God's heroes


David was born 3000 years ago in a small town in Israel. God chose this man to play such an important role that his story continues to impact us to this day.

As a young man, David already had many exceptional characteristics. He was extremely brave. He was able to defend his flock of sheep even from attacks by bears and lions using just a simple sling. Just imagine trying to take out a lion with just a sling. It is hard to believe that anyone would even try such a thing. What if you missed? What if the lion’s forehead was so tough that the stone just bounced off, and then the lion got really angry? This demonstrates without doubt incredible bravery, and from someone so young! No doubt David had already at that stage strongly experienced the presence of God, and something in that had changed that little man into someone who already trusted God with his whole heart. The famous Psalm 23, that begins with the words ‘the Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing’, was composed during those times, when David was just 16 years old. In the original language, shepherd also means best friend. This young man, at the age of just 16, lived so immersed in God’s love and protection that he entrusted everything to this loving God who took care of him whatever may pass.

David’s most important characteristic was the overflowing love in his heart. It’s no wonder that God chose him to be king. Indeed, God said about him that ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’. David is therefore a Big-Hearted man, and this is the reason why God loved him so much, why he made him king and chose his family line.

David made many mistakes, however. The flipside of his courage was his hot temper, which led him to almost murder a man named Nabal who had insulted him. In this case, David’s hot temper turned to repentance and forgiveness after the wife of Nabal succeeded, through her kind conduct, in appealing to David’s love-filled heart.

Sadly, David’s big heart also had its dark side. His passionate nature led him to fall in love with another man’s wife and then to murder that man. Even then, however, God did not reject David, though David did sink into half a year of total anguish during which his spirit was broken and his heart shattered to pieces. The weight of the guilt and remorse was huge. He had destroyed the life of a courageous man. He thought he had destroyed also himself, his future, and the future of all those close to him. And the worst thing in all of it was that he was separated from the God with whom he had grown so close from such a young age and in whose presence was found his whole life’s meaning and purpose. For around half a year David lived in this remorse and great anguish, crying out to God in the words of Psalm 51:

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

(Psalm 51:2-17)

Half a year later, David was already a changed man at the point when the prophet Nathan came to him and declared that he was forgiven. Half a year of continually crying out to God had broken David’s pride and self-sufficiency, and the forgiveness he received rooted him even deeper than before in the love of Father God. David was now an older man, and his life moved closer to the plan which God had prepared for him. This involved different conflicting elements, because David himself experienced deep suffering, even at the hands of the people whom he loved the most. The most devastating experience for this man, who loved his family with his whole heart, was when his own child Absalom tried to kill him. He also had to experience the immeasurable anguish of discovering the one of his own children had killed another one of his children.

Yet even after all of this, David was ready to hear the tremendous promise that God had chosen his descendant to be established as King of Israel forever. That half a year of prayer, all of that anguish, and the forgiveness received had shaped David’s heart to the point where God could reveal this plan to him. Only after this wrenching, heartbreaking process was David ready to receive this truth.

Probably many thought, perhaps including David himself, that Solomon was that chosen king to whom the promise applied. Solomon indeed had many good characteristics, and he was particularly capable and wise, therefore seeming to be the perfect choice. However, David’s hot temper still lingered even in his old age, and he gave some bad advice to Solomon. The head of David’s army, Joab, had on a couple of occasions acted without David’s authorisation, and David had not forgiven him for this, but instead left it to Solomon to take revenge. Solomon then used his intelligence to carry out this task, but the final result was that a man named Hadad rose up as his enemy, a man who would not have dared to oppose Solomon if the courageous Joab had still been alive. On one occasion, God told Solomon He would grant him whatever he wished, and Solomon made a good choice and asked for wisdom. With this wisdom, he was able to govern well, such that the nation rose to greater prominence than it had ever known before, but he nevertheless went astray in his old age and worshipped idols. Would things have gone differently if he had asked instead for a big heart full of love for God and for other people, like his father David had?

Nevertheless, God from the beginning had a different plan, and that plan was Jesus, who was born around a thousand years after David. The promise of God, therefore, applied to Jesus, not to Solomon. Was Jesus then the son of David? David, after all, calls Jesus Lord in Psalm 110, a psalm which Jesus himself quotes in the Gospels. Let’s think for a moment what it means biologically to be a father.

You have 46 chromosomes. Of these, 23 come from your father and 23 from your mother. On average, you will have inherited 11.5 chromosomes from each of your grandparents, although the numbers are no longer exact once you go two or more generations back. You may, for example, have inherited 13 chromosomes from your father’s father and only 10 from your father’s mother. From each of your great-grandparents you have inherited on average 5.75 chromosomes, but it may be that from one of your great-grandparents you have inherited 10 chromosomes, while from another you have inherited only a couple. If we go 10 generations back, equal to around 300 years, the chances that you have inherited even one chromosome from a particular ancestor are less than one in twenty. Of course, your ancestor may have passed on their genes to you via several different family lines, in which case the chances of inheriting a certain chromosome increase, but overall it can be seen that in the long term being a father is about something else than just passing on genes. If we get into the details, however, there are a couple of exceptions here: The Y chromosome is inherited from the father. If, therefore, you are male, you have the same Y-chromosome that your father had, and the same one that his father had, and so on. If you are man and you know your family tree, then you know that you share that chromosome with all the fathers going back through your father’s line. Occasionally, mutations develop in this chromosome and these are then passed on to the male descendants. Genetic research indicates, nevertheless, that we all have a single, common ancestor: Adam. Furthermore, some of our DNA is not in the chromosomes but rather in the cells’ energy factories, the mitochondria. These are inherited from the mother, because the cytoplasm is in the egg cell. A certain number of genes, therefore, are always inherited through the mother’s line to the daughters and then onwards to their daughters. Mutations can sometimes develop also in these genes, but the research once again indicates that we all have one and the same maternal ancestor: Eve.

This means that even if you have not genetically inherited anything from a distant ancestor of yours, you are nevertheless their descendant. But in what way? What you have inherited is their spiritual legacy, including their intercessory prayers and the plan and dreams of God that belonged to your paternal or maternal ancestors, whether they lived 300 years ago or a thousand years ago. You may also have inherited from far back the calling of your family line. God wants to fulfil the dreams He has, even if this process spans multiple generations.

But first and foremost, God continues to create together with Jesus each person who is born. He gives to each one of us our own spirit and soul. Even though each of us is an individual, I believe that God also looks at the previous generation when he is creating us, and as He is forming us He also has our father and mother and the preceding generations in mind. In this way, a thousand years after the death of Jonathan, Paul inherited the calling, promises, spiritual inheritance and spiritual DNA of his ancestor, as I explained in another one of my blog posts.

We therefore receive both a genetic inheritance and also, through God, a spiritual one. David had a promise from God that the Messiah would be born from his family line.

This is why Jesus, conceived by Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, can still be called the son of David.

What dreams does God have for you? Do you know? I am praying that God will guide you to hear his voice and to find out how, where and with whom it is best for you to be living your life and following the calling of your Creator.

If you’re feeling a great desire to change, I suggest that you pray each day for 100 days David’s prayer from Psalm 51:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

(Psalm 51:12)

Listen then to what God wants to say to you and show you, and if on a particular day he shows to you some broken and stained part of your heart or spirit, then don’t just ask God to fix it, but also to give you something NEW in its place. Pray then the same things for those people whom you feel God in speaking to you about at the same time. If you do this for 100 days, I believe that during this time God will do deep within your heart things that not even Christiaan Barnard could have imagined.

Have a blessed day

Frank Hill