When I was a child, my hero was Superman. Like him, I wanted to be faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and bend steel in my bare hands. Using a bath towel for my cape, I flew around the house, performing imaginary feats of strength and courage.
As I grew up, however, I discovered that Superman was not the best kind of hero. I found it impossible to be like him, no matter how hard I tried. Bullets simply wouldn't bounce off me and neither would harsh words, fears, disappointments, illnesses or a hundred other weaknesses that are common to frail, fallen humanity.
Bullets didn't bounce off David either. As I read about his life, I am astonished at how open and vulnerable he was. He records his weaknesses and struggles for all the world to read: "I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes." "I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" (Ps 6:6-7; 51:3-4).
Yet in spite of all his weaknesses, fears, doubts and sins, David was also a man of faith. His life illustrates a tenacious trust in God and an intense desire to know him: "The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD . . . and to seek him in his temple" (Ps 27:1, 4). Because of these qualities, God was able to use David mightily, molding and shaping him into a man after his own heart.
I believe we need this kind of three-dimensional role model today—someone who allows us to be fully human, yet who inspires us to look beyond our weaknesses and frailties to the Living God. You will meet David in these quiet times in 1 Samuel.
David's life extended from around 1040 to 970 B.C. Second Samuel 5 records that "David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years" (vv. 4-5). The biblical writers view David as the greatest of Israel's kings and the one through whom the ultimate king, the Messiah, eventually came (see Mt 1:1; Lk 3:31).
It is my prayer that as you study 1 Samuel, you too will develop a passionate heart for God.