BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NKJV).
God wants us to learn from the life of Bible characters so that we can live our lives better than the way they did live. That is why the Bible chronicles their strengths and weaknesses, and successes and failures. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NKJV). Proverbs 1:5 says a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.
David is one of the foremost Bible characters – a warrior, a king, a prophet, a psalmist, a husband, and a father. It is significant that he is the only David mentioned in the Bible. What are the key lessons we can learn from his life? I have identified fourteen in this message. There could be more lessons.
The 14 Lessons
1. Love the LORD. The LORD referred to David as a man after His heart. He loved the LORD. Samuel told Saul that Jehovah had sought out a man after his own heart, and had appointed him to be prince over his people because Saul had not kept that which Jehovah commanded him (1 Samuel 13:14). David was that man referred to as a man after God’s heart. Paul said in Acts 13:22 that when God had removed Saul, He raised up for the Israelites David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (NKJV).
David loved the LORD. He demonstrated it by bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Saul never thought of that. David also demonstrated his love for the LORD by desiring to build a house for Him. The LORD denied him the privilege because his hand was filled with blood. He said his child, who would succeed him, would build a house for Him (2 Samuel 7:1-17; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15). That child, Solomon, did.
Nevertheless, as king, David prepared the building materials for the house of God (1 Chronicles 22:14-16). David, in his personal capacity, also donated generously all his private treasures of gold and silver and challenged the people to follow his example (1 Chronicles 29:1-5). In verse 3, David said he was giving all of his own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction of the Temple because of his devotion to the Temple of his God.
David loved the LORD also by obeying His Word. When he sinned, he promptly repented (2 Samuel 12:13, 24:10, 17). You, too, should love the LORD. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38 NKJV). Mark 12:30 says a similar thing.
2. Be a true worshipper of God. This is one of the most important lessons from the life of David. David was a true and great worshipper of God. This is evident in most of the psalms attributed to him. Even when David was crying to God to save or deliver him, he would never forget to worship or praise Him (Psalms 9; 22; 35; 52; 57; 86; 108; 138; 139).
David said in Psalm 5:7, “But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple” (NKJV).
David tells us that what God desires from the sinner is not sacrifice but brokenness. “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart — these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17 NKJV). God is more concerned about the state of the heart of the worshipper than whatever gift he is coming to offer to Him.
When David brought the ark of the LORD to Jerusalem after his first attempt failed, the Bible tells us how David worshipped the LORD to the point that Michal, his wife, despised him. David’s answer also showed how much he revered God and the extent he could go to worship Him.
There was the sacrifice of animals to God as David and the Israelites brought the ark to Jerusalem in a procession. That was not all. David did something else. “Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet” (2 Samuel 6:14-15 NKJV).
Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window. She saw how David was leaping and whirling before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart. Obviously, she was not a worshipper of God. How could somebody have considered as embarrassing the way David was worshipping, particularly against the backdrop of the earlier botched attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem occasioned by the death of Uzzah who had touched the ark?
When David got home, Michal didn’t keep her negative opinion to herself; she told David, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (Verse 20b NKJV). Of course, David gave her an appropriate reply because he had worshipped God purposely; it wasn’t a mistake. He had done the right thing and he had no apologies for that.
David answered Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor” (verses 21-22 NKJV).
Sadly, the next verse says that “Michal the daughter of Saul” had no children to the day of her death. She was Michal the daughter of Saul! That’s significant. She was Michal the daughter of Saul – she was just like her father who was not a worshipper. She was not Michal the wife of David – not like her husband who was a worshipper.
David was a worshipper of God. We should emulate him also. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24 NKJV). God created us for Himself; He created us for His pleasure. We should worship Him. He does not exist just to meet our needs; He created us to worship Him. Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (NKJV).
Let us give to Him the worship that is due to Him. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV).
3. Have faith in God. On many occasions, David demonstrated his faith in God. Evidently, the most outstanding was when he stepped forward to confront Goliath (1 Samuel 17). He didn’t have to risk his life, because he was not enlisted in Israel’s army. He only came to Israel’s army camp to deliver his father’s message to his brothers and followed them to the battlefront. But, because of his faith in God, he took up Goliath’s challenge, and, eventually, the young shepherd boy brought down the head of the Philistines’ champion with his (Goliath’s) sword.
In many of the psalms attributed to him, such as Psalm 124, David expressed his faith in God even when he was in unfavourable circumstances.
When the disciples of Jesus told Him that the fig tree He cursed had withered, He told them, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22 NKJV). He is saying the same to you, too. Have faith in God.
4. When God chooses somebody, rejection by human beings is inconsequential. When God lifts up someone, nobody can pull him down. God chose David as king despite the fact that his father didn’t invite him to the meeting where Samuel would anoint someone to replace Saul as king. However, God included him when man had excluded him (1 Samuel 16). The prophet Samuel sent for him after God had rejected his seven brothers. God instructed Samuel to anoint him as king. The father did not consider him fit for the invitation to meet with Samuel but he was God’s choice.
Later, David’s son, Absalom, revolted against him and seized the throne, but God put down his rebellion and restored David to the throne (2 Samuel 15:7-14; 2 Samuel 18, 19). Absalom was not God’s choice; David was. Absalom rejected God’s choice and he lost his life.
5. Be serious with your training and years of preparation. Don’t despise the days of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). David never knew that one day he would stand to fight Goliath, the Philistines’ champion. Before then, he had killed both lion and bear (1 Samuel 17:36). This prepared him to have faith in God to kill Goliath, and he did.
Part of his training and preparation was the skillful use of a sling. He must have been a sharpshooter, in addition to the fact that God helped him. God used the ordinary sling and stone he had been using in his normal shepherding business to supernaturally kill Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40, 49-50).
His expertise in playing the harp was another aspect of his training and preparation. Saul brought David to the palace to play the harp so that whenever the evil spirit began to trouble him, he would play the harp and he would be well. After a national search, the servants of Saul found David to be the best (1 Samuel 16:16). Take your training and years of preparation seriously. You may never know where the skills you’ve acquired would be needed and where they would take you. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men” (NKJV).
David said in Psalm 144:1, “Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle” (NKJV). How can the LORD be your trainer, and you’ll fail?
6. Don’t lean on your understanding; enquire from the LORD. David cultivated the discipline of enquiring from the LORD, rather than assuming that he knew what to do. This proved very profitable and helped him to succeed in his military exploits.
1 Samuel 23:1-5 records such an instance: “Then they told David, saying, ‘Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshing floors.’ Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.’ But David’s men said to him, ‘Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?’ Then David inquired of the LORD once again. And the LORD answered him and said, ‘Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.’ And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah” (NKJV).
Later, Saul wanted to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men. David sought to know from the LORD, through Abiathar, with the aid of an ephod, if Saul would come and if the people of Keilah would hand him over. The LORD said yes, and he and his men fled (1 Samuel 23:7-13). If David had assumed that the people he had helped would not betray him, Saul would have captured him.
On another occasion, after Saul had mourned the death of Saul, he inquired of the LORD the direction to go and he followed it. “It happened after this that David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go up.’ David said, ‘Where shall I go up?’ And He said, ‘To Hebron.’ So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. And David brought up the men who were with him, every man with his household. So they dwelt in the cities of Hebron” (2 Samuel 2:1-3 NKJV).
2 Samuel 5:17-19 also records another occasion when David enquired of the LORD before taking action: “Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand’” (NKJV).
David, most times, didn’t make a major move until the LORD had told him to move, hence the outstanding exploits that he made. On some occasions, he acted foolishly. In Bathsheba’s case, which I will discuss later, he didn’t enquire from the LORD. Of course, there is no way the LORD would have asked him to go ahead. He suffered seriously for his sin.
He also conducted a census without enquiring from the LORD. Satan moved him. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel” (NKJV). He failed to listen to the counsel of Joab not to conduct the census (2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 20). David didn’t enquire of the LORD to know His mind; he did what seemed right in his own eyes. If he had enquired of the LORD, he would have discovered that that idea was not from Him, but from Satan. From Dan to Beersheba, seventy thousand men of the people died from the plague that God inflicted on them as a punishment for David’s sin (2 Samuel 24:15).
But the punishment was also a punishment for the people’s sins. In other words, the people were not innocent as David said in 2 Samuel 24:17. 2 Samuel 24:1 shows that the Israelites were not innocent. It says, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah’” (New King James Version).
The word “again” shows that the anger of the LORD had been kindled against Israel in the past. This must have been because they did what was wrong. Thus, there was a link between the wrong behaviour of the Israelites and David’s sin of conducting a census. Both the Israelites and their king, David, sinned against God. David’s census could be described as the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
There is no contradiction between 1 Chronicles 21:1, which says Satan moved David to number Israel, and 2 Samuel 24:1, which says the LORD moved David to order that Israel and Judah should be numbered. What it means is that Satan moved David to number Israel because God permitted him.
Nevertheless, David thought he was doing the right thing when he ordered the census. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25). Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV).
7. Have regard for the anointed. David had regard for the anointed. Two times he had the opportunity of killing Saul who was chasing him everywhere to kill him. However, David didn’t kill him. He spared Saul’s life, even when his men wanted him to kill him. David would not hurt the LORD’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:22-23).
In addition, twice, David ordered the killing of those who claimed that they killed the LORD’s anointed, Saul (2 Samuel 1:1-14), and his successor, Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:9-12). They had thought David would praise them and reward them for helping him to kill his enemies. But David paid them back in their own coins. He didn’t need anyone to kill another person for him to become king, a position God had anointed him for through the prophet Samuel years before then (1 Samuel 16:13).
8. Run away from sin. The sin that dented David’s sterling credentials was sexual immorality and murder. In a moment of carelessness, he slept with the wife of one of his mighty men, Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3, 23:39). Incidentally, the woman, Bathsheba, was also a daughter of one of his mighty men, Eliam (2 Samuel 23:34). As a cover-up, he killed Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-17).
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV). The sexually immoral shall not inherit or enter the kingdom of God. Flee from it.
However, sexual immorality is not the only sin that will deny you entry into the kingdom of God. You should flee from it but there are other sins you should avoid also. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV).
Similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (NKJV).
According to Revelation 21:8, the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake, which burns with fire and brimstone. Run from sin. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
9. Don’t cover up your sins; repent promptly. Nothing is hidden from God (Hebrews 4:13). All our actions have consequences. Whoever covers his sins shall not prosper (Proverbs 28:13).
David covered one sin with another sin! He covered adultery with murder! That was foolishness. God exposed both through the prophet Nathan. He admitted his guilt but he wasn’t free from the consequences of his actions. God pronounced His judgment on him (2 Samuel 12:7-13).
After Nathan had confronted David about his adultery, he was shattered; David is believed to have written Psalm 51 when Nathan came to confront him with his sin of adultery and murder. He said in verses 3-4, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight — That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (NKJV).
1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Verse 10 adds that if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Confess your sins promptly. Psalm 32:3-4 says, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat” (New Living Translation).
10. Don’t give unlawful or ungodly orders. David gave an unlawful or ungodly order to Joab to set up an innocent soldier, Uriah, on the battlefront and get him killed as a cover-up for his sin. He instructed Joab to set him in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him so that the enemy might strike him down and he would die.
2 Samuel 11:14-24 tells us how David and Joab killed Uriah and how Joab sent a report to David thereafter: “In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’ So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, and charged the messenger, saying, ‘When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’ — then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. And the messenger said to David, ‘Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also’”(NKJV)
Though Joab didn’t join David in planning the killing of Uriah, he was guilty of carrying out an unlawful or ungodly order. Obviously, the letter David sent through Uriah to Joab didn’t state any offence that Uriah committed because there was none. Nevertheless, Joab carried out this unlawful order.
I hope nobody says Joab had no option since he only obeyed the command of the king. No. My position is that if he must carry out every command of the king, why did he later refuse to obey the order of the king to spare the life of his son, Absalom, when he revolted against him? “And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: ‘For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.’ And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders” (2 Samuel 18:5 NLT).
Absalom committed treason but David instructed the army to spare his life. Uriah, a loyal officer, committed no sin, yet David ordered Joab to arrange his killing on the battlefield! That was why God punished David for the injustice against Uriah.
Don’t give an unlawful order, and don’t carry out an evil instruction or order. Even in the military, you can disobey an unlawful order. If Uriah could politely defy the king’s instruction twice to go home, which he considered wrong, Joab could have avoided carrying out the order of the king to kill Uriah. Yes, such an action could have consequences, but what did David do when Joab ordered the killing of Absalom contrary to David’s instruction? What did David do when Joab murdered Abner and Amasa in peacetime? (2 Samuel 3:22-27; 20:7-10).
He didn’t kill Joab. However, before he died, he instructed Solomon, his son and successor, to do what he thought best with Joab, for the murders he committed. He told Solomon not to allow Joab’s gray hair to go down to the grave in peace (1 Kings 2:5-6).
Be careful that you don’t abuse your power and manifest wickedness in any position you occupy. Don’t use your office to oppress others. “Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. Even the king milks the land for his own profit!” (Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 NLT). Don’t forget that you are accountable not only to human authorities but also to God.
11. Don’t neglect parental discipline. David appeared to lack parenting skills. He was not an effective father. This could be why his children did whatever they liked. This was in addition to the judgment that God had passed on him that the sword shall never depart his house for despising Him and taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 12:10).
Amnon, David’s firstborn, raped his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-18). There is no record that David did anything about this evil that Amnon committed. 2 Samuel 13:21 only says, “But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry” (NKJV). A father should have done more than that.
Probably because David did nothing, the Bible says, “Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar” (verse 22 NKJV).
Absalom plotted how to avenge the rape of his sister. He killed his eldest brother two years later when it looked as if everybody had forgotten about what happened (verses 23-33). If David had acted the way a father should, and disciplined Amnon, Absalom might not have killed him. Absalom fled to Geshur after the murder.
Years later, after his return from Geshur, Absalom revolted against his father and seized the throne from him, and slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israelites, an indication of complete opposition to his father (2 Samuel 15:1-10; 16:21). Probably he revolted because he had not forgiven his father for his failure to redress the rape of his sister. Eventually, David’s men killed him in the war to bring down his rebellion (2 Samuel 18:11-14).
Another son of David, Adonijah, got himself anointed as king without the knowledge of his father, who was still alive (1 Kings 1). But his joy was short-lived. David made Solomon king instead. Solomon got Adonijah killed eventually because he asked for Abishag the Shunammite, a young woman, a virgin, employed to take care of David in his old age (1 Kings 1:1-4; 2:13-25).
1 Kings 1:6 says of Adonijah that “his father, David, had not rebuked him at any time by saying, ‘Why have you done so?’” (NKJV). Did you see the lack of parental control? Adonijah was left to himself. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (NKJV).
The Bible also says in Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell” (NKJV). The New Living Translation presents it thus: “Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.” David failed in this regard.
12. Avoid emotional decision-making, especially on serious matters. Studies have shown that emotions influence decision-making. But we must not allow our emotions to make our decisions, especially on major issues. Emotions are fickle. They can change. There is wisdom in avoiding making major decisions when you’re experiencing strong emotions.
Be careful of the decisions you make when you’re tired, joyful, excited, sad, disappointed, overwhelmed, angry or experiencing strong emotions. Otherwise, you may make wrong decisions. Don’t allow your emotions to becloud or override your sense of reason or judgment. Don’t allow your emotions have the better part of you.
1 Chronicles 11:6 says, “David had said to his troops, ‘Whoever is first to attack the Jebusites will become the commander of my armies!’ And Joab, the son of David’s sister Zeruiah, was first to attack, so he became the commander of David’s armies” (New Living Translation).
What made David throw such a challenge? Was it because the Jebusites boasted that David could never get inside their city, but the blind and the lame would stop him? (1 Chronicles 11:5; 2 Samuel 5:6). Emotions will affect the quality of your decision and the speed of taking decisions. Often, emotional decisions are taken rashly, as in this case, without considering other essential factors. It may give room to opportunists.
Although it is not so stated in the Bible, I feel David didn’t think deeply before throwing this challenge that led to Joab’s appointment as the commander of his army. Joab led the attack against Jebus, apparently going through the water shaft or water tunnel (2 Samuel 5:8). And David’s men defeated the Jebusites.
Significantly, David’s army had mighty warriors whose list is given in 2 Samuel 23:8-39 and 1 Chronicles 11:10-47. David had an array of capable men to choose his army commander from. Maybe if David had thought carefully about the qualities of someone to occupy that important position should possess and enquired of the LORD, he might not have chosen Joab. No doubt, Joab was a very courageous, capable, and decisive soldier; it didn’t mean he was the best or the right person for that position. Perhaps, David shouldn’t have used one heroic feat to decide who became the commander of his army. He could have considered other leadership qualities and asked the LORD.
Joab, the son of David’s sister, remained a thorn in his flesh until his death. Mourning the gruesome murder of Abner by Joab, evidently, with the consent of his brother, Abishai, (2 Samuel 3:30), David said, “And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me” (verse 39 New King James Version).
After the rebellion of Absalom was quelled, David announced Amasa, his nephew, to replace Joab as the commander of his army (2 Samuel 19:13). Amasa was also Joab’s cousin. Though this could be seen as a good diplomatic move, I think David should have been careful about this, knowing the kind of person Joab was. How would he react to his removal?
Amasa was the commander of the rebel army of Absalom (2 Samuel 17:25). In order to facilitate his return to Jerusalem after the death of Absalom, David tried to woo the support of the people of Judah. He sent a message to the elders of Judah to challenge them to take steps to get him back to his house.
Apparently forgiving Amasa for being the commander of Absalom’s army, David also sent a message to him. “And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’ So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: ‘Return, you and all your servants!’” (2 Samuel 19:12-14 New King James Version).
After David had returned to Jerusalem as king, Amasa replaced Joab as commander of David’s army. Joab, the former commander of David’s army, remained in the army. He sabotaged David’s interest by killing Amasa, his successor, with a sword, obviously out of envy (2 Samuel 20:9-12). Solomon said that Abner, Saul’s army commander, and Amasa, both murdered by Joab, were more righteous and better than him (1 Kings 2:32).
Before making the choice of his army commander, David should have thought about the implications or consequences of replacing Joab, knowing the type of character he was – a revengeful, ruthless person. David’s decision appears to me to be hasty and emotional.
Joab, who had been loyal to David all along, later supported Adonijah, David’s son, as king (1 Kings 1:7). Their success was short-lived as David made Solomon king instead. Beware of emotional decision-making, especially on serious matters.
Herod was also guilty of making a costly emotional decision on his birthday. Matthew 14:6-7 says, “But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask” (New King James Version). Advised by her mother, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
Verse 9 says, “And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her” (New King James Version). Did you see that? The king regretted his action. Because the king had made an emotional decision, John the Baptist was beheaded.
If the king had controlled his emotion, Herodias, who had something against John the Baptist, wouldn’t have taken advantage of his rash decision to tell her daughter to ask for the head of this great prophet on a platter.
Furthermore, King Xerxes took a rash decision when he was in high spirits because of wine – half drunk with wine (Esther 1:10). He commanded the seven eunuchs who served in his presence to bring Queen Vashti before him wearing her royal crown, to display her beauty to those present because she was beautiful to behold (verses 10-11).
Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have given such a command, but he was under the influence of alcohol. That was why Queen Vashti refused to be brought by his eunuchs, which angered the half-drunk king.
Vashti was eventually deposed as queen. However, the Bible says, “But after Xerxes’ anger had subsided, he began thinking about Vashti and what she had done and the decree he had made” (Esther 2:1 New Living Translation).
That suggests that the king most probably regretted his action, including the removal of Vashti as queen. But unfortunately, he couldn’t reverse or rescind it because the law could not be revoked (Esther 1:19). Don’t let your emotions make decisions for you.
Beware of the decisions you make when you are excited, sad, tired, angry, and so on. Don’t rush to take decisions. Take the issues to God in prayer. Consider what the Word of God says on the issues and readily do it. Consider the facts. Count the cost. Take counsel from the right people. Deal with your fears. Don’t let your emotions alone determine your decisions.
13. Be faithful or loyal to your superiors. David was loyal to Saul. He served him faithfully. 1 Samuel 18:5a says David went out wherever Saul sent him and behaved wisely. In 1 Samuel 18:12-14, the Bible says, “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him” (NKJV). Did you see that again?
He discharged every assignment Saul gave him diligently, even when Saul’s motive was evil. When Saul was running after him to kill him, David was still loyal to him. In 1 Samuel 24:9, David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’?” (NKJV).
In 2 Samuel 1:17-21, he mourned the death of Saul and Jonathan. As we have earlier seen, he made sure the Amalekite, who claimed to have killed Saul, was killed (2 Samuel 1:1-14). Even Rechab and Baanah, the two captains of the guard of Saul’s successor and son, Ishbosheth, who assassinated him and brought his head to David at Hebron, were killed at David’s command (2 Samuel 4:5-12).
David was faithful to Jonathan, his covenant friend, even after death. “Now David said, ‘Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” (2 Samuel 9:1 NKJV). He reiterated this in verse 3. He showed kindness to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, who was lame. He brought him back from Lo Debar, gave him all that belonged to Saul and all his house, and made him eat at the king’s table continually like one of the king’s sons (verses 7-11). “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” (Proverbs 20:6 NLT).
In 2 Kings 10:15, Jehu asked Jehonadab the son of Rechab, “Are you as loyal to me as I am to you?” (NLT). The New King James Version puts it thus: “Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?” Jehonadab answered in the affirmative. David could be faithful or loyal to others because he was first faithful to the LORD.
Be loyal or faithful to your superiors or bosses. God rewards faithfulness as the Bible shows us in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. The unfaithful servant, who buried his one talent, was thrown into outer darkness, where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth (verse 30).
Similarly, in the parable for the minas in Luke 19, the faithful servants were rewarded. Verse 26 says from those who are unfaithful or have nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
Be faithful or loyal wherever you serve. Ephesians 6:5-8 says, “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free” (NKJV).
14. Forget the past. Isaiah 43:18 says we should neither remember the former things nor consider the things of old. In 2 Samuel 3, David made a mistake by bringing his past into his present. He should have allowed Michal, the daughter of Saul, his former wife, to remain part of his past since she had been married to another person.
However, David, as a condition for Abner to appear before him, demanded that he should bring Michal back to him as his wife. That was when Abner sent messengers to David to communicate his plan to transfer to him the tribes of Israel, ruled by Saul’s son, Ishbosheth. David had paid the bride price for Michal with two hundred foreskins of the Philistines, though Saul had requested one hundred. They were married before he went on self-exile from Saul (1 Samuel 18:20-27).
Michal’s husband wept as she was being taken away to David (2 Samuel 3:12-16). Michal loved David before he went into exile (1Samuel 18:20, 28). But many years have passed and they had gone different ways before coming together again. It is possible that she never enjoyed her stay with David when she was brought back; probably her heart was with her husband from whom she had been brought back to David.
She showed her contempt for David as he successfully brought the ark to Jerusalem on his second attempt. David insulted her and her father’s house in return. “Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!’ So David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.’ Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death” (2 Samuel 6:20-23 NKJV).
Some people belong to your past and are not relevant in your present. This is not about quarrels. Don’t insist on relationships with such people. Such relationships may harm you or them. So also there are some things in the past you have to keep in the past in order to enjoy the present and the new things God wants to do in your life. Don’t bring from your past to the present anything that will be a barrier to the realization of God’s purpose for your life. God wants to do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19).
Put behind you the past that you should, and press forward. Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV). That was a well-focused man. You should be focused, too.
Conclusion: Nobody is perfect. David was not perfect but he loved God. God called him a man after his heart. You also must, as Jesus commanded, love the LORD your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind, which is the first and great commandment.
Jesus added that the second commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). The two are interwoven. You cannot claim to love the LORD without demonstrating that love towards your neighbours, fellow human beings. That was why Jesus said all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (verse 40). Paul said love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). John said he who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).
Learn from the life of David, his strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, and seek to become all God wants you to be.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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