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David the Great

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 21, 2020 12:01 am

David the Great

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 21, 2020 12:01 am

Throughout the Old Testament, David is heralded as Israel's greatest king. Today, R.C. Sproul begins a study of David's life by examining what set him apart from all the rest.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind... Welcome to the Saturday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and we are pleased to begin a new series today, one that will take us to the heights of success and power and the depths of sin, corruption, and loss.

Let's listen as R.C. begins his series on the life of David. In the ancient world, certainly one of the most famous persons to emerge was a young man who was a student, certainly the most celebrated student of the philosopher Aristotle. This young man was the son of King Philip of Macedon, and I think you all know his name already, don't you? He is known through Western history by the name and the title, Alexander what?

The Great. He's called the Great because he embarked on a military conquest through the entire region of the Mediterranean world, and he went on this endeavor not merely for military reasons, but also for scientific reasons and for cultural reasons. As a student of Aristotle, Alexander was keenly interested in science, and it has been said that the most heavily funded scientific expedition in all of human history until the United States Space Program was Alexander the Great's scientific expedition, because along with his soldiers, he took a virtual army of scientists at the behest of Aristotle to collect samples of flora and fauna from all over the region where the armies travel. But again, Alexander was driven by a desire to bring unity to the ancient world, and he was looking for cultural unity, and so his program was called the Program of Hellenization, which was the making Greek of the nations that he conquered. And so he introduced the Greek language to the people that he conquered.

That's why, for example, the New Testament was written in Greek, because among those peoples that were conquered by Alexander and his successors were the Jewish people. But what I'm interested in is this title that is given to this particular person. He is called Alexander the Great. He's called the Great because of the apparently unprecedented level of achievement that he was able to accomplish. But I have a bone to pick with historians. When we go back to the ancient world and start passing out titles like this, the Great, I think there is another figure, another young soldier who deserves that title far more than Alexander could ever dream of.

And that person is going to be the subject of the next 15 messages on our program. And so we're going to start today looking at the life of a man that I'm going to call David the Great, David the King of Israel. One thing we cannot say about Alexander of Macedon was that he was called a man after God's own heart.

That was reserved for David the Great. Now in our day, we are a culture, I think, obsessed with heroes and idols. And what kind of people do we give our adulation?

First of all, athletes. We also extol the virtues of monarchs or politicians like the President of the United States, or we'll look at the rock musicians or those artists who reach the top of the charts in the entertainment world. We look at literary giants. All of these people with all of these accomplishments, military generals and so on, are elevated to the status of the hero. But where in history can you find a single person who combines as much achievement and as much greatness as we find wedged together in this single life from the Old Testament? What I want to do today is just give a brief introduction to the greatness of David. We know that David is seen as the king of Israel, Israel's greatest king, whose kingship was so exemplary that the very kingdom of God became associated with him. And that even Christ's kingship in the New Testament is seen as the completion and consummation of the kingdom of David. Christ is viewed as David's greater son. The prophet Amos in the Old Testament, once the kingdom of Israel collapsed and was divided and fell, Amos prophesied through the Holy Spirit that someday in the future the fallen booth of David would be restored. Now again, David was not Israel's first king in terms of chronological sequence. He was in fact the second king.

But he was without a doubt the greatest king that the nation ever had. He ushered in what has been called in history the golden age of Israel. When David ascended to the throne, he extended the borders of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, and the borders of Israel at that point were the largest that they have ever been in Jewish history. Even to this day, the nation that we call Israel is not as large or as inclusive in terms of geography as it was under David's rule and monarchy. Israel was a tiny nation.

It held that little band of real estate that was the land bridge between Africa and Asia and Europe, thereby the fertile crescent. And under the leadership of David, this tiny little piece of real estate, this small monarchy of Israel became a leading world power. And apart of course from the sovereignty of God, which we don't ever want to live apart from, but nevertheless humanly speaking, that historical reality is based largely on the heroic achievement of one man, David. Now David, as a king, sought to obey what the Old Testament calls the king's law. If you remember, when kingship was established in Israel, it was a matter of great controversy, not only among the people, but between the people and their God. Samuel went to God and said the people desire a king because the people want to be just like everyone else, like all the other nations, and all the other nations around us have a king.

So we want a king too. What was God's response to that? God's initial response was one of judgment.

Why? Because up until that point it was clear in Jewish history that Israel's king was Yahweh. God was supposed to be the king of this nation, no earthly regent.

But God acquiesced to this desire from the people. He warned them in advance, if you get for yourself a king, he's going to tax you to death, he's going to put your boys in the army, and he's going to spoil the land and all of that stuff. But okay, you can have a king, but there were rules as part of the decalogue itself that is called the royal law, that is the laws to which the king was accountable to obey. So that the king in Israel from the very beginning was Saul and David and all the rest, the king did not have plenipotentiary authority. He did not have absolute power. There was a divine right given to the king, but that divine right rested upon divine authority, and the king was ultimately accountable to God, as we will see through the process that we follow in these messages. And so David, of all of the kings in Israel, was the one who was most scrupulous in seeking to be a king in submission to the kingship of God.

And that, of course, is at the heart of his greatness as a monarch. But not only was David distinguished as a king, but he was also one of the mightiest warriors in the history of Israel. If we go back to the Old Testament and look at the generals that were distinguished by their exploits, certainly people like Joshua come to mind immediately. I think of Joshua often as being similar somewhat to Stonewall Jackson in American history.

We have our own military heroes, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Pershing, Lee, Grant, Jackson, and so on. And so Israel had their Joshua, but certainly the greatest military genius in the history of the nation was David, who as a young boy slew the giant that opposed the armies of Israel, Goliath. And we remember the song that circulated through the land that we'll look at later, Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands. No one could resist the military prowess of David.

And so David was arguably the greatest military general of the Jewish history. But it's strange to see in connection with these gifts and achievements in monarchy, in administration, and in military strategy and conquest that if we were to go to the Old Testament prophets and say, who is Israel's poet laureate? It wouldn't be Robert Frost. It wouldn't be Longfellow, would it?

Or T.S. Eliot. There's only one candidate that could have that credential, and that would be David. Had David never sat upon the throne, had David never engaged in a single military expedition, if he hadn't done any of these things, if the only thing the man ever did in his lifetime was sit down and pick up a pen and under the impetus of the Holy Spirit compose the literature of the Psalms, he would be famous forever. He would still be worthy of the title, David the Great. An interesting study for those of you who are interested in these things would be to see how important the book of Psalms has been to the theological and spiritual life of Christian history.

That particular portion of the Old Testament breathes a spirit of worship, of adoration, of praise, of supplication, of confession, of prayer in a level and a depth that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. And the chief architect and writer of the Psalms was David the Great. And so he would be in the literary hall of fame in the ancient world. But in addition to that, we also see David the musician.

Notice that I said that our heroes today are literary people, military people, political geniuses, or famous musicians. And one of the most famous musicians of all of the Old Testament was David. In fact, his first entree into the royal court was on the basis of his skill and accomplishment as a musician. And remember that the Psalms are not just literary productions, but they were designed for choral use in the life of the Jewish community, so that there is a musical element that is related integrally to the Psalms.

We have an expression in the English language that music has the capacity to soothe the savage beast. When Saul was given to these terrible fits of anger and madness, and he became, as it were, a savage beast, and the only thing that could calm his spirit and get him back under control was when this young boy came in and played his music that softened the heart of Saul. And so we don't want to ignore David's contribution to the world of music. But in any one of these things, David deserves the title David the Great.

But there's one other aspect of David's life that we dare not pass over in silence. In the New Testament, Paul calls himself the chief of sinners, thinking back to the time of his life when he so vigorously and savagely persecuted the church of Jesus Christ. And Paul was not just engaging in hyperbole when he saw himself as the chief of sinners, but out of his awareness and acknowledgement of his sinfulness, Paul became the chief architect in the New Testament of teaching the church the grace of God, the doctrines of forgiveness, and the remission of sins as one who personally had experienced it. Well, if Paul may be called the chief of sinners, who would we say in the Old Testament was the great sinner?

It would have to be David. One of the things that we must respect about the writers of the Old Testament is that they paint the portraits of their heroes warts and all, not like the idealized portraits of Greek heroes, the Adonis and Apollo figures that we find in Greek art, but in Judaism, the treacherous sins of the leaders of the people are set down in sacred Scripture for all of us to read. And who has a greater fall into sinfulness in the Old Testament than David? It seemed like everything that David did, he did in great proportions so that when he sinned, his sin was great. He committed adultery and proxy murder.

He violated the terms of the covenant of marriage and the terms of the covenant of his relationship to God as the king. But we would also say that if we look for a moment at Psalm 51 that David was the great penitent of the Old Testament. All of us are called from time to time, and not just from time to time, but from moment to moment to be in a posture of contrition and penitence before a holy God.

And when I find it necessary to express confession of my sin in the depths of its magnitude, I find no better help in all of Scripture than Psalm 51. Here we find a Spirit-inspired prayer of confession and of contrition, and it was written by David. I think if you read Psalm 51 and read it carefully and thoughtfully, that Psalm will reveal more than anything else in the history of David why David was called a man after God's own heart. Because here it reveals the broken heart of a sinful man who sees his sin clearly, who cries out, oh Lord, you know, thou hast searched me and known me, and who says in respect to his sin, oh God, that you may be clear when thou judge'st and justified when thou speak'st, and who says, oh God, treat me not according to your justice, but according to your mercy, who asks to be healed, who asks to be purged, who asks to be cleansed. For David, who could afford to be arrogant, he was the king, he was the military hero, he was the poet, he was the musician, he was the great hero. He could have seen himself being above the rebukes and admonitions of people like Nathan who came to him and said, David, thou art the man. But in the Psalms, we see the heart of a penitent unveiled. And in that, I think we see most clearly the greatness of David the Great. What a great thumbnail sketch of a great man. I love where R.C.

landed there today. David showed his greatness in his humility. That's why he was a man after God's own heart.

Not for his achievements, not for his wealth, but for his willingness to admit his sin. I hope you'll stay with us here on Renewing Your Mind. Dr. Sproul will have a final thought for us in just a moment. I hope you'll contact us today and request the special edition set of our resource offer. It's Dr. Sproul's series, Dust to Glory. In 57 Lessons, you'll take a unique study tour of the entire Bible. It'll provide you with context for the amazing story of David that we studied today. When you've completed the series, you'll have a grasp of God's redemptive purposes from Genesis to Revelation. We'd like to send you the special edition of this series. There are eight DVDs plus a bonus disc containing the study guides for all of the messages and the audio files for every lesson. You can make your request and give your gift online at, or you can call us at 800-435-4343. Our goal here at Ligonier Ministries is to equip you as you grow in your knowledge of God and His holiness. As you study and learn, our mobile app is a source of helpful teaching tools, including articles and blog posts, audio and video clips, and daily Bible studies.

It is free, and you can download it by searching for Ligonier in your app store. Now, as promised, here's R.C. with a final thought. In our Coram Deo thought for today, I'd like you to reflect a little while, if you would, on what are the characteristics of your heroes. Who do you look to as being models for your own life? We all get caught up in the thrill and the excitement of secular heroes, but as Christians, we need to have a clear picture of what greatness really is. And I think that what we need to do is to go to the Scriptures to find the models of heroic life, and there, obviously, at the head of the list is David. I've always said that when I die and get to heaven, there are few people that I want to meet as soon as I can possibly meet them.

I want to see Jesus first, of course, and I want to see Paul, and I want to see Luther, and I want to see Calvin, and I want to see my father, and I want to see my mother, and I want to see people like that. But I can't wait to meet David. So I'm going to ask you that in the days to come, to pick up your Bibles, read the account in 1 Samuel of the life of David, and become busy in these days searching the Psalms. They are food for your soul, and they can begin to shape in you the same heart that is made evident in David. Next Saturday, Dr. Sproul will take us back to David's earliest days. We'll see the beginnings of his bravery and commitment to God. I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-26 02:47:42 / 2024-01-26 02:55:12 / 8

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