CHARACTERS-2 - King David, the Good, Bad & Ugly
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GREAT BIBLE CHARACTERS
The Scripture records, of the good king David, that at times he was
a man after God's own heart.
We welcome you today to our study of great Bible characters.
As we think today about David, we want to emphasize the good that
David did, some of the areas that he could have done better in and then
some of the things that were really ugly in the life of David so that it will
help each of us to be closer to Almighty God.
As we think today about King David, we think about principles of
righteousness, principles for life, and practical lessons of both- what to do
and not to do- so that our relationship with God can be better.
You know someone once said, "Smart people learn from their own
mistakes. Really smart people learn from mistakes of others." Not only can
we say that about mistakes, we could say that about right things done as
well. I can learn from the good David did. I can learn from the bad and the
ugly in his life. In each principle, I can learn it in a way that it can be applied
to my life so that I can live faithful to the Lord.
Now, as you think about David, what brought David into being king?
Because of King Saul's unlawful sacrifice committed in 1 Samuel 13 and
his failure to obey God's commands, 1 Samuel 15:21-22. God, according 1
Samuel 13:14 began to look for an immediate replacement to King Saul.
David, in Samuel's estimation, was the most unlikely of all of Jesse's sons
to be replacement for King Saul. He wasn't the tallest. He wasn't the
strongest, but he did have the right heart. David's life and his work cover a
large portion of biblical literature in the Old Testament.
The life of David can be found from 1 Samuel 16 through 31, all of 2
Samuel. 1 and 2 Kings covers a lot of David's life as well as 1 Chronicles
11 to 29. So, you've got a massive chunk of Old Testament literature, and
on top of the Psalms, that deals with the life of David. He is a key figure in
We want to think about his life and what we can apply for that from
that for just a few moments.
These following four statements are kind of a summary description
of David's life maybe his epitaph we might think of. David is aptly known as
a man who was a mighty man-of-war. When we think about David, he was
a warrior, a gladiator in many ways, 1 Samuel 16:18. At the same time,
he's known as the sweet psalmist, poet of Israel. Of David it was said by
Nathan, you are a man caught in sin.
The Bible says he was a man after God's own heart. What a great
complement! Now of David, he was a man who died in old age, for the
most part, as a man of God. In fact David's reign actually became the
litmus test, the criterion, by which all other Kings are judged according 1
Let's take just a few moments and think about some of the things in
David's life that were really good that he did.
First, and probably one of the least mentioned of the things David
did that was good as it related to God, is David actually spared Saul's life
on various occasions. David had already been anointed as king of Israel,
according to 1 Samuel 16, yet David would not rise up and take that mantle
away from Saul because he revered him as God's anointed 1 Samuel 24:6
and 1 Samuel 26:9.
Now did David have every right to be king? Absolutely! Had God
already placed His approval on that? Yes, he had! But God had anointed
Saul. Saul was still reigning as king and the people recognized that. So for
David to rise up and do that could have been detrimental to some of the
people watching or to the view of God's anointed. He didn't want to do
anything that would detract from people serving God, from God remaining
holy, and having that reverence and fear for him in their lives.
From David we learn great respect and reverence for Almighty God.
Friend, when people look at my life, when they look at your life, and they
see Christ living in us, we want people to see respect for God and holy
things. When we talk about the Bible, we want people to see the respect
oozing out of our lips. We want people to see how much love we have for
God. When we talk about God himself, his character, his nature, his
promises, we want the respect for the Almighty to be seen in our words.
But just not in our words, we want people to see in our actions. We want
what we say to match up to what we do, just as David tried to do in his life.
We want to really live for Christ every day. Especially as you, think about
this, as young people look at other Christians, they're looking to see what a
pattern for Christ lived in somebody else's life looks like. Friend, we want
them to see this. Jesus said, "If any man desires come after me let him
deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me."
A second good thing that David did, and this is probably what David
is best known for, is his defeat of the ungodly giant Goliath.
You remember the story of David and Goliath. There is this giant of
the heathen nation, Goliath by name. Nobody in Israel wanted to go up
against him. He's huge. He's a big, strong, mighty man of valor. The text
tells us in 1 Samuel 17, he goes out every morning, and he taunts God's
people. He rebels and mocks God. David, just a shepherd boy, is going to
deliver goods to his brothers who are actually soldiers. He hears this; he's
made angry. He's incensed by it. So David says ‘I'm not to let this go on.
Give me some armor. Let me go out there.’ He puts the armor on, and it
doesn't fit. He goes out there anyway as a young lad, five stones and a
sling, and God behind him, takes that giant down.
You know when you think about David, here's what you learn: This
good lesson from the life of David shows us the courage David had and his
deep abiding trust in God and his promises.
Friend, isn't that practical lesson for us? What can Christians
accomplish with God on their side? The Bible says in Philippians 4:13,"I
can do all things through Christ, through him who strengthens me." The
question is not: What can we accomplish? The question is really: What can
we not accomplish?
There isn't anything beyond our reach, if we put our trust and faith in
God. We do have some pretty monumental tasks set before us. Jesus gave
us one of the greatest. Do you remember it? "Go into all the world and
preach the gospel unto every creature", Mark 16:15. That's a magnificent,
monumental task. Can that be accomplished? Only with God, can it be
accomplished. I need the courage to take God at His word, to do my best,
to do what I can to serve Him, and to never let fear or lack of courage get in
Then I need the ability, just like David, to trust God's promises. Did
God tell His people you can defeat the heathens? I'm going to give them
your hand, you will win the battle? You bet he did on numerous occasions.
Israel's failure is when they begin to look at their foes as bigger than their
God. David didn't see that. He didn't see a giant in Goliath. He saw a giant
in God and with God on his side wasn't anything he couldn't accomplish.
Friend, we need to trust in the Almighty. Listen to the words of
Hebrews 13 the Bible says, "Let your life be without covetousness, be
content with such things as you have." Why? "For the Lord Himself has
said ‘I will never’ ", listen to this, "I will never leave you nor forsake you, so
that you may boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not fear, what can
men do to me?' " Another great promise or blessing David received, and a
part of the good came from his life is due to his faithfulness. David received
the seed promise which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ, 2 Samuel 7:12-14.
God says to David, "There'll be one of your seed who will sit on your
throne. He'll reign in the house of Judah forever." Who is that? Jesus is that
seed of Abraham bless all nations, Galatians 3:14-15. And it is said of
Christ, in Luke 1:32-33, "You will call His name Jesus. He'll be great. He'll
be son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father
David and", listen now, direct fulfillment, "He will reign over the house of
Israel or Judah forever." He had that wonderful blessing because he put
trust in God. God worked through his family, worked through his lineage, to
bring Christ into the world. How grateful we are for those who are willing to
Look at the good that can be done. Only eternity will know what
good can be done in my life and yours, if we trust God and take Him at face
value and do what He says.
Friend, I also learn from the life of David about kindness and mercy
that must be extended to others. David showed great kindness to
Mephibosheth, that is the son of Jonathan. Although he could've been
viewed as an enemy and viewed in a negative light, this young man who
faced a hard life himself brought to the table of David, treated like a son,
dealt with in mercy and fairness and kindness and love.
What a powerful lesson for us! How does God want me and you to
deal with people? We're to deal with them in love. "Love your neighbor, do
good to those who use you and those who mistreat you" Jesus would say
in Matthew 5:10-12. I am to have the kindness that Christ had. Let the spirit
of Christ rule in me. I'm to be tenderhearted,kind, loving, and gentle
towards all men and in view of that I do it all to give God the honor and the
glory when people look at my life. If we have the kindness, the love, the
sincerity, the hospitality, that we ought to have, Jesus said, "Let your light
so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your
father who is in heaven," Matthew 5:16 .
As we think about practical lessons that were good from the life of
David, David stands out as a true and faithful prophet of God, who ended
up writing by inspiration many of the Psalms and Proverbs.
When you think about David, David was a man inspired by God.
2 Samuel 23:2, David said, "His word was on my tongue." As a prophet, as
one who looked into the future through God using him, he faithfully
proclaimed and said what God said. He stood true to the word of God and
he let God use him to speak His word.
Now let's make practical application of that today. As God's people
today, if we can learn from David how he was a faithful prophet, a man of
God, we too need today to be faithful spokespersons of, faithful people who
are willing to speak God's word.
Remember 2 Timothy 4:2? The Bible says, "Preach the word, be
instant in season and out of season." Paul said to Titus, "As for you, speak
the things which are proper for sound doctrine" Titus 2:1.
So when we speak, let's let our speech be the speech of God. Let's
say what God says. Let's speak the truth in love and point Jesus point
people to Jesus by faithfully proclaiming what He's taught and what He
You know another very practical, this is a difficult lesson that we
learn from David is: he's an example of a man who was willing to repent.
Was David perfect? Not at all. He had problems in his life and we'll
identify some of those. In particular the one is being spoken of in Psalm
51, is his sin with Bathsheba. He committed wrong. He tried to hide it.
He did those things that were not pleasing in the sight of God. And yet,
while we may think about that momentarily, the thing to hone in on as we
relate to David's good qualities, is he was a man when he recognized sin
owned up to it. He was willing to repent.
Listen to the beautiful words of David in Psalm 51, David said,
"Have mercy upon me, oh God, according to your loving kindness,
according to the multitude of your tender mercies. Blot out my
transgressions. Wash me thoroughlyfrom my iniquity. Cleanse me from my
sin," Psalm 51:3, "I acknowledge my transgressions, my sin is always
before you a before me, against you and you only have I sinned and done
this evil in your sight."
And so when I think about David's life, I think of a man who was
willing to repent.
Who among us doesn't need to have that quality? The Bible says,
"All, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. I've
made mistakes. I've done things wrong and so have you. So, part of being
a person who has the heart after God, is when we do wrong, we're willing
to repent and make it right. Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all
likewise perish" Luke 13:3.
Now let's shift gears for just a moment. As we think about David's
life, I want to learn from the good; I want to follow that. I also want to take
note of some things he did that were not right. I want to avoid that.
One of the things David did that was bad is in violation of the law of
God: he multiplied wives-which was a direct violation of God's word and
wasn't according to the original principal of marriage in Genesis 2.
Listen to the words of Deuteronomy 17 where the Scripture clearly
teaches that Kings were not to multiply wives. Deuteronomy 17:17 says this
principle is given to the king says, "Neither shall he, the king, multiply wives
for himself lest his heart turn away, nor shall he greatly multiply silver and
gold for himself." And so, God said to the king, ‘Don’t multiply wives.’
What's God's original pattern? Jesus goes back to it in Matthew 19. He
says, "From the beginning it was not so.” What beginning? "For this reason
a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife and the two
shall become one flesh."
Did God intend for all these Kings to have all these? Never in His
original pattern. Did God allow it? Yes, Acts 17:30-31, 'These times of
ignorance, God once overlooked,’ allowed them to continue it without
endorsing it- but it was never a part of his plan.
Some of the problemsyou'll see in David's life- and especially, you
can't help but read Deuteronomy 17:17 and think of Solomon. God said
don't multiply wives- they're going to turn your heart away from God. We're
now in 1 Samuel, 1 Kings 11, up on the hilltop, there's Solomon with his
wives worshiping false gods. Proof that it would never was God's plan and
it was going to pull them away from the Almighty.
I want to learn from this that God intended for one man and one
woman to remain in that marriage for life, Romans 7:1-4, that they're to
help one another, to love one another, to encourage, to uplift, to follow the
teachings of God, and by doing that, you can have the best life possible.
Now another bad thing that we learned that David did-I don't think it
was intentional-I know it wasn't intentional, but it was still bad: David
transported the Ark of God in an unauthorized way. It led to Uzzah's death.
Do you member the scene and the setting? The people, the enemies have
taken over the Ark of God. They're asking God's people to take it back
because they couldn't handle it. It's being sent back, and David goes to get
it. The Bible tells us that Uzzah and Ahio put it on a new cart, and they
drove it. As they reach a place called Nachon's threshing floor, evidently
they hit what one might think of as a bump in the road. It looks likethe Ark
is going to fall. Uzzah loves God. He loves the Ark. He doesn't want it to
fall, and so he reaches out to stabilize it. H died right there on the spot. He
drops dead. David's angry. He didn't know what's going on. He thinks he's
trying to do the right thing and yet, in the process of this, he had violated
the word and the will of God unknowingly.
Look to 1 Chronicles 15, concerning this event, "For because you
did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us. Because
we did not consult him about the proper order. So the priests and the
Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel
and the children of the Levites bore the Ark of God on their shoulders by its
poles as Moses had commanded according to the Lord.
What do we know about David? David made an error here. Was it
intentional? No, but they didn't consult God about the proper order. They
didn't look to the word of God to find out how to transport that.
Friend, as we think about this, even though our intention
may be to follow God as David's was, the only way to do that correctly is
by following God's word. That's how God has revealed Himself to us in His
word the Bible.
Now, let's turn our attention to the ugly in David's life. And friend, it
is ugly in the sense that these things are violations of the will of God and
heinous crimes against God and man. There are powerful lessons I can
learn from in the negative sense of what not to do. What's the ugliest of all?
We turn to 2 Samuel 11 and 12. We think about David. He's up on the
rooftop, time when kings ought to be out to war. He sees beautiful
Bathsheba bathing nude. He desires her. He wants to take her as wife and
at the time when he should've been out to war. He finds another man's wife
he's attracted to. In 2 Samuel11, he desires her. In the process, he takes
her for his own. In the process of this adulterous relationship where David
and Bathsheba are together, she becomes pregnant. He tries to bring her
husband home so he'll think it's his. He eventually sends him to the front
lines and tells them to back away so that he'll be killed.
You've got adultery, lying, deception, murder, and a host of things
going on here all because he wanted to have another man's wife. David's
family sufferedgreatly because of this sin with Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 12
through 20. The things that go on with Absalom, the unrest that was in
David's house, can be directly related back to this: David's sin against God
in doing that.
We desperately need to realize that this was a violation of God's will
and His commands. What do I learn from that? Friend, listen very carefully,
we have the expression "the grass is always greener on the other side" but
you know that's just not true. The Bible says in Proverbs 5,"Rejoice with the
wife of your youth." If you're always trying to up the ante, you'll never be
happy. If you can find the true joy in two people striving to serve God
together and help one another get to heaven-what a wonderful thing that
We have the adultery with Bathsheba, David's cover-up, his
continued sinful relation in that and we have him causing her husband
to be murdered, and having to deal with the consequences and guilt of that.
There are a host of things that were very ugly, back to this one event.
As you think about David's life and the ugly things in it, David did
one other thing that God was deeply upset about. David sinned against
God in his unauthorized census of the people. This is recorded in 2 Samuel
24 and as a result of this sin, 70,000 people died in three days. When you
look at that context in 2 Samuel 24, it wasn't even that the numbering or the
census was the problem is that in so doing it looks like they were putting
their trust in their numbers not in God.
Friend, as we think about trusting God, it's not the numbers. It's not
the amount of people. It's not the weaponry. It's not those types of things.
It's God who is the true source of our health and our hope. People are
going to be hurt.
You know I learn from David's life, when I make bad decisions and
you make bad decisions, when we do thingsthat are direct violation of
God's will, it not only hurts us, it hurts others.
How do you think Bathsheba felt when she found out her husband
was dead? How do you think that they both felt when that son died? How
do you think David felt for the lie as a public figure, for the lying that he did
there, for the deception, when the nation found out and they would, what
happened? What about the 70,000 people who died because David
decided to make a census for their own showing?
My actions and your actions, although sometimes we think they're
independent of ourselves, have deep ramifications with everyone in our life.
I need to think about what I'm doing before I do that.
David, a man after God's own heart, teaches us good things we can
do in serving God, in following him, living after his truth, and in trying to
have the right heart.
We mentioned David did repent of those things. He did get his life
right with God. He was man enough to say, ‘I have sinned. I've erred
exceedingly.’ He said ‘you know I'm putting this out before you, help me
deal with it,’ in essence. He was big enough to deal with it, and we learn
greatly from that.
We also learn some things I don't want to do: I don't want to lie. I
don't want to cheat. I don't want to look after another man's wife. I want to
put my trust in God and His word. I always want to turn to this book to find
out what to do.
Friend, we ask you today to seriously consider your own spiritual
Jesus asked two questions to get to the heart of what our real
priority ought to be.
Jesus said, "What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world
and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his
The most valuable thing you have, my friend, is your soul. That soul
will spend eternity somewhere forever. There are only two options: either
heaven with God and with Christ or hell with the devil and all the wicked of
Friend, our encouragement to you is to obey the gospel and
become a Christian.
If you already believe Jesus is the son of God, would you be willing
to follow that up by making true repentance in your life? Would you
confess "I believe Jesus is the Christ"? Would you be baptized for the
remission of your sins?
Wouldn't it be great of us, if one day, it was said that's a man who
tried to follow the heart of God.
Study Questions for:
“Great Bible Characters Lesson 2: King David”
1. Who was the other king compared to in 1 Kings 15:3?
2. How did David beat Goliath in 1 Samuel 17?
3. According to Philippians 4:13, what can we do through Christ?
4. What great task did Jesus give us in Mark 16:15?
5. What did God promise us in Hebrews 13:5?
6. In 2 Samuel 23:2, who spoke through David?
7. In Psalms 51, did David acknowledge his sins and repent?
8. According to Romans 3:23, who has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?
9. According to Luke 13:3, what will happen if we do not repent?
10. Who did David say he sinned against in Psalms 51:4?