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1 Samuel 16-17: The Heart of the Matter Print E-mail
1 Samuel
Sunday, 04 June 2017
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Some things that matter to men do not matter to the Lord. One of those is outward appearances. We are obsessed with how things look. We want our clothes to look a certain way, our cars to look a certain way, our homes to look a certain way. We even apply this principle to certain people. We want our politicians to wear suits and our stars to wear Gucci. Or we want our politicians to look approachable and our stars to look casual (does Gucci have a casual line?) We created jobs to manage how a person looks: image consultants. We have competitions and TV shows devoted to fashion and clothing. Outward appearances are important in our culture.

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But what a man or woman looks like on the outside does not matter than much to God. He wants us to be modest but is not overly concerned with much else when it comes to our physical appearance. So then, what does matter to the Lord? What is He concerned about when it comes to men? We have a powerful answer to that question in our passage this morning. It begins with God telling Samuel to appoint a new king in Israel. Saul had disobeyed God and forfeited the future reign of his line. But God was going to replace him with a man after his own heart (13:14). That man will be a son of Jesse and God tells Samuel to go and find him in Bethlehem. Look at 16:1. Samuel is concerned about Saul finding out, so the Lord tells him to take a sacrifice. When he arrives, he begins to consider the sons of Jesse. Look at verse 6. Eliab looks the part and Samuel thinks he will be the next king. But look at what God says in verse 7.

I think one of the central themes of 1-2 Samuel is stated in this verse. God is not concerned with outward appearances, God is concerned with the heart. He is not impressed with height or strength or quickness or agility. He looks to what a man believes about Him. To have faith in God is better than good looks or a strong stature. It is better than wealth and riches. We see things upside down. We focus on the wrong traits. Good looks at the heart. Because of this, He chooses David to be the next king in Israel. After Jesseís other sons are not chosen, they send for the youngest. Look at verse 12-13. David was a good looking fellow, but that is not why God chose him to be king. He was chosen for his heart. I think we can see his heart being revealed in the next couple of stories. Letís consider what they say about Davidís heart.
Davidís heart in service (16:14-23)

I just want to mention this story in passing because I want to get to the most famous story in the book which happens in chapter 17. But we do need to see what it reveals about David, particularly the contrast between him and Saul. Things are not going well for the king. Look at verses 14-16. Saulís time as king is running out. Since he had been given the Spirit to serve the people as king, the Spirit has now been removed. And not only that, but a troubling or evil spirit has come in His place. We should note Godís sovereignty even over this situation. The servants offer a solution: let us get someone to play music and help you. Saul agrees and they summon David, who is gifted at playing the lyre. Through his service he is able to comfort the king. And how is David described in this passage? He is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him. David is able to minister to Saul because the Lord is with him. It is not just his skill, but His love for the Lord that aids the king. This reveals his heart for God and his heart to serve Godís Anointed, which will play a bigger role later in his relationship with Saul.
Davidís heart in battle (17:1-58)

The next story in the book gives us an ever clearer view of Davidís heart. Although it is a familiar tale, one of the most familiar in all of the Bible, it is good for us to think through it again and how it reveals Davidís faith and Davidís God.
The situation is another fight with the Philistines, the enemies of Israel. Both armies have met for battle, but a peculiar thing happens. One particular Philistine soldier, a man by the name of Goliath, challenges the armies of Israel. His proposal is simple: pick a guy to fight me and if he losses, Israel will surrender. The problem with this scheme is that Goliath is a mammoth of a man. He is over nine feet tall with enough weapons and armor for three men. So he mocks the army of Israel and they are greatly afraid (v. 11).
But then David shows up. He was not yet old enough to actually be in the army (twenty years old), so he was at home tending the sheep in his brotherís absence. Yet, his father Jesse sent him to the battle lines to find out what was going on and to take some supplies. When he gets there, he overhears the taunting of Goliath, which had been going on for forty days at this point. Some of the soldiers around him tell him what Saul has promised to anyone who defeats the giant, which included riches, his daughter in marriage, and tax-free living. Even so, nobody is willing to fight Goliath. But David states what has been implied in the text to this point. Look at verse 26. David understands that this is not just a political or national crisis. It is a theological one. Goliath is not just taunting Israel, he is mocking Israelís God.
After his brother Eliab makes it plain why he was not chosen as king (v. 28-30), Saul asks to speak with David. Look at verses 31-32. David recognizes the problem in Israel: they have a heart problem, they fear Goliath more than they fear God. But King Saul points out the obvious when considering the outward appearance of David and Goliath: David is too young and inexperienced to fight this soldier. Look at Davidís response in verses 34-37. Davidís argument is practical: ĎI have fought and killed lions and bears, surely I can kill this man.í But more importantly, it is theological: ĎThe Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.í It is interesting to wonder what Saul was thinking, but he decides to let David fight.
After refusing to wear Saulís armor into the battle, a detail that highlights Davidís dependence on the Lord and his agility for the fight, he confronts Goliath with nothing more than a stick, a sling, and five stones that were probably no bigger than a baseball. The Philistine speaks first. Look at verses 41-44. Goliath is offended at the appearance of David. Surely Israel can find a better warrior than this. So he curses him and tells him that he is going to feed his dead body to the birds. Notice too that Goliath understands the theological implications since he curses David by his gods. This is more than just a fight between two men.
David responds in verses 45-47.

Look at those with me. David reveals his heart with this speech. And what does he reveal? We see that David fears and trusts in God more than he fears Goliath. Goliath has all of his size and all of his weapons, but David has the Lord. Goliath has worthless idols on his side and David has the Creator of the whole universe. Goliath may look the part, but outward appearances can be deceiving. All the army of Israel and Saul and Davidís brothers could see was this brute of a man. But with his eyes of faith, David saw the Lord. Maybe Samuel had told him what God had said to him about outward appearances: ĎFor the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on outward appearances, but the Lord looks on the heart.í Davidís heart believed that Goliath had no chance against the Sovereign Lord. Itís ironic that this story has become the underdog story of western culture, when really Goliath was always the one in trouble. How could he ever expect to defeat God? The story is told in a way to drive this truth home to later generations and to us as well. We have seen the foolish of Saul and his failure as king, even though he looked like a great king. We have heard Godís word to Samuel about not focusing on outward appearances. Yet, when we hear how tall Goliath is and how much his armor weighs, we struggle to believe that David could ever win. In one sense the author is screaming at us: ĎLook with eyes of faith and stop obsessing over outward appearances. Trust in the Lord and stop trusting in yourselves.í David knows that he will win the battle because he knows that the battle belongs to the Lord, who always wins. He doesnít need men, He just chooses to use them as His vessels to bring victory to His people.
And on this day He uses David. As I have noted before, when the Lord fights, the battle is usually over in a couple of verses. Look at verses 48-49. Two verses and the giant has lost his head. David only through one stone, which the Lord providentially guided to the Philistineís skull. In one sense it was over before it began. David was actually far better suited for the battle because his weapon did not require close proximity. He got close enough to hit him with the sling and the giant never stood a chance. The Lord had prepared David for this day and David trusted that the Lord would give him the victory, which He did, along with all of Israel.

David had a heart for the Lord. The Lord was with him in his service to Saul and his defeat of Goliath. Do you have faith like that? God is not looking for the strongest or the smartest. He is not looking for the most talented or most gifted. He is not looking for the man who thinks he can pull himself up by his own bootstraps. What matters to the Lord is the heart. Do you believe that the battle belongs to the Lord? Of course you may be thinking: ĎWho am I in a war with? I donít have any enemies like the Philistines.í No, your enemies are far worse: sin, Satan, and death. They are all seeking your eternal destruction. They donít want to just feed your dead body to the birds, they want to feed your soul to eternal flames. And hereís the truth: you cannot defeat them. But you can have victory through faith in Jesus. Jesus came to destroy our enemies and give us victory over sin, Satan, and death. His weapon was not five smooth stones but one rugged cross. And when He gave His life on that tree and rose again on the third Day, He defeated our enemies as sure as Davidís victory over that giant. David and Goliath were preparing us for Jesus and Golgotha. In both instances, we see that the battle belongs to the Lord! In light of such victory, stop looking at outward appearances. Stop trusting in yourself and your own Ďgoodness.í Repent and believe in Jesus. Have a heart of faith like Davidís that rejoices in the victory that only He can provide. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 June 2017 )

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