The Life of David: David's Early Years
1 SAMUEL 16: 14-23
TAMING THE BEAST WITHIN
Let me quickly give you some background as we get started on the early years of David, a man after God's own heart. David has just been anointed Israel's king because Saul had shown himself unworthy of the crown. Samuel proclaims David as God's chosen and anoints him, but in the real world at that time Saul is still functioning as king, but he will get increasingly belligerent and out of control as time goes on.
Let me point out here that despite David's rights to the throne, despite the fact that Saul had lost the anointing of God to be king (God had withdrawn His Spirit from him), David showed nothing but respect for Saul and reverence for the crown. Despite or may be because of all this Saul will try to kill David multiple times (19:18-19). Although David will be hunted like an animal he will not lift a hand against Saul [whom he refers to as God's anointed] throughout Saul's life. This says to me that even in his early years David made choices which demonstrate that he clearly understood a kingdom principle. Whatever longing David had for to be king, it seems that he understood at a deep level that his being king was about God's glory and not his own. David wasn't after the throne, he was after God. There was in David the precious qualities of respect and humility. We will see more of David's character as we go through our series.
Despite all the high qualifications David already possessed, God is going to train him. So God causes David's skills to be recognized and brings David from the sheep fold into the king's court to further development his God given calling. [God will then further train David through sever adversity.]
I. A TORMENTING SPIRIT, 14.
II. A PROPOSED SOLUTION, 15-18.
III. A POSSIBLE SELECTION, 19-20.
IV. AN ATTENDING SERVANT, 21-23.
This section begins with the story of a devastating loss and continual torment to Saul in verse 14. "Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized [tormented] him."
The divine Presence had been given to guide and empower Saul as king, but now that God had rejected Saul, the Spirit was removed. Last week we saw that King Saul had pulled away from God by his pride and disobedience. It seems God is now punishing Saul for presuming on his position and walking against God's Word [Swindol, Charles. David. 1997: Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN. p. 28]. Saul chose to leave God and thus the Bible says that the Spirit of the Lord departed. Listen, God will not stay where He is not wanted and He will not force you to obey. Though Saul would remained king for the rest of his life, he no longer knew the power and presence of God in his life nor did he receive words from God [even through the prophets]. There is no emptiness that compares to the life from whom God has withdrawn. [Chafin, Kenneth. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol 8: 1, 2 Samuel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 125]
Into the void of Saul's life "a distressing [baath -overwhelmig] spirit from the Lord troubled him." How could an evil spirit be sent from the Lord? Evil spirits and Satan himself can do nothing without the Lord's permission (Job 1:12; 2:6; 1 Kings 22:19-22). Thus demons can actually serve the purposes of God. How? By providing people a choice. If there were no options provided by Satan and evil people would have no choice. There would be no way to find out if our love for God is genuine. So God says, "If you don't want to love Me, walk with Me, or believe in Me, you have another option. You can be deceived by the devil."
If I tell my son Rannon that I want him to STAY HOME this afternoon—and then I lock him in his room, bolt his door, and board up his windows, it would be meaningless for me to come home later and tell him how proud I was of him for staying home. Unless there was a choice for Rannon to make his own decision, my praise or approval of him would be meaningless. That's why God leaves the door open and uses Satan as a tool to give people a meaningful choice. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary: Vol 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005, S. 862]
[God is not the author of evil nor does He send evil upon us. But He does allow evil to happen and Saul was "running on empty" not allowing God to be a part of his life so something else took God's place.]
II. A PROPOSED SOLUTION, 15-18.
His servants were concerned for Saul and the kingdom and suggested in verses 15 & 16 that having someone to play the harp when he was ill might be good therapy for him. "Saul's servants then said to him, "Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. Verse 16 "Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well."
Godly music has power to soothe and to heal. Modern MUSIC THERAPISTS working in hospitals and other care centers use music to evoke in their patients feelings that will promote emotional well-being and healing. The wonderful gift of human life gift is not a free and easy ride and we human beings have made it so much harder by our sinful actions. God has, however, gifted us bountifully with stress relievers: the beauties of nature; the sharing of conversation; the peace of prayer; the solitude of silence; and, of course, the solace of music. So often, we accept all the stress and forget to take advantage of the stress relievers. God be praised for His marvelous gifts that enhance our lives!
Perhaps we too would suffer less from the struggles of life. if we remembered to listen to beautiful music, to enjoy silence, to speak with God, and to accept His peace.
The suggestion seemed good to Saul who instructed the servants in verse 17 to find a someone so gifted. "So Saul said to his servants, ‘Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.'"
Saul by now was willing to try anything to find relief. If I could paraphrase what Matthew Henry said, "How much better counselors they would have been to him, if they had advised him, since the evil spirit was from the Lord, to make his peace with God by true repentance, to send for Samuel to pray with him, and intercede with God for him. Then he might not only have had some present relief, but the good Spirit would have returned."
A description of David is listed in verse 18. "Then one of the young men said, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him."
What a resume! David had confidence, courage, and charisma. That he was more than a musician would have interested Saul since he was constantly on the lookout for "any valiant man" (1 Sam. 14:52). It was probably between David's anointing and this call to the king's court that David killed both a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:32-36) and for his bravery received the coveted title "a mighty [man] of valor" [gibbor hayil]. As part of the local militia he distinguished himself in battle against marauding Bedouins who frequently raided the villages and drove off the livestock, for Saul's servant referred to David as "a man of war" [milh m ].
The most telling phrase in the description of David was "and the Lord is with him." David was invested by the Spirit, the same Spirit that had left Saul. Ever since Samuel's anointing of David the Lord was with him in a special way. We may suppose that the prophet Samuel, having commenced a new work in the life of this young man, would periodically summon him to Ramah in order to continue his training and prepare him to fulfill the will of God. ["Support for this supposition is gleaned from 1 Samuel 19:18-19. When trouble arose between David and Saul, it was to Samuel that David fled, and there is every indication from what took place that the two men were close friends." Barber, Cyril. The Books of Samuel. 1994. Loizeaux: Neptune, NJ. 193.]
III. A POSSIBLE SELECTION - CANDIDATE, 19-20.
Verses 19-21 relay how God in His providence arranged for David to be the one selected, so His shepherd could be introduced to the palace of the king. In verse 19 Saul immediately sent messengers to Jesse, asking for David to be sent. "So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me your son David who is with the flock."
Do you know what David did after he was told he was going to be King and anointed with the Spirit of God? He went back out and tended sheep. Is that what you would of done after being powerfully anointed by God? When Saul needed a musician his messengers found David attending the flock. Don't be to proud to tend sheep. Or to work on the plumbing, or to fix communion, or to work in the nursery, or to cook breakfast, or to fix coffee, or to greet visitors, or etc... etc...
In the providence of God, even his experiences as a shepherd were preparing David for his future service. His duties-to watch over his flock, to feed and protect them, to heal the sick, to bind up the broken, and to bring back those that wandered away-corresponded to the responsibilities of a faithful and godly ruler (Ezekiel 34:2,8,10; Isaiah 56:11; Jeremiah 10:21; 12:10; 23:1-2; 50:6).
In verse 20 we find David heading out to serve king Saul. "Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread and a jug of wine and a young goat, and sent them to Saul by David his son."
The request was honored and Jesse sent with his son an offering of bread, wine, and a young goat for the king. He did not want his son to appear before the king empty handed.
IV. AN ATTENDING SERVANT, 21-23.
Verse 21 speaks of David's deference to the king and loyalty to the crown. "Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer."
So David who had been anointed king, now enters into the service of the reigning king. What a statement. David was not bitter. He didn't allowed jealousy to rule his heart and so became a great blessing to the King. First the young shepherd was invited to the king's private hall; then he won the heart of the king. And now in verse 22 the king tells David's father to let his son stay at court. "Saul sent to Jesse, saying, "Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight."
Saul was so impressed with David that he made him his special attendant or armorbearer and asked permission from Jesse for David to stay with him on a permanent bases.
In verse 23 we discovered that the Holy Spirit empowered David's music to drive away the evil spirit that overwhelmed Saul. "So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him."
The chapter closes with a beautiful picture of David comforting Saul in his times of distress by playing the harp, a small handheld lyre. [Harps had already been mentioned in connection with prophesying (10:5). Later Elisha, when seeking a revelation from the Lord, also requested that a harp be played (2 Kings 3:15). Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun also prophesied with harps, lyres, and cymbals (1 Chron. 25:1).]
David's music refreshed Saul. As Saul was writhing in the madness of his depression, David would play his harp and perhaps sing one of his psalms. Who knows, maybe they sang together after a while. Maybe he taught Saul some of his songs. Somehow, through David's presence, mixed with his soothing music, Saul began to love that young man because he whose music touched his soul brought him.
However it happened David's music unleashed the caged feelings inside this tormented man and then soothed the savage beast within. When music was played by this godly young man, the demons [ruach Elohim raah] fled. Saul was relieved. The evil presence had departed.
Through David's praise, deliverance from depression became a reality. That is not surprising, for there is power in praise. Worship works wonders. When I'm depressed or blue, when I feel attacked by the enemy, when I feel the demons harassing me, I have found that one of the best things I can do is worship the Lord. [Courson, S. 863.]
Martin Luther believed that the Reformation was not complete until the saints of God had two things in their possession: a Bible in their own tongue, and a hymnal, which they called a Psalter. He believed they needed the Book that could lead them to a deeper understanding of their faith and a hymnal that would help them express their joy and delight the depths of that faith.
Genuine worship occurs when those two elements blend together. The declaration of the doctrines deepen our roots in biblical truth, and the expression of our faith as it flows from our lips and voices in melody.
In the scene in Revelation where we in the future gather around the throne our finish praise will be in song. We will sing unto Him, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." [Since there was singing before the earth was formed and there will be singing after the earth is gone, then it stands to reason there should be a lot of singing while we are on the earth, doesn't it?] [Swindol, p. 32]
In God's Book, the longest of all the sixty-six books is the one dedicated to the hymns of Israel. If you like shallow lyrics and easy-to-follow-along ditties, then you're not going to enjoy the Psalms. The Psalms are for folks who have decided that music is an art that requires discipline of mind and a heart that is right before God. It is music for the mature. It is not a superficial statement.
My own devotional times with God seems to reach a higher point when I sing my praise to Him. The Spirit-filled saint is a song-filled saint. SING OUT! SING OUT! Never mind how beautiful or how pitiful you may sound. Sing loud enough to drown out those defeating thoughts that normally clamor for attention. Release yourself from that cage of introspective reluctance. You're not auditioning for a musical; you're making melody with your heart to the Lord your God! If you listen closely when you're through, you may hear the hosts of heaven. [Ibid. p. 33].
God did not set David upon the throne immediately. After his "anointing" came a season of preparation which was followed by a season of testing. David may have only been a former shepherd boy, but he had learned to walk with God. David's success may be attributed to his faithfulness and loyalty in doing little things for God's glory. For in the course of time he was entrusted with greater things (Matthew 25:21-23). In spite of Saul's wealthy and prestigious background, he had never gained the spiritual depth that David possessed even as a youth.
There seems to be no knowledge on Saul's part that Samuel had anointed David. As yet, there is no resentment of his new friend. So the very person who God has chosen to succeed Saul ministers to him and learns the way of the kingdom of Israel.
Let me close with a somber illustration. Saul reminds us of a another man, an American of great potential who allowed bitterness and the opposition of a colleague to corrode his soul. His name was AARON BURR.
When he could no longer tolerate Alexander Hamilton's attacks, Burr challenged him to a duel he felt sure he could win. After killing Hamilton, however, Burr found that people no longer trusted him. He decided to move west and crossed the mountains to Pittsburgh. From there he floated down the Ohio river. Everything he attempted withered at his touch. He traveled abroad but could find no acceptance in England or France. At length he returned to New York in disguise, landing at night so that no one might recognize him. His wife had left him several years before, and he was alone. He rented a small room in the basement of a boarding house from which he planned to resume his practice of law, but only a few people sought his services. He remained there until death relieved him of his loneliness.
Aaron Burr is thought to be the most brilliant person ever to have received a degree from Princeton University. Like Saul, however, Burr turned his back on God. When a mighty movement of the Spirit swept the campus and hundreds of students surrendered their lives to Christ, Burr shut himself in his room to wrestle with the issues involving his eternal salvation. He decided that the claims of Christianity were too costly and would stand in the way of his personal ambitions. According to tradition, late one night Burr threw open the shutters of his windows and yelled to the heavens, "Goodbye, God!" From that time onward Aaron Burr opposed Christianity. He charted his own course and forfeited the only possibility of peace ever afforded him, just as Saul forfeited his kingdom. [Barber, p. 196]
Viewed from a human perspective Saul had all the outward attributes of a king (1 Samuel 10:23-24) and David was a most unlikely successor. In the course of time, however, Saul was set aside and David proved to be an able shepherd of the Lord's people.
[Everyone needs RE-CREATION. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is true. Jesus told His tired disciples, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while" (Mk 6:31 ). Vance Havner said, "Unless we come apart and rest a while, we may just plain come apart.
God has made us so that we are healthier and more productive when we enjoy wholesome fun and laughter, and when we take time to renew ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A happy spirit is good medicine for body and soul (Prov. 17:22). The Lord therefore has provided a variety of acceptable ways by which we can be refreshed, invigorated, and restored when we become weary, bored, or troubled.
In our text we see the renewing qualities of music in the life of King Saul. Turning aside from his duties and listening to David play his harp brought Saul deliverance from his troubled emotional state.
Hunting and fishing and sports have been recreational activities for thousands down through the centuries. A walk through the woods, a drive in the countryside, a family picnic, or a trip to the zoo can refresh us, both physically and emotionally.
The best and most important form of recreation, however, is communion with God. We need to give Him the opportunity to brighten our spirits and lift our hearts. We must turn aside from our normal activities to read God's Word, meditate on it, and pray. This is the most rewarding of all forms of recreation.]