This morning we are going to conclude our series – Lessons from the Kings. Over the past couple of months we’ve looked at several different kings of Isreal. Some were very good – some were very bad. Some were famous – some were pretty obscure. But all of them had an important lesson to teach us. And I believe that’s going to be true for our last kings today.
Today we are going to look at two kings. King David & King Amaziah. Now I know you’ve heard of King David, but King Amaziah might be a little more obscure to you. Now he certainly isn’t one of the most famous kings. He’s not known for his goodness or for his badness or for his badness for that matter. But he is a noteable character. And I’ve chosen him today because I want to contrast his life with King David’s.
Let’s start today by looking at King David. And there are a lot of stories about King David that we could look at. We could read about his famous fight with Goliath. We could read about the many times King Saul tried to kill David. We could read about his deep friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan. We could read about the time when he pretended to be crazy so the Philistines wouldn’t kill him. We could read about his sin with Bathsheba and how he tried to cover it up by killing her husband. The Bible is full of very interesting, [and not always flattering] stories about King David.
But actually, we’re not really going to look at any one particular story today. In fact, our key passage isn’t in the Old Testament. Its not in Samuel or Kings or Chronicles – it’s actually in the book of Acts.
Now the book of Acts seems an odd place to read about an Old Testament King. But bear with me. If you have your Bibles or if you have a Bible app on your phone, you can turn with me to Acts chapter 13 – verse 22. This is actually in the middle of one of Paul’s sermons…. And this is what he says in verse 22.
But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22
And the phrase that I want to focus in on today is that little phrase that God uses to describe David. “A man after my own heart.”
What does it mean to be a man after God’s own heart? What unique qualities did David have to be described that way? You see, of all the characters in the Bible – only David is described like that.
Enoch was described as a man who walked with God – that’s pretty good.
Abraham was described as being a friend of God – that’s pretty good too.
Noah was described as having found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Moses was described as having talked to God face to face, as one talks to a friend.
All of these descriptions tell us that these men had a great relationship with God – but only David was described as a man after God’s own heart. What was it about King David that God could call him a man after His own heart?
Hold that thought now.
Flip over in your Bibles to 2 Chronicles chapter 25 – starting at verse 1. This is where we read about King Amaziah.
“Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddin from Jerusalem. 2 Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.” 2 Chronicles 25:1-2
Let’s stop here. Isn’t that an interesting commentary? Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight – but not whole-heartedly. Usually, when the Bible describes one of Israel’s kings – it either says “He did was was pleasing in the sight of God” or “He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of God.” It’s kind of a black and white, ‘either/or’ kind of thing. But Amaziah seemed to be somewhere in the middle. He did was was pleasing in the sight of God – but not whole-heartedly.
So what exactly does that mean? What did Amaziah do that put him in the ‘not whole-heartedly” category? Well, I’m not sure that it comes down to what he did or didn’t do – I think it really comes down to a matter of the heart.
John Wesley wrote in a commentary regarding this verse about Amaziah: “He was not an enemy to religion, but a cool and indifferent friend.” In other words, he didn’t hate God – but He didn’t really love God either.
Let me see if I can show you what I mean. Go down to verse 5.
Then Amaziah organized the army, assigning generals and captains for all Judah and Benjamin. He took a census and found that he had an army of 300,000 select troops, twenty years old and older, all trained in the use of spear and shield. 6 He also paid about 7,500 pounds of silver to hire 100,000 experienced fighting men from Israel.
7 But a man of God came to him and said, “Your Majesty, do not hire troops from Israel, for the Lord is not with Israel. He will not help those people of Ephraim! 8 If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated by the enemy no matter how well you fight. God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help you or to trip you up.”
9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”
The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!” 10 So Amaziah discharged the hired troops and sent them back to Ephraim. This made them very angry with Judah, and they returned home in a great rage.
2 Chronicles 25:5-10
That’s kind of an interesting story, isn’t it? But can you see Amaziah’s lack of enthusiasm for obeying God? When the man of God told him that God would not help him if those Israelites he hired fought with him, look how he responded: “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?” He was more concerned about his money than about pleasing his God. Sure he obeyed eventually, but I think reluctantly.
And this is just one incident of Amaziah’s life. If you read through the rest of this chapter, you would see that Amaziah really didn’t have a heart for God. He obeyed him – but only when it seemed to be in his best interest. He really didn’t love God – or have a desire to please Him. It just seemed to Amaziah that He didn’t want God as an enemy – so he did what was necessary to keep God on his good side so to speak.
And you know, that same thing happens today. There are people in churches all over North America who do what is pleasing in God’s sight – but not-whole heartedly. They might obey God out of duty or because they were raised in the church and its the acceptable thing to do – but they don’t have a deep love for God. Love for God is not their chief motivation.
You know there are all kinds of reasons why people might want to do what is pleasing in God’s sight – but not whole-heartedly.
They might do what is right so they don’t feel guilty. Nobody wants to feel guilty.
They might do what is right so they look good to others.
They might do what is right to avoid punishment.
They might do what is right because doing right feels good.
They might do what is right because they’ve discovered that life works better that way.
There are all kinds of different motivations for why people do what is pleasing in God’s sight, yet not whole-heartedly.
And you know, I have to admit, as I was writing this sermon, I had to examine my own heart and my own motivations. Why do I try to do what is pleasing in God’s sight? Is it because I’m the pastor? I’m expected to do what is right. Do I do right simply to earn the respect of others? Do I do right just to prove to myself that I’m a good person?
Do I do what is pleasing in God’s sight, but not whole-heartedly?
The Bible tells us in Mark 12 – verse 29:
“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ Mark 12:29-30
God doesn’t just want to behave – to follow the rules – to do what’s right. He wants us to love Him. Love is to be our motivation for doing what is pleasing in God sight. A whole hearted, whole-soul, whole-mind, whole-strength kind of love. None of this half-hearted business.
You know, I think that’s why King David was known as a man after God’s own heart. Because He truly loved God. He didn’t obey God simply it was the right thing to do – or because he wanted people to be impressed with how righteous he was. He obeyed God because He loved God. He was a man after God’s own heart.
Just look at some of the stuff David wrote about in the Psalms. Take Psalm 16 for example.
In verse 2.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.”
In verse 5.
“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.”
In verse 11.
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
This is a man who loved God with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and all his strength. His motivation for everything he did came from his love for God, so He did what was pleasing in the sight of God whole-heartedly!
But not Amaziah. He did was was pleasing in the sight of God – but not whole-heartedly.
Where do you and I fit into this mix? What’s our motivation for doing what is pleasing in the sight of God?
Why did you come to church this morning? Why were you singing those worship songs? Why did you put money in the offering plate?
To look good? To be a “good Christian”? Cuz that’s what you do every Sunday?
Or because you love God?
I have to admit, that many times, I’ve come to church, I’ve sung the songs, I’ve put the money in the offering plate for the wrong reasons. I’ve done those things out of habit much more than I’ve done them as an expression of love for my Savior. Perhaps you can relate?
Perhaps you feel more like Amaziah than you do like King David? Perhaps you do what is pleasing in God’s sight – but not whole-heartedly…
But if that’s the case, take heart. If, this morning, you don’t have the kind of whole hearted, whole-soul, whole-mind, whole-strength kind of love for God that you want to have, take heart – because God can give that to you. I dare say, He wants to give that to you. He wants to give you a new heart – a new and deeper love for Him.
We don’t have it in ourselves to love God like that. But if we ask God to give us a greater love for Him – God will gives us that kind of love. In fact, that’s a promise.
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15
God has promised to give us anything we ask for that pleases Him – and I know that God would be very pleased to give you a new heart, give you a love for God like you’ve never had before.
So my question for you this morning is this: Are you, like Amaziah, content to do what is pleasing in God’s sight – but not whole-heartedly? Or do you want to be, like King David, a man or woman after God’s own heart?
If that’s your desire, why don’t you ask God right now for a brand new heart – a brand new love for Him. Because if you ask, God will give that to you. In fact, to encourage you a little more – Let me show you a couple of cool verses. This is God’s promise in Ezekiel 26:26.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26
What a fantastic promise. You can take that one to the bank. God’s an expert at doing heart transplants. Let me show you another cool verse that I ran across last week.
“As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day.” 1 Samuel 10:9
Just like that – as Saul turned to started to leave – God gave him a new heart. In an instant! Isn’t that awesome? God can do that for you too.
I’d like to close with one more Scripture, but this one’s in the form of a song. It’s taken from Psalm 51 – a psalm of David. I’ll ask Arlen to come up and lead in this song, and as we sing, I hope that you’ll make this your prayer.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me
Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me
Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord
And take not Thy holy spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation
And renew a right spirit within me