A Heart for God
2 Samuel 23:1-7
First Presbyterian Church March 13, 2005
Lenoir, North Carolina George J. Saylor
After Christmas we began a journey taking us from the calling to the cross-
the calling of a man named Abram, to the cross of Jesus. We found the
journey laid out before us in the first chapter of Matthew, the chapter that
comes before the Christmas story. It is the family tree of Jesus. And far
from being a dry and boring genealogy, we’ve found this to be the very tree
of life. It’s taken us from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to women like Rahab
IF there’s one common theme we’ve seen in these stories, it’s that God
transforms lives. He transforms lives by his promise. And God will see His
promise through, not matter how many times we break ours. We mess up-
and God cleans up. And not only cleans us up, but it’s as if it’s out of the
broken that God works most powerfully.
It’s out of Abraham and Sarah’s barrenness that God brings forth new life,
and a new beginning. It is out of their greatest pain that God fulfills His
promise and glorifies Himself. Out of tears of emptiness and doubt, come
tears of joy. Sarah laughed at the thought of having a child in her old age.
But out of that laughter came a son.
Isaac, the child of laughter, is to be laid on an altar and sacrificed to God.
And he is, but not in the way that we might have guessed- for though Isaac
life is spared from the knife, he learns beyond any shadow of a doubt that his
life is not his own, that he belongs, body and soul, to God.
And in due time Isaac and Rebecca give birth to twins, Esau and Jacob.
Then it is out of Jacob’s weakness that God transforms him into a nation. He
stole his brother’s birthright, he stole his brothers blessing, he was deceived
himself by his uncle Laban, he struggled against men and against God, but
he overcame, and received a blessing. He born the scars of that struggle, he
had a limp from God that lasted the rest of his life, but then with every step
he was painfully reminded that he was now Israel, the father of the tribes.
But God wasn’t done yet. He kept working through people’s brokenness,
meeting them where they were at, in fact putting them where they were at, in
order to fulfill his promise and glorify himself. He took a harlot named
Rahab, hidden in the walls of Jericho, and used her to save the spies. And
out of her brokenness came blessing, for this woman was woven into the
promise of God.
And then there was Ruth. Poor Ruth, a Moabite widow with no future,
clings to her bitter mother in law Naomi, and steps out on a new road. And
because she walked that road God took her into the Promised Land, and
even into the promised line of the savior. It was out of her greatest pain that
God brought forth her greatest ministry. Had there never been a famine,
Naomi would have never been in Moab. Had she never been there, her son
would have never married Ruth. Had he never died, she would have never
left Moab. Had she never left Moab, she would have never found herself in
the field of a man named Boaz. But because of God’ gracious and sovereign
hand, Ruth comes to Bethlehem, she marries into the people of God, and she
become the grandmother of King David.
Now we come to the end of our journey. Or is it just the beginning? Easter
is breathing down our necks. Next Sunday we remember and celebrate Palm
Sunday, the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover
week. Jesus, the man that had lived and ministered among the people, that
had taught them God’s word, healed their sick, gave sight to the blind,
released the captives, exorcised the demon possessed, even raised the dead,
was received with joy. The people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.”
The people received him as the Christ, as the King. But in only a few short
days they would shout a different tune, “Crucify him, crucify him!” The one
that was received as a king, would be killed as criminal, but as we will
celebrate, would no sooner be killed, than he would be raised from the dead
by his heavenly Father, glorified as the risen Lord.
This morning we want to look at one final branch in the tree that has been
growing toward Jesus. I want to look at the life of King David. I want to
look at that opening line of Palm Sunday. That line that began Jesus’
triumphal march into Jerusalem- “Hosanna to the Son of David!” When the
crowds saw Jesus they saw the one they had been waiting for. These folks
criticize them as we might, we looking for the messiah, for the Christ. And
they were looking for the one that would come as the great king, a king like
David lived life large! By no stretch, he is one of our most enduring, most
inspiring, and most captivating bible characters. Ask any kid some of their
favorite bible stories and at the top of the list is going to come David and
Goliath! Ask any body that knows the bible for one of the greatest stories of
sin, treachery and deceit, and they might mention David’s affair with a
woman named Bathsheba, and his murdering her husband Uriah. In fact,
when you look at that genealogy of Jesus where we started, you’ll find
David referred to as the father of Solomon, who’s mother had been Uriah’s
wife. It’s right there for the world to see. It won’t let us forget the illicit
affair and murder that was part of the family tree of Jesus. And that’s again
what so amazing about this family, about Jesus. He is not ashamed to show
the skeletons in the closet.
That’s what jumps out at us regarding David- he always lived life large. He
had giant victories, and giant defeats. When he was faithful, he was
completely faithful. When he was fallen, he was completely fallen.
And maybe that’s why we love him so much. It’s not that we have faith to
take on giants the way he did, but that we seem to take giant falls in our
walk. And if David could still be considered a man after God’s own heart,
then maybe, just maybe, we can be too. That’s perhaps the greatest
compliment that could be paid to any man, or any one of us- to be a man or
woman after God’s own heart. I know I pray that I would be a man after
God’s own heart. I pray that my children would be after God’s own heart. I
pray that our church would be a church of people after God’s own heart.
Perhaps there’s no better place to see a man heart than in his last words.
This morning we read those beautiful last words of David. What is the heart
that they show- they show a man, who in his successes, and in his failures,
had an unshakable faith in God. An unshakable faith that the Lord’s will
would be done, and the Lord would be glorified.
Look at how he begins: the oracle of the man exalted by the Most high, the
man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs.
Talk about self-esteem, this guys got it to spare. But is it really a self-
esteem? No, it’s God esteem. David knows that everything he has he owes
to God. Every thing he’s done he owes to God, every bit of good that has
come out of his life has come from God. David has been exalted- by
himself? By man? By God! Exalted and anointed by God Most High!
And what are his last words, this man exalted and anointed, the singer of
songs: they are not even his own, but the words given to him by the God of
Israel, the Rock of Israel.
The Lord told him that when one rules in righteousness, when one rules in
the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless
morning, like the brightness after rain that brings forth grass from the earth.
In these brief yet vivid words, David paints for us a picture of the ideal king-
the one that would rule in complete righteousness, in complete and perfect
fear of the Lord. In a word, he paints a picture for us of Jesus, the one that
would come through his line, the very Son of God. David’s heart longed for
the one could not be, the one he did not know, but the one that he knew was
coming to fulfill God’s promise.
How do we know that? Look now at his words- is not my house right with
the Lord? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant? Arranged and
secured in every part? Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and me my
every desire? Yes yes yes yes! David knew that the promise would be kept
and the covenant fulfilled. David knew that salvation would be brought to
fruition from the tree of life that God had begun in Abraham.
There is so much that we could say about a heart for God, but these last
words give us four clear signs of the man with a heart for God. First, we see
the heart of God is exalted. Sounds a bit audacious I know. But we are the
children of God, exalted and anointed by him. The heart for God is the heart
that was chosen before the dawn of creation, and anointed with the Holy
Second, the heart for God longs for righteousness. God is righteousness-
God is perfect and holy and just. The heart for God longs to be like God and
to share in His righteousness. Jesus lived the only perfectly holy and earth.
And we saw that he brought about righteousness in his ministry. The heart
for God longs for more of that ministry on earth as it is in heaven.
The heart for God is exalted and anointed, longs for righteousness, and is
secure in salvation. The heart for God knows to whom it belongs. And its
security is not based in itself, or it’s own works or virtues, but is based
solely, and humbly, on the salvation secured for us in Jesus Christ.
And finally, the heart for God is exalted, longs of righteousness, is secure in
salvation, and foresees judgment. The first three we like, but that last one
truly takes the heart of God. David saw it coming; he knew the wicked
should not even be touched as our passage declared. He knew the wicked
would be burned up. We know how judgment is going to happen. It
happens at the return of Christ, for we know that the father has entrusted all
judgment unto the Son.
The heart of God is exalted, longs for righteousness, is secure in salvation,
and foresees judgment. In a word, the heart for God looks to Jesus. For
Jesus was the one exalted by is father; the one that worked for
Righteousness; the one that brought about our salvation; and he is the one
that will come in judgment. The heart for God looks to Jesus.
As we come to the end of this journey from the calling of Abraham to the
cross of Jesus, I want to tell you what inspired this series. The week that I
took over at the pastor and head of this church I was given a gift- a picture of
”the tree of life” by Lynn Downham, Shirley Story’s daughter. It’s a
painting that also hangs in our office hallway down stairs. It’s a beautiful
picture of an enormous tree, a tree larger than life almost. And impose on
top of that tree, working it way toward the top, is the genealogy of Jesus.
The names take us right up to the branches, that then spread out around the
canvas. It’s simply breath taking. I now have it framed and hanging in my
When I went to have it framed I lay the picture out before the clerk.
Instinctively the clerk looked at it and could tell it was a family tree, and she
asked me, “Is this your family tree?”
Well at that moment a big smirk made it way across my face. I wondered,
for what seemed to me an uncomfortably long time. And looking at the
woman, seeing that she wasn’t really interested in a conversation, I simply
said, “Well, it’s the family tree of Jesus.” She quietly completely the order
form and I went on my way.
But the answer to her question is yes. Yes it is my family tree. The reason
I’m so happy to have that family tree of Jesus hanging in my family room, is
because it is my family tree now too. You see, my name is eternally etched
on one of those leaves, budding out to new life from the family tree of Jesus.
My wife’s name is on the leave next to mine. My children’s names, I take
on faith, and now etched on the leaves budding out from mine. The family
tree of Jesus is my family tree.
The tree took root in the calling of a man named Abraham. It grew through
his children Isaac and Jacob. It grew as women like Rahab and Ruth were
even grafted in. It grew to a man named David, and from his line came our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And now in him we are part of the family tree
As the words of one of my favorite praise choruses reminds us, “Look at the
stars Abraham, and believe I AM. Can you count the stars Abraham, or the
grains of sand? I see why the tide keeps rolling in, and building up the sand
tree. You loved your wife, Abraham, but there is now son, yet from your
life, Abraham, a seed shall come. I see why the tide keeps rolling… Give
me your son, Abraham, and believe I can, supply the Lamb, Abraham, for
the sins of man.” And between each verse we hear the beautiful chorus- “I
see why the tide keeps rolling in, and building up, the sand tree.”
Next Sunday we shout Hosanna to the Son of David, the fulfillment of the
covenant promise. Next week we remember all the Jesus suffered on our
behalf- he betrayed, trial, and execution. Next week we look at a cross
bloodied by Jesus. Next week we Lay him in a tomb and remember his
death. Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection. Easter Sunday we
celebrate a New Beginning, for though the family tree of God reaches its
apex, its heart in Jesus, it yet grows out, budding with new life, for all who
accept Jesus as Lord, and call on him as Savior. Accept him as Lord, call on
him as savior. Don’t wait another day, but be grafted into the tree of life in
Jesus Christ. Amen.