As epithets go, it’s hard to beat God’s description of David book of Acts: “a man loyal to [God].” A glimpse into David’s life reveals what it takes to be awarded such a designation.
First, a man who is loyal to God understands God’s power. David didn’t challenge the giant Goliath to prove his own toughness; he did it to prove God’s strength. He came upon a scene in which no one else among God’s people seemed to grasp who was backing them.
The Philistine warrior Goliath taunted the Israelites forces and slandered their God. David expected one of the Israelites to step forward and, with the power of God behind him, end the Philistine’s reign of terror. Instead, he found a group of men too intimidated by Goliath’s size and threats to do anything.
Since he was the only one who could see which side actually had overwhelming advantage, young David volunteered to face Goliath. King Saul tried to outfit David with his armor and sword, but David respectfully declined them. Traditional gear had no place in this confrontation. The battle would be found using God’s power.
As he walked boldly onto the battlefield to face the heavily armored and armed Philistine behemoth, David scooped up five rocks, pulled out his trusty sling, and said to Goliath, “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies-you have defied Him. Today, the LORD will hand you over to me” (1 Sam 17:45-46). And with one shot, he felled the giant.
Second, a man who is loyal to God acts according to God’s timing. David had been anointed the future king of Israel when he was a young man. For years he knew he was destined to succeed Saul. Yet he never allowed a personal pursuit of the throne to override God’s plans.
David had to flee for his life from Saul. He spent years on the run, hiding from the king and his men. However, because he was a cunning warrior, he often turned the tables on his pursuers. First Samuel 24 records an occasion in which Saul, while chasing David, stopped to relieve himself. the cave he chose as his restroom just happened to be David’s hiding place.
Seeing Saul in such a vulnerable position, David’s men urged him to sneak up on the murderous king and end his life. David refused, saying, “I swear before the LORD: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed” (1 Sam 24:6). The man had tried to kill David on several occasions, yet David refused to raise his hand against him because God had not condoned it. David eventually became king of Israel, but it happened according to God’s timing, not his.
Third, a man who is loyal to God feels his sin deeply. David was still a flawed human, capable of stunningly bad decisions and precipitous falls from grace.
One evening David spotted a woman a bath on a nearby rooftop. The woman was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of David’s most loyal soldiers, who was away at war. David sent for Bathsheba and started an affair with her. Shortly thereafter, Bathsheba became pregnant.
David immediately sent for Uriah. He reasoned that Uriah would come home and sleep with his wife. When the baby was born some nine months later, then, everyone would assume that Uriah was the father.
But Uriah’s loyalty got in the way of David’s plan. Uriah refused to lie with his wife while his fellow soldiers were still fighting. So David switched to Plan B. He arranged for Uriah to be abandoned during battle and killed by Israel’s enemies. After Uriah’s death, David married Bathsheba to make their baby seem legitimate.
But God knew what he had done and allowed the baby boy to die as punishment for David’s sin. David was crushed.
More acute than the grief he felt over the loss of his son or the guilt over what he’d done to Uriah or the humiliation he’d brought on himself was the devastation he felt over what he’s done to his relationship with God. David poured out his feelings in Psalm 51: “Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You-You alone- I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight” (vs 2-4).
Those are the words of a man loyal to God.
ACTS 13:22 – “After removing [Saul]’ He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man loyal to Me, who will carry out all My will.”