My time in Bible College was tumultuous at best. The emphasis was on outward conformity to rigorous (and silly) rules. Discipleship was a matter of conformity. Fortunately, I started reading books by Watchman Nee, reading sermons by Charles Finney and RA Torrey. I learned from these men that being a disciple is much more than knowledge and outward conformity. I learned about the Holy Spirit. I learned about grace! Christ wanted to live in and through my life. This was the basis of Galatians 2:20. His life in me is True Discipleship. Outward conformity is false discipleship, dangerous, prideful and destructive.
Now that I am a pastor, how do I take this conviction and use it to make disciples in my church? Strangely, God has led me to explore the life of David. When I looked at the ‘last words of David’, some concepts just popped out at me, and God showed me a foundation for discipleship in the church.
DISCIPLESHIP from the LAST WORDS of DAVID
2 Samuel 23:5 (NKJV) “Although my house is not so with God, Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, Ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire(hepes); Will He not make it increase(semah)?
It is the end of his life, and David is praising God for the Covenant He has made with him, (2 Sam 7). He is praising God for his faithfulness, even though neither he nor his family had been like the tender grass springing up from the ground and flourishing by the united influences of the sun and rain.
Because of God’s covenant with him, his house would be ordered and secured, his desires would be met, and God would cause his house to spring up and grow!
He acknowledges his failures, (my house is not so) and prophetically looks forward to God’s Covenant of Salvation. (Indeed, the writer of Hebrews calls David a prophet ahead of Samuel in Hebrews 11:32). It is though David, in his last recorded message, is saying:
“My house is not like that; I am a very faulty man; but God has the One Who satisfies Him on my behalf”.
There is no doubt about it that in his last words David was lifting up his eyes from his own failure, his own coming short, his own weakness, yes, his own grievous sins, and at the end of his life he is saying with Job, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). As David wrote in Psalms 138:8 ‘I see the One Who will complete my life and “will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psa. 138:8), and make good on my behalf where I have failed.’
These are the words of a true Disciple. In his words are revealed the secrets of a lifelong journey of discipleship. Discipleship grows from total dependence upon the Promises of God. Discipleship changes our Heart, our House and our Hope!
The three areas of David’s Life in Which David Grew to Be a Man of God are seen in his last words:
1. Heart (For all my desire)
- Psalms 57:7 (ESV) My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
- 1 Kings 3:6 (ESV) And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you
- Psalms 119:2 (KJV) Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
2. House (A Covenant with me and my House)
- Ps 26:8 Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.
- Ps 101:2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
- Ps 112:3 Prosperity and welfare are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
- Ps 127:1 Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
- Ps 128:3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of your house; your children shall be like olive plants round about your table.
3. Hope (He will make it Grow)
- Psalms 71:5 (ESV) For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
- Psalms 119:114 (ESV) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
- Psalms 119:116 (ESV) Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
- Psalms 130:5 (ESV) I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
Discipleship MUST FOCUS on three areas of your life:
1. Your Desire. (For this is all my salvation and all my desire)
Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Desire (hepes)- A masculine noun meaning delight, pleasure, desire, matter. The root idea is to incline toward something; it means “to experience emotional delight.” This delight may be felt by men or by God. Men are said to experience it in respect to women. Shechem, son of Hamor, had “delight” in Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Genesis 34:19). The contestants in King Ahasuerus’s beauty contest did not return to him after the first viewing unless he had “delight” in them (Esther 2:14)).
2. Your Dependants. (Responsible for your House)
Discipleship is never isolated. It is not for the benefit of one person. Discipleship builds your house. Discipleship benefits those who either depend upon you, or are influenced by you.
- Hebrews 3:4-6 (ESV) 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
- Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
- Acts 18:8 (ESV) Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
3. Your Development. (Will He not make it grow?)
Discipleship takes place over a lifetime. It is to develop you into the man or woman God wants you to be. It is an up and down thing. It is a series of growth failures and successes, but the end result is that you develop the character of Jesus Christ! Christ is the Hope of your daily Life! He is the Reason you Grow!
- This word is one of the names of Christ – He is the Branch (Zech 3:8)
- Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) …we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…
- Psalms 92:12 (ESV) The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Grow (semah – A verb meaning to grow, to spring forth, to sprout. It refers to a plant as it breaks forth out of the ground) This word is one of the Titles for the coming Messiah: Zechariah 3:8 (ESV) Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch (semah)
Is This God’s Plan for Discipleship?
I believe this folds perfectly into what God desires for His people. Discipleship is about becoming one who knows and understands our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 9:24 reveals what God delights in. If we are to know and understand God, then our discipleship ‘program’ should allow us to know and understand what God delights in, and make those our delights!
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV) 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Recently we wrote about Biblical Babylon, and how it represents much more than a city, or a region. It represents man robbing God of His glory. It represents man trying to minimize God’s impact in his life by seeking after Splendor, Status and Success.
- Instead of focusing on a heart that is set upon God, we focus on things that are beautiful, exciting, fun. Our heart desires all the beauty of this world.
- Instead of focusing on our dependants, our House, and how our life can benefit them, we focus on our self, on our own status, what makes us look good to the world.
- Instead of focusing on developing a life dependent upon our God and Savior Jesus Christ, we focus on success, on things that make us look successful.
- Wise Man –> Boasts in Wisdom -> He is focusing on man’s Splendor, After all God used wisdom to create the world. (God employed wisdom as His master craftsman to create all things (Psalms 104:24 (ESV) O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.)
- Mighty Man –> Boasts in Might –> Might is another word for Status. Men of ‘might’ are men of status.
- Rich Man –> Boasts in Riches –> Riches are synonymous with Success in today’s society.
Here God takes direct aim at the spirit of Babylon and says it has no place among His people. God follows the negative with positives that we should pay close attention to. God says: if you are going to boast, boast in this, that you understand and know me, that you know what I delight in! David was a man after God’s own heart. He made it the priority of his life to know and understand God. Isn’t that what a disciple does? A disciple gets to know and understand Jesus Christ! That knowledge and understanding comes from a personal relationship. David certainly projects a man who had a close, personal relationship with God. God further states there are three things He delights in. He delights in unfailing love (hesed), justice (mishpat), and righteousness (tsedaqah). So if David’s intent was to make the delights of God his own (a man after God’s heart), shouldn’t that be reflected in David’s life, and what he aspired to? Should we not find evidence of God’s delights in David’s life? Yes we should and yes we do!
An amazing insight was granted me as I looked at David’s last words. As I saw what his life had culminated in, I saw what had been driving him all his life. The God brought Jeremiah 9:23 & 24 to my mind. There was a connection, and I had to seek it. Then my eyes were opened. David’s last words were also an expression of Hesed, Mishpat and Tsedaqah! David had built his life around what God delighted in!
Discipleship should lead us to delight in what God Delights in, to knowing and understanding God!
Discipleship should lead us to Jesus Christ, and to the hope of gaining Him!
 Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, .
 R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “712: חָפֵץ,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 310.
 Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book,
 Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 337.