Our Bible study of David is a study of one of the greatest men in all of the Bible. There cannot be found a greater king, nor one more dedicated and committed to God.
David’s life was not a perfect life. The Bible does not hide the faults of biblical heroes. The inspired word of God tells it like it is with all the scandalous details. What that tells me is that in spite of all the great accomplishments of David, the exalted character of this man of God, he was human and prone to mistakes. From studying the life of David in the Bible, there is much to be learned.
Let’s begin this Bible study of David by looking at some verses in 1 Samuel 16. In context, we are reading about a conversation that God had with the prophet Samuel. The first king of Israel was a man named Saul. Saul failed to listen to the commands and directions of God, so God removed him as king. God now tells Samuel to anoint a new king over Israel.
The one that God had chosen to be the new king over Israel would be one of the sons of Jesse. As Samuel made his way to the house of Jesse, we pick up again in verse 6.
At Jesse’s house, Samuel looked at one of his sons named Eliab. There was something about Eliab that caught Samuel’s attention. He was a man of great stature and appearance. He looked like a king. Samuel made an assumption. Notice what God said to Samuel.
As Samuel goes through the sons of Jesse, he finally comes to David.
Why did God choose David as His king? Why did God not choose Jonathan? He was a good man, and he was Saul’s son and rightful heir of the throne. Why did God not choose Ishbosheth? Ishbosheth was also the son of Saul. After both Saul and Jonathan were killed, Ishbosheth was next in line to rightly receive the throne. In fact, Ishbosheth was made king over Israel.
There was a civil war and the kingdom was divided into the Northern kingdom which was Israel where Ishbosheth was king, and the southern kingdom which was Judah where David was made king. But why did God not appoint Ishbosheth as king?
As we study the Bible in reference to David, let's look back at verse 7 above and read it again. It says that God rejected Eliab and said that God does not judge by outward appearance. God looks at the heart. Why David? It is because of David’s heart.
If you back up to 1 Samuel 13, you will find Samuel informing Saul that his reign is over. And in verse 14, we read this.
God selected David because of David’s heart. That presents a question. What kind of heart did David have? What was it about David’s heart that captured God’s attention? When you study David in these chapters and other passages that address the heart of David, you will find that there are three observations about David.
Wait a minute. David was a man after God’s own heart? Let’s make a list of the mistakes that David had made.
Here is a man who had an affair with another man’s wife, a man who is a soldier in his army. He lies about it. He gets his soldier drunk. Then David, the King of Israel, has this man murdered. Then he takes the man’s wife and brings her in as his wife.
Yet when you study the Bible in reference to David, you will discover that the inspired word of God describes David as a man after God’s own heart. How can such a man be described that way?
Keep reading 2 Samuel, and you learn that God sent a prophet to David by the name of Nathan who exposed David’s sins. David was cut to the heart and was deeply sorrowful and regretful over his mistakes. He humbled himself and repented.
In Psalm 51 we can read his words of humility, sorrow, and repentance.
We can read how David humbled himself and begged for God’s forgiveness. It was in that heart of contrition, that pleading for forgiveness, that trying to pull myself up from the dung heap of my own sin, that makes him a man after God’s own heart.
What made David such a great king was not his perfection or sinlessness. When he did make mistakes he was deeply regretful and sorrowful, and sought for forgiveness of God.
Let’s continue to study the Bible about David by looking at another passage that will help us understand the character of David. In 1 Samuel 24, you are reading about David who is on the run. Since David was to replace Saul as king, David became an enemy of the state. David’s location was reported to Saul, and Saul began his pursuit.
If you look on a map you will find two mountain ranges, one on the East and one on the West. Right between these two mountain ranges is the Dead Sea. At the bottom of the Western mountain range just before you get to the Western shore of the Dead Sea is a large wilderness. This is known as the wilderness of En Gedi.
David was a fugitive running from the government.
Saul and his men went into a cave to tend to his needs. It just so happened that this was also the same cave in which David and his men were hiding. David’s men said to David that this is a great opportunity. This is God fulfilling His promise delivering the enemy, Saul, into his hand.
David sneaked up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
David was bothered by what he had done. His heart troubled him. Why did David feel that way?
Why did his heart trouble him? Because he had done something to a man who was the Lord’s anointed. David wasn't concerned about who Saul was. David was concerned about whose Saul was. He belonged to the Lord. This was the Lord, The Great I Am, Jehovah God, and David said, Saul belongs to Him, and so he was troubled. David had a deep respect for God, and therefore was not willing to rise up against someone whom God anointed.
Do you have the same respect for God as did David? What kind of heart does God see in you? Does He see in you a deep respect for Him that prevents you from acting contrary to His will? Like David, there must always be in us a deep respect for God in all that we say and do.
In this Bible Study of David, let’s also give some thought to some verses found in 2 Samuel 7. In this context we find that David is now king of Israel. He resides in Jerusalem, which is called the city of David. The ark of the covenant has been moved there. God had given into the hand of David all of his enemies. It was a time of peace.
In terms of politics and international policy, in terms of religious purity, things were going well.
This is the text where David desires to build a house for God. Why? It was due to the fact that he had a house of cedar. But God (represented by the ark of the covenant), was dwelling in a tent. David was living in a palace while God was living in a tent. David didn't feel that it was right. So Nathan says, “Go do what is in your heart.” What was in David’s heart? David had in his heart a love for God that compelled him to want to build God a house.
In 2 Samuel 7.4-24, you will read of a conversation between God and David. The conversation can be summed up like this.
What we see in this conversation is this deep love for God in the heart of David. David then offers a prayer to God.
David accept what God says and allows Him to make his name great. He prays that God would do as He intended and promised to establish his house forever. David then adds that he wanted what God promised, but only in a way that resulted in God's name being magnified. David could not think of himself. He was only thinking about God and His name being magnified.
When you study the Bible and read about David, you learn that David was a man whose heart was saturated with his love for God. His life was all about serving God. His world was a world that was ruled by God. His nation was a nation governed by God. Over and over you read of David whose heart was filled with his love for God.
Do you have a heart that is filled with your love for God?
In this final observation of our Bible study of David, let’s give some thought to some of the last words that Kind David spoke as he addressed his son, Solomon.
In 1 Chronicle 28, we find David in an event in which he crowns his son Solomon as king. He gathers together all the leaders of Israel and he makes a speech to them, and then he turns his attention to his son and speaks directly to him. The last two chapters of 1 Chronicles contains that account. In verses 1,2, David speaks about his relationship with God. Then He said this in verse 9.
Here is a father speaking to his son preparing him for a time when he will not be around. He tells Solomon, serve God with all your heart. David served God with all his heart, and he tells Solomon to do the same. He says that God searches the heart and knows the intents of the thoughts of the heart.
God knows the heart. David understood that because that was the basis by which God chose David. Now David says to Solomon that he needed to understand that God knows what kind of heart he had, so he was to serve Him with a loyal heart.
As you study the Bible on David, you can 1 Chronicles 29.16-19. David is now speaking to God. He tells God how much he put his heart into serving Him. He says for God to take that heart that is filled with love and respect, that willingly did all that God required, and give that same kind of heart to the people, and to his son, so they may also have a heart for God.
We can talk about David and Goliath. We can talk about David and Bathsheeba and the sincere repentance he uttered to Nathan the prophet. We can talk about his love and friendship to Jonathan. But it all stems from the foundation that David had a heart for God.