The Heart in Transformation: The Life of David

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston


Any Heart

He was a man who could dance and sing before the Lord, or drool to feign insanity
before his enemies!  He was familiar with the rugged terrain of the Judean wilderness and the comforts of the King’s chamber.  He fought wild beasts, giants and the enemy of Israel, and was a victor over all of them!

David also lost the most difficult of battles, the battle of the heart-and he fell into the sin of adultery.

Character is often defined by the way we respond to personal failure!

Even though God had forgiven him, David struggled to forgive himself!  His later years
were filled with the desire to make things right with God!  Serving God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength became the driving quest of this son of Jesse!

Recognizing that he enjoyed the splendor of his palace in Jerusalem while the Lord was
consigned to a tent in Shiloh, David purposed to build a Temple for the Living God.

“Why should I live in a palace while the Lord dwells in a tent?” was his question, and he
set about to build what would have been the most awesome building of the age.

But David had often bloodied his hands while striking the enemies of Israel.  Through
prayer and prophecy, the Lord told David that he couldn’t build the Temple, but that Solomon, his son, would construct it!

Recognizing and obeying the word of God, David did the next best thing.  He prepared
for the building of God’s Temple by gathering the incredible resources needed for the sanctuary of God.  We read that when Solomon constructed the Temple, there had never been a more magnificent edifice designed in the history of Israel!

The legacy David left the world is finally more than the heroic story of his life.  It’s also the beauty of a heart in love with God, the character of one who refuses to give up hope in the mercy and grace of the One who calls us from obscurity into the marvelous light of His Presence!

Let’s take a moment to reflect on our legacies, not our limitations.  The Lord will bless
and use any heart that seeks to worship Him!



The Heart in Transformation: The Life of David

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston


No Place

“There were two men in a certain city, one rich and one poor…” so begins the prophet Nathan as he relates his story to King David. “The rich man had flocks and herds without number, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb which he bought and nurtured, so that it grew up very much loved along with his children. Then an occasion arose when the rich man entertained a guest. But unwilling to take one of his many sheep from one of his many flocks, he took, killed and used the poor man’s lamb for his guest!”

When King David heard this awful report, he demanded to know who the rich man was, declaring that punishment for such a crime would be immediate and severe!

Then Nathan looked the King straight in the eyes and proclaimed, “You’re that man!”

With those words, David was brought to repentance for his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

Seduced by King David during the absence her husband, Bathsheba became pregnant.

To hide his sin, David successfully contrived Uriah’s death during the siege of Rabbah, then married Bathsheba. In essence, David murdered Uriah to take Bathsheba. You can read of this terrible crime in First Samuel, chapter 11, verses 1-18.

There is an interesting irony in the name of Uriah. Uriah’s name literally translates as; “The LORD is my light” and indicates the transparency that comes with a true knowledge of God.

Whereas David chose the darkness of deceit to cover his adulterous affair, his hidden sin was seen and exposed by God! How true the Scripture that proclaims;

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

The child born through adultery became ill and died. And with that death the innocence of King David, the courageous shepherd boy who fought giants for the living God, seemed to die as well.Sin wars against God and destroys the soul! When sin is continuously entertained as a guest, it eventually becomes a master! Godly character requires that we give no place to this enemy of love and life!

David cried out for peace with God as captured in the 51st Psalm which says, “a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise!” That peace may have arrived with the birth of Solomon, whose name means “peace”.

There is a tradition that says it was Bathsheba who composed and recited Proverbs 31 as an admonition for Solomon, who was blessed with a life free from the warring tribal factions that so plagued his father’s reign! The peace that comes through God’s forgiveness is instructive for each of us today.

Let’s keep our peace with God as faithful warriors against sin! In so doing, we will dwell in God’s living light!

True peace tolerates no sin!

The Heart in Transformation: The Life of David

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston


Where Most of Us Bend

Our character is often shaped through the gentle hammering of the Holy Spirit upon the anvil of God’s faithful Word!

This process requires that we stay out of God’s way while He completes the good work He’s begun! And this is where most of us bend in our walk of faith!

It’s where Abraham and Sarah turned when they decided to “help God out” with the promise of a child. Ishmael still interferes with the promise of Isaac!

It’s what happened to Jacob when he hurried God’s plan for the divine blessing, and his family life became irreparably twisted!

It happened to Moses, who tried to fulfill his destiny in his own strength. Killing an Egyptian soldier, Moses became a broken fugitive in the Sinai wilderness.

Such “pig iron” faith always breaks under the tough circumstances of life.  While the Lord doesn’t require our help, He often invites our participation. Knowing the difference is the essence of true faith!

David displayed true faith when running from the vengeance of King Saul who sought to murder the young shepherd boy! Once David was chosen to become the new King of Israel, Saul attempted to assassinate him!

On more than one occasion, David could have retaliated and killed Saul, but refused the opportunity saying that he wouldn’t harm God’s anointed! He wouldn’t put forth his own hand to fulfill the promise of God in his life. Rather, David trusted in the providence of the Lord, a promise eventually fulfilled in spectacular fashion!

Jesus displayed such faith when he refused the devil’s temptations. Everything the world would offer in place of God’s promises were answered with the immutable Word of God! Jesus responded to the Tempter’s words with, “It is written…” referring to the absolute authority of God’s holy Word! That authority is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and is still powerful today!

Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Do not suppose that God has any need of our works; what he needs is the resoluteness of our will!” In other words, the Lord desires our obedience above our genius.

While we are often commanded to do certain things as an evidence of our faith, it’s God’s work that forges true destiny. Your destiny is not dependent upon your strength, but dependent upon His Spirit!

As Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Moses discovered, God holds the hammer and invites us to become the spiritual nails that will build His Kingdom! Let’s pause, pray and remember that when we are in His Word we are in His hands, and when we are in His Hands, we will not bend!

Let God shape your life!


The Heart in Transformation: The Life of David

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston


Before the Throne of Grace

In the Greek Orthodox Bible you can find an additional Psalm of David!

Called the Hallelujah of David, Psalm 151 describes the victory of David over the giant of Gath. It begins, “I was the smallest of my brothers” and continues with “my brothers were handsome and majestic…but the Lord did not choose them.”

When one considers David’s many Psalms, there’s always the recognition that his extraordinary life wasn’t due to his own labors. Rather, his trust was in the Lord who “removed him from the sheep of his father” and anointed him with the “ointment of his anointing” as the Psalm declares.

Before occupying the Throne of Israel, David learned to kneel before the Throne of Grace!

God’s work through our lives isn’t simply a matter of our abilities. It’s about the character of an obedient heart that says, “Thy will be done!”  History is replete with people who have extended God’s Kingdom because they kneeled before the Throne of Grace and enquired of the Lord.

We can think of the unnamed man who lent his little donkey to the Lord Jesus on what we now call Palm Sunday. He may never have seen Jesus, but believing the word of the Lord through the disciples, he entrusted his donkey to the business of God and his name is now a matter of honor before the Lord!

Jesus fulfilled prophecy as Israel’s long awaited King when he rode that donkey into Jerusalem amidst the shouts of hosanna by the excited population!

God seeks to do an extraordinary work through those who seek His will!

Retired Army Chaplain and founder for the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, Colonel Jim Ammerman, recalls that his life took on a supernatural dimension when he knelt before the Throne of Grace and prayed, “Lord, You can have all there is of Jim Ammerman!”

That was an echo of the prayer that William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army prayed. It was also the prayer of John Wesley, who was simply following the example of Saint Paul and Saint Peter!

Supernatural events will occur in the life of any ordinary person who submits to God’s Holy Spirit, and by such submission, such people will continue to impact the world with the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ!

Should we dare to pray the same way, our lives will also include a new chapter of praise for God’s amazing grace! Let’s dedicate ourselves to the work of God by first kneeling at the Throne of Grace! When we do, everything will change!

Give what you have to God!