Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul's servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:14-18
Throughout their shared story, David and Saul are presented together in order to highlight the contrast between the two men. David serves as an example of a man after God’s own heart--one who wants to obey and pursue God. Saul serves as an example of a man whose heart is deeply troubled because it is after the world, reputation, and impatience.
Look in the passage above. The very first line says, “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.” That is pretty sobering. In 1 Samuel 15:11, God explains Himself in this action, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Saul is a reminder of someone who tries to do things only part way and expects that to be enough. He felt like he “mostly obeyed” when he pursued the Amalekites as instructed. But he felt his idea of how to treat the king and some of the spoil of battle, contrary to God’s instructions to entirely destroy, were better than God's directions. Can you hear his heart, “God can’t be serious about destroying everything. This is good stuff and we could use it to ‘glorify Him (and me).’” Do you see the deception that is happening?
If we are honest with ourselves we hear those deceptive voices often. That voice that wants you to go down that habitual sin path once again, or that tries to rationalize that something that you know is wrong is really right. Do you see? That same rationalization was present in the very first sinful act in Genesis. On this side of the cross, we know that we do not have to fear the Spirit being taken from us, but the temptation and selfishness are still a major problem.
What about David though? The description of David as one “who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him” is quite telling. These qualities reach across the breadth of character--valor, man of war, prudent, good presence. These character traits are preceded by the statement that he is “skillful in playing” then followed by “the Lord is with him.” These two bookends say a great deal about how David became that man after God’s own heart and lived out those traits. The reference to his playing skill points us to one of David’s great passions and pastimes: worship. His eyes are focused on God and he is going in the direction toward Him. The reference to the Lord being with Him tells us even more. As he is going through life, he walks with God, relates to God, and considers God’s perspective.
As opposed to what we saw in Saul, David has a desire and a focus on his Lord as his first love. When that voice of deception and enticement arises, like it always does, choose to be a David. Worship God to restores the proper order of things. Walk with God to access the ability to be all the good things that God wants you to be. Remember that David had his challenges and his falls, but the general trajectory of his life remained toward God. When you have your challenges and falls, go to God, worship Him, walk with Him, and know that there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).