David and Samuel

1 Samuel 16:1-13


SELECT A CHURCH

Select a church above to view sermon content.

3 Aug 2015

Luke Nelson

Luke is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Melbourne West. He joined City on a Hill in its early days, serving as the Community Pastor in Melbourne, before being asked to lead a new church plant. Having grown up in Melbourne’s western suburbs, he has a deep knowledge of and passion for the area, and a great desire to see the gospel bring transformation. A gifted communicator, he loves the work of pastoring a church, opening God’s word each week and seeing the Spirit work. Luke graduated with a BA (Hons) from Melbourne University, has a Grad Dip in Divinity and a Masters of Ministry from Ridley College. He is an ordained Anglican minister in the Diocese of Melbourne and an active member of Acts 29.

3 Aug 2015

Andrew Grills

Andrew is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Geelong. He has spent most of his life as an officer in the Australian Army. Graduating with the Sword of Honour from the Australian Defence Force Academy, he served in Infantry and Intelligence, including operations in East Timor with the commandos. He holds a postgraduate degree in International Relations from Oxford University and an MDiv from Ridley College. Andrew later became an Army Chaplain at the Australian Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka, before leaving the full time Army in 2013 to plant City on a Hill Geelong. Andrew has been married to his beautiful wife Danna for over 20 years and has five young children. He loves the ocean, traveling, camping, playing with his kids (including attending their innumerable sporting matches), and reading military history.

27 Jul 2015
  • Transcript

    The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse, the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

    And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.”

    Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably? ”And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

    When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees, man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

    Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel, and he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”

    Then Jesse made Shammah pass by, and he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”

    And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”

    Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in.

    Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. [1 Samuel 16:1-13]


    Our Lord and our God, we come before You acknowledging that You are the Creator of heaven and Earth. You are powerful, You are majestic, You are beautiful, You are true, and we gather here tonight longing that we would see You for who You really are. We thank You Lord God that You have chosen to reveal Yourself to us. You have gifted us with Your Scriptures, Your Word, that we can learn, that we can see, that we can know. And so we can ask Lord that as we open up your Scriptures now, Your Holy Spirit would be at work and You’d be at work for our good and, ultimately, You’d be work for Your glory. And so, we pray this in faith, in the precious name of Jesus and all of God’s people said with one super loud voice, Amen!

    [Congregation: Amen!]

    Welcome, City on a Hill. It’s fantastic to be with you. Who is looking forward to the new series?

    Good to see, good to see. It is a tremendous joy to open up the Bible with you and I want to thank you for the opportunity. It’s such a joy to do that. It’s such a joy to take that journey with you.

    I want to start with a question. Does anyone in this room remember the TV show Candid Camera? Oh, a few people, pretty good, pretty good. It’s this black and white classic TV show from the 1950’s. In fact, it’s the first kind of TV show that looked at prank television. In other words, they took hidden cameras and got ordinary people and placed them in extraordinary situations just to see how they would respond.

    One of the most famous little experiments they did appeared in an episode in 1962 called Face The Rear, and it’s a simple little setup, but highly amusing. This is what happened. A man, an ordinary man, walks into in an office building into an elevator, and he’s followed about three seconds later by another man who happens to be a member of the Candid Camera crew, and so instead of doing what we ordinarily always do, which is face the door of the elevator, this man decides to turn around and face the rear of the elevator, the wall.

    Then comes another woman. She also is part of the Candid Camera team and so she also, instead of facing the door of the elevator, she turns around and faces the wall, and then a third guy comes in and he does exactly the same.

    Now, suppose you are the first man who went into the elevator. What would be going on in your mind? What would you be thinking? And more importantly, which way would you face?

    The first man is, you can see trying to hold on to his individuality, but then awkwardly, slowly, little by little, he himself turns around and faces the wall. It’s this funny little experiment which has since become a case study in social conformity.

    The reality is, friends, that most of us hold very tightly to our individuality, our independence. We grow up believing and being told that we’re the masters of our own destiny, the captains of our own choices, but what that experiment hints at is that we are far more influenced than we’d like to believe.

    The clothes we wear, the products we buy, the people we date, the cars we drive, the views we hold are not merely the product of our own individuality, but greatly influenced by the views and actions of those around us.

    This is why leadership is tremendously important. A leader is not merely someone with a title or a position, but anyone of influence: a parent, a boss, a celebrity, a work colleague, a classmate, the lecturer at university, a friend. It doesn’t matter where you look, we’re surrounded by leaders, people of influence who shape our decisions and direction.

    This raises a very important question. Who should you follow? Who should you follow? Which leaders should you trust? Which leaders should you ignore? Which leaders will guide you on the right path? Which leaders will have you facing the wall?

    Tonight we begin a new series looking at the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel, and it’s a story which in many ways is about leadership. David emerges in a time when Israel was facing a massive leadership crisis. The year was 1050 BC, and the people of God had endured over 200 years of social upheaval.

    This was an era known as the period of Judges, a dark season marked by failed leadership and continued disobedience. Such was the state of Israel that the Book of Judges ends with the scathing review that there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. In other words, the people were running in anarchy.

    Now, importantly, this presented a severe threat to national security, but also to the identity and purpose of God’s people. For those of you who are familiar with your Bible, you will know that in the early stages of the Bible, God made a covenant with Abraham. He made a vow to make his Name great and establish for Himself His own people, a treasured nation, a people belonging to Him.

    This were to be His sons, His daughters, and they were to be the recipient of His lavish love and to enjoy His life and His blessing. Yet, as we open up the pages of 1 Samuel, we find a nation in disarray. What kind of leader did Israel need? Who would rise up and protect the nation, and more importantly, who would unite them in obedience and trust before a holy and righteous God?

    The story of David, friends, is one of faith, it’s one of glory, it’s one of love, but it’s also filled with moments of pride, greed and lust, all interwoven in a drama, with unexpected turns, great victories, but also a tragic fall.

    Remarkably, the King of Kings not only takes us into the courts of David, but provides a window to the true and better king that was to come. A king of unending passion, courage, a true king, a king that we don’t just need to admire, but we can trust and follow.

    In light of that, I would love it if you could turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Samuel Chapter 16, which is where we first meet David. Now, you’ll see the scene opens in dramatic fashion with Samuel, the great prophet of God, in his room weeping. Here he is, the great prophet, in his room weeping. The question is, why is he weeping? Did he stub his toe? Slow internet connection? Did he arrive home late from school and missed Deal or No Deal? Was no one laughing at his jokes? Why is he weeping?

    He’s weeping over a man named Saul. Now, importantly, Saul was the very first man to be king of Israel. God always promised Israel a king, and yet, Saul’s rise to power was tainted by Israel’s constant demands. Instead of trusting the provision and the timing of the Lord, the people wanted to choose their own king, a king who would make them like all the other nations.

    But they were not meant to be like all the other nations. They were chosen to be a holy people who trusted, who looked to the leadership in love of the Lord, and so while the Lord allowed Samuel to anoint Saul as king, he was always known as the king of Israel’s choosing. In fact, at his own inauguration, Samuel says this, “Today you have rejected your God who saves you from all calamities and distresses, and you have said to him, “Set a king over us.”

    Now, Saul does have his victories, but sadly, we see a character that reflects the weakness and disobedience of Israel, and this really culminated with a battle with Israel and the Amalekites. The Amalekites were a vicious people who committed all sorts of atrocities, and Saul was told by the Lord that their wickedness must be stopped. They had to be wiped out.

    Now, in the ancient world, nations would fight and plunder the other enemies. They would take the gold, they would take the silver, they would take whatever they could to make themselves great, but the Lord didn’t need their power. He didn’t need their gold or their silver, He wants justice, but what does Saul do? He ignores God. Brings back the king. Brings back the livestock, which is the economy of its day. He disobeyed God and he brought dishonour to His name, and Samuel was grieved, saddened by Saul’s disobedience and the consequences for his sins.

    But his tears carry more than that, don’t they? You see, Samuel cares for God’s people. They had come so far. They had so much promise. They were gathering together, things were looking good, and this sin put everything to the ground. It appears hopeless.

    It’s true in life that there are things that you shouldn’t cry about. When you get socks for your birthday instead of an iPad, don’t cry. When you get a latte and it’s not exactly at the temperature you liked, don’t cry. If you ever make it onto reality television and they say, “What does it mean to be here today,” don’t cry.

    But when a friend you love, know, trust sins; when your nation is falling from the Lord and they’re too blind to see it, then there is a time to weep. And yet, one of the remarkable things about this text, if not the whole Bible, is that even when leadership fails, God remains faithful. Even when leadership fails, God remains faithful. Even when we have given up on him, He never gives up on us. He is committed to His people. He is committed to His covenant.

    So note what He says to comfort Samuel, He says, “I’ll send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite for I have provided for Myself a king among his sons.” Now, please note this, this is very important. Unlike Israel who demanded their own king, this is a king that the Lord God has chosen for Himself. Now that said, you’ll notice that Samuel was immediately filled with fear. I mean, just think about it, how can he stroll into Bethlehem talking about a new king when Saul himself is still on the throne?

    It’s a reminder, isn’t it? The will of God is rarely safe. It’s dangerous. It’s costly. It requires courage and faith, which is exactly what Samuel shows. So if you look in your Bibles to Verse 4, you will see him travel to Bethlehem to host a feast, which is the perfect opportunity for him to see Jesse’s sons.

    Now, who remembers in high school being lined up along the basketball court and the PE teacher would appoint two captains who would take their time to select the best members for the team? Do you remember that? It didn’t matter if you believed in God or not, everyone prayed that they didn’t get chosen last. It’s terrible. It’s exactly what we’ve got here in this text.

    Here we have, the sons of Jesse parading through, like who wants to be the Next Top Model, and the first cab off the rank is a dude named Eliab. Now, you’ve got to picture this, he’s the eldest son. He's tall. He’s strong. This is the guy who has five protein shakes before breakfast, right, abs of steel, who can bench press a camel with one arm, right? He’s tough, he’s tough, and Samuel thinks, “Surely, this is the Lord’s anointed.” In other words, “This has got to be the dude. He’s got to be the dude.”

    Now, bear in mind, in the ancient world, the king was the military leader. You needed a man who is tough. You needed a man who could command hundreds of soldiers into line who would fight for you. You needed a man with fierce eyes and a booming voice who could bring fear to the opposing enemies. Samuel thinks, “Well, of course, it’s got to be this son.” But the Lord says, “No, it’s not him.”

    Well, they bring in another son, the next eldest in line. Again, the Lord says, “No, this is not him.” And this just goes on until all seven sons have been through. A little perplexed, Samuel turns to Jesse, the father and says, “Are these all your sons? Are they all here?” And he’s like, “Yes, these are all my sons. Oh, I’ve got another one, it’s the youngest. He’s out the back somewhere looking after sheep, but I didn’t bother bringing him in.”

    Anyone here the youngest in the family? A lot of hands. It’s tough. It’s tough being the youngest in the family. You’re always picked last. You only get hand-me-down clothes. I’m the youngest. When you go through milestones in life like starting high school or getting your license, no one cares. It’s old news. You know, you could have graduated from Uni and drive your own car, but if your family has a family dinner, it’s guaranteed you’re going to be on the kiddie’s table, right? It’s rough, it's hard yards.

    Now, interestingly, the word the father uses for youngest implies more than age, it suggests he was least in the estimation of the father, least. How often have parents misjudged their children, you know, put the black mark next to the one who ends up rising up and changing the world?

    The youngest walks in, dusting dirt off his hands, when Samuel notes his good looks, it says he’s ruddy, striking features, beautiful eyes, but hardly the William Wallace who is going to direct Israel to victory, but the Lord quietly whispers, “This is the one. This is my king.” What would it feel like to have been overlooked by everyone else, but have the Lord of heaven and earth look at you and say, “This is the one”.

    In Verse 13, we’re told that the young boy’s name is, of course, David, which means beloved, and as Samuel anoints him with oil, it says, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.” Now, this marks a change in scene, but also a dramatic shift in the story. Now, we didn’t get this in the Bible reading, but you can look this up when you get home. You have this great contrast.

    In the small town of Bethlehem, you have this young boy filled with the Spirit while King Saul sits in his palace being emptied of the Spirit. You have one enjoying the wellspring of life and strength, the other a dark shadow of judgment and distress, and such is the misery of Saul that one of his servants notices his unhappiness and says, “You know what, we should go out and get a musician. Bring in a gifted musician into the courts of the…what do they live in? Palace, kingdom, castle? You get the idea. “Let’s bring the musician in because that would bring comfort to his soul.”

    Well, it’s a fair enough idea. We all know that music is comforting, nothing like a bit of LightFM to bring warmth to the soul. The only problem is that after they do this huge survey, after they put this ad in the paper, the one guy they choose is a young boy named David. In fact, check out this description that the servant gives to the king describing David. He says, “Behold, I’ve seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who’s skilful in planning, a man of valour, a man of war, prudent in speech and a man of good presence and the Lord is with him.”

    Picture that. When he sets up an extraordinary scene of remarkable irony where the rejected Saul, unknowingly seeks relief from the newly anointed David. David is the chosen king, but he’s summoned by the fallen king. One sits on the throne to rule, the other kneels and serves. And while the chapter ends with news of comfort and relief, there is an absolute tension in the air. When will David's kingship be truly relieved? How will Saul respond once he knows what has taken place in his midst?

    To answer those questions, stay tuned. Come back next week for our next instalment of the King of Kings. But for now, I want us to spend our time considering the significance of this text or more importantly, what is it that the Lord wants us to know? What is it that the Lord wants us to see?

    Three insights, three observations. First, let’s consider, the eyes of man. One of the key insights from our text is that our view of the world is often limited. The eyes of man can only see so far. We only ever get one angle, so that when Samuel came into town to find the next king, he only had one perspective. As we see with the eldest son, Eliab, it caused him and Jesse the father to make the wrong choice. Why? Because as we read in Verse 7, man looks at the outward appearance. In other words, the eyes of man are not only limited, they are prone to misjudgment. They’re prone to misjudgment.

    Many years ago, a young man stopped at a busy train station, wearing a cap, a t-shirt, jeans, and put a case at his feet and put out a violin and began to play some songs to people going past. He played for forty-three minutes, six classical pieces, and 1,097 people passed him by. Of the 1,097 people who passed him by, how many stopped? Just six. No applause, no recognition, just a measly $32 in his busker’s cap.

    Now, not too bad for a busker, but this was actually Joshua Bell. Joshua Bell, if you don’t know, is one of the greatest musicians going around at this time, and he was playing some of the most difficult, intricate pieces on a violin that was worth $3.5 million. Only days before he was busking, he was playing to a packed out stadium where tickets costs upwards of a hundred dollars apiece. It’s a fascinating little experiment that exposes the influence of context and the limitation of human perception.

    It also raises a deeper question. How many other things are we missing? Who else have we misjudged based on appearances alone? Coca-Cola recently put out an ad where they got six people to sit around a table, but they put them in the dark. They couldn’t see one another, and they got them to share their interests and then they took turns guessing what the other person across the table looked like, and then the lights came on, guess what, they were wrong in almost every direction.

    Now, the guy who played heavy metal didn’t, as they thought, have piercings and long hair, but short hair and glasses. The extreme sports athlete who skydived was not some big, muscly dude, but a young man in a wheel chair. The man who was well read, studied behavioural psychology and gave Ted Talks was not as they insisted, a nerd, but covered in tats from head to toe.

    Commercials like that remind us of the age-old proverb that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s worth considering, isn’t it? Because how many of us still choose or reject friends, partners, leaders, by nothing more than what we see. Importantly, this not only impacts how we judge others, but also how we judge ourselves.

    Samuel and Jesse didn’t see David for who David truly was, but I’m sure that David didn’t know either who he was. I’m sure there are many times that you yourself looked into the mirror and only see what the world sees. Perhaps you don’t have the expensive clothes, perhaps you aren’t tall, perhaps you aren’t skinny, perhaps you don’t have perfect complexion. Does that make you any less of a person than the guy or the girl sitting next to you? Does that mean you are not as valuable as those around you?

    Cameron Russell shares this powerful insight when asked how she became a supermodel. She said this, “I won a genetic lottery. I’m a recipient of a legacy. What do I mean by a legacy? Well, for the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as health, youth, symmetry, but also tall, slender figures, femininity and white skin. This is a legacy that was built for me.” She goes on to say that, “Modelling is simply something constructed for her that she’s been cashing in on, but the industry reflects nothing of she actually is. Every photo is simply a construction of reality.”

    Now, in a similar way, Samuel presumes Eliab is the Lord’s anointed because he’s what? Good looking, he’s tall, he’s strong, he fits man’s construction of reality, but Samuel was wrong. Samuel saw with the eyes of man. So let me ask you, what defines your standard, value, beauty, success? The label on clothes, the size of a person’s waist, the company they work for, the colour of their skin, the car they drive, who they hang out with?

    Who in your life have you overlooked simply because they didn’t match the standards of success or beauty in the eyes of the world? Is there someone in your circles that you’ve rejected for no other reason than they make you look bad, and how is that same filter shaping your view of your own life? Do you see yourself through the eyes of man, constantly judging yourself by a standard constructed by the world, always evaluating your own worth based on what other people say, what other people deem to be impressive?

    This leads to our second insight, and namely, the heart of God. Samuel discovers this, the Lord does not see as man sees. Man looks to the outward appearance, but the Lord looks to the heart. Now what does this mean? It means in part that while the eyes of men are limited, the eyes of God are not. He’s not limited in what he sees. He’s not lacking in any angle. He knows all things. He sees all things.

    Now, consider this. How do you know who you truly are? How do you evaluate who you are in a world with so many different perspectives and opinions? Do you evaluate yourself with the eyes of men? No. You seek out nothing less than the heart of God. Instead of asking, “What does this person or what does that person think about me”, ask, “What does God think about me? Who does God say that I am?” He’s the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb. He is the one who has been with you ever since. If there’s ever a person that you need to go to, you have to go to God.

    By the way, friends, this is why thoughtful believers have always advocated for human rights and dignity for all, because despite exterior differences, despite social barriers, in God we see that all people have inherent worth and value. Male, female, young, old, rich, poor, black, white, big people, small people, abled body, disabled bodies, born children, unborn children, all are equal because they are precious and valuable in the sight of God.

    But, of course, that takes us further, deeper than that, doesn’t it? It not only tells us, friends, that God knows us truly, but actually cares more about who you are than how you look. God cares more about who you are than how you look. We’re always focused on the exterior, but the Lord is always looking at the heart.

    I’ve shared this story before, but many years ago, I had a hard day in the office. I was coming home, I was tired, and my beautiful wife, her name is Vanessa, said, “You know what, why don’t we get the kids together? Why don’t we go out for pizza?” I said, “Great idea.”

    We decided to get all kind of dressed up. The kids had matching skinny jeans to match my skinny jeans. My daughter Summer put on this beautiful white dress and we went out for a pizza. It was just a great night. This was one of those great nights as a parent. Kids were laughing at my stupid jokes, which is always a win. No one was throwing food around the table or turning their pizza into a Frisbee, not even my wife, Vanessa, so that was a win.

    And then as we were leaving the restaurant and going towards the car, my little daughter, she was five at that time, she was holding my hand, she kind of stops, and I could see she wants to tell me something, so I kind of bent down and looked at her. She goes, “Daddy, I want to give my heart to you.”

    There you go, that’s the right response to that statement there. I was melt… I mean, she could have followed it up with, “Dad, can you get me a new pony.” I would have bought fifty, because in that moment, she had me. She’s done lots of wonderful and cute things, with pictures and stories and little plays, and they have all been great, but to be honest, there’s nothing a father wants more than their daughter, their son’s love.

    I’m thinking about that. I’m thinking about our relationship before our heavenly Father and it occurs to me that what He wants more than anything else is not your performance, He wants your heart. He wants your love. He wants your affection. We could look at all kinds of places in the Scriptures to see this, but do you remember what he says in Hosea, “God desires steadfast love, not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.”

    Isn’t it true, friends, that religious types are very good at kind of rolling their eyes at the materialism of our day? They’re really good at kind of bagging out those who are into cosmetics and spending money on clothes, and so…they turn their nose up at that kind of thing. But how often are we guilty of prioritising our outward religion over the matters of the heart? How often are we concerned more about looking faithful than actually being faithful? Test yourself. Does your public obedience match your private obedience? Are you just as committed to purity and prayer when no one else is looking?

    Now, Saul had all the outward trappings, but his heart grew cold to the Lord. In contrast, David appeared like he had very little to offer, but underneath the frail skin was a heart that believed. There was humility there and affection for the Lord which we’ll see grows and grows. Friends, where are your priorities today? Are you constantly focused on keeping up appearances or are you pursuing what is valuable to God? Is it all about the external competencies, or are you asking the Lord to actually deal with your character?

    There is however, another point to be made about the heart of God. Australian commentator, John Woodhouse believes that when Samuel says that God looks upon the heart, it’s not referring to the heart of David, but actually the heart of the Lord, and so he translates the text a bit like this, “The Lord sees not as man sees. Man sees according to his eyes, but the Lord sees according to the heart, His heart.” That is, God’s point of view is not based on impressions, but determined by His own will and purpose. He sees according to His own intentions.

    In other words, this is less about the godliness of David and more about the will of God. It’s not about the place God has on the heart of David, but the place David has on the heart of God.

    Now, in my research of this text, I must say I’m not completely convinced that that translation is the best interpretation of the Hebrew language, but, it rightly emphasises a biblical theme that is consistent in 1 Samuel and certainly across the Bible. Note this, the election of David was not dictated by David’s holiness, but by the holiness of the Lord. God was the one who saw him. God was the one who pursued him. God was one who chose him, and God is the one who filled him with His Holy Spirit and sustained and strengthened David.

    We may be tempted to study the life of David as a case study in leadership. Many of you will be leaders in the university, in the workplace, in the home, in the church, and to be sure, there are lots that we can learn from the life and example of David, but note this, David is not the central character or main leader in this story, God is.

    This is less a story about David’s faithfulness, and primarily a story about God’s faithfulness. It’s not ultimately a story about David’s victories, but ultimately, primarily, a story about the victory of the Lord. You say, “Is that unfair to David himself?”. No, because David constantly gave God the glory in all things. You see this, for example, in 2 Samuel 7, he says, speaking of God, “Because of Your promise and according to Your heart, You have brought about all this greatness.” The security and strength of his throne did not rest on his performance, but on the secure and sovereign will of God Himself.

    And this leads, friends, to our third and final insight. I want us to take note of the crown of Christ. Please listen carefully, the chief end of this series is not that we’d see into court of King David alone, but that we’d each encounter the one true Lord who reigns now and forever as the King of Kings. That’s the goal, that’s the point, that’s how we should read 1 Samuel.

    You see, the day of David’s anointing in Bethlehem marked a significant moment in history, but no one saw that the promise of a king that was answered in David would ultimately be fulfilled in a promise of a new and perfect king to come. Two hundred years after the events of 1 Samuel 16, the prophets spoke of a day that Bethlehem would bring forth another leader from Israel, and like David, this leader would come from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Jesse, that he’d be named Jesus and called Christ, which means God’s anointed.

    The promise of the Old Testament was that unlike the reign of men, His rule would be of ancient days and stand supreme for all time. He would be the true king who would gather God’s people, unite His children, defeat all evil, bless the nations and establish a throne that would stand forever. This One would come to preach the good news, to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to all who are enslaved. He would be the righteous branch of David, the wonderful Counsellor, the Refiner’s fire, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, the mighty Lion, the Lord of Lords and indeed the King of Kings. Amen?

    And yet, as spoken by the prophets themselves, there would be no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. There would be nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. Like David, Jesus didn’t come in worldly power, but with truth and glory, covered in skin. Jesus was born in a dirty, dusty stable and wrapped in a cheap cloth. This baby of Bethlehem had nothing that the world deemed impressive.

    Who is this Man who sits and eats with sinner and tax collectors? Who is this Man who welcomes the outcasts and offers forgiveness? Who is this Man who claims to come from heaven, but has nothing that we value in this earth?

    Friends, in the Garden of Eden, humanity fell when it looked upon the forbidden fruit and, seeing that it was pleasing to the eye, ate. We looked at that which was sinful and said it was good, and we fell a second time when we looked upon Christ and saw that it was not pleasing to the eye and said, “No.”

    In that moment, we looked upon that which is perfect, full of glory and grace and we said, “Evil.” Stepping off His throne of glory, we gave Him a crown of thorns. Stripped off a robe of honour to expose His flesh, to mock His nakedness. You know that when the Romans executed Jesus Christ, they mocked Him by putting some words on a wooden board above His head: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” I mean, what kind of king suffers like this? If you are the king, get off the cross, save yourself. To all looking on, Jesus was not a mighty king, but a powerless peasant.

    But man looks at the outward appearance; the Lord looks at the heart. Just as David was chosen, elected by God to lead Israel, so Jesus was chosen to be the leader of your life. He was sent to live for you. He was sent to suffer and die for you. The cross of Jesus Christ was not His defeat, but the very fulfilment that God had promised. Jesus was living for you, Jesus was dying for you, and Jesus rose for you.

    Do you see as man sees or as God sees? Do you see Jesus with the eyes of man, or the heart of heaven? As the band comes up and as I close, I want you to note how our text finishes in 1 Samuel Chapter 16. It’s very clear, isn’t it, that David been anointed king and the Spirit of God has rushed upon him. There is absolute certainty about his kingship and confidence in his rule, you can’t miss that, and yet at the point of this story, Saul is still on the throne. To most people looking, David was not king, but a mere servant.

    In the same way, friends, the rule of Christ is both seen and unseen. It is both now and not yet. I don’t know about you, but for me, when I look at this world and see the darkness, see the reality of death, the pain of sin and suffering, it can be very tempting for me to start thinking that the throne is empty. And we’re tempted to believe that God is not in control and that Jesus is not Lord, and maybe you relate. Maybe as you consider your own life and the difficulties that you face, maybe as you consider your own setbacks and your own sin and your own stumbling, when you consider your own suffering, you too may conclude that Jesus is not on the throne.

    I find great comfort in the Scriptures tonight, friends, because what I see in the Scriptures is that Jesus not only lives for us, but today is Lord over us. His rule is real. His reign is supreme. Over light, over darkness, He stands sovereign, and while today, that kingship and our place in the kingdom is for many unseen, overlooked, sometimes even ridiculed, it is held secure in the sovereign hand of our God in accordance with His good and pleasing will.

    Just as the crown of David would soon be seen, so we look forward to the day, friends, that Jesus Himself would come in glory, in power, in truth and love. And on that day, He will gather all nations to His throne. And on that day, we won’t see in part any longer, you will see in full. You will see in full. You will see the heart of God in full. You want to be ready for that day.

    Are you prepared for that day? Are you seeing with the eyes of man or with the heart of God? If you’re not yet a Christian, I want to invite you tonight to give your life to this King, to surrender yourself before His throne. Stop wasting your life, building it on sand. Stop wasting your life trying to find your identity in the things of this world, trying to find your acceptance in what other people say.

    Tonight you can stand as a son, as a daughter of God in His kingdom, secure of His love, known by Him, cherished by Him, secure in Him. If you give your life to Jesus, He offers you His kingdom. If that is you, please don’t leave tonight without talking to myself or one of the other leaders here. We’d love to talk with you about what it means to be part of the kingdom of Christ.

    And if you are here as a believer, can I encourage you tonight to see afresh the faithfulness of God and the fulfilment that we have in Jesus. You know, in the eyes of the world, we are students, workers, parents. In the heart of God, we are sons and daughters of His kingdom.

    It’s a glorious thing, and the same Spirit that rushed upon David and raised Jesus from dead is now at work in you. He’s always worked through the least, and now there’s nothing stopping Him from bringing about His kingdom, in and through you. May that inspire you tonight. May that enlarge your heart tonight. May it move you and fill you to lead a life of humility, courage and love. Love like Jesus and indeed love for Jesus. Would you stand as we pray.

    Father, we thank you for the glory of Jesus Christ who was sent for us. That you are supreme, that you are sovereign. We thank you that you continue to be faithful to your covenant, that that was answered in full in Jesus, and so we look to His kingdom with joy, knowing that right now the door is open and You call us to come. Help us to see Jesus for who He really is. Help us to see ourselves for who we are in Him. Lord, move by your Spirit. Empower us to be the people You have called us to be, sons and daughters of You. We pray this in Jesus’ precious name, and all of God’s people said, Amen.

Guy Mason

Guy is the founding and Senior Pastor of City on a Hill, a church that began in 2007 with a small team and a big vision. Today City on a Hill is a movement of many churches that gathers across multiple locations, in different cities and is united around the central mission of knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Guy is a passionate communicator of the gospel who is committed to engaging culture with the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. Guy graduated with a BA in Public Relations from RMIT University and has a Masters of Divinity from Ridley College, and is currently completing his Doctorate of Ministry at Wheaton College. He is the husband to Vanessa and the father to four children. He is an Archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne and a Member of Acts 29.