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Taming a Hard Heart
Scripture: Exodus 11:10; Mark 8:17-18; Hebrews 3:7-...
Track 3 of 19 in the David: A Man After God's Heart series
Running time: 53 minutes, 01 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

It is hard to imagine what a hard heart is like but it is something closer to many Christians than one might think. There are a lot of people in the Bible who had hard hearts and struggled against God. There were those like Pharaoh who refused to let God's people go. God had to bring disaster to Egypt and its people to soften him up until he finally gave into God's will. There are many more that refused to give way to God who paid a dear price for their stubbornness.

But there were many more individuals in the scriptures with hard hearts who were actually people of God. Several considered themselves religious, Godly people. But according to God, their actions were far from his will. In Jesus time there were the Pharisees who proclaimed to be close to God by working at keeping the law. Yet when confronted by Jesus, He always called them hypocrites and white washed tombs. They had hard hearts and refused to listen or accept the teachings of Jesus.

Describe for me a person who has a hard heart. What goes through their mind, what does the world look like to them as they look out and observe life around them?

Exodus 11:10 So, although Moses and Aaron did these miracles right before Pharaoh's eyes, the Lord hardened his heart so that he wouldn't let the people leave the land.

Hard-heartedness is the result of stubborn unbelief. You might ask what Pharaoh believed in that would cause him to take such a hard stand against God and bring about such suffering to his people. But Pharaoh had his mind made up long before the plagues began. He couldn't believe that someone was greater than he. This stubborn unbelief led to a heart so hard that even a major catastrophe couldn't soften him.

Are there times when you had a hard heart? Have you ever made up your mind about something way before something took place or an idea ever proved to be right or wrong? Why did you take such a hard stand or refused to listen to a new idea? Does your hard heartedness result from disbelief that someone was greater than you? It could have been in the littlest thing. These problems usually are over little things. But what happens when believers in God think this way? How can Christians have or develop hard hearts? Is there such a thing?

Mark 8:17-18 Jesus realized what they were discussing and said, "No, that isn't it at all! Can't you understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 'Your eyes are to see with-why don't you look? Why don't you open your ears and listen?' Don't you remember anything at all?"

The Pharisees had tried to explain away Jesus' previous miracles by claiming they were done by luck, coincidence, or evil power. Here they demanded a sign from heaven-something only God could do. Jesus refused their demand because he knew that even this kind of miracle would not convince them. They had already decided not to believe. Hearts can become so hard that even the most convincing facts and demonstrations will not change them.

Why do people of God do this? These men were not uneducated pagans. These men knew the scriptures front wards and backwards. Yet they refused to believe that what they were seeing actually were signs only God could do. Something else had to be happening. What was causing their hard hearts?

Hebrews 3:7-8 So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert."

Hard-heartedness is the result of failing to obey God's Word. In many places, the Bible warns us not to "harden" our hearts. This means stubbornly setting ourselves against God so that we are no longer able to turn to him for forgiveness. Notice here in this verse that there is a consequence for hard heartedness on the part of Christians. This failing is not a one time event. It is not something we do accidentally. All of us experience these types of failures. The failure described in this passage was outright disobedience, the refusal to go in and occupy the land. This came from a continual resistance to God's Word. They didn't want to go there; they wanted to go back to Egypt.

This is exactly where Saul is when David comes into Saul's life. Saul, because of his rejection by God began to slide away and experienced a life without joy, a life without the Spirit of God, a life that was empty and totally on its own. This type of life is ripe for another spirit to move in.

1 Samuel 16:14-16 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better."

I want to stop here a minute and say something about music. Early in the history of the creation, music and its importance were greatly emphasized. Music is something I believe comes from the soul and affects the soul. In many respects, it is one of the ways our soul communicates with the physical realm. All of us have different talents when it comes to making music, but everyone responds to music in some ways. Music affects our deepest self. So was the case with Saul. Those around him realized this and sought out after someone who through music could soothe the inner conflict in Saul's life.

David had been chosen to be the new king of Israel. So why didn't he just go up and tell Saul to get out and that he was now the man? Why didn't God go do it for David? What was God waiting for?

How is God going to introduce David to Saul without causing Saul to rise up and kill him as a potential rival? How is God going to introduce David to the scene that will eventually lead him to the throne? He is going to use David's God given strength, his willingness to be humble and do as he is told and to use his talents in the arts. David has something that no other person in the Old Testament ever had, the continual presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. In fact, only two persons before Pentecost ever experienced this, David and John the Baptist.

The word used in verse 14 for torment is the Hebrew word "baath" which means to fall upon, to startle, to overwhelm. It was the same kind of misery Job used to curse the day of his birth. God allowed an evil spirit to make life for Saul miserable. This was not depression, a feeling of melancholy, what Saul experienced was something much higher in evil power. The spirit took away Saul's peace of mind; it possessed Saul and stirred up feelings, ideas, imaginations and thoughts of his soul that at times drove him mad.

If you were in charge of finding the right guy to hire for this job, what might be the necessary job qualifications?

1 Samuel 16:18 One of the servants answered, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him."

What hidden talents do you posses that you have not shared with many people? It might be something that goes way back, something that to you seems insignificant but could be something God could call you to use.

One important thing to remember, you should never discount anything in your past. God can pick it up at any time and use it in the most incredible ways. It could be a talent that you quit using a long time ago that now God pulls out of the mothballs of your past. You never know when something that happened years ago will open a door of opportunity into the future. That is exactly what happened to David. One minute he was out in the fields plucking away on his harp and the next minute he is playing for the king.

Up to this point, David never met Saul. What is ironic, David is to be Saul's replacement. How does God bring them together, through music? Notice, both guys are warriors, both guys are brave, both are educated and can lead people. Both are affected by music.

If you were to receive a message or a phone call stating that you were invited to have dinner with the President of the United States and then spend some time with he and his wife in the White House, how would you prepare for that visit? What would you wear? What would you take with you? Would you give him a gift? What would you give him?

1 Samuel 16:19-20 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep." So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

Why is God doing this? Why is he putting David in this situation? Isn't it dangerous for David to be this close to Saul, his eventual rival? Why not keep David out of sight until the time is right to move him in as king?

1 Samuel 16:21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.

Verse 21 is a short verse but it tells us a lot about who David was and what he was like. Saul never met David before. Right in front of him was his successor and Saul never knew it. David certainly didn't mention it nor did he act like it. In fact, David served the very man he was to replace. He never pulled rank on Saul and always respected and protected the position of the King because he was the anointed of God. It made no difference to David that he was to be someday the king; David always respected the king because of who chose Saul to be king. David never made the mistake to dishonor the king of Israel even though Saul was not worth of David's servant hood and loyalty.

What about you? What is your attitude about your boss, people who have authority over you especially those who are undeserving of your respect or anyone's respect? Is it a sin to disrespect someone who is unworthy?

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

But what happens if the person of authority is an evil person? What are we to do then, are we permitted to disrespect that person and not respect his authority?

1 Peter 2:18-21 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

This is exactly what David does. No matter what good or evil Saul did, no matter that David is the anointed king, David trusts that God will make the change when the time is right to do it. Until then, David will do as God says and will serve Saul until God changes things with out complaint or criticism.

Scriptures tell us that Saul loved David greatly. Why did he love David, because he brought relief to Saul and his music caused the evil spirit to leave? Not only did David have the ability to soothe the blackest of hearts, but he also had the ability to fill huge sections of the scriptures we have today. David wrote and sang many songs, many of them were written during this period in his life with Saul as he struggled to serve a man that eventually will try to eliminate him.

What is your attitude about music? Are you someone who enjoys music? What about singing, in your opinion, can you sing? Do you enjoy singing? What role do you think music should play in worship? Does it have a role?

In Genesis 4, we see where Jubal was the father of all those who played the lyre and pipe. But what is important to note is that music and singing existed before man could speak or was even created. Music was already an important aspect of God's existence.

Job 38:4-7 Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?