How could King David, an adulterer and murderer, be described as a man after God's own heart?
The shepherd's fields of Bethlehem is where David, the son of Jesse, grew up and where he tended sheep. David the shepherd rose to become the King of Israel, and he proved himself to be a skilled military leader and a gifted poet and song writer. But, David was also a liar, an adulterer, and a murderer. How then, could he be described in the Bible as "a man after God's own heart?" And, what is the relevance of his life to you and me today?
We're going to begin our search for understanding King David in the city of Jerusalem and in his writings.
Next to the Dormition Abbey is a medieval building that was constructed by the Crusaders. The Crusader building occupies a very historic site — it is the place where the Last Supper of Jesus and His disciples was held. It is also the site of the first church in Jerusalem — the Messianic-Jewish church headed up by James, the brother of Jesus.
On the same site is the traditional tomb of David, located on the first floor directly below the Upper Room that marks the site of the Last Supper. This, of course, is not the true site of David's tomb, since the Bible says he was buried inside the ancient City of David, which is some distance away. This tomb was constructed by the Crusaders who were thoroughly confused about biblical history and biblical sites.
Whenever I go to Israel and step inside and visit the traditional tomb of David, before entering the tomb it is necessary for all males to wear a hat such as a yarmulke. Normally, when I come there, I read David's Psalm 23.
Let's read something different, taken from Psalm 27:1. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?" He then proceeds in verse four to say, "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple."
I'm reminded of a very important event in the life of David when I see the Tower of David. It's on the west side of the Old City near the Jaffa Gate. This morning during my personal devotions I turned to Psalm 144 and I was reminded of this site. David wrote, "Blessed be the Lord my rock, He is my lovingkindness and my fortress. He is my high tower, and my deliver. My shield and the one in whom I take refuge."
Nearly all Christians are familiar with the story of how God gave David's son Solomon one request before he succeeded his father as king. His request was a selfless, magnanimous one — that he might be given wisdom so that he could rule wisely. Just think, he could have asked for wealth; he could have asked for military power; or an empire that encompassed the then-known world, but no, he asked for wisdom, and God was pleased.
What most Christians do not know is that David also made one basic request of God, and what he requested was a thousand times more profound. As Psalm 27 reveals, David requested intimacy with the Lord. Let's read it again, Psalm 27:4, "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, And to meditate in His temple."
This overwhelming desire to experience the Lord's presence was a constant theme of David's poetry. For example, in Psalm 26, he wrote, "O Lord, I love the habitation of your house, and the place where your glory dwells." Likewise, in Psalm 69 David cries out, "Zeal for Your house (the Temple) has consumed me." David loved the Lord with all his heart, and he yearned for fellowship with the Lord above all other things.
Now, of course, it is one thing to write such sentiments, but it is quite another to live them. Our actions always speak louder and truer than our words. So, what about David's actions? Did they reflect his words? Did they demonstrate an intimate relationship with God? I think they did, and I want to give you three examples.
The in the second part of this study of the faith of King David, we will look at three examples from King David's life which demonstrate that he had a deep relationship with God.