Wednesday, June 10, 2015


    Of all the characters in the Bible besides Jesus, I think David is my favorite to study. He is a man of opposites, one moment the forgiving, running outlaw, the next the vengeful king marching to destroy his enemies. One moment writing stirring songs about God, the next committing a heinous act of sin. One moment a king of a glorious empire, the next a stranger on the run. One moment an unknown shepherd, the next a feared warrior.

    Honestly, what other character in the Bible is comparable to this guy? When you examine David as a warrior, he is unsurpassed in Scripture. Seriously, the man killed two hundred men in order to win the woman he loved. He killed a giant and war hero while still a teenager. He was reported to have killed tens of thousands of men in the songs sung by the women of Israel. He was not your typical gentle, meek man we may picture when we hear "man after God's own heart".

    There are several things I would like to point out from David's life that make him such an incredible study. If ever a man personified the grace of God to a sinful man, David demonstrates it. David, a man God claimed followed after His own heart (Acts 13:22), committed some of the greatest sins recorded in the entirety of the Bible. Adultery, the murder of one of his most loyal followers, pride that entailed the slaughter of 70,000 Israelites, besides the extreme bloody wars that covered Israel during his entire reign.

    Yet still, through all this blood and sin, we see a heart desiring to follow after God, perhaps more than any other character of the Bible. Nowhere else do we see the desire for God personified as in the Psalms, where David pants after God, wakes up early to find Him, purposes to dwell in His presence forever, and relies on Him for strength. David may indeed be the most extreme character of the Bible both ways, both toward evil and toward good.

    You get to hear me say it again. The story of David is a story of God's grace and mercy to undeserving man. If ever a man deserved to die for his sin, it would have been David. To order his own soldier's murder so that he could steal the man's wife is about as low as you can get. To betray a loyal friend to take advantage of his widow is nearly as low a sin as shown anywhere else in Scripture.

    Yet through it all, we see David cling to God, pouring out his heart with grief over his sin. Again, David did nothing half way. When in sin, David committed heinous sins. When in repentance, David went all the way with repentance, even writing it into a song to be sung by the entire nation! Not a common action of a dictator after a huge mistake!

    So let's take a look at Ps. 51, David's famous psalm of repentance. Why is David still considered a man after God's own heart despite the hundreds of men's blood on his hands, even innocent blood? I think the entirety of Ps. 51 will show you!

    First off, the attitude David writes of his repentance is incredible when compared to the typical behavior of rulers is amazing. David writes with obvious brokenness, begging God for mercy and accepting full responsibility for his sins.

    I think sometimes we fail to recognize the vastness of God's grace over our sin because we miss the vastness of our sin. We are never truly struck with the greatness of our sin. There is no lessening of the sin by David. You can see by His very words, particularly his opening words, "Be gracious to me. O God, according to Thy lovingkindness, according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgression." 

    David learned an important lesson for his repentance. Forgiveness didn't come from rationalization or excuses, but from brutally honest submission. You can see David throwing himself on the mercy of God, without excuse or blame-shifting, but instead relying on God's radical forgiveness.

    David was not considered a man after God's own heart because David was such a great guy. David is described as a bloody man, a hard man. We've already seen him as a sinner, a great sinner. Now we see him repenting, with a broken heart. It reflects through this entire psalm, as he begs for mercy from God and entreats God for a clean heart, a new start, and fresh desires (v. 7-10) and begs for God not to disregard him or forget him, but to instead restore his desires for God (v. 11-13).

    But while David strikes me as being supremely self-confident, it is incredible to see his reliance on God reflected time after time, through nearly every story of David. He constantly inquired of God, asking for direction, begging for guidance and protection, both in battle and at home. This raw dependence on God shows up plainly in Ps. 23.

    Sometimes we forget that this psalm, this beautiful song of protection and care of sheep (with us as the sheep), was written by one of the bloodiest warriors of the ancient world. Literally, a man who killed lions, bears, and giants as a teenager, and men by the thousands in his twenties, and by the hundreds simply to marry the girl he wanted, writes this psalm of gentle care and protection by God.

    Guys, if David admitted that he was weak enough to need God to carry, provide, and protect him, I think we probably should to. We should remember, no matter our strength, skill, or maturity, every good gift comes from above. Everything good we can do comes from God. And we should trust Him and recognize our dependence on Him!

    That opens us up to our very last thing. 2 Sam. 22 is toward the end of David's reign, after much of his family has turned on him, the final years being marked by rebellion and murder among David's own family and generals. Yet, still, David, this mighty man, still says that God is his rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn, salvation, stronghold, refuge, and savior (v. 2-3). What reckless reliance on God, for everything! Despite David's rugged strength and power that made him one of the most feared men of the time period, we still see this recognition of his shortcomings and of his need and dependence on God, for everything.

    So, David wasn't really that strong, right? I mean, he was just relying on God to protect him. That's what the weak do, right? Well, what does David say in v. 35? "He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze."

    Now I've shot a small compound bow, which are tremendously easier to shoot that a simple long bow. I want any of you who have ever shot a longbow to stop and think for a moment about the strength required to shoot a bow made of bronze! A metal bow.

    Is this reliance on God for the weak? Yes. But what does He do for the weak? He makes them strong, strong in Him! He empowers them to do great things for Him, not through their vast strength, but through His! When David lists the things he's done to his enemies (v. 38-39), how does he tell us he did it? "For Thou hast girded me with strength for battle; Thou hast subdued under me those who rose up against me."

    David's strength, his victories, were not his own. He clearly says that his strength came from God. So take just a minute and think about that. David, the mighty warrior, killer of his ten thousands, called God "my deliverer". Can He be any less to us? Are we so much stronger than David that we no longer have any need of this God? Are we fine to face life on our own, with our own strength? Are we any more resolute to face temptation than David?

    As we go through life, we must remember that strength comes from the Lord. Whether you are strong or weak, we are dependent on God for our strength. We cannot face life and stay strong through it without Him.


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