As a child I often prayed, "Lord, give me a heart like David." Acts 13:22 explains it best: "...God testified concerning him (David): 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'" I was drawn to the fact that the God of the universe would proclaim such trust in a person! Add to that is the fact that David is easy to relate to. His authenticity is visible through the in-depth perspective, into both his life and his heart, that we receive through the Old Testament. As I got to know David through the pages of Scripture, I found that though he was by no means perfect, he lived out a passionate pursuit of the Lord that is contagious! As a result, he is one of few people who continue to influence others thousands of years after his death. Here are a few of his inspiring character traits that I hope to still be gleaning from...and I hope that you can, too...
David was committed to his task and to those whom he served: Taking a quick peek into David's life, his childhood was not glamorous. He was the youngest of 8 brothers, therefore often overlooked and picked-on by those older boys. He also had the dirty job of tending to the family's sheep. It may be hard to believe, but David loved his job! We know this is true because the Bible gives us the picture of a boy who played his harp skillfully as he guarded sheep in the meadows; a young man who fought off lions and bears with his bare hands in order to protect his flock. Who does that for sheep?? Someone who is committed to his task and to those whom he serves.
David knew who God was: One of the most memorable scenes in David's life is his fight with Goliath. The Israelite army had been fighting the Philistines...again. This time, the Philistine's champion fighter, a giant, came out to challenge the Israelite soldiers every day for forty days. According to 1 Samuel 17:22, "(King) Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified." Then, just before the giant reappears to voice his daily threat, David walks onto the battlefield to deliver bread and cheese to his brothers, members of the Israelite army. As the scene unfolds, David becomes the main character and the only person willing to accept the giant's challenge.
In my opinion, bigger than the fact that David fought Goliath solo with only a stone and a slingshot, was the attitude of confident faith he displayed: "David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands...All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” ~ 1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)
Wow! You see, David knew who God was. Through this unswerving faith in Him, he also understood his importance in the heart of God. As a result, these two principles became the cornerstone of his perspective and decisions.
David honored God's commands and choices: By this time David already knew that he was God's choice for king after Saul. Even while he waited for the Lord to do what He had promised, and despite the fact that a jealous King Saul used the Israelite army to hunt him down, David deeply respected Saul: "He said to his men, 'The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.'” ~ 1 Samuel 24:6. Instead, even while evading from Saul, David honored God's commands, trusted, and waited patiently for the fulfillment of God's promise.
David displayed sincere humility: Finally, It would be unrealistic to take example from the life of David without also considering his flaws. Once he had already been king, during a season of several decisions that lacked good judgement, he took another man's wife then had her husband murdered in order to cover up his mistake. Yet, when the prophet Nathan confronted David with what he did wrong, David's response to the Lord was: "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge," then, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me...Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."~ Psalm 51:4, 10, 12. Hummm...David displayed sincere humility that led to an eagerness to admit his wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Like each us us, though David was strong, he was also weak. Though he was extremely passionate, he had moments of not being aggressive enough in choosing what was right. Like David, it is in the balance of these human characteristics that our pursuit of the Lord (or not) is seen. Like David with Goliath, we need to remember that the world (our children, friends, neighbors, as well as strangers) are watching us live out our choices and decisions. These choices and decisions are a big deal...they will define our legacy, and our legacy will influence others for future generations. What is the legacy you are building today?