David is one of the Bible’s greatest heroes. He was tackling bears when he was a kid, taking on giants when he was a teenager, and obliterating hordes when he was an adult. He was also anointed, pursued, and crowned King of Israel all by the time he was thirty.
On top of that we’re told he was good looking, could turn his hand to a tune and was a loyal friend. But he was even more than that.
God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’Acts 13:22
But, if David was God’s anointed representative and appointed king, why was he pursued like a criminal throughout his early years?
Before he was born, God new David and determined the path his life would take. Childhood was a time of training for the boy, with no experience wasted or opportunity overlooked.
- As an Israelite child David learned who His God was and Yahweh’s promises to His people Psalm 24
- As a shepherd boy David learned how to care for, protect and fight for those in his care Psalm 23
- As a young warrior he learned to harness his passion for the glory of God Psalm 29
David grew up tending his father’s sheep all over the countryside. But, whilst he would have spent time in the wilderness, and despite his people being at war, David had security. His family’s livelihood and his home were safe.
Pursued by Men
But it wasn’t enough for David to know and trust God when times were good. If he was going to be a king with a future and a legacy, he had to learn to trust God in hardships and remain faithful in all circumstances. And just like shepherding, this lesson couldn’t be learned in a classroom or from a book.
For the years David was on the run, he experienced betrayal, uncertainty, and isolation. But he also learned how to gain the confidence of the challenging men who followed him, he honed his battle skills, and most importantly, he learned the sustaining power of God.
Through the Psalms we get a glimpse of some of these lessons:
- The Lord was his shield, constantly sustaining and protecting him Psalm 16
- Yahweh was attentive to David’s cries for help, as well as just and righteous in His response Psalm 40
- As a loving father disciplines his children, God rebuked his cherished anointed Psalm 51
- The Lord his God was majestic and Sovereign Lord, Creator of the Universe Psalm 8,
- When everyone turned against him, David’s God remained close and true Psalm 59
Mistakes Made and Mended
But like the rest of us, David was not perfect. He sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, and when he took a census of Israel for his own glory and gain.
So how did David keep God’s favour and earn the title, “man after my own heart”?
Through a lifetime of journeying together, David’s understanding and relationship with God had developed and deepened to the point where it was the basis of his identity: anointed, representative, child.
When David sinned, he damaged that relationship and destabilised his security. God was the one who loved him, protected, sustained, and guided him. Without God, David understood he was nothing … no one.
Pursued by God
But we read earlier that God said, “he will do everything I want him to do”.
But he didn’t. David sinned … significantly.
Did God get it wrong?
When David was unaware–wilfully blind, or genuinely naïve–of his sin, God pursued him, sending His prophets to set him straight, trusting David would do the right thing.
And he did.
When God spoke, David listened, confessed, and returned to his Heavenly Father. God was aware David’s sinful nature from the start. But he also knew David’s genuine heart.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139
Regardless of the path we are on, God knows our brokenness and needs intimately. So, He leads us on a journey of training and equipping. We are not all called to lofty heights of world leadership, but we are all offered heavenly adoption and invited into genuine relationship.
Our Father knows we are going to make mistakes. And yet, like David, he anoints us for his purposes and pursues us with passion. And what does he desire in return?
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.Psalm 51
- How has God been training you throughout your life?
- When you’re being pursued, how do you cling to the anointing?
- In what ways had God taught you wisdom?