He Heard Our Cries (II Samuel 23:1-7)
Crying for a King
He Heard Our Cries
II Samuel 23:1-7
(One Lord: No One Like You)
I. Crying for a King
As we begin this morning, let me read to you one of the most important passages in the book or books of Samuel. Here it is...
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah  and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”  But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD.  And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. (I Samuel 8:4-7)
As we come this morning to the end of our study of I and II Samuel, I think it's extremely important that we remember those critical verses. Why? Because in them we hear God's people...crying for a king. Now, even though, as God clearly explained to Samuel, even though their request for a king was an expression of their rejection of God, because of His infinite grace, God responded to their cry.
And that's what the book of Samuel is about. It's about God, in His grace, giving His people a king; but not just any king. The right king. And who is the right king. In the book of Samuel, the right king is David. Even though these books contain many characters, they are really about David. And as we'll see, because the book or books of Samuel are about David, they are ultimately about God.
II. The Passage: “When One Rules Justly” (23:1-7)
This morning I want us to explore these ideas more as we wrap up and sum up the books of Samuel. So let's turn to the only seven verses we haven't studied in these books: II Samuel 23:1-7. Now, as you know from last week, these are not the final verses of the book. But they are the final verses of the very center of the four-chapter long conclusion to II Samuel.
And as you can see from the section title, these are in fact “the last words of David”. I don't think that means these are the last words David ever spoke. But I think they are the “famous last words” he wanted God's people to remember. In his final days, this is the message that he wanted future generations to hold onto.
A. Understanding the King (23:1)
Let's look at the verse, beginning with verse 1. This is what we read...
Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:
Now as you can see, these are not the words of David, but the writer's introduction to those words. Notice the four phrases the writer uses to describe or identify David, and think about what they tell us or remind us of about David...
First, David is described as “the son of Jesse”. This reminds us of the fact that David did not come from a powerful or priestly family. He was the son of Jesse, and not the firstborn, but the youngest, the one who sat out in the fields all day, taking care of his father's sheep.
But, second, that shepherd boy became “the man who was raised on high”. That phrase reminds us that David's power, and prestige, and position, all of it came, not because he exalted himself, but because God raised him up.
Third, the heights to which God raised him are indicated by the title, “the anointed of the God of Jacob”. David was a messiah, the anointed king. And not just any king, he was God's king. And not just any God. The true God, the God of Jacob, the covenant God of Abraham.
Finally, fourth, David is described as “the sweet psalmist of Israel”. David was not simply ruler. He was first a worshiper. God was not simply his sovereign. He was David's song. All you have to do is read the book of Psalms (almost half of it was written by David) to understand the depths of David's faith in and love for God.
So those are the four identifying marks that the writer uses to introduce David. He is in effect saying, “This is the man who is about to speak. As you listen, remember who he is.”
B. The King's Understanding (23:2-7)
Now, just as verse 1 helped us understand the king, verses 2-7, the actual words of David, they give us a glimpse of the king's understanding. And what David understands is summarized here in three points. But before we look at those points, listen to David's opening words in verse 2 and the first half of verse 3...
“The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.  The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me...”
Notice what David wants the listener to understand about his understanding. What he knows and what he want to communicate is ultimately from God himself. We should not listen to David because he is David. We should listen to him because of His relationship to God. So listen to what David tells us God wants us to hear. First, the right king, God's king is...
1. A King who Understands the Fear of God (vs. 3b, 4) (look at verses 3b, 4...)
“When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,  he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.”
The book of Samuel teaches us that the right kind of king is a king who “rules justly” (or righteously). But it also makes clear, just as David does here, that a king who rules justly or righteously is a king who rules in the fear of God. You see, the most critical temptation for every king, for every person in authority, is to forget that they too are under authority. If that happens, such a person become a law unto themselves. They are accountable to no one. And when the happens, what begins to rule the ruler are his sinful desires.
But as David knew from personal experience, when a king first bows humbly before the King of Heaven, then he will find both the perspective and the provision to rule well. How well? Well, as verse 4 indicates, that kind of king will cause his people and his kingdom to flourish, just as the sun and rain cause the earth to flourish. Isn't that a beautiful picture? To lead well, Samuel teaches us that a king must first be led by God.
But David's goes on in verse 5 to tell us that the right king, God's king, is...
2. A King Who Understands the Faithfulness of God (v. 5) (look with me at verse 5)
“For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?”
To reinforce the fact that the king who first bows before the King of Heaven, that that king will be blessed, David reminds his listeners of the covenant that God made with him back in II Samuel 7. When David planned to build a house for God, a temple in which God would dwell, God turned everything around and told David that He himself would build a house...for David. What kind of house? An enduring house...AND an enduring throne.
And this covenant is, as David described it, “an everlasting covenant”. It is a covenant that is “ordered in all things and secure”. God has worked out every detail and God will work out every detail. Nothing left undone and nothing that can derail God's agenda. That is the faithfulness of God. David is saying not only to the people of God, but also to the future kings over those people, “Rule in righteousness. Walk in wisdom. Judge justly. Be humble. Remember who put you on that throne, and trust Him. And if you do, you will be blessed. Just look at me. Remember my story.”
But there's one last thing David wants us to leave with. He wants us to know that the right king, God's king, is...
3. A King Who Understands the Fire of God (vs. 6, 7) (verses 6 and 7. David writes...)
“But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand;  but the man who touches them arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they are utterly consumed with fire.”
Notice the subject of verse 6: “worthless men”, literally, “those of Belial”. This title is not new to Samuel. In fact, it has already been used nine times through the book. Hannah did not want Eli to think she was a “wicked, worthless woman”, a daughter of Belial.
But Eli's own sons were in fact “wicked, worthless men”. The Israelites who first opposed Saul's kingship in I Samuel 10 were “wicked, worthless men”. Nabal, in I Samuel 25, is described as a “son of Belial”. Some of David's own men, as we see in I Samuel 30:22, were “wicked and worthless men”. In II Samuel 16, Shimei cursed David by calling him a “son of Belial”, while later, a truly “wicked and worthless man” named Sheba tried to turn the other tribes against David and Judah. And in the last chapter, in 22:5, David could be talking there about the persecution he experienced from a flood of “wicked a worthless men”.
So, as you can see, this title is an important part of what God is trying to teach us through these books. What IS he teaching us about such people? That they are like thorns, thorns which only hurt people, thorns which can only be removed by force, and ultimately by fire. And throughout these books, we see that exact thing: God's fiery judgment removes the wicked and worthless. Eli and his sons were judged and removed. Nabal was judged and removed. Saul was judged and removed. Absalom was judged and removed.
And David knows he could have been one of those men, were it not for the mercy of God. Weren't his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah wicked and worthless acts? But unlike all those “thorns” I just mentioned, David turned back to God in conviction, remorse, and humility. Which points us back to the first point. The king who knows something of the fire of God knows something of the fear of God. And the king who walks in the fear of God will know something of God's faithfulness.
So I think we could sum up verses 2-7 like this: what David wanted the nation and her future rulers to remember is what God himself said, that the right king for God's people was a king who understood the fear, faithfulness, and fire of God. Isn't that the lesson to which the whole story of Samuel leads us? So even though they rejected God, the right king would always bring them back to God.
III. Hearing Your Own Cry
But as we think about this, we also need to think about what we take away from this book. I'm sure there are many thing you've thought about, many ways you've been encouraged or convicted, many lessons you will treasure from the fifty-five chapters of Samuel. But this morning, I want to leave you with this: “Which of us is not crying for a king?”
Which of us, in our rejection of God, is not still longing for someone or something to go out before us and fight our battles and lead us into what we imagine is the good life? In our sin, we throw off God's will for our own will, but we can never escape our longing for leadership. But sadly, the grip of sin is so tight around our hearts, we allow things like money and comfort and sex and success and religious pride and the opinion's of others to rule over our hearts.
You see, God wants us to leave the book or books of Samuel, not simply with a better grasp of Israel's history or moral encouragement from the character's examples (He does want that...He does want us, in light of David's example and David's words here, He does want us to be just and to turn away from what is wicked and worthless...but ultimately...)God wants you to leave this book thinking about the right king for your life.
He wants you to know that even though you've cried out for a Saul, what you desperately need is a David. And when you accept that, He wants you to then realize that even though David was also imperfect, God's promise to David was perfect.
The ultimate 'take away' from Samuel is the fact that God has heard our cries for a king, your cries for a king, and He has provided, according to His promise, an eternal throne, with an eternal king, who will eternally dawn “on [you] like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.”
Doesn't that sound good? Don't you want that? Don't you want to flourish like that?
If you've spent even a small amount of time with us in the books of Samuel, then you know how God has answered our cries. You know who the right king, not was, but is. When the Apostle John wept over the fact that, seemingly, no one could open the scroll of God's purposes, he was wonderfully interrupted...
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5)
Another angel spoke of Him to Mary almost a hundred years before John's vision:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
What king has understood, what king understands the fear, faithfulness, and fire of God like Jesus Christ? What king has walked in light of those things like Jesus? Do you believe Jesus is the right king for your life? Do you wake up each morning, holding fast to the conviction that Jesus is the right king for your life? The fact is, we can struggle with that. But that only proves the point: Jesus is the right king because He is, as the Apostle John put it, “full of grace and truth.” As broken sinners, Jesus is the king we need.
Listen and savor the words of the hymn writer Charles Wesley as he spoke about the King who was given to us in response to our cries. Ask yourself, are the cries of my heart answered in Him this morning?
Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne. (Charles Wesley)
other sermons in this series