From Shepherd to Scepter

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Faithfulness; Dedication; Commitment; Blessing of God

Alexander of Macedon was always painted with his hand resting his face, as if in deep meditation. But it was to hide the scar on his cheek. The Bible paints men and women just as they are. It doesn't gloss over godlessness, hid hypocrisy, or shelter sin. It paints men and women as they lived and died. This is true in the life of David, who has been called the greatest sinner and the greatest saint of the Old Testament.

I. Mark the Choice

Have you ever thought about the kind of people the Lord chooses? The kind we call "a brain"? No,   the kind He calls a born-again one. The kind who's noted for his ability? No, his availability. Man looks for scholarship, but the Lord for son-ship. Man looks for the specialist, but the Lord looks for the submissionist. Man is interested in the sensational, but the Lord the spiritual. Man looks at the head, but the Lord looks at the heart. Man is concerned with his force, but the Lord his faith.

The Bible doesn't put a premium on ignorance or illness. Concerning our Lord, it's written in Luke 2:52, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." But one night a fellow exclaimed in church, "I thank God I'm ignorant." A man in the last pew nudged his wife and said, "Believe me, he has a lot to be thankful for." It's sad when we don't develop mentally, physically, socially and spiritually as did our Lord, and David.

Saul was king of Israel, but he sinned, and the Lord rejected him. Then He said to His prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:1, "Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send these to Jesse, the Bethlehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons."

When the prophet met Jesse and his on Eliab, he though, "Surely this is the man the Lord hath chosen." But the Lord said, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

Then Jesse presented more sons, and they were rejected. Finally Samuel asked, "Are all thy children here?" He answered, "There remaineth yet the youngest, and, he keepeth the sheep." "Send for him at once," urged Samuel.

It's interesting to note that the expression, "the youngest," suggests that David was the least in his father's estimation. But he who was condemned by his earthly father was chosen by his heavenly Father. Though ridiculed by loved ones, he was respected by the Lord. 1 Samuel 16:13 says, "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward."

Long before he was elected by the people, David was selected by the Lord. And the Lord melted him, molded him, and mad of him a man after His own heart.

Like David, you may be disdained by your own father and despised by your faith. You may not be "a brain,: or beautiful, but you have been born again. God on now to grow in grace. Give up everything for the Lord, but don't give up the Lord for anything. Look to Him, and you will soon look like Him. Let Him have His way with you. And plan purposefully, prepare prayerfully, proceed positively, pursue persistently, and you'll go on from victory to victory.

II. Mark the Challenge

The Philistines were a thorn in the side of the Israelis during the days of King Saul. They lived on the coast, about fifty or sixty miles southwest of Jerusalem, and they extended their territory in a sort of wedge pointed northwest toward Jerusalem. The wedge increased in size as the strength of the Philistines increased. It decreased when the Israelis increased in strength. The frontier was fluid.

On one particular occasion the Philistines gathered their forces for war, and Saul countered with a buildup of forces. They faced each other on opposite hills with a valley between them.

A champion named Goliath came out of the Philistine camp. He was a giant of a man, measuring over nine feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet, a two hundred pound armor, bronze leggings, and he carried a bronze javelin several inches thick, tipped with a twenty-five pound iron spear head. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.

Goliath shouted, "I'll represent the Philistines. You choose someone to represent you. We'll settle this in a single combat. If he's able to fight and kill me, we'll become your slaves. But if I overcome and kill him, you'll become our slaves. I defy the armies of Israel. Send me a man who'll fight with me." On hearing this, Saul and his soldiers were terrified.

Let us remember that the Israelis called for a king. They wanted to be "like all the nations." They added, "that our king may go out before us, and fight our battles." So they chose Saul, a glamour boy who was head and shoulders above his brethren. But a glamorous Saul was no match for strong Goliath. It takes more than glamour. It takes God and godliness.

The spotlight of the Spirit then fell on David. Goliath demanded, "Send me a man who'll fight with me." And the Lord did, but not the kind of a man he expected.

Jesse's three oldest sons had followed Saul to war, and the father asked David to take some cheese to their captains, and see how the boys were getting along. He arrived safely, and was talking with his brothers when he saw Goliath the giant step out and challenge the army of Israel. As soon as the Israelis saw him, they ran away in fright. But not David. He asked, "Who is this Philistine that should defy the armies of the living God?"

Then David was reproached by his kin. His eldest brother, Eliab, asked angrily, "Why camest thou down here? And with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle." See the battle? There wasn't any battle. No one dared to face Goliath.

Listen to his reply. It was beautiful. "What have I done?" he asked. And he added, "Is there not a cause?" They saw no cause. But there was a cause. God was defied, and His people disgraced!

That Christian who's prepared to step out for the Lord, to own His cause, to defend His name, should be prepared to face the reproach of his own kin. And in responding, he must not give into anger. You can't put anything across by getting cross. It's good he had a warm heart but not a hot head.

No sooner had David triumphed over that temptation than he was faced with another. He was restrained by the king. For Saul sent for him when he heard his testimony. Immediately David said, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." The king and his men saw the giant, but David saw God. David look at the Savior, but the king at the situation. And he said, "Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." How's that for throwing cold water on David! But David didn't back down.

Listen to his reply. "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him and slew him...The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."

It seems that when you volunteer to fight against Satan and to save souls for whom Jesus died, you're faced with all sorts of problems-your age and your ability, your lack of education or experience- yet nothing is said about the Lord. But do as did David. He didn't put his trust in his ability or his adventures, but in the Almighty. No one can defeat Him, nor those who trust completely in Him.

Though Saul didn't have faith, he at least recognized it when he saw it. For he said, "Go and the Lord be with thee." He armed David with His armor. But David said, "I cannot go with these," and he put them off.

Have you told others that you're stepping out on faith to serve the living and true God? Have you testified that you believe the Lord is able to protect you and to provide for you? Then don't put on Saul's armor. Refuse the plans and paraphernalia that come from defeated and doubting Sauls. And don't let any doubting and defeated Sauls hold you back!

David was victorious in two battles. The third and the most terrific awaited him. With his staff in his hand, he chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in his shepherd's bag, and armed with a sling, started out to destroy Goliath.

Then he was ridiculed by the killer. "Am I a dog," he asked, "that thou comest to me with staves?" And he cursed David by his gods. "Come to me," he added, "and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field."

Listen to David's reply to those terror tactics. "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: But I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day the Lord will deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth: that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands."

Do you have this kind of confidence in this king of God? Is your God puny or powerful? Have you allowed Him to take command of your situation? If you put your confidence in you Savior's almightiness and not Saul's armor, you'll be a victor and not a victim.

Faith lets the Lord do for us and with us what we could never do alone. And to believe is to be brave. For just as soon as Goliath arose, David ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd's bag, he took out a stone, and hit Goliath in his forehead. Such a thing never entered into his head before. He fell on his face to the ground. So David conquered the giant with a sling and a stone, and the Philistines were devastatingly defeated.

Are you facing a giant-a giant of temptation and trial, a giant of sorrow and suffering, a giant of disease and despair, a giant of bankruptcy and bitterness? The battle is the Lord's. He's wiser than the wisest, stronger than the strongest, and better than the best. With Him you'll win.

"But," you protest, "I'm insignificant." The Lord delights in using insignificant to do the significant. He enjoys using little things to do big things. You can be too big for the Lord to use, but never too little. Just give Him your best, and He'll give you His best; and you'll go on from victory to victory.

"But," you add, "I'm so isolated from everyone and everything. I'm all alone. I'm just one." But the Lord is a majority. He doesn't need an army. He seldom uses a crowd. He used just one, Elijah, to overcome the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal. He used just one, Moses, to deliver a nation of two million slaves. He used just one, a boy, to feed more than five thousand people. And He used just one, David to destroy Goliath and his gang.

Will you be one whom the Lord can use? Shall you be content to be less, to do less than He wants? Shall it be leftovers or all? Shall it be a cowardice or courageous conquest? Oh, be the one the Lord uses, won't you?

III. Mark the Conduct

Immediately attracted to David, a brave believer with a ruddy complexion, sparkling eyes, and a handsome appearance, Saul kept David at Jerusalem, and made him his special assistant. Whatever he sent him to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him commander of his troops. This pleased the soldiers and the civilians.

It's interesting to study their lives as they lived side by side. Saul and David were chosen for leadership. Both were anointed. But with these two statements the comparison ceases and the contrast commences.

David drew nearer to the Lord, Saul departed farther from Him. David was generous, Saul was greedy. David displayed patience, Saul passion. David was ambitious for the Savior's glory, Saul for self-glory. David pardoned those who did him wrong. David made friends, Saul made foes. David great in grace, Saul grew in disgrace.

Life is an incline. If you don't go up, you go down. If you're not a better Christian, you're a worse Christian. If you're not close to the Lord, you're farther from Him. How is it with you?

Can it be that you're a soul in declension? Is your life declining because of Biblelessness, churchlessness, lovelessness, prayerlessness, worldliness, and wickedness?

Can it be that you're a soul in desolation? It was written of Saul, "the Lord was departed from him." Can you think of anything emptier, more deserted, bleaker, or abandoned? A God- abandoned man is a man who has abandoned God. That's what Saul did. And the Bible says, "An evil spirit from God came upon Saul." Just think, he who was the Lord's king became the devil's jester. He gave up his scepter for a cap and bells. If you refuse to be used of the Savior, you may be used of Satan.

But what of David? The Bible says, "David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him." After whom will you pattern your life-King Saul or King David?

IV. Mark the Contempt

A man of God was going through a crisis in his life. It seemed that everyone and everything were against him. He felt scorned and shut out, when suddenly he saw a piece of paper on the sidewalk. Picking it up he read, "No man is fully accepted until he has first of all been utterly rejected."

Early in life David was forsaken by his friends and rejected by royalty. Cast out by the king, spurned by his son, forsaken by his followers, he went fro a palace to a pit.

What was his demeanor? It's found in Psalm 59:9, "I will wait upon Thee." On man? No, on his Maker. On Saul? No, on his Savior. David didn't pout, he prayed. He didn't grumble, he glorified God. He didn't worry before man, he waited upon God. And what was he waiting for? The response. Too many ask but they don't wait for the answer. Whatever the difficulties, the discouragements, the disappointments, the delays, don't stop praying. And wait for the answer. Many ships pass in the night with heavenly reinforcements of strength and supplies, patience and power, grace and gifts! They come in with their heavenly cargo, they dock at our wharfs, but they go out again because we're not waiting to unload them. Not David, he waited. Not only for the response, but also rest. When he got up from his knees, he left the burden with the Lord.

Do you take your burden to the Lord and leave it there?

What was David's defense? He answers in Psalm 59:9, "My strength," and "my high place." "God is my strength" signifies "God all around me, protecting me." God-possessed and God protected. Can you think of a better defense? No wonder France Havergal wrote:

Hidden in the hallow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

V. Mark the Companions

A family moved into a new city, and the mother was enrolling her son in kindergarten. The teacher asked, "Does he have any brothers or sisters?" "No," said the mother. "But," protested the boy, "I've got friends."

David had friends, but the wrong kind of friends. He didn't realize that it's better to be alone than to be in bad company. But he sought refuge among the foes of our Lord, and those who are foes of our Lord can't be friends of the Lord's people.

Are you wondering what led David to seek out the wrong kinds of friends? Fear! It's written in 1 Samuel 21:10 and 12, David, "fled for fear of Saul," and he "was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath."

Fear is a foe of faith. Fear and faith don't go together. If there's fear there's no faith, and if there's faith there's no fear.

Faith is dumb to doubts; for faith is delight, fear is despair, faith is freedom, doubt is fetters; faith is gladness, doubt is grief; faith is power, doubt is powerlessness; faith is courage, doubt is cowardice.

In writing to the Thessalonian Christians the apostle Paul thanked God that their faith grew exceedingly. Is your faith growing exceedingly? Let it grow in passiveness, by resting only in the Lord; let it grow in positiveness, by believing all the Word of the Lord; let it grow in prevailing ness, but trusting everything to the Lord; let it grow in plainness, by receiving everything from the Lord. Never be satisfied. Go on from faith to faith, from strength to strength, from grace to grace, from peace to peace, and from boldness to boldness.

VI. Mark his Comeback

Aesop told of the time when the beasts and the birds were engaged in war. According to his fable the bat tried to belong to both parties. When the bird were victorious, he'd wing his way to their side declaring that he was a bird. But when the beasts won a fight, he'd walk around announcing that he was a beast. But his hypocrisy was discovered, and he was rejected by the birds and the beasts.

Something like this happened to David. Filled with fear, he found refuge among the Philistines. So King Achish of Gath offered David the position of captain of his troops when they set out to attack the Israelites.

What a predicament! A believer in battle, but on the wrong side. He was about to fight his own family and friends.

His friends were suspicious of him and his foes were skeptical of him. This Philistines look at David and his men and asked in 1 Samuel 29:3, "What do these Hebrews here?"

Every time you leave the Master's men for Satan's soldiers you'll be asked, "What are you doing here?" And do you really know what you're doing? Shaming the Savior, disgracing the disciples, and sinning against the sinners.

It is true, believers backslide. And if you're unsaved, get your eyes off the backsliders and get them on the Lord. If you don't you'll be destroyed.

A hunter in Minnesota anchored his decoys near the wild rice, and hurried to his blind to wait for daylight. A large flock of ducks passed overhead. Looking down, they saw the wooden ducks and decided it was a safe place to feed. But as they came down for a landing near the decoys, the hunter opened up on them and the dead ducks came tumbling down everywhere. When they got their eyes on the wooden ducks, they paid for it with their lives. And if you get your eyes on the hypocrites you may pay for it with your soul.

"But," you ask, "what of the believer? Does he suffer when he strays into bad company?" He does, and so does his family. No one can sin without suffering.

It's written in 1 Samuel 30:1-4, "When David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; and had taken the women captives, that were in it... Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep."

Yes, you suffer when you sin. But sometimes others suffer more than you. An unwed mother tried to kill herself, but failed. When she came to, she saw our telecast and called for me. In ministering to her, I asked, "Why did you try to commit suicide?" Weeping, she answered. "My baby is diseased because of my sins. When I saw my baby suffering because of my sins I couldn't stand it. That's why I tried to kill myself." She turned to the Lord in repentance and was saved. But her baby is still suffering.

When David saw that the Philistines didn't want him, and his own men spoke of stoning him, and his family had suffered because of him, he found himself at the bottom of the ladder. And that's where the Lord met him, restored him, and remade him.

Is that where you are now? Then turn to the Lord. He's there waiting for you. Say to Him, "I'm wrong. I'm sorry. I need Thy forgiveness, Thy help, Thy strength. Take me. I'm Thine." Accept Him, His pardon and His peace, His power and His purpose, His love and His leadership, and go on to victory!

VII. Mark the Cheer

Discouragement distresses, defeats and destroys! So we read in 1 Samuel 30:6, "David encouraged himself in the Lord."

How? By delighting in his deeds? No. By stifling his soul? No. By freezing his feelings? No. By engaging himself in his employment? No. By looking to the Lord.

Do you, like David, feel defeated and disappointed? Does it seem that nobody loves you, nobody cares whether you come or go, nobody believes in you? Do you feel lonely and lost? Then you're just the person the Lord is looking for.

He loves you. He's not absent from you. You don't have to seek Him. He has come to you. He hasn't moved an inch from you, and He never will. He won't turn His back on you or take His eyes off of you. He really loves you. And He's bigger than your problem. He's a miracle worker.

Come to Him with your foulness and receive forgiveness. Come to Him with you foulness and receive His forgiveness. Come to Him with your temptations and receive His triumph. Come to Him with your hurts and receive His healing. Come to Him with your powerlessness and receive His power. He wants you to soar, not sink; to overcome, not to be overcome; to triumph, not tumble. So encourage yourself in the Lord your God!

VIII. Mark the Coronation

David repented of his sins, and he recovered all. Not only his loved ones and his possessions, but his love for the Lord and his passion.

Meanwhile, the Philistines had begun the battle against Israel. They closed in on Saul and killed his sons. Then the archers wounded him badly, and Saul committed suicide. When the news reached David he was grieved, not glad. And instead of speeding on his way to become king, he sought the will of the Lord.

He asked, "Shall I move back to Judah?" "Yes," answered the Lord. "Which city shall I go to?" he asked. And the Lord answered, "To Hebron." And there he was crowned king over Judah.

But Abner, captain of Saul's army, took a son of Saul and crowned him king over Israel. But he grew weaker, while David grew stronger. Then Abner realized that David was the Lord's choice. So he called together the people and said, "Ye have sought for David in past times to be king over you: now then do it." And they did it.

In like manner, the Lord Jesus has only helped Himself to what you have given Him. Some of you have offered Him nothing. Others have offered Him Hebron, that is, only a part of your lives. Why don't you offer Him all that you are and have?

A father came home and sat in his favorite chair, waiting for his children. When they came in, and saw him there, they ran to him. The elder got there first and threw her arms around him, but the younger one cried. Stretching out his arms, he beckoned her to come to him. Into his arms she ran. Looking up at her big sister she cried, "You got all of daddy. But daddy's got all of me."

Does the Lord have all of you?

Offer your body to Him to live through, your mind to Him to think through, your heart to Him to love through, your hands to Him to touch through, your feet to Him to travel through, and your possessions to Him to work through! You have thought of doing this. "Now then do it!