WHAT IF I TRY AND FAIL - WEEK 5
We’ve discussed Peter and how, even flawed, God still used him for great things. However, does that really prove that you can’t lose your value? Peter spoke before he thought but he wasn’t really a bad person, was he? He didn’t lie, cheat, steal or murder.
So, what about someone who did commit murder and steal and lie? Can he or she still be used by God.
For the answer, let’s look at King David. David is a very special man. The Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) Not even Elijah or Enoch have that distinction and they were loved by God so much they were spared death. Even Paul does not bear that title and he wrote most of the New Testament.
David was a man after God’s own heart but he was also a man who ordered out for a woman like we would order a pizza, got her pregnant, tried to cover it up and, then, killed her husband when the husband wouldn’t follow the plan. David is, also, a man who caused an entire country to suffer because he couldn’t resist counting his army, an action expressly forbidden by God.
So, how could this liar, thief, murderer, rebel possibly be a man after God’s own heart?
To understand, we need to take a fuller look at David’s entire life.
Let’s start with his most well known story - David versus Goliath.
When David was still young, Israel and the Philistines were at war. David was sent to bring food to his brothers and while he was speaking to his brothers, Goliath did what he did every day. He walked out onto the battlefield and challenged the Israelites, made fun of them and laughed because no one would come out to fight him.
David was immediately angered and demanded of his brothers, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Sam. 17:26)
Now, David wasn’t stupid. He had eyes and he could see why the men would be afraid of Goliath. Goliath was a giant, a fully trained warrior. He’s scary.
But, David’s response wasn’t fear, it was: Who is this guy? How dare he defy the living God?
And David didn’t stop at anger and offense. David went to Saul and volunteered to fight Goliath.
David was still a kid at this time, a teenager. He had no armor, no sword, no spear. He just plays the harp really well and watches sheep but, angered at the disrespect Goliah is showing toward God’s people, he’s volunteering to go fight the man that has frightened the entire Israelite army for forty days.
Saul, of course, tells David not to do it. “You are not able to go against him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” (1 Sam. 17:33)
But, David is not deterred. He tells the king about the animals he’s had to kill to protect his father’s sheep. “This uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37)
Notice, David doesn’t ask the king for anything, not even a sword. David is fully confident in God’s protection.
David goes out on the field with his shepherd’s staff, five stones, a sling and his faith in God, which he announces to Goliath and both armies. “You come at me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Host, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day, the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with the sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into my hand.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)
No hesitation, no doubt. David walked out there in certainty, determined to shut this man up, to show that God was supreme.
David continues to show this faith in God later when Saul turns against him. Saul lost God’s favor by being disobedient so Saul was told that none of his sons would rule after him.
Instead, David was anointed and, when Saul realized this, Saul tried to kill David, even taking his army out to hunt for David, more than once.
Now, David knows he is meant to be the next king, has known it since before facing Goliath. In addition, he’s handsome and smart and popular and he has a whole group of men following him...and what does he do when Saul tries to kill him? Does he lead a rebellion and take Saul’s throne? Shouldn’t he? He knows he will be the next king so...shouldn’t he just march out on the field and face off against Saul as confidently he faced Goliath?
But, David doesn’t do that...David runs away from Saul. Men follow him so David has an army but David keeps his men in the wilderness, out of Saul’s way.
But, one night, David and his men were hiding deep in a cave when, shockingly, Saul stops at that exact cave to relieve himself. When David and his men realize it’s Saul, right there, David’s men urge him to seize the chance, this perfect opportunity to fulfill his God ordained destiny. They tell him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand.’” (1 Sam. 24:4)
David refused to listen to them and tells them, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s annointed.” (1 Sam. 24:6)
David knew God had chosen him to be the next king. He, also, knew that God had chosen Saul to be the current king. David chose not to interfere with God’s plan. David trusted in God’s will and, basically said: God put Saul on the throne and God will take Saul off the throne when God chooses. I’m not going to interfere in that.
Big difference from people like Abraham and Sarah and others who thought they should ‘help’ God’s plan along.
So, David chooses to let God do as He will in His own time. But he does call out after Saul leaves the cave, letting Saul know that David and his men could have killed Saul ut chose not to. Saul was ashamed that David had acted so righteously and gave up the chase to kill David...for awhile.
But, later, in 1 Samual 26, Saul goes hunting to kill David again. And, again, David gets a shot at Saul. One night, David and one of his soldiers snuck into the Saul’s camped army. They found Saul, asleep, defenseless...just laying there, one could even call it a God-given opportunity. David’s soldier certainly thought so and urged David to kill Saul, saying, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now, please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear and I will strike him twice.” (1 Sam. 26:8)
But, David, again, protested, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless. As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into the battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Sam. 26:6)
Even young as he was, David understood that God would do things in God’s own time. God put Saul on the throne and God would take Saul off the throne. God didn’t need any help from David.
And don’t we forget that too often? Don’t we think that we will just help God along? And how does that work out for us? David, though, was content to wait on God’s own time. God had promised David the throne and David knew that God would give it to him when God was ready to do so just as God had given Saul the throne and God would leave Saul on the throne until God was ready to remove him. What God had decreed, David accepted.
But, David was not perfect and there came a time when he did not follow God’s decrees. There came the time he saw Bathsheba.
In 2 Samual 11, David sent his army out to do battle but remained at home. With nothing productive to occupy him, David wandered into temptation as so often happens to us when we’re wandering aimlessly. David wanders the roof and sees a beautiful woman on another roof bathing. David asks around and finds out her name and that she is married. But, David sends for her anyway. He didn’t woo her or seduce her. He sent out for her. After all, he’s the king, who is going to tell him no? And who is going to tell her husband who’s out with the army? So, really, no lasting harm, right?
Bathsheba becomes pregnant and she sends a message to the king to let him know.
Now, we have a problem. People might not have told her husband about her visit to the palace normally. Why cause problems? However, with a child running around, there’s going to be some questions that will have to be answered.
So, David makes a plan...He’ll bring back her husband from the war. Her husband will sleep with her and the child can be passed off as her husband’s...Except, Uriah is too noble of a man. He doesn’t understand why he was brought back and his fellow soldiers weren’t and no one can explain it to him. He refuses to enjoy himself and relax while his friends and his fellow soldiers are sleeping on the cold ground, far from their loved ones, worried that each day will be their last.
David’s plan isn’t working so, now, he sends Uriah back with a letter. In the letter, David orders Uriah’s commander to kill him by placing Uriah in the thickest part of the battle. David is not only committing evil acts, he’s drawing in all sorts of people into his plans, his sins are spreading.
But, everything goes to plan. Uriah dies. David marries Bathsheba and they have a beautiful boy and everything turned out right and tight because who is going to bring up the unusual circumstances to the king.
Well...that would be Nathan, God’s prophet. Nathan comes to see David and tells him a story. Nathan talks about a rich man with huge flocks of sheep and a poor man who has nothing but one sheep. The rich man has a visitor but refuses to kill any of his own sheep to feed the guest and, instead, seizes the poor man’s one sheep and prepares it.
David was furious that someone would do this to another and declared, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” (2 Sam. 12:5-6).
And, then, Nathan lets David have it. “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7) Nathan goes on to point out everything God has given David and that David still took Uriah’s wife and Uriah’s life when he had no right to take either.
Now, here is where we get to the important part...David’s reaction.
David is king. David has followed a very sinful path to get here. Most people would fall back on their power, their position. David is king and that means he gets to do what he wants, right? Saul certainly took that attitude. Most people of power in history have taken that attitude.
David could have doubled down on his rebellion. He could have given excuses, he could have pointed out all the great things he had done for the Lord, defeating Goliath, driving out the Philistines, even leading his men to rescue Saul when Saul was his enemy and treating Saul’s one living descendent as an honored member of the royal family. David could have thrown out all these wonderful acts to offset this one time of rebellion, to downplay his actions.
But, David did not do any of these things. David immediately admitted he had sinned, immediately felt remorse and repentance. No justifications, no excuses, just remorse.
David’s remorse, though, didn’t get him out of punishment. David’s punishment was that his child with Bathsheba was going to die.
Most people would have raged at God, calling this unfair, unjust. Many would have turned from God, calling Him cruel. Many people would have tried to bargain with God or deny God. Some would have just given up.
David did none of these. David fasted and prayed ceaselessly for the child. He didn’t protest the punishment. He didn’t rage against God. But, he did plead that the child be spared. For seven days, David fasted and prayed, bent to the ground, refusing to be moved or aided. But, on the seventh day, the child died and everyone was afraid to tell David. He’s been so upset by the illness that he wouldn’t eat or get up...What was he going to do now the child was dead.
They were too busy trying to figure out who would have the misfortune of telling David that no one told David. Instead, David saw their fear and dithering and realised the child was dead.
Once it was confirmed, David didn’t rage or scream. He got up and washed and dressed and went to the house of Lord and worshipped then went home to eat. People didn’t understand. How could he fast and weep for the child and now, be ok?
David’s answer is very telling, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam. 12:22-23)
David accepted the consequences of his sin. He had messed up, badly. He knew it. He knew God had the right to punish him. He knew the sin was his fault and the punishment was his fault and he didn’t try to dodge it, he didn’t try to fight it.
He did plead for the punishment to be lessened but accepted God’s will even to the death of a child.
God valued David even though there were spots in his life where David did the wrong thing, went down the wrong path.
But, to be a man after God’s own heart...David didn’t get that by being perfect. David got that by having faith in God’s power, God’s wisdom. David got it by accepting God’s plan and God’s timing, not trying to ‘help’ Him along. David got it by accepting that his sins would bring punishment, by accepting that punishment...then getting up and continuing with his life.
David was a man after God’s life due to the way that he lived his live overall, not just because of one or two events. David stumbled and fell but those were short incidents, bad ones, but short ones. God didn’t give up on David because David made a mess out of his life for a short time. And David didn’t give up on God or himself just because he had made a major mess out of his life He repented, he dusted himself off, and he continued to trust in God.
He went on to rule for many more years. He gathered the materials Soloman would need to build God’s temple. He wrote hundreds of songs praising God. He accepted his punishment, resolved to do better, picked himself up, and continued. He didn’t get trapped in that moment of failure and punishment.
We can do this as well. We can be patient when God says wait. We can accept the consequences of our actions, without excuse, without justification, without rage. We can say, yes, we were wrong. Yes, there are consequences. We can ask for those consequences to be lessened, but we must accept our punishment for our mistakes...and then...when the punishment is over, we must get up, eat, wash, worship and continue with our life, striving to do better and knowing that God is still there, arms open to us, still loving us.