A Man After God's Own Heart

Tom Pennington • 1 Samuel 17

  • 2003-08-17 AM
  • Sermons

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This weekend we've already enjoyed their company and I commented to someone, regardless of what the Lord's will is in the long term, we certainly enjoyed making some wonderful friends here and we appreciate the opportunity of being back with you. And we are joining you in prayer. We want what the Lord wants, and I know that's in your heart as well. And if that means that we are here at Countryside then we'll be excited about that. If not, then, we'll be excited for you about that as well because that'll be what the Lord wants and what most pleases Him. So, thank you for the opportunity of being here.

I want us to turn to, this morning, to the Old Testament, to 1 Samuel 17. As I thought about an appropriate passage or theme for this morning, to pull our minds away all of the distractions, including the distraction of why Sheila and I are here this week and really look into God's Word and to learn from Him, my mind kept coming back to the issue of what it really means to live for God. Now that seems fairly basic. And it is. But unfortunately, there's a lot of confusion about what true spirituality is. This basic reality is often misunderstood. In every church there are at least four wrong conceptions about the nature of true spirituality that usually flourish. And to some extent, each of those misconceptions flourish even here in this church.

The first is what I would call conformity. The Christians who buy into this approach somehow conclude that if they stay away from gross and obvious sins, and if they look basically like a Christian and those around them, if they dress the right way, and they come to church as they are supposed to come to church, and they use the right language, then they must be truly spiritual. But there's no deep heart for God. There's no desire for His Word; no deep love for His Word. There's no intense pursuit of personal holiness. Instead, their Christianity is merely external conformity.

Another errant view of spirituality is legalism. These Christians measure their spirituality, and everyone else's around them, by a series of fences that either they, or their parents, or their former pastor has constructed. Usually this consists of a long list of DOs and DONTs. They're usually external and almost all of them are not found on the pages of Scripture.

A third flawed view of spirituality is what we could call liberty. There are always a few people in every church who want to stand out as the truly free, unencumbered with the petty DOs and DONTs of the average Christian. They flaunt what they call their Christian liberty and they see legalism under every rock, even where it does not exist. But those who seek to run their liberty out to the edge, are in reality, closet antinomians, that is, they are secretly opposed to the law of God, the reflection of His great moral character. In reality, they are rejecting Paul's clear warnings and allowed their liberty to become a license to sin.

In those churches there are many who have been heavily influenced by a fourth misconception of spirituality and that's what I would call mysticism. This brand of spirituality is especially appealing to those who have deep hunger to know God. They want God to really speak to them. So, they pursue feeling over fact and they exalt the emotions over the mind. There are some tests that you could take to see if you've been influenced by mysticism. You ever find yourself looking at the Word of God and coming to a passage ignoring its context and expecting God to give you some private or secret message on the pages of Scripture? Do you find yourself using language like "I just don't have peace about it", or "I just feel God wants me to do this", or "God told me this"? If you often find yourself saying things like that then you have probably been influenced by mysticism. You're flirting with this false perception of spirituality. God has spoken to us, but not through some internal, subjective feeling, but He's spoken to us objectively and finally in a book; in a book that we can read, that we can understand, that we can grasp with our minds. Emotions should never be the engine of the Christian life but always the caboose. They should never be the cause but always the effect.

Now while all of those misconceptions about the nature of true spirituality are common in the church, in reality they merely cheap substitutes for the real thing. I want us to look this morning in the book of 1 Samuel; at a passage that uncovers the real nature of true spirituality. And it's about the reason you live. It's about the what you live for - the purpose, the passion that drives you.

Now to set the stage for chapter 17, I want you to keep your finger there and turn back to 1 Samuel 13. The stage is set in chapter 13. Saul, the nation's first king usurps the Prophet Samuel's authority and position, you remember, and offers a burnt offering before the Lord. Because of Saul's sin, Samuel says this to him in verse 13 of 1 Samuel 13. He says, "[Saul] You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."

That phrase, a man after God's own heart, has intrigued and motivated Jews and Christians for the 3000 years since it was written. But what does it mean to be a person or a man after God's own heart? I think that question is forever answered in 1 Samuel 17, in the powerful story of David's encounter with Goliath. Now when you hear me say that our passage this morning is the story of David and Goliath, your mind immediately thinks, "I know that story, I know what that's about". But sadly, for most of us, this story has been emasculated from the first time we heard it. Bad flannel graphs strike again.

From our first flannel graph lesson we believed that the point of this account is to show us what we can accomplish if we're willing to take risks; or to show us that if, in fact, we have the faith of David we can overcome the giants in our lives; metaphorical giants like fear, or not believing in ourselves or some sinful habit. Nothing could be further from the point of this chapter. This chapter isn't about what we can do at all. It's about what lies deep within our hearts, at the very core of our being. It's about the motives and intentions of our hearts. The truth of this chapter unfolds as this: a man after God's own heart lives for one, all-consuming passion.

Now obviously, we can't examine every detail of this chapter this morning. But what I want to do is to give you a brief sweep through this chapter so you can see this great lesson unfold in the lives of the characters that are portrayed for us here. Now, before we get to the heart of the passage and the core of its message, the author of 1 Samuel does what every good storyteller does and that is, he sets the stage. He sets the scene for us. And verses 1 through 19 provide the background of David's encounter with Goliath and, I just want us to survey those with you briefly this morning.

Now according to the first 3 verses, the Philistines were camped between two ancient cities about 15 miles west of Bethlehem. Saul and the Israelites had set up their battle lines nearby in the valley of Elah. They had both chosen a highpoint, a hill, and between them was a valley and its dry brook. That's the scene on which the battle is set.

In verses 4 to 10 we meet the kind of Darth Vader of the Biblical account; a man named Goliath. He's described in verse 4 as "a champion". The Hebrew expression translated champion literally says, "a man between the two". This is a title for one who fought in representative combat with an opponent from an opposing army. But this was no ordinary champion. He's described as a man whose height was 6 cubits and a span or he was about 9 feet, 9 inches tall. That means he was about 4 feet taller than I am. He was probably a descendant of the Anakim, the giant race that, according to Joshua 11, had taken up residence in the Philistine cities. But Goliath's height is made even more impressive when you realize that most of the Israelites were typically small. And so, he towered over all of the people of Israel. You also notice in verse 5, that he was well armored. Most Israelites, at that time, wore normal clothes into battle. And, as far as we know, Saul was the only Israelite with armor. But here is Goliath. He was fully protected with armor. Just his coat of fish scale armor weighed a 125 lbs. Verse 6 says that his knees and his shins were fully covered as well. In the ancient world he would've been the equivalent of a human armored tank. Verse 6 goes on to tell us that his weapons were massive. He had a bronze javelin hung across his back. And he had this great spear and the shaft of it is described as a weaver's beam, probably both in size and appearance. Some experts in ancient warfare think that the shaft of the spear was wrapped with a rope that gave it sort of a rifling effect as it was thrown. The point was iron, some 15 lbs. in weight. And he had his own personal shield bearer who went in front of him with a full body-length shield. A very impressive man.

Verse 16 tells us that every morning and every afternoon Goliath, this great champion, came down to that dry riverbed and he shouted out his challenge. Notice what he said. First, he questioned their resolve. Verse 8, "He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, 'Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul?" What are you doing here? Why are we still here? I'm here. I'm waiting for you. Why are you bothering drawing up in battle array? Someone. Take my challenge!

And then he explained the concept of representative combat. Notice the end of verse 8, "Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us."

And then Goliath concluded his speech by insulting the Israelites. Notice verse 10. "[And] Again the Philistine said, 'I defy the ranks of Israel this day'". The word "defy" is better translated, "I reproach", or "I insult" or "I taunt". In several Old Testament passages this word is used in association with the word "to blaspheme". So, Goliath is insulting and taunting Israel's army, the nation itself, and Israel's God, Yahweh. Verse 16 says that Goliath gave this same speech both morning and evening for forty days. So, by the time David arrives, Israel had heard it 80 times. Imagine being forced to listen to the braggadocios and bravado of this huge, behemoth of a man; this arrogant man shouting out insults against your army, and your nation, and your God. It's hard to imagine for me that one of the Israelites, after 80 times of hearing this speech, didn't volunteer just to be put out of his own misery.

But in verse 12 David arrives on the scene. Now, at this point, David is probably in his late teens or early twenties. In chapter 16, the previous chapter, David had become a staff member in Saul's royal court, a musician. But he continued to commute back and forth according to verse 15 of chapter 17, to fulfill his responsibilities to his father as well; the first biblical commuter. So, he's at home. His three oldest brothers are at the battle, 15 miles west of Bethlehem. And his father, Jesse, in verses 17 and 18 gives his youngest son two assignments; to transport rations and provisions to his brothers and to check on them and to bring back a report of how they're doing. So, in verse 20, David left at the break of light and, even though the journey was 15 miles, he arrived while it's still morning and the troops were drawing up in their battle lines. In verse 22 he hands the provisions to the supply officer and he ran to the battle to check up on his brothers. Verse 23 records that, providentially, David arrived just in time to hear Goliath's usual morning tirade. Now don't miss the drama of this moment. David stands and listen to this giant's speech and probably for the first time in his young life he hears his God, the God of Israel, insulted and blasphemed. Now that's the background and that brings us to the heart of this chapter and this passage.

When you study a narrative section of Scripture, it's often a challenge to identify what the theme is because it's not usually stated. There are a number of tools to help in that process, but one tool that's often very helpful is to examine the words of the main characters. Remember that these people said much more than is recorded. So, the author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has chosen specifically those quotes that are crucial to get His point across. And you look at the words of the main characters in this chapter, a very clear pattern begins to emerge. 1 Samuel 17 shows us in vivid detail, what it means to be a person after God's own heart. And it's all about the motives of the heart. It's about the purpose for which you live. There's several wrong reasons for living, uncovered in this chapter, and those stand in stark contrast to the one dominating, single-minded reality that drives David. And it is this one passion that makes him a man after God's own heart. A mark of a man after God's own heart is one, all-consuming life of passion. This defining moment in David's life lays out in rich clarity for us, the primary goals most men pursue in life and the one we should pursue.

So, let's examine, first, the common pursuits of most men and then, secondly, the consuming passion of God's man. Let's look first at the common pursuits of most men. We find the first common pursuit of most men in verse 24. It's personal peace, personal peace. Notice verse 24: "When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid." The people were afraid, but, afraid of what? Well, of becoming the object of the Philistines' fury, of death, of serious injury, of having their homes ransacked, of having their families harmed, of having their personal peace disturbed. This attitude started with Saul. Notice verse 11: "When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid." Now remember that it was Saul's responsibility, first and foremost, to fight Goliath. He was the king of the nation, the king of Israel.

But in addition, we learn in chapter 9 that Saul was, by head and shoulder, the largest man in the nation. His failure to respond to Goliath's challenge disheartened everyone else. And this attitude and pursuit of personal peace began. Undoubtedly, the men of Israel thought, "If I just lie low, I can ride this out." Even if Israel loses, I and my family can still have a relatively comfortable life. You see, this is where most people live. They just want personal peace, a comfortable life. I don't need to be a multi-millionaire, but I want a nice, comfortable house, a late model car, and 1.5 children. I want few expensive toys and my evenings and weekends to use them. I want to retire at 63 and travel. I want to belong to a good church, and I want to go when it's convenient, but I don't want to go too frequently or get too involved because that might disturb my personal pursuit of peace. It's too uncomfortable to share the gospel so I don't. You see, this person goes through life deciding what they will or won't do based on his or her personal comfort, their personal peace.

From time to time, we hear an extreme illustration of this. We read in the paper about some horrible crime that's committed in broad daylight with dozens of witnesses. And no one is willing to intervene. No one is willing to call the police or to testify against the criminal. And their pathetic excuse is always what? I just don't want to get involved. I want to protect my personal peace. In his classic work, "How Shall We Then Live", Francis Shaeffer defines this desire for peace that has permeated our culture. Listen to what Shaeffer writes, "As the more Christian-dominated consensus weakened, the majority of people adopted two impoverished values: personal peace and affluence. Personal peace means just to be let alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, whether across the world or across the city – to live one's life with minimal possibilities of being personally disturbed. Personal peace [it] means wanting to have my personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what the result will be in the lifetimes of my children and grandchildren."

In Isaiah 39, you'll remember that King Hezekiah entertains visitors from Babylon. He succumbs to flattery and, under the force of that flattery, he opens the treasuries - the secret treasures of Israel to these visitors from Babylon, to the secret riches of Israel. In response the Prophet Isaiah tells Hezekiah that someday, Babylon will return to take all of those treasures, and even his future descendants, captive into Babylon. Hezekiah's response epitomizes the pursuit of personal peace. Listen to what he said to Isaiah. Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good." Hezekiah, what are you thinking? Good? "For there will be peace and truth [security] in my days".

The truth is, this pursuit of personal peace and security, is an illusion. Sheila and I learned that, recently, as a small bacteria, that the doctors tell us are probably in most of your shoes at this moment, got into our daughter's ear and threatened her life. John Piper writes this about this illusion of peace and security, "Risk is woven in the fabric of our finite lives. All of our plans can be shattered by a thousand unknowns - whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways, the tragic hypocrisy is that the enchantment of security lets us take risks every day for ourselves yet paralyses us from taking risks for the sake of Christ. We are deluded and think that it may jeopardize a security that, in fact, does not even exist." If it's the mirage of personal peace that motivates you, then you will never be a man or a woman after God's own heart.

But there's a second common pursuit of most men that's revealed in this chapter - not only personal peace, but personal prosperity. When Saul decided that he as Israel's king would not fight Goliath, he needed to motivate someone else to do it; someone else to shoulder the responsibility. So, he offered a reward. It's not the $25 million that rests on Saddam's head, but Saul assumed it would be just as effective. He was convinced that what he offered would motivate someone else under his command to fight the giant.

Specifically, he offered a three-part reward. Notice verse 25: "The men of Israel said, 'Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely, he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king [one] will enrich the man who kills him with great riches". That Hebrew expression, "great riches", is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer only to wealth of kings. You are going to be as rich as a king. A second part of the reward is he will give him his daughter. I've often wondered what Saul's daughter thought about this plan. If a man today were offered this as part of his reward, his first response might be, "Can I see her picture first? I mean, after all, this may or may not be a good thing." But, in a sense, the woman wasn't the point. This was marriage into the royal family and all of the related benefits that came with it. In the ancient world, this was huge. And finally, Saul's reward included the promise that he would make his father's house free in Israel. In other words, his entire extended family would be free of taxation and civil service. Some commentators even believe this meant being added to the government payroll.

Saul was offering personal prosperity or affluence, and money, and status. He believed that there were people who lived their lives for those things, and this would make them fight the giant. And you know what? There are many people who live their lives for these things. Many find their satisfaction in personal prosperity. They live in pursuit of financial prosperity, status, and position. These things become their gods.

How do you know that prosperity has become your god? Do you regularly make sacrifices to it? Do you sacrifice your family, your health, your time, your friends, your church or anything else of value to keep the right job? Or to get the promotion, to get the higher position, to get the higher salary, to get the better neighborhood? Do you do whatever it takes to become more prosperous? Jesus confronted this priority a number of times during His earthly ministry. My favorite is in Luke 12:15. He said, "...not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions [the things he possesses]." Francis Shaeffer also wrote about this pursuit of personal prosperity but, as you heard a few moments ago, he called it affluence. "Affluence", he wrote, "means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity, a life made up of things, things, and more things; a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance." Perhaps our culture can be defined by the bumper sticker that says, "He who dies with the most toys wins!"

Now many think this pursuit of personal prosperity is just a temptation for the rich. Well the truth is, almost every person here, if you live in the US, statistically speaking, you are in the top 20% of the world's richest people. But you can be dirt poor and still worship things. You can have nothing and still be materialistic. It's where your heart is. In the past, people sought true, additional wealth and status but, now, they're content to pursue the symbols of it. They just want to have the appearance of prosperity and the stuff that comes with it. And they're content to live above their means to have it. For example, luxury cars used to be a choice of the wealthy. But today, statistics tell us that 80% of those who drive luxury cars have a negative net worth. The average personal credit card debt of a typical American household has risen to $8500. That's up 40% in the last 5 years. People are pursuing, if not wealth, at least the stuff that usually comes with it. But whether you're rich or poor, the pursuit of personal prosperity is extremely dangerous.

In Matthew 13:22, Christ warns that the deceitfulness of wealth chokes the Word and it becomes unfruitful. In other words, the love of wealth will choke, out of your heart, any interest in Christ and the forgiveness He offers. In 1 Timothy 6:8, Paul warns Timothy, "If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through] with many griefs." He tells Timothy, "But flee from these things, you man of God..." Flee from love of money, a desire to get rich. Sometimes prosperity comes when you don't set your heart on it. But make the decision now, that you will not live for the pursuit of personal prosperity. And if wealth comes, Paul tells Timothy how he should respond later in 1 Timothy 6. He says this [verse 17], "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." But if personal prosperity is what drives you, if that's what motivates you, if that's what you live to pursue, if that's the passion of your heart, then you will never be a man or a woman after God's own heart.

That brings us to a third common, but foolish reason for living; a third common pursuit of most men - not only personal peace, and personal prosperity, but personal pleasure. We find this third goal in the words of a man named Eliab. Notice verse 28: "Now Eliab his [David's] oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger burned against David..." Eliab is angry to see David. And, in fact, he goes on in verse 28 to belittle him: "...with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness?" "Why do you come down here, boy? Go home and take care of those sheep!" Now why would Eliab be angry to see his brother? After all, he brought food for the family. Well, remember that Eliab is David's oldest brother. And in chapter 16, he seemed the obvious choice, even to Samuel, to be the next king of Israel. Notice chapter 16:6: "When they [the eight boys of Jesse] entered, he [Samuel] looked at Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him.'" This has got to be the guy. I mean, look at that young man! "But the Lord said to Samuel [verse 7], 'Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him'". Now there's a source for jealousy. "...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." You've read that verse all of your life but, perhaps, never realized that it was about Eliab. So, Eliab is filled with personal jealousy and bitterness.

But that isn't the author's point, here in this passage. In these verses, Eliab accuses David of a particular motive. Notice verse 28 again: "Why have you come down?" And then he says, "I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle." Eliab says, David I know what's in your heart. I know what motivates you. I know why you're here. You're here to see the battle. In other words, you have abandoned your responsibility for the sake of watching the battle. You just want to have an exciting experience. You are just living in pursuit of your own personal pleasure.

This is the third common pursuit of men and women recorded in this chapter - personal pleasure. The Scripture predicted that men would be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. And that love has absolutely consumed many in our culture. They fly from one thrill to another.

Now, this pursuit of personal pleasure takes many different forms. For some, they find their thrill in illicit sex from internet pornography to the worst forms of sexual perversion. Others seek it in drugs and alcohol. Some seek it in gambling. Some in exposing themselves to danger. They climb Mount Everest for the thrill of the moment, for the high (pardon the pun) that it brings. But most, I think, seek a safer and a more culturally acceptable form of pleasure. They pursue what I would call, vicarious pleasure, through entertainment. The characters in television and movies provide, a sort of, vicarious thrill for their otherwise safe, suburban lives. They sit and watch for hours and they get their thrill through seeing these characters fulfill these exciting escapades. But whatever form it takes, our culture is absolutely consumed with the pursuit of personal pleasure. That's why most people live. Oh, they work for food and for housing, but what really motivates them is the next thrill, the next pleasure. The pleasure comes at a tremendous cost. Paul tells Timothy that the person who gives himself to pleasure is dead while he lives. Pursuit of pleasure is like the moth that flirts with the plane. First, he flies past, mesmerized by the flicker. And then he comes closer, singeing his wings. And finally, he plunges to his death. Personal peace, personal prosperity, and personal pleasure - those are the goals most people live for but they're all wrong. And if one of those things is what drives you, you will never be a man or a woman after God's own heart.

So, we've seen the common pursuits of most men. But secondly, I want us to examine the consuming passion of God's man. That's the final purpose for living that's outlined in this chapter. It's the passion of David's heart and it's what makes him a man after God's own heart. David has much to say in Scripture. He's quoted often in 1 and 2 Samuel. At least 75 of the Psalms in our Bible were written by David. But the very first time David speaks in all the Bible, is here in 1 Samuel 17 and it gives us a glimpse of his passion, of what makes him a man after God's own heart. Notice what he said in verse 26, the first time he speaks in all the Scripture: "Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, 'What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?'" Notice what troubled David - that an uncircumcised Philistine, that is one outside the covenant relationship with God, was heaping shame on or insulting or taunting the armies of the living God. You see, David immediately made the connection that Goliath's insults were an assault on the character of God - his God, the One, the true, the living God. The Hebrew word translated "defy" that Goliath used in verse 10, occurs 6 times in this chapter in different forms and derivatives. One time, Goliath uses it. One time, Israel's troops report what Goliath had said. The other 4 times it occurs in the passage, David is the one who's using it. You see, this was the part of Goliath's speech that troubled him, that grieved him, that deeply disturbed his heart. And so, although David was the youngest of all the men around him, he decides to fight Goliath. Why? Because the true God of heaven had been insulted.

In verse 31 the news of David's offer spread to Saul. And in verse 32, David begins to make his case before Saul: "David said to Saul, 'Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.' Then Saul said to David, 'You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.' But David said to Saul, 'Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.'"

Now what made David so confident? It wasn't his experience as a shepherd. It wasn't his physical strength. It wasn't his experience as a fighter, or even expertise with a sling. What made David confident was the Lord. Notice verse 37: "And David said, 'The Lord'". And in the Hebrew, the word "Lord" is emphatic. "The Lord delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He [again emphatic] will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.' And Saul said to David, 'Go, and may the Lord be with you.'" The emphasis is on God. This chapter isn't about David's courage or David's strength or David's faith or David's skill, but about Yahweh who delivers. The Bible constantly stresses that God does not deliver by superior weapons or even superior people. That would steal from His glory. Instead, He delivers by weak and the despised. As one commentator said, "Yahweh brings deliverance without the symbols of man's strength. What matters is not whether you have the best weapons but whether you have the real God. In fact, your inadequacy may be precisely your qualification for serving God [I like that!]. For His strength shines most brightly behind the foreground of your weakness".

Now, we see in verses 38 to 40 that David rejected Saul's armor and he took his staff and a sling and went down the hill to meet the Philistine champion. And, as we went, he picked up those famous 5 stones from the dry brook. In verse 30, in verse 42 rather, as David got closer, Goliath saw the nature of his opponent and "he disdained him", verse 42 says. Or he despised him. After all, for a warrior, and especially one of Goliath's size and experience, killing a small, crudely armed boy would not be very impressive at all. So, Goliath launched a lengthy, verbal insult - similar to what you would expect to hear today from a professional wrestler. Notice verse 43: "The Philistine said to David, 'Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?' And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, 'Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.'" Goliath cursed David by his gods. He promised to kill him, and then, to dishonor his corpse by denying him a proper burial. Just your ordinary, nice guy!

David's next words show us his heart. For, as Christ said, "It's out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." The writer of 1 Samuel shows us that this speech is important by the amount of press he gives it. When you look at the, in the Hebrew at the speech, it's 63 words. The account of the actual battle, itself, is only 36 words. So, this speech of David's really is the focal point of this entire chapter because it sets forth his motives in vivid color. Notice what David says to Goliath [verse 45]: "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth." Touché! David can get into corpses and carrions just as well as the Philistine. As one commentator said, "There's no reason the Philistine should have all juicy lines."

But notice the reason that David is willingly risking his life. This is the passion for which he lived. This is the thing that made him willing to lay down his life. It's what he lived for; the end of verse 46. This is going to happen Goliath in order that "all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel". I want everybody to know that the true, the living God, is with Israel. And he says [verse 47]: "and that all this assembly [that is everyone here] may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord's [Yahweh's] and He will give you into our hands.'" I want everyone to know that God is God and that He delivers even by the weak and the frail by a young boy, by a young man, instead of a great giant so that He is exalted, so that His glory is advanced.

Notice in verse 48 words are done and the battle begins. David runs to Goliath. By the way, David actually has a distinct advantage here. All of Goliath's weapons are for close hand-to-hand combat but a sling is effective from a much greater distance. So, David took a single stone and he hurled it with his sling. Now a sling in the right hands was a very effective weapon. Judges reports that, in the tribe of Benjamin, there was 700 left-handed men who could throw a stone at a hair and not miss. The stone itself, that was typically used in such a sling, was 2-3 inches in diameter, about the size of a modern baseball. And when properly launched, it could travel at more than a 100 miles per hour up to even 150 miles per hour. Verse 49 says that the stone David launched, hit Goliath's forehead - the only strategic place on the body left unprotected. And it struck the giant with such force that it literally sunk into his forehead. It crushed the frontal bone of his cranium, knocking him completely unconscious. David then runs to the fallen warrior, took the giant's own sword, and cut off his head. David and Israel are victorious.

But here's the point of this account. What consumed David throughout this amazing encounter was a single-minded focus on God's reputation. What is it that makes a man after God's own heart? What exactly is true spirituality? It's a consuming passion for the glory of God. Simply put, it's a life focus on God. It's a life lived for God's glory. God, the Scripture tells us, does everything for His own glory. In fact, He's more committed to His own glory than He is to anything else. He will, above everything, preserve the honor of His name. This truth absolutely permeates the Scripture. In Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah writes, "I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images." Isaiah 48:9, "For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off." [Verse 11]: "For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another." John 17:4 explains that this was the very end for which Christ lived. On the night before his death, He prayed in that great high priestly prayer, "[Father] I glorified You on the earth." That's what I live for, to exalt your name.

When we come before God in prayer, what should be the first thing on our minds? Christ tells us as He teaches us how to pray in the disciples' prayer. Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. May Your name be set apart. May You be exalted in people's thinking. Three times in Ephesians 1, Paul tells the Ephesians that everything God did in the entire sweep of redemptive history, had one purpose - for the praise of His glory. If you're in Christ this morning, it had one purpose in God's mind and that was to exalt His glory. Do you want to be a man or a woman after God's own heart? Then, like David, you must love the glory of God above everything else - more than your relationships, more than your comfort and your peace, more than prosperity, more than pleasure, yes, even more than your own life.

But what exactly does it mean to live for God's glory? We've heard that expression, most of us who've grown up in Christian homes all of our lives. What does it mean to live for God's glory? How exactly can we do that? If you want to live for God's glory, it starts by submitting to His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ makes this crystal clear in John 5:23, "...He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." Until you've embraced Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, it's absolutely impossible for you to live for God's glory. Christ is where the journey begins.

But for those of us who've already believed in Christ as Lord and Savior, the New Testament reveals that for us, living for God's glory really means three things. It means that we live to exalt three things in life. You want to live for God's glory? Then, first of all, live to exalt Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 says this: "For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God [where do we see the glory of God? Paul continues] in the face of [Jesus] Christ." You want to live for God's glory? Then live to exalt Jesus Christ. If you want to live to God's glory, there's a second thing you should live to exalt and that's the cross. In Galatians 6:14 Paul says, "But may it never be that I would boast [for glory], except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." In other words, we should live to exalt the work that Christ accomplished in His death. We live for the cross. That means we live for the good news, for the gospel, for the message of forgiveness, for the work of Christ that was accomplished. If you want to live to God's glory, then you should live to exalt Jesus Christ. You should live to exalt His cross. And thirdly you should live to exalt His church. In Ephesians 3:21, "to Him [that is to the Father] be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." You want to live to the glory of God? Then make the church, the people sitting around you, the object of your life. Live to exalt the church of Jesus Christ. Give yourself in service in the church. Make the church the passion of your life. A man after God's own heart has one all-consuming passion - a passion for the glory of God and, as the New Testament makes it clear, that means he lives his life for the glory of Christ, for the glory of His cross, and for the glory of His church. Anything less is a wasted life.

About 20 years ago, I came across a sobering fact that changed my life forever. This reality never leaves my thoughts for more than a few days. It influences most, if not all, of my life's big decisions. And it's because of this truth's profound effect on me, that I share it often. Did you know that there is an entire industry that gambles on how long you will live? It's the life insurance industry. To help them determine what to charge for life insurance, so that they can pay out benefits and still make a profit, the industry created and maintains a complicated set of actuarial tables. These tables reflect how long a typical person will live. On average, the men in this room this morning will live to be 74. On average, the women sitting under the sound of my voice, will live to be 79. Now I want you to do a simple math problem. If you're a woman, I want you to take 79 and I want you to subtract your age. If you're a man subtract your age from 74. That's how long you have left to live on average in this world. Some of us will live less than average. Some of us more. But on average, that's how long you have left to live.

What are you going to do with what remains? Life is too short to waste your time on things that don't matter. Don't waste your life. Decide from this day forward that you will live on purpose. That you will live for the one thing that really matters, for the one thing in all the universe that matters most to God - His own glory. Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Let's pray together.

Our Father forgive us for our pursuit of trivial, unimportant things. Lord forgive us for giving our lives to the pursuit of personal peace or prosperity or pleasure. Lord help us to live instead, with the few days that you've given us here in this world on purpose, help us to live for You, for Your glory. Help us to live for Christ, to exalt His name, to exalt His cross, all that He accomplished for us, and for others on the cross. And the Lord, I pray that You would help us to live to exalt His church. May our lives be wrapped up in the one organism that You have promised to build. Lord I pray for the person who might be here this morning, who has never submitted himself or herself to Jesus Christ. I pray that even this morning, that person would bow the knee to Christ, be willing to repent of their sins and embrace Christ as Lord and Savior. Thank you, Father, for your use of this word in our hearts. Make us different than we were before we heard it. We pray in Jesus' Name. Amen!