Working for the King
1 Sam. 16:14-23
Last week we started our study in the life of David by looking at the characteristics that made him a man after God’s own heart. We said that David had spirituality, humility and integrity, and then we applied those same characteristics to our own life.
This morning I want to look at the next section of 1 Sam. 16 and discover the ways David began to live his life in service to King Saul after Samuel anointed him, because I believe there are some significant lessons for us here on the ways we can live our lives as we work for our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. READ 1 Sam. 16:14-23.
About twenty years after Saul becomes king, David was anointed by Samuel to be the king, but he didn’t actually become the king over all of Israel for about another twenty years. For twenty years he was a king without looking like a king, holding the position of a king, having the authority of a king or being recognized by the people as the king. But God’s anointing was upon David and not upon Saul. Saul, who had the position, the power and the recognition to be the king lacked the one thing he needed most to actually be the leader of Israel: He did not have God’s approval. David, who did not have the position or the power or the people’s recognition but did have God’s approval, lived his life in obedience to God and the formerly anointed Saul and slowly became the leader of Israel in the eyes of the people, for God appoints those He anoints according to His ways, not ours.
It is important to notice in verse 14 that the Spirit of God left Saul before the evil spirit found a place to rest. An evil spirit cannot inhabit a house where the Holy Spirit dwells. When you are living a life dedicated to God, then evil cannot live in you. All the devil can do is stand outside the door or your heart and mind and yell at you, accuse you, suggest different ways you can live. He can entice you, tempt you and show you pictures of how great life would be if you did it his way. This is what Satan did to Jesus during His forty days of temptation. But Satan could not make Jesus do anything because the Holy Spirit was in Him. And the same thing goes for us because “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
But Saul chose to live in disobedience to God and so God’s anointing left him and fell on another. As a result an evil spirit began to torment Saul. Psalm 18:25-27 says, “To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud.” A natural result of disobeying God over a long enough time is that the spirit of holiness gets replaced by the spirit of evil. God doesn’t have to send it; it naturally occupies the empty space vacated by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that no one can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24), but every person on earth must serve one. It is a natural law in the spirit that if you are not serving God you are serving something else. I don’t believe that God has to personally send an evil spirit to torment people. The evil spirits go all on their own because that is the way God created the spirit world. So in one sense yes, God “sent” the spirit to torment Saul because that is how His creation works. But in the other sense God didn’t actually send it as much as Saul invited it through his own disobedience. Furthermore, the people around Saul, even people not dedicated to God, can tell evil when they see it.
Now, good and godly advisors who see a friend being tormented by an evil spirit would tell you to repent, not hire a musician. At least, that’s what I hope you do for me. If I reject God and am tormented by an evil spirit, please tell me to repent and don’t try to send me nice Christian music. Even though music is central to our worship of God, it won’t do any lasting good to a person whose life is not centered on God.
So God’s anointing is no longer with Saul but is with David, but what does that mean? The word “anoint” in the OT basically means to “rub” or “smear” with a liquid. It was used in the sense of painting a house (Jer. 22:14), rubbing a shield with oil (2 Sam. 1:21; Isa. 21:5) or using a cosmetic lotion (Amos 6:6). Religious objects in the Tabernacle were anointed at the time of their dedication (Amos 6:6), and so were people such as priests (Ex. 30:30), kings (1 Sam. 16:12-13; Ps. 89:20) and at least one prophet (1 Kings 19:16).
When a person is anointed, it means they have been set apart for special service to God and through the anointing receives empowerment for that service. Isa. 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for he LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the broken hearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” This anointing refers to the power of the Spirit that is upon the person being anointed, which is why Jesus used this passage in Luke 4:18-19.
Let’s think about this anointing. Jesus said He was anointed to bring good news, to heal, proclaim, comfort and free. And since the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us (Rom. 8:11), would it be too much of a stretch to say our mission should be the same as Christ’s? Since 2 Cor. 1:21-22 says, “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come,” shouldn’t we live our lives the way the anointed life of David and Jesus, the Son of David lived their lives?
Since God anointed us and “set his seal of ownership on us,” it would follow that everything we do should be seen as working for the King. God has anointed us, placed his Spirit in our lives to empower us to represent Him to the world in a way that shows His glory. And that is what David did as king. But David also shows us something else. He shows us what it means to lived anointed in our everyday lives and relationships before we have a position or a title. We make a mistake when we limit the anointing of God to when we’re preaching the Word or praying for someone or we’re in a church service where we can “feel” the anointing. These things are fine, but if this anointing never makes it outside the walls of the church it is pretty useless. Jesus was the most anointed person in the history of mankind and He was rarely cooped up in a Synagogue or religious building. He was always out among the people using the anointing to bring health and wholeness to bodies and relationships.
The same is true of David. His anointing affected his life every day, and so should our anointing. So now we’re going to look at three simple, or not so simple, ways the anointing of David affected his life. Then we’ll see how Jesus lived that same way, and finally we’ll see if we can apply that anointing to our everyday life. I mean, if it was good enough for David and Jesus, it should be good enough for us, right? So, an anointed person working for the King first—
1. Has a good reputation – vs. 18. When the servants of Saul suggest they find a musician to soothe the king’s troubled mind and Saul agrees, someone suggests David by saying David is someone who “plays skillfully and who is a man of courage, a warrior, sensible in what he says, and handsome; and God is with him.” In fact, that is such a great statement that I think I might like that on my tombstone. It’s a bit wordy but wouldn’t it be nice that when my life was over people could go to my grave and read: “Jim played piano skillfully, had courage, was a warrior for God, honest and responsible in what he said, was (stunningly) handsome and God was with him.” Wouldn’t those words be something you’d like people to say about you? They can, because once again we read that this was the observation of David’s life by a person who was wasn’t necessarily serving God with all their heart.
When you become a Christian and live a life dedicated to God, it doesn’t always mean that the world will jump up and applaud your efforts. But they will notice and although they may not like it, they will approve your lifestyle. And there is nothing wrong with having a good reputation among people who do not know God. But make sure it is not just your reputation that people see but your actual character. As Coach John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
As the Son of David, Jesus had a reputation. He had a reputation for hanging out with questionable people, for eating and drinking and being a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matt. 11:19). He had a reputation for forgiveness so that a formerly sinful woman would worship Him in public by anointing his feet with an expensive perfume and using her long hair, usually seen only by the men in her family, to wipe away the tears that fell on His feet (Luke 7:38). It was a very intimate and worship-filled experience. Jesus had a reputation for doing miracles, for feeding people, for having mercy upon sinners. He was open and honest about who He was so that others knew His family history – His father and His mother and His brothers and sisters and where He was from.
What is your reputation? If non-Christians were to describe you, what would they say? Granted, not everything a non-Christian has to say about a Christian can be taken as an honest assessment. In fact, I know some people who say they are Christians whose word I wouldn’t always believe! Nevertheless, if someone described your life, what would they say about you? Would they say you are a person of forgiveness or a person who holds a grudge? Would they say you overlook a slight or that you keep a long record of wrongs? Could they depend on your presence when work needs to be done or would you find some “spiritual” reason not to help? Some wit once said, “If for some reason you want to scatter a crowd in a hurry, just call a work night at church!” Are you honest in your business dealings and the way you pay your bills, or do companies around town have you on a list that says, “Don’t accept this person’s check.” And I’ve seen church-going people on such a list.
So let me ask you a question that we’ll get back to at the end of the sermon. If your current reputation is not what you want your reputation to be, what steps can you take to change it? Next, an anointed person working for the King—
2. Waits on God’s timing – vs. 19. David, after being anointed to be the next king, turns around and heads right back out to the flocks. THAT is a servant’s heart that waits on God. God anointed David but didn’t install him for another twenty years. Too often people sense a call in their life and feel they must jump out there and get it done. NOW! But often God is taking His time in developing their character so they can handle what He knows is coming their way. Some people get ahead of God and can’t handle what the world is throwing at them. Andy Stanley wrote, “Your talent and giftedness as a leader have the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you. That ought to scare you.” Yes, it should scare you.
And we see evidence of this in the recent performances of Miley Cyrus. She has the talent that put her on stage in front of people before she had the proper character development to support right decisions. You could see the same thing with Brittany Spears and many other child actors and actresses who didn’t have the character to keep them from making some very bad decisions.
Now think about this: David’s first job after being anointed king was to serve a bad king. Did God know this? Did God know that Saul was a bad king who was helping to form the future king? Of course God knew. It was Saul who influenced, both positively and negatively, the in-between years of David, the years between the sheep and the throne. With this in mind Chuck Swindoll asks, “Do you have a Saul in your life? Is there somebody who irritates and rubs and files and scrapes and bothers you? God knows all about it. That person is all part of His plan, strange as that may seem” (David: The Man of Passion and Destiny, pg. 16).
God, however, is patient with his people. A Levite could not start serving in the Tabernacle until he was thirty and had to retire from officiating at age fifty (Num. 4:3). By some estimations David was just a boy of ten to thirteen years when he was anointed king, and may have only been fifteen to seventeen when he confronted Goliath. He became king of Judah at age thirty (2 Sam. 5:4) and king over Judah and Israel at age 37 (2 Sam. 5:5). This means David waited fifteen to twenty years AFTER he was anointed king before God saw that he was fit to be king.
Jesus, who was baffling the religious leaders in the Temple when He was twelve still waited another eighteen or so years before He began His ministry, as Luke 3:23 records. I’ve sometimes thought we shouldn’t allow people to pastor churches until they were a seasoned twenty-five or thirty. It might save us some major difficulties. If David wasn’t qualified to be king until he was thirty, and Jesus waited until He was about thirty to start His ministry, why do we think we have to start every new idea we have for God by the end of the week?
As we’ll see later, David had plenty of opportunities to take the throne from Saul through violence, but he didn’t. He waited on God. He never stepped in until God’s timing was right. Have you ever moved into a situation before you were ready, only to find yourself not only ill-prepared but also out of God’s timing? A person who is working for the King of Kings will have the patience to wait for God to move them where He wants them, knowing that His timing is perfect. Even if it means working for a Saul for a little while. Finally, an anointed person working for the King –
3. Encourages evil people. Vs. 21-23. If the servants of Saul saw that an evil spirit had taken the place of God’s spirit, so did David. But David didn’t preach to Saul; he just did what Saul needed him to do without judging him. He used his gifts to bring relief, even temporary relief, to a troubled soul. In return, the king loved David (vs. 21). At least for a while.
But we all know how hard it is to encourage the most difficult people in our lives. Instead of helping them along we want to avoid them, discuss them with others, pray God deals with them and SOON, and if we have the power, perhaps fire them.
But David continued to use his gift of music to bring relief to a person who was not completely dedicated to God. We now know that Saul never turned his life around, but David didn’t know that. I believe David treated Saul as if he was someone who could still repent and seek God with all his heart and strength. As long as Saul was breathing there was hope. Can we do that? Can we continue to hope and encourage people until their dying breath?
I often wonder how Jesus could put up with Peter. In Matt. 16:16 Peter says of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.” Then just seven verses later, after Peter rebukes Jesus for predicting His death and resurrection, Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter just went from saint to Satan in seven verses! Sounds like me on a few occasions! Then Jesus, knowing Judas would betray Him, continues to treat Judas with the respect and dignity he deserves because he is a human being created and loved by God. I know we can all love people when we don’t think they’ll betray us. And some people can even love people after they’ve been betrayed. But can anyone but Jesus love someone knowing they’ll soon betrayed with a kiss? Jesus does. And since we are anointed and filled with the same Spirit as Jesus, He calls us to do the same.
Is that easy? Never. Will we want to? Rarely. Will we succeed? Sometimes. But we must always be open to the possibility that God is calling us to continue encouraging those evil people we see every day so that, by the gifts He has given us, we may bring relief to their lives as we anticipate their salvation. For only God knows if one day they will truly turn their life around, so as we continue working for the King, let us continue to love as He loved. And God loves, if we remember, the whole world (John 3:16).
1. What is your current reputation and what do you want it to be?
2. Tell us about a “Saul” God had you learn from.
3. What gift do you have that brings relief to people you minister to?