King David: A Heart Like God’s: Winning Isn’t Everything, But The Will To Win Is
I Chronicles 28:1-10; II Chronicles 6:7-9
I wish to read for you verses from 1 Chronicles and then from 2 Chronicles. This is the Word of God.
“David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem. The officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of the thousands, and the commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men, and all the brave warriors.
“King David rose to his feet and said, ‘Listen to me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord for the footstool of our God. And I made plans to build it. But God said to me, “You are not to build a house for My name because you are a warrior and have shed blood.” Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader. And from the house of Judah, He chose my family. And from my father’s sons, He was pleased to make me king over all Israel. Of all my sons, and the Lord has given me many, He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me, “Solomon, your son, is the one who will build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out My commands and laws as is being done at this time.”’
“‘So now, I charge you in the sight of all Israel, and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God. Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind. For the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. But if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now. For the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.’”
I Chronicles. The words of Solomon.
“My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood, he is the one who will build the temple for My name.’”
May God bless to us the reading and the hearing of this portion of His holy Word.
Pray with me please. Give me Jesus, Lord. Give me Jesus. You can have all the rest. Just give me Jesus. Amen.
As any good football fan will know, Vince Lombardi was, for a number of years, the head coach of the Green Bay Packers football team. Vince Lombardi was known as a coach who was hard-driving and extremely demanding. And as a result, the Green Bay Packers were perennial champions in the National Football League. One of the things that Vince Lombardi is reported to have said to his players repeatedly was this line. “Winning is everything.” Ironically enough, not long ago, David Maraniss wrote a biography of Vince Lombardi. And in that book, David Maraniss declares that for all these years, Vince Lombardi has been misquoted. He did not say repeatedly to his players, “Winning is everything.” No. What he said repeatedly to his players was this. “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is.”
Vince Lombardi, you see, understood that what is in the heart determines how well a person will perform on the playing field in the game of football, but much more importantly, how that person will perform on the playing field in the game of life. Today, I wish to take Vince Lombardi’s dictum and apply it to the life of great King David. King David was approaching the final chapters of his life. He had achieved so much. He had brought peace and stability to that whole region. He had galvanized the people of Israel into the people of God. He had transformed the city of Jerusalem into a glorious capital city. His vision and impact upon the city was so profound that the city was frequently called the City of David. It is a designation which that city holds even to this day.
Now, many people when they approach the end of a significant life will have a tendency either to turn inward and begin to recall their accomplishments or to turn outward and look for new worlds to conquer. David did neither. David did not look inward. He did not look outward. David, instead, looked upward. David focused upon God. And he focused upon the fact that God had been his guide and protector through all of his days, and God had blessed him in such amazing ways. And it was at that moment that it dawned on King David that while he was living a life of luxury and beauty, the ark of the covenant, which was the visual representation of God’s presence with His people, the ark of the covenant, was being kept in a tent. And David realized that that made it seem that God was being treated as secondarily important.
And so it was that King David decided that he would build a temple which would become the resting place for the ark of the covenant. It became the great dream of his heart. It would be the crowning achievement of his life. It would be the most magnificent building ever built up to that time. And so it was that David took his plans to God in prayer. God’s answer was immediate and decisive. God said no. God said, “You will not build a house for My name because you are a warrior, and you have shed blood.” Well, to be sure, through the years, David’s life was a life marked by violence. He was both a soldier and king. And consequently, he was indirectly, at least, responsible for the deaths of many, many people.
Furthermore, he was directly responsible for the death of the brave young soldier, Uriah. Yes. David had blood on his hands. And so, God said to him, “You will not build the temple. Your hands are bloodstained. The hands which build My temple must be pure and without stain, therefore, your son, Solomon, will be the one to build the temple.” But then, God went on to say something else to King David, which I tell you I find to be quite thrilling. He went on to say to King David, “But David, you did well because it was in your heart to build the temple.” Catch that, please. God’s holiness and justice demanded that God say, “No. You cannot build the temple.” But God’s love and grace then went on to say, “But you did well because it was in your heart to do it.”
In other words, winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is. Here is the money line for this sermon. What is in the heart is what is most important in life. What is in the heart is what is most important in life. Now, I’d like to invite you to look with me a bit more closely at what God said to King David. God said to King David, “You will not build the temple.” I choose to call that the indirect judgement of God. You see, God was reminding King David that what he had done in his yesterdays would limit the possibilities of what he could do in his todays and his tomorrows. This is an incredibly significant truth of scripture which we do not often take with great seriousness.
But the fact is, the Bible says as we sow, so shall we reap. The Word of God declares, “sow the wind and you will reap the whirlwind.” The Bible teaches us that when we violate the law of God, that will impact what we are able to do from that time forward in our lives. Let me be specific. An alcoholic may become a recovering alcoholic, and that’s wonderful. However, the physical damage done to vital organs by years of excess drinking cannot be reversed, and it may shorten that person’s life. A convicted felon may convert to faith in Jesus Christ, and that’s wonderful. However, that person’s past misdeeds will follow that person on into the future.
A person who is a heavy smoker may break the habit, and that’s wonderful. And that will stop any further damage to heart and lungs, but the damage already done will remain. The fact is, what we have done in our past can affect and impact what we are able to do in our future. And so God said to King David, “You will not build the temple. You shed blood. And what you have done in your yesterdays cannot be undone.” That is the indirect judgement of God. Now, please, please, please hear me correctly. I am in no way suggesting that God comes crashing down into our lives filled with wrath and anger, bashing us over the head and crying out, “You can’t do that.”
No. No, no, no. I am simply declaring to you that God has woven into the fabric of the created order certain unchangeable moral laws. When we violate those laws, we do not break the laws, we break ourselves against those laws. Shed innocent blood and your life will be impacted in the future. Violate God’s moral laws and sooner or later, you will pay a price. What we do in our yesterdays can impact what we are able to do in our futures. Drink too much, smoke too much, work too much, cheat too much. You may not be able to do all of the things you wish to do, no matter how noble those things may be. This is what is true. As we sow, so shall we reap.
Now, I want you to hear me clearly again. God forgives the sins of our past. Absolutely, He does. In the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, God forgives our sin. Yes, He does. But the consequences for the sins of our past still may have to be faced. That’s what happens when we run up against the law of God in life. Indirectly, that law judges us. As we sow, so shall we reap. God said to King David, “You will not build My temple.” That is the indirect judgement of God. But thankfully, God didn’t leave it there. No. God went on to say to King David, “But David, you did well because it was in your heart to build it.”
That’s what I chose to call the direct judgement of God. Remember, please. Make room in your brain to tuck this away. God’s holiness and justice always demanded, “No. You cannot build the temple.” But God’s love and grace then demanded, “David, you did well because it was in your heart to do it.” God is a God who looks upon the heart. It is so essential for us as Christians to understand that we follow a God who judges us not on the basis of what He sees on the outside of our lives but what He sees on the inside. He blesses us not because of what we have done for Him in life, but even for the things that we’ve dreamed of doing for Him in life.
Our God is a God who looks upon the heart. In fact, I believe that our God can readily identify with that little peewee league football player who one day came rushing off the field crying out, “Daddy, Daddy. They tackled me, and I fumbled the ball. But when I fell, I was headed toward the goal.”
Ha. Our God is a god who looks upon the heart. And of course, if you stop to think about it, that’s the only way God really can judge us. God cannot fairly render judgement on the basis of what we do or fail to do in life. God has to judge us on the basis of what’s in our hearts. I think I can prove that. Consider this. A deed may be done for good or not so good motive. For example. an individual may give a substantial amount of money to the poor out of genuine love and concern for needy and hurting people in the world. Another individual may give exactly the same amount, but give it simply in order to gain a tax advantage or to secure the accolades of others. The gifts are the same. The deed is identical. What’s different is what’s in the heart. Paul said, “If I give away all that I have but have not love in my heart, I gain nothing.” God judges us on the basis of what is in our hearts.
Or consider this. A deed may be limited by physical ability. I’ve known individuals with serious health and physical challenges who had towering faith in Jesus Christ and a burning desire to serve Him in life. But the fact of the matter is they are not able to do all of the things that a healthy person can do. And so, is God going to judge them on the basis of the limited deeds that they can do? Heavens, no. God is going to judge not on the basis of the health of their bodies, but on the basis of the health of their hearts. God said to King David, “David, you did well because it was in your heart to do it.” That is the direct judgement of God. Our God is a god who looks upon the heart. My friend, Bruce Thieleman now with the Lord, used to tell a wonderful story about the little Scottish town of Pittenweem. Pittenweem is on the Scottish coast of the North Sea, and you are aware that that body of water is a treacherous body of water indeed. And as result, all of the little villages along the coast of Scotland on the North Sea, all of them have lifeboat teams comprised of volunteers from the villages. And when a ship is in trouble out on the stormy sea, those lifeboat teams rush out into the sea in order to rescue those on board. Well, one day, the signal came that there was a ship in distress right off the village of Pittenweem. The volunteers on the lifeboat team jumped in the lifeboat and pushed out into the pounding surf. And as they did, the other villagers gathered on the shore, awaiting their return. After what seemed forever, finally, they saw the lifeboat headed back in toward shore. But the boat couldn’t come completely ashore until the pounding surf died down. And so, these exhausted men in the lifeboat were fighting and struggling to keep their boat from being smashed to pieces on the rocks.
And it was at that point that an older man in the village called out to the men on the lifeboat. “Are there any survivors?” And back came the heartbreaking reply. “No survivors. Not even one.” And with that, this older man turned to the other villagers on the shore and cried out, “Well, then, let’s give them three cheers for the attempt.” There it is. That’s it. Three cheers for the attempt. Those who triumph are those who try. God blesses not only those who are living the life of faith, but also those who are trying to live the life of faith. Winning isn’t everything but the will to win is. God is a god who looks upon the heart. That’s why He said, “David, you did well because it was in your heart to build the temple.”
That is the direct judgement of God. Ah, we don’t hear many sermons these days on the subject of the judgement of God. And I suppose if the judgement of God is only hellfire and brimstone as some preachers seem to think it is, maybe that’s just as well. But I want you to understand something. This sermon is a sermon on the subject of the judgement of God. I believe with all my heart in the indirect judgement of God. As we sow, so shall we reap. And I believe with all my heart in the direct judgement of God captured so perfectly in that single, shining sentence in 2 Chronicles. “David, you did well because it was in your heart to do it.” My beloved people, please claim that truth as your very own. You see, sometimes in life, our hopes turn to ashes. Sometimes in life, our dreams are smashed to pieces right before our eyes. Sometimes in life, our efforts for Jesus Christ run slap up against brick walls. Sometimes in life, we experience the frustration of failure and the sting of setback.
When that happens, my beloved, when that happens, listen with the ears of faith, and you will hear the voice of the Lord saying to you, “You did well because it was in your heart to do it.” And in those words, believe me when I tell you, in those words, we will find strength, courage, and will enough to keep living on. To keep fighting on. To keep struggling on. To keep battling on. To keep marching on. To give heart, soul, mind, and strength to serve the King of all Kings, and the Lord of all Lords, God’s only begotten Son, the Savior Jesus Christ, our Savior, yours and mine. Yes. Our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo gloria.
To God alone be the glory.
Amen and amen.