Posted in theology

Observable Character: David

By Elizabeth Prata

And Saul commanded his servants, “Find me someone who plays well, and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.” (1 Samuel 16:17-18).


King Saul is distressed. He gets these spells of despondency and near madness due to an evil spirit plaguing him. Music quells these incidences, and in v. 16, Saul is calling for help. Saul’s servant replies that ‘he has seen’ a young man of good character. We’ll come back to ‘he has seen.’

You notice that the servant didn’t just leave it at ‘plays well’. Anyone can hire a good musician. But when you’re feeling down, who do you want nearby to comfort you, even if it is through music with potentially not much personal interaction? You want a good man. So the servant also included David’s character qualities in this verbal resume. He said that it is seen that David is known to be valorous, strong (man of war), and discerning. That’s the Hebrew word for ‘prudent in speech’. What is meant here is “intelligent, discreet, discerning, have understanding”. When you’re King and enter into a spell of weakness, you don’t want a blabbermouth  running your private business all over town and you want someone compassionate.

Finally, the servant ends with a kicker: the Lord is with David.

In the New Testament times one would likely say “He is in the Lord”, or “The Spirit is in him.”

The saints of God are recognized by their fruit. One example is Samuel, “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.” (1 Sam 2:26; cf Luke 2:40).

Luke 6:44 reminds us that a good tree will bear good fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us that the fruit is:

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Matthew 5:14 says we are to be light in the world. Light is not hidden but bright and high so all can see. We believers are to have evidence in our lives that we are one of the Lord’s. That evidence needs to be seen in our words and deeds. (James 2:14). We need to have observable evidence because sanctification means we are daily being conformed to the image of Christ. We must reflect His character in more observable ways as we grow though our life.

I am not talking about personal reputation. I am not speaking of a motivation where we cultivate the approval of man. I am not speaking of that at all.

As James M. Hamilton explained in his book Work and Our Labor for the Lord,

We live obediently and humbly “as a good testimony for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 9:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Timothy 5:14; 6:1; Titus 2:5,9). At many points in his letters Paul instructs Christians to live in a way that reflects concern for how non-Christians perceive Christianity and its adherents. That is to say, Christians are to work in ways that commend the faith to outsiders. Believers are to be winsome and attractive, not repulsive and obnoxious. This concern for how unbelievers perceive the faith is inextricably connected to a desire for others to know, enjoy, and glorify God in Christ. This aspect of doing good work links up with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Christians contribute to the task of making disciples of all nations by doing good work that gives the faith a good reputation.”

It’s the reputation of Christ that is at play here, not ours. If we are observably joyful, kind, faithful, self-controlled, good, patient, peaceful, loving, full of light, it will be obvious that it is Christ’s character in us, by the Spirit.

David’s character was observable and noted. Remember, whether you realize it or not, even if you work from home or work in a cubicle, people are watching you (us). They note your (our) character. The more we walk with Christ, the more our character will be His character.

What are people observing about you? Is Christ in you and evident? When someone wants to choose a person for a project or a team or a club, would they say you (me) are brave, prudent, skillful, with good presence, and the Lord with us? Like David? I hope and pray that people see the Lord in me, and not me in me, or at least less and less of me. Christ’s character is beautiful.


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Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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