A Promise From God Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.