DAVID : THE SECRET OF GREATNESS
I Samuel 16:7
(Notes extracted from Rick Warren)
What is the secret of greatness? It depends on who you ask. Hollywood might say, “A pretty face is the secret of greatness in Hollywood.” At Westminster they might say, “Connections and knowing the right people are the key to greatness.” In the City – London’s financial world – they might say, “Financial clout and the Old school tie is the key to greatness.” If you go to one of the football games today they might say, “Ball skill is a key to greatness — physical fitness.”
What does God say greatness is?
I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”
“heart“. God says that greatness is determined by character, not by reputation. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Character is the bottom line. If you want to make your life count, if you want to be great, it’s a matter of the heart.
David was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was a king, a shepherd, a poet, a general. He wrote the most beloved book in the Bible — Psalms. He united the tribe of Israel into one Kingdom. He was a giant killer. He had an incredible line up of achievements. But God wasn’t impressed with any of those things.
What impressed God about David was his heart.
In Acts 13:22, God said David is a “man after my own heart.”
What about you and me? Do we want to be?
How do you develop a heart for God?
Let’s look at David – How did he handle life?
There are four great tests of the heart in life: sin, stress, service, success.
David’s response to sin was a repentant heart.
David’s response to stress was a trusting heart. He trusted God when under stress.
David’s response to service – when he was asked to serve – was a servant’s heart.
David’s response to success was a humble heart. He didn’t let it go to his head.
- David’s response to sin was a repentant heart.
He had a tender, sensitive conscious. When David blew it, he admitted it. He didn’t hide it. He didn’t deny it. He didn’t make excuses for it. He didn’t rationalise it. When somebody confronted him with his sin he said, “You’re right. I blew it.” He was sensitive. He was willing to repent.
Psalm 51:1-3 “O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stains of my sins. Wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again for I admit my shameful deeds.” This is David’s prayer of confession after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He lays all the cards on the table. I blew it. It was wrong. He doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t excuse it. He doesn’t blame Bathsheba. He is honest before God and that’s the first characteristic of a heart after God.
The Bible tells the truth. It’s called the Holy Bible, but you’ll never find a book that has more murder and rape and incest and problems. It’s all in there because the Bible tells the truth. When it talks about man it talks about his good and his bad.
When George Washington, first president of the USA, was first painted he said, “Paint me, warts and all.” He didn’t want any air brush stuff!
The Bible paints David, warts and all. He was a king, a poet, a great leader. He was also a liar, a betrayer, an adulterer, and a murderer. It shares his successes but it also shares his struggles and weaknesses.
You don’t have to be perfect to have a heart after God. Now God’s aim is to make us perfect – like Jesus! BUT we come as sinner. David is called a “man after my own heart”. He was a great sinner but he was also a great repenter. You don’t have to be perfect to have a heart after God. You just have to be a great repenter.
Being just a sinner is not the worst thing you can be in God’s eyes!! Rather it is being a sinner and not being willing to acknowledge the fact and seeking God’s forgiveness – that is a far worse state to be in.
Ps. 51:17. …..a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (NIV) “God will not reject a repentant heart,”
David believed in a forgiving God. He focused more on God’s forgiveness than he did on his own failure and that’s why “He’s a man after my own heart.”
Satan has conned many into thinking, “Because of my past God can never use me. Because of my past, I’ll never amount to anything great in the kingdom of God.” Wrong! If God could use David, He can use anybody. Don’t let the devil say that to you. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to repent quickly and admit it when you’re wrong.
Evaluate your heart. Compare it to David’s. How do I react when I sin? Do I deny it? Excuse it? Rationalise it? OR Do I repent before God?
God says when it comes to sin, a man after My own heart has a repentant heart.
- When it comes to stress, he has a trusting heart.
Few people experienced more stress than David.
Psalm 118:5-6 5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. 6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. …… (NIV)
Psalm 118:5-6 “In my distress I prayed to the Lord. He answered me and rescued me. He is for me. How can I be afraid?”
Very few people had stress like David did. He had constant war with his neighbouring nations. He had to fight giants, run from Saul and hide in caves for years. Incredible family problems — his family was a mess. He had one son rape his daughter and another son kill that brother. He had another son rebel against him and take over the throne and then was killed. Lots of tragedy and stress in his life.
David said, “I pray, I trust, and I keep moving.” Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is moving in spite of your fear. He said, God is my rock, God is my shield, God is my fortress. When I am under stress I trust God.
Ps. 73:26 “My mind and my body may grow weak but God is my strength. He is all I ever need.”
Everybody else was afraid to take on Goliath. But David wasn’t. Everybody else said, “He’s too big to kill! He’s too big to hit!” David said, “No, he’s too big to miss!” And David refused to wear Saul’s armour. He said, “God’s all I need. God is my strength.”
Everybody has their dark days, down days, depression. Depression is not a sin. It’s what you do with it. Depression is a warning light. David wrote some of his most beautiful Psalms while he was depressed. Ps. 116:10 “I kept on believing.” Some of you need to do that. You’re going through dark times right now. Keep on believing!
When you develop a photograph you take it into a dark room. Photos develop in the dark through a process of very strong acid. If the acid isn’t strong enough the picture doesn’t come out clearly. Some of you are going through dark times right now. You’re going through a process of acid. It is eating you up! But God is developing you. A beautiful picture is going to come out! Keep on believing.
When you sin, have a repentant heart. When you’re under stress, have a trusting heart.
- David’s response to service was a servant’s heart.
He was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do, more than willing. His desire was always, “I want to do God’s will more than anything else.”
Acts 13:22 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He 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.’ (NIV)
Could God say that about us? David did everything God asked him to do. He had a servant’s heart.
Characteristics of a servant’s heart:
- He was whole hearted. Ps 119:10 “With all my heart I try to serve you” With zeal and enthusiasm. He did it because it was a joy not a duty. He wanted to serve the Lord.
That’s different than us today. So often we’re lukewarm. We say, “Get somebody else to do it. Let somebody else serve there; I don’t have the time.”, Some say, “What are you looking at me for? I’m not your servant!” That’s an attitude of life for many. A servant to nobody, much less God. They’re too independent. David had a servant’s heart. Jesus said, “If you want to be great you must be the servant of all.” Greatness comes through service. You’ll never be great until you learn to be a servant, serve other people.
The test comes in serving in the areas we don’t enjoy – Not simply doing what we want and then claiming it is for others. Parents often fall into this trap with Children. They run their children here and there – to dancing or swimming or some other activity – then are deeply hurt / offended when the children don’t appreciate them and thanks them. The question is – “Who was it for – the child’s benefit or the parent’s ego?”
We can make the same mistake in many areas!!
- He was focused. He refused to be side-tracked by less important things. Psalm 119:18 18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (NIV) – — —–“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” That would be a good verse to put on your TV. Write it on the cover of some magazines you’ve got! The good is often the enemy of the best.
For many people Trivial Pursuit is not a game it’s a way of life / lifestyle.
They are chasing one thing after the other, the latest fad.
David was focused. He wanted to serve God because that was what was going to count for eternity.
“Some things are not necessarily wrong, they’re just not necessary.” You can still be a Christian and do a lot of things, but why would you want to? The good is the enemy of the best. Get rid of trivial pursuits in your life and make your life count. Why? Because God says, That’s what it means to be a man/woman after My own heart.
- He was sacrificial. David was willing to invest his time and his money. 2 Samuel 24:24 “I will not offer to the Lord, sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” David was going to build an altar to God and a man told him he could have his land, rocks, cattle — that he would pay for the whole altar. David said, “No way! When it comes to serving God, I don’t serve God with freebies. I don’t serve God with my leftovers. I don’t serve God when it doesn’t cost me. I owe everything to my creator, my saviour. I will never offer to the Lord that which cost me nothing!”
If you claim to be a Christian, what is it costing you? It doesn’t cost me much to be a Christian in the UK. If it was illegal to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Greatness always requires sacrifice. Mediocrity — you just try to get by. What is the minimum I can do and still call myself a Christian? What is the minimum I can do and still say I believe in God. I’ll be a mediocre Christian. Greatness always requires sacrifice.
David was a man after God’s own heart because when he sinned he repented quickly. When he was under stress he turned to God and trusted him immediately. And when he served he trusted Him wholeheartedly, freely, willingly, and sacrificially. He eventually experienced the fourth test. If you do the first three the fourth is inevitable.
- Success. David’s response to success was a humble heart.
I Samuel 18:14 “In everything David did, he had great success because the Lord was with him.”
“everything“. He was probably one of the most successful men who ever lived. After he knocked off Goliath he became a national hero. His name was known everywhere and people even wrote songs about him, Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. They praised and adored him. The Bible says that all Judah and Israel loved David. He was Mr. Popularity. He could do no wrong. He has one after another — an unbroken string of successes. He’s Mr. Famous. At the top of his career. That is the ultimate test of your heart.
How do you handle praise? Success? Material success? Do you spend it all on yourself? How do you handle the good life? We may not always think we have an easy life but look around the world – we live on Easy Street?
David’s response was that he gave all the glory to God. He refused to take credit for himself. He didn’t let it go to his head.
Someone said, Man is an amazing animal. He’s the only animal if you pat him on the back, his head swells.
Very few who can handle adulation and praise. Very few people can handle success without it ruining them. There are very few people who can handle financial success without it ruining them.
How do you handle it when people praise you? It’s much easier to handle adversity. When everything is going well we tend to forget God.
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory,
David gave all the credit and glory to God. He did not let it go to his head.
He had a humble heart.
How could he be so balanced? How could he handle it? Because he knew the truth.
Psalm 75:5-7 “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth but only from God. He promotes one and he deposes another.” (para)
David knew this from personal experience. There was a long delay between the time he was chosen by God to be the king of Israel and Samuel the prophet came and anointed him while he was still a shepherd. From the time he was anointed to be the king and the time he actually assumed the throne was 20 years. In those years the current king, Saul, tried to kill him. David ran for his life and hid in caves. There was delay between what God had said he was going to do in his life and when it actually happened. But David refused to grasp for power. He refused to push his will up the ladder, to force his way up to the top. He said, God’s in control. He waited on God’s timing. He was a humble man.
Those people who grasp the most for power are those who are least qualified to use it. They are usually the least qualified to handle the spotlight. They don’t have the character. They are overexposed and under-developed. David said, I’m going to trust in God.
How do you handle success? When things are going well, do you tend to pray less? When everything is fine and wonderful, do you let the spiritual discipline slide? You get away from God. You start thinking life is pretty good, you’ve done it on your own. How do you handle it? When you get that promotion, do you have a haughty heart or a humble heart?
These four qualities are the very qualities that most people overlook when they are looking for a great person. They don’t look for humility, a servant heart, a repentant heart. But these are the exact same qualities that God looks for when He says, “That’s a great person! That’s a person after My own heart!” God is still looking for people with great hearts.
2 Chron. 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him so He can show His great power in helping them.” God is looking for people to use. He is looking for people to bless. He’s doing a heart search and when He finds somebody with the right heart, He blesses them.
If God did an X-ray on your heart what would it reveal? a repentant heart? or “It wasn’t really my fault… it was somebody else’s fault… It’s not that bad… Everybody is doing it!” or “No, God, it was wrong. I’m sorry and I’m changing it!” A repentant heart.
Would it reveal a trusting heart or an anxious heart? God, I’m trusting You in the situation. I don’t know where the money is coming from but I’m going to trust You in the situation. I don’t know but I’m going to trust You.
When it comes to service, would it reveal a servants heart or “Let somebody else do it… I don’t have time to help… I’m too busy.” “Lord, help me to not be too preoccupied with things that are worthless, that don’t matter. Help me to make my life count.”
When things are going great do you say, “Lord, it’s all from You and I’m grateful and I’m humbled by it.”
God is looking for people to use. We’ve all got talent, ability, know how. We’ve got all these things and God can use them. We could be a modern day Paul, a modern day David.”
God didn’t just called you to be a mediocre Christian. God doesn’t want you to just be average. God is looking for people to use, He’s looking for people to bless, people who will be great for God. It all starts with a commitment that says, “God, I’m not perfect but more than anything else, I want to have a heart after You. My desire — before financial independence, before popularity, before my our ambitions, before anything else — is to have a heart for You.” That’s the kind of person God uses.
Acts 16:36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his generation, he died.” It’s so simple. David served God’s purpose in his generation and then he died. I don’t know a better epitaph. He served God’s purpose, the eternal. He did it in his generation, the timely. He served the Timeless in a timely way. He did the eternal in a contemporary setting. He served God’s purpose in his generation and then when he was finished, he died, went on to be with the Lord, in heaven. When you die, is that your deepest desire, to be able to say, “I served God’s purpose in my generation and then I died.”
What is keeping you from really becoming a great man of God? A great woman of God?
=> Is it guilt? The antidote is a repentant heart.
=> Is it stress? God says, “Trust me. I’m going to take care of your needs. I’m the master, you’re the servant.
=> Is it service? “Let somebody else do it! I’m too busy having my own fun, doing my own thing, being my own god, running my own pleasure trip through life.” It’s not helping anybody. Are you bored? Give your life away in service.
=> Is everything going well in your life? Good. Be grateful and be humble.
We can look at these four characteristics and say, “I fail on all counts – this is hopeless!” We can be come despondent and want to throw in the towel. BUT none of us has arrived! None is perfect – David wasn’t! BUT he wanted to be – Do you?
It starts with a commitment. “God, I’m not perfect but more than anything else, I want to be a person after Your own heart.” That opens the gates to greatness in your life.
Thank You, Father, for Your word. May we have hearts like David for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
DAVID : THE SECRET OF GREATNESS
I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(God) “David is a man after My own heart ” Acts 13:22
FOUR TESTS OF A GREAT HEART ….
- First test: sin.
David’s response: A Repentant Heart
“O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stain of my sins. Wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again. For I admit my shameful deed . . . ” Psalm 51:1-3 (LB)
“God will not reject .. a repentant heart.” Psalm 51:17 (GN)
- Second test: Stress.
David’s response: A Trusting Heart
“In my distress I prayed to the Lord and He answered me and rescued me. He is for me! How can I be afraid?” Psalm 118:5-6 (LB)
“My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength: He is all I ever need.” Psalm 73:26 (GN)
“I kept on believing, even when I said, `I am completely crushed’. . .” Psalm 116:10 (GN)
- Third test: Service.
David’s response: A Servant’s Heart
“With all my heart I try to serve You” Psalm. 119:10 (GN)
“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” Psalm 119:38 (GN)
“I will not offer to the Lord sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24 (GN)
- Fourth test: Success.
David’s response: A Humble Heart
“In everything David did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14
“To You alone, O Lord, to You alone, and not unto us must glory be given.” Psalm 115:1 (GN)
“For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another.” Psalm 75:6 (LB)
“For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him, so He can show His great power in helping them!” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (LB)