For a few weeks, we have tried to study lessons that would prepare us for the life of David and we are, finally, getting there, this afternoon. But before we open our Bibles and look at David, this great hero, let me, first, remind you what has happened thus far. You remember that the first king, over Israel, was King Saul. I don’t know many, who ever had greater opportunity, than this man named Saul, except perhaps Samson! But Saul had the opportunity to be God’s king, over all His people. He was chosen, directly by God, because of his wonderful abilities. He was a head taller than any other; he was awesome-looking, without a spot or blemish; and the Bible even says that God changed his heart. He, literally, had everything - opportunity and ability. Everything for success was laid at his feet! But he was a great failure. And so, finally, God made the announcement. Because of Saul’s lack of faith, lack of trust, his unwillingness to wait and give God the best and because of his love for cows, God said, “Saul will no longer be my king!” Look at I Samuel 15:11. “…”. And Samuel, who was once the judge and who is now the priest, seems to be very broken-hearted with this announcement from God! And you look at Chapter 16:1 and you read “….”. Now Samuel has always been an obedient servant of God. But, by now, the reputation of Saul is bad. Everyone knows he is a maniac. And Samuel knows, too, and he is afraid. He says in verse 2-3, “…”. And so, the old man takes the cow and goes to anoint the next king. He leads the way to this little town named Bethlehem. And when the people, of this village, see him coming, they think, “We must have done something wrong! This man never comes to our town. What have we done?” So they send a delegation to meet him and they ask, “Samuel, why have you come here?” And Samuel answers, “I am coming to offer a sacrifice. Get together, behind me, and don’t forget to bring Jesse and his sons.” So, now, everyone is gathered and Samuel looks at the seven sons of Jesse. He looks at the oldest, whose name is Eliab, and he sees that he is tall and handsome. And look what he thinks in verse 6. “…”. You know, I think I know why he said that. He hasn’t had much experience choosing kings. He has only done it once and the time he did, he chose Saul, who was taller than anyone else! He was physically perfect, a fine specimen. And now, he has it in his mind that the physical is what God takes into account when He chooses a king. And so, when he looks at the seven sons, he sees Eliab and he fits the picture! He is about to choose him as king; but God says, verse 7, “….”. And Eliab didn’t have the heart that God wanted for his king! And so, Abinadab is the second son. He appears before the old priest. And God looks into the heart of Abinadab and says, “It’s not the heart that I want to be king.” And then Shammah, the third son, and he doesn’t have the heart either. And so they bring the fourth son and the fifth, sixth and seventh, and each time, God looks in the man and He says, “That’s not the heart that I want!
By this time, I imagine Samuel must be a little puzzled and worried because God has explicitly said, “One of Jesse’s boys will be king!” And he has seen, it seems, all of the man’s boys! So he turns and says, verse 11, “…”. So Jesse goes to get David! But have you ever wondered why Jesse didn’t bring David with him?
I. Possible Reasons why David wasn’t there, appearances not his heart
Well, there could be a few reasons and I want to share them with you. It could have been anyone of them, that influenced his father that way, or a few of them combined. We are not told! We are left to speculate, so let’s be careful with it! We know, though, that David was in the field because, for some reason, Jesse believed he was least likely, of all the boys, to be king!
But now, he is brought before Samuel. And Samuel takes one look and God has already looked at the heart of this boy. And God says, “He is the one! He has the heart I want for my king! And so, this old prophet, who used to be judge, takes his horn of oil and pours it on the head of David, anointing him as the next king over the great nation of Israel. Now that doesn’t mean David is already king, at this moment. It only means that God said, “He will be my king!”
And this afternoon, from this story, I want you and me to look at the thought in this text that says that God doesn’t look at the outer appearance, but that he searched for the man with the right heart. Let us understand, first of all, that God hasn’t changed in this regard. He looks across an audience, like this, and he is not looking at outward appearances. He is not looking at the height we might be or how handsome, or not handsome, we are. God is looking into our hearts. And so, I would like to pause, for a brief moment, this afternoon, for each of us to look at our hearts. It would be great if all, here, this afternoon, could see ourselves as God sees us! But to do this, we need to look in our hearts!
II. What is in your heart?
The scriptures say a few things that can help us determine what is in there!
III. How to change your heart ?
One of the scriptures that a Christian should value most is, probably, Prov. 4:23. And that scripture, I believe, gives us an answer on how to make some changes. It says, “…”. “Above all else”, says the NIV. Now, every one of us understands the last part of that verse that says, “out of the heart flows the springs of life”. Out of the heart, everything happens - what you say; what you think; what you do. The heart is the well-spring of life. And now you understand that the number one priority, above all else, is to guard the heart. I don’t know of a more important principle for Christians. “Guard your heart!” But maybe, to fully appreciate that statement, you need to understand your mind, or I should say your heart. So I want you to picture your mind, or your heart, this afternoon, as a giant basket. And we are continually, every day of our lives, dumping things into the basket. And whatever you put into that basket is going to come back out, at some point!
Let me say this before I go on. I don’t believe any of us will ever be completely pure in our hearts. I believe it ought to be our goal and I believe maturity is measured in relationship to the purity of your heart. But I don’t think anyone of us will ever get there in this life! And I say that because of this. You live in the world! And like Paul said, you can’t get out of this world and so you are going to work with people who aren’t Christians. They are going to dump things into that big basket of yours. And you are doing business with people who are different, who are very, very worldly. And they are going to dump things into your baskets. And you are going to get things in there that are not right and they are going to come back out, once in a while! By what you say, by what you think, by what you do, they are going to come back out! But guarding your heart is what God wants you to do. And if you don’t get anything else out of what I’ve said today, I hope you get this. The goal of every Christian is to guard their hearts, letting less and less of this world in and more and more of God in. Promise, “I’ll live more like God would have me to live.”
When I finally get to this point, where I realize the more I can get into my heart and my mind that pertains to God and the less I can get in my mind that which pertains to the world, the more I am going to look the way God would want me to look and be the man God would want me to be! That’s why I need to preach, often, on that and on something not too popular, like what we watch on TV.
Folks, you ought to be careful what you watch on television and what you read! And be careful with whom you associate. I know you can’t choose every single situation. But we need to be careful with whom you choose to spend most of your time, be careful what you put in your basket!
At the same time, I want to say go to church. Because it’s a time when you open up your hearts and fill it with thoughts that pertain to God. And I believe we should all go to Tuesday night class because I know it is a time when we can also stop and fill ourselves up with God.
And then I also want to say, read the scriptures every day, even if it’s only five minutes a day. If we are married and/or have children, have devotionals. I know it’s not easy. But families ought to do that, even if it is to only read one passage and pray one prayer, in five minutes because it is taking some time to fill our basket with God. And the more we put God in and the less we put the world in, the more we are going to look as Christ looked and live as we ought to live. “Above all else!” That means the most important thing in life! You guard your heart, folks! Do that and you will be like David.
David kept his heart; that’s why God chose him to be the second king over Israel. He was a young man, who knew those principles we talked about. He really did. Think, for instance, where did he spend most of his time? Out in the fields. It doesn’t seem like he went to town, like the other brothers. He was separated from the world, a little more than the other brothers. He was in the fields, most of the time, caring for the sheep. And while he was there, what did he do? He wrote poetry and sang songs. Open your Bibles and read the book of Psalms and you will find much of his poetry therein! And most of his words were about God!
And here is a young man, who lived out in the fields, away from this world, for the most part, filling his mind, over and over again, with God. And he guarded his heart, so very well, that God said, “Of all the people, in Israel, I want that young man!” Though the father, Jesse, thought David unlikely to be the king, God said, “I want that young man to be the king because he has the heart that I want.”
So, this afternoon, I really don’t care what your background is. I am not interested in your past, whatever it may be. All I am interested in is what you do from this day forward because it is time for Christians to start living, as Christians. And Christians will never start living, as Christians, until Christians start guarding their hearts. So what I am interested in is for each of you to leave, today, making up your mind that you will try to keep the world out and God in. That’s my challenge and my plea.
If you look in your heart, this afternoon, and find something that ought not to be there, maybe its time for you to respond as we stand and sing.