David’s name means “beloved,” which he was by God and still is by millions of Bible believers. He was a fitting type of Christ since they were both born in Bethlehem, both were anointed and both were shepherds and kings. But not everyone loved him; he was hated by his own father-in-law, King Saul, his loyalists and all the enemies of Israel. God’s favor on David provoked jealousy and placed a bullseye on his back. If God be for you, though, it doesn’t matter who is against you. The anointing doesn’t exempt us from trouble, it empowers us to overcome it. Since a fresh anointing is needed to face new assignments (Ps. 92:10), David was anointed on three separate occasions:
- As a shepherd boy in Bethlehem—1 Samuel 16:13.
- As king over Judah at age 27—2 Samuel 2:4.
- As king over all Israel at age 30—2 Samuel 5:3-5.
1 Samuel 16:12 (NASB) describes the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons: “Now he was ruddy with beautiful eyes and a good appearance.” The Hebrew word translated “ruddy” is the same word rendered “red” in Genesis 25:25 to describe Esau and means “reddish of hair or complexion.” It could refer to the rosy color that indicates a healthy face, in contrast to the pale look of a sick person. At least one Bible version (BAS) says he had red hair, and some scholars agree. In Chuck Swindoll’s book David, he wrote, “He may have had red hair or, more likely, he was reddened or bronzed from the hours he spent out in the sun and wind.” If so, that made him a rare breed indeed. Only 1-2 percent of the world’s population are natural red-heads. Not only did David look different than his seven siblings on the outside, he was different on the inside. The prophet Samuel was impressed by the natural physique of Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah (all soldiers); God was impressed by the spiritual shape of David’s heart.
We discover more details in 1 Samuel 16:18: David was experienced in playing (a skilled musician), a mighty man of valor (brave), a man of battle (a fierce fighter), skillful in words (had good judgment), a man of fine appearance (translation: a handsome hunk), and the Lord was with him! David was the real deal—talented, great personality, good looks, anointed, pure-hearted and, most important, favored of God! He was the kind of young man you hope your daughter marries.
There wasn’t enough room on David’s business card to list all his job descriptions: shepherd, singer, songwriter, poet, musician, armorbearer, giant-killer, national hero, captain, king’s son-in-law, fugitive, king, prophet, worshipper, warrior, adulterer, murderer and sweet psalmist of Israel—quite a resumé to say the least. When David slew Goliath, he went from a zero to an instant hero. The farm boy from obscurity became an overnight celebrity. Dr. Mark Rutland, in his book David the Great, wrote, “He was the new Hebrew hero. “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands” became the pop song of the day.” No doubt he was trending on Facebook and Twitter. The former shepherd of the pasture was now a captain eating caviar in the castle. He was living like royalty when, abruptly, the rug was jerked out from under him. Rutland writes, “Just as quickly as David had become the most famous person in the land, he also made the top ten most wanted list.” Saul put a bounty on his head, mounted a massive manhunt and chased him as a fugitive for years. Imagine his wanted poster—Wanted dead or alive: armed and dangerous, red haired harpist and giant slayer, guilty of treason against the crown, cash reward.
As an outlaw, David laid low, hiding in caves, and lost what Chuck Swindoll calls, “five crutches” he leaned on which I renamed:
- His Position: Demoted from captain of Israel’s army, he was hunted by the very soldiers he had commanded.
- His Princess: Michal, his wife, was taken from him and given to another man—1 Samuel 25:44.
- His Pastor: He fled first to consult with Samuel, who anointed him king, but there is no evidence he ever saw him again—1 Samuel 19:18.
- His Pal: Hs BFF, Jonathan, was separated from him due to Saul’s vicious vendetta and death threats.
- His Poise: He fled to Gath, Goliath’s hometown, carrying the giant’s sword (not advisable) and pretended to be insane to avoid capture, torture and sure death—1 Samuel 21:10-15.
What do you do when all the props you lean on are knocked out from under you? Who do you lean on then? David later wrote, “When my heart faints, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps. 61:2b). The classic hymn says it all, “Where could I go but to the Lord?”
David united Israel, reigned for 40 years, expanded his kingdom, banished his enemies and enjoyed peace and prosperity. So, why did God love this red- headed harp player?
- David had a heart after God (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22). While far from perfect, he had a passion for spiritual things (Ps. 42:1-2) evidenced by moving the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, building a new tabernacle for it and planning and funding the future Temple.
- David was a willing worshipper. True worship attracts God’s attention like the scent of perfume lures a lover. Seventy-three psalms are attributed to David, who expressed his love for God in music and song and appointed singers and musicians to worship Him continuously in the tabernacle (1 Chron. 16:4-6).
- David demonstrated genuine repentance. After he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, this broken king penned Psalm 51 to be read and sung nationwide as a public confession of his sin and a declaration of God’s grace and mercy.
- David never turned to idols. Most of the 42 kings who ruled Judah and Israel fell into idolatry. David never wavered from worshipping the one true God of Israel—Yahweh.
The main reason God loved David so much had nothing to do with his hair or his harp; it was all about his heart. For in God’s eyes, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
Ben Godwin is the author of four books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. To read more articles, visit his website at bengodwin.org and take advantage of his 4-book bundle for $25.