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SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
1 SAMUEL XIII. 14.
The Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart ; and the Lord
hath commanded him to be captain over His people.
ACTS VII. 45, 46.
David, who found favour with God.
We were occupied two Sundays ago with the history of Saul, the first King of Israel—and in that history mention is often made of one whom, already in Saul's lifetime, God chose to be his successor—David, the son of Jesse, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, the man after God's own heart !
It is, then, by a natural step that I come to-day to consider some passages in the life of David. Our Church too, at this season, calls our attention very markedly to his history.
And how full is it of lessons for our learning! full, too of incidents of a most romantic kind! For where shall
we find, in one man, such a variety of fortunes ? Who that we have ever read of, interests us more than David ? whose story do we remember so well ? whose courage do we so much admire ? whose sins so shock and distress us? whose sorrows touch us so deeply ?
Like Saul's, David's life was a life of reverses. He was raised up, as Saul had been, from a low positiontaken away from the sheepfold—to be captain and ruler over Israel. Like Saul's, his reign, bright and promising at its opening, was after a while dulled by thick clouds but, happier in this than Saul, the clouds in David's case were dispersed. In him the good, and not the evil, triumphed in the end.-In the sin that he sinned, and in the trespass that he trespassed, he did not die. The Lord chastened and corrected him, but He did not give him over unto death!
Now, in speaking to you to-day about David, I would chiefly have regard to what is said of him in my textthat he found favour with God; was a man after His own heart.
There is the more reason for this, because the darkest side of his character is sufficiently known. It comes before us again in the first lesson for this morning; and it is often dwelt upon in sermons—perhaps too much dwelt upon, as if it were the only portion of David's history useful for our learning.
Useful no doubt it is--full of awful warning: reminding us every time we read it, and whatever our own present standing may be, to take heed lest we fall.
But David's character offers instruction to us from both sides—and it is on the good side of it, as I have said, that I would have you look to-day—I would have you consider with me, brethren, what there is in David which is lovely, and of good report—in other words, what recommended him so remarkably to God's favour, made him to be called, the man after His own heart !
Shall we be wrong, if we say there were these three things in David which attracted to him God's favour1, Generosity ; 2, Faith ; 3, his deep and lasting Repent
I will take these three points in order ; and I think you will go with me, in ascribing to the existence of all three in David, the high commendation which is given him in the Scriptures.
And first of his generosity. There are many proofs of this in David's history—when sorely irritated by Nabal's churlishness, and having it in his power to inflict vengeance, David, in the very height of his wrath, lets himself be pacified, and lays aside his purpose. To act as he did under the circumstances, and in the temper of those times, argues much forbearance-much generous feeling in David.
Still more marked is this feeling in the treatment of Saul. David had been grievously wronged by Saul-he had been persecuted by him with a relentless hatredhunted for death like a partridge on the hills—he was ever discovering some fresh snare of Saul's against his life—had he then cast off all compunction, and sought to be avenged on his enemy by every possible means, we should hardly have wondered. But how did he really deal by him ? Twice his life was in his hand, and twice he let him go (1 Sam. xxiv. 6; xxvi. 7). He would
neither himself injure a hair of Saul's head, nor let others hurt him. Even Saul himself was touched by his generosity. He seems to have felt that, in sparing his life, David had risen to a higher pitch of goodness than was common in those days (1 Sam. xxiv. 19). And so indeed he had. The forgiveness extended by David to his enemy finds no parallel out of the Gospel. It must always, I think, recur to our minds as one cause why David found favour with God; why he is, in the Old Testament, the example of the man after God's own heart !
But let us take the second point in David's character which I have noted as recommending him to God-his faith.
If ever a man walked by faith, and not by sight-if ever a man endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible—if ever a man realised the truth, on which all religion hangs——that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him-it was David.
For only recall, what we read last Sunday, his combat with the giant Philistime. What faith in a living God did David manifest! See him going, a stripling and unknown, of his own accord, to King Saul, and offering to take up the giant's challenge-Let no man's heart fail because of him, thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine! Hear him meeting Saul's remonstrance as to his youth and inexperience—Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine! Follow him from Saul's tent to the encounter, armed with only his shepherd's staff and sling—note his manly bearing and his reply to the taunt of his huge foe- Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied!
Recall I say, to mind, the language and demeanour of David as set forth in the evening lesson of last Sunday, and ask yourselves, where in all Scripture have we a higher example of heroic faith? Who, more than this stripling shews us how good a thing it is to hold fast by God? Who more than David invites us, not by words only, but by his own action, to put our trust in God, and to go forth in God's strength, and not to be afraid of any terror, while we have Him to lean upon-Him for our defence, and shield ?
But this is only one out of many passages in David's life which exhibits his faith. We may see the same principle of faith—of unshaken trust in God almost in all he did, and in all he endured. And never does it appear brighter than in seasons of peril and persecution.
Those are the times when many a man's heart, firm in its trust in God while all is smooth, fails him. But how was it with David ? How was it with him when the storm fell upon him ?-In the Lord put I my trust, how say ye then to my soul, that she should flee as a bird unto the hill? The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear ? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid? . . . Many one there