David, king of Jerusalem, is seldom preached about today, except the part about his failure. It is not difficult to find a preacher willing to talk about David’s affair with Bathsheba, and his subsequent murder of her husband Uriah.
David, in spite of his failure, is actually the most significant person in the Old Testament. David is the only person in the entire bible who is called “A man after God’s own heart”. There is no other person with this distinction, and it is not a distinction given to him by his peers, or by a priest or prophet. No, David’s title of being “A man after God’s own heart” was actually given to him by God Himself!
But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. I Samuel 13:14
Significantly, this distinction was also repeated in the New Testament;
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Acts 13:22
God has men He calls servants, apostles, prophets, and friends, but there is no one else that God ever gave the title of “A man after my own heart”.
It should not surprise us, then, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is sandwiched between two mentions of the name of David;
“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Revelation 22:16
This is not just a title for the Messiah. Though Jesus is a direct descendant of David, through his mother, I think there is more here than a simple reference to His genealogy. When God says that David is a “man after My own heart”, He is saying that we can learn about God by studying the life of David. Because Jesus is that God, we can learn about Jesus by studying David!
God didn’t inspire the writers of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, so that Church-age saints could ignore them. A lot is said today, about the “context” of scripture, but what is not often mentioned is that David forms the context of the first coming of Christ. What I mean is that the nation that Jesus came to was saturated with stories of David. Their national mindset was framed, in part, by the bible’s stories of David, and God’s interaction with him.
There is one other Old Testament person that the bible says is like Jesus; Moses.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; Deuteronomy 18:15
A lot of preachers point to the fact that Jesus was in danger of his life, as a child hunted by the authorities, like Moses. They also point to the fact that Jesus spent time in Egypt when he was a child, also like Moses.
While Jesus’ spending time in Egypt was indeed a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1, yet I don’t think Moses was referring to the physical circumstances of Jesus upbringing when he said the messiah would be “like unto me”. I think this idea is rather shallow. Jesus was more like Moses than merely the similarities in their childhood circumstances.
Jesus was like Moses in regard to doctrine, character, and the law.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:17 – 18
The first mention of Moses in the New Testament is in Matthew 8:4, where Jesus tells a man He had healed, to obey the commandment of Moses with regard to having been healed. He followed that command up with numerous commands to obey Moses, and never once contradicted anything Moses had written in the law. Well, one time, but I don’t think it’s really a contradiction.
2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Mark 10:9
Question: did God allow Moses to write something He did not approve of? Was Moses’ will so powerful that God wasn’t able to overrule him? Who’s book is it anyway?
No. What Moses wrote was exactly what God wanted him to write. Matthew’s account of the same conversation is a little different, but the differences are actually quite revealing;
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Matthew 19:7-9
Verse 9 explains God’s view of divorce. The one exception is “fornication”. If you are using Websters for your dictionary you will not understand what is being said here. The original Greek word translated as “fornication” actually means “any sexual sin”. This same concept is found throughout Scripture.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 1:7
By refusing to compare Scripture with Scripture many preachers have missed what is being said by Jesus in Matthew 19. His use of “fornication” is not in the context of Websters dictionary, but in the context of the bible. Just in case you don’t understand what He means by this term, it is also applied to the case of one who is married;
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. I Corinthians 5:1
So, if a man has his father’s wife, Paul tells us that this is fornication. The bible is an amazing dictionary. If you allow God to define His words you will find, from time to time, that the culture you live in is not entirely biblical.
Jesus use of the term “fornication” in Matthew 19 is in the context of the Word of God. Here, in verse 9, he has defined God’s intentions in allowing “putting away”, or divorce.
Is it adultery if a man has a gay affair with another man, and then goes home to his wife? No, but it is fornication! Does God want people to stay in situations that are hazardous to their health? Should this woman stay with her fornicating husband, and risk AIDS or some other STD? Should a husband stay with his wife if the opposite is true? You can, but you are not commanded to.
If what I am saying is true, there should be evidence of it in the Old Testament. Did Moses overrule God, or did God inspire Moses to write the law the way He wanted it done? Did God ensure that Moses wrote this part in such a way that this teaching of Jesus can actually be found in the law?
1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. Deuteronomy 24:1-2
Here it is way back in Deuteronomy! The term “uncleanness” is the term at issue here. The Jews wanted this to mean that they could use any excuse to divorce their wives. Jesus, in Matthew 19:9, is explaining the intent of the Law here. What Jesus termed as “fornication”, Moses called “uncleanness”. When you put it this way, there is no conflict between Moses and Jesus.
Notice also the word “may” in verse 2. It sounds like this is her desire already. He has really defined what he means by the use of this word, but those not looking for it will miss it.
The Pharisees did not understand these concepts because Moses had already written, in several places, that a married woman who has sex with another man deserves death. In fact a woman who was only engaged, and had sex with another man, also deserved death. Deuteronomy 22 clearly states that a young woman who has had sex before marriage deserves to be put to death.
Despite what our preachers tell us, every case where Moses’ writing about divorce would apply, the verses about the death penalty would also apply. What God was doing, through Moses, was giving the people of Israel a choice, “justice or mercy“. God was actually applying the principle found in John 8:7, in the Old Testament;
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
God was telling the people of Israel that they could insist on justice, and expect justice from God themselves, or they could practice mercy, having faith that God would be merciful to them. God never changes, and if you think He has you’ve got the wrong god!
Jesus spoke about this in his parable of the ungrateful servant of Matthew 18:23-35. A man who had been forgiven a great debt, yet acted without mercy against one who owed him a small debt. As a result he was no longer forgiven.
A man who’s wife cheats on him should ask himself, “What is my standing before God? How great has my sin been in His eyes?”
This was Joseph’s understanding when Mary was found to be with child. He could have insisted on stoning her, but Joseph was a “just man”. He understood that his sins against God were greater than her perceived sin against him. This is why it says;
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. Matthew 1:19
Just men are few and far between, but there is another man like Joseph in the bible… David!
David had been forgiven a great sin by God, when he committed adultery and murder against Uriah the Hittite. Later on, his son Absalom rebelled against him and took over the kingdom for a short time. During this time, Absalom had sexual relations with ten of David’s concubines. (II Samuel 15:16, 16:22, 20:3)
Had David been a Pharisee, he would have insisted that those ten women were stoned to death, however David was a just man. He understood that God’s grievance against him was much greater than his grievance against his ten wives.
As a man who had been forgiven a great sin, he could do no less for those ten women. As a result David continued to feed, clothe and shelter them for the rest of their lives, but he abstained from having any sexual relations with them. I suspect that had Absalom lived he would have divorced them, and let them live with him!
Those ten women got a glimpse of the character of God in David. I hope they were changed by the experience.
David didn’t just understand the letter of the law, he understood the intent! He knew the Holy Spirit! This is why Christians today need to study David and Moses, in conjunction with their studies of Jesus. Jesus did not live in a vacuum.
If a man tells you “I can be faithful to the teachings of Moses, by only reading Jesus” he is lying to you! Such a man does not understand Jesus, let alone Moses! He is guaranteed to confuse his own context with that of first century Israel!
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. John 5:46
The gospel is a David sandwich, topped with Moses. Eat it and enjoy!