The Menace, Myth, & Mayhem of Autonomy
“You were not created for autonomy, You were created for community!” -- Good reminder about the need to keep people close who know us best, to help us get the input we need. I miss when I have these spells when I am alone here, as just having someone to pray with every day, to read the Word with, and to hear from the Lord together on issues is such a strength.
I like much of Andy Stanley’s materials, but I think he missed a couple important points in this videocast (linked below) when he talks about King David and his legacy. He says around minute 15:30, “What else do you know about King David?” referring to the story of him and Bathsheba, and goes on to say how David permanently undermined his credibility and legacy, that this story is pretty much it for his legacy.
But I think David’s greatest legacy/contribution is the Psalms. They've encouraged millions over millennia and are so much more important than the little kingdom of Israel he founded in the Middle East 3000 years ago, and all the details of his life. The other factor about his legacy that Andy Stanley did not bring out is what an encouragement David has been to all of us who have fallen and made mistakes.
As someone said so well, “The most encouraging thing about David's example was not his perfectionism, but his human failures, sins, and shortcomings, which gave God a chance to get all the glory, and show there hope for me--and you! I always figured if God could forgive even as bad a guy as David, surely He could forgive me! I think King David's been an encouragement to a lot of people.--To know how much mercy God has and how much forgiveness He has, how good He can be if you'll really repent like David did!
"The Lord had to finally really humble him and disgrace him and really debase him down to the bottom before he finally really became humble and sympathetic to others and wrote those marvelous Psalms! He had a great repentance, and therefore God had a great forgiveness for him, because they had a great love for each other in spite of everything!--And from that squeezing and twisting of David's life came forth the sweet honey of the Psalms and the fragrance of his praises to the Lord for His mercy! It was all God and all grace, and none of himself or his own righteousness!--A lesson that has been an encouragement to other great sinners like me and you ever since!”
I agree with Andy Stanley that David paid for the rest of his life for his sins, but it's also so encouraging that David is later called a man after God’s own heart. If God could use someone who stole another man’s wife, killed another man .... You may not have murdered anyone, but sin is sin in God’s eyes and if you deeply hurt someone, there's a lingering sense of guilt, remorse, pain. You may have killed their inspiration, their dreams, etc, and in some way you'll pay for it for the rest of life. But through the Psalms, like Psalm 51, 103 and others, you can find the strength to go on.
I believe David was a bit like the woman mentioned in Luke 7:47: “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
More on David, from Ben Godwin (mountaineagle.com)
Was David really a man after God’s own heart?
February 29, 2020
The Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart” twice. The first time was by Samuel who anointed him as backslidden King Saul’s successor, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14, NKJV). The second time was by the Apostle Paul who recounted Israel’s history, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Ac. 13:22). Does being a person after God’s own heart mean perfection? Certainly not! Nobody is perfect, except Jesus. Consider eight major mistakes on David’s record:
- Fibbing to Ahimelech: David lied to the priest in Nob when he fled from Saul claiming he was on a secret mission for the king—1 Sam. 21:1-9.
- Fleeing to Gath: To escape Saul’s wrath, David fled to Gath, the hometown of Goliath, (carrying the slain giant’s sword, not a good idea). When he was recognized, he faked insanity to avoid capture, torture and death—1 Sam. 21:10-15.
- Fighting for the Philistines: For 16 months, David was a mercenary for Israel’s enemy. Strangely, he wrote no Psalms during this period as the well of inspiration dried up.
- Flubbing the transport of the Ark: The Ark was handled carelessly and carried on a cart, instead of on the priest’s shoulders, resulting in Uzzah’s death—2 Sam. 6:1-10.
- Falling into adultery: His most famous failure was his scandalous affair with Bathsheba.
- Finishing off Uriah: Worse, was the subsequent cover up — the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite — 2 Sam. 11:1-27.
- Failing as a Father: David failed to discipline his son, Amnon, for raping Tamar, his half-sister. This led to Absalom’s rebellion who murdered Amnon in revenge and then tried to steal David’s throne.
- Focusing on numbers instead of God: Late in life, against Joab’s advice, David insisted on counting his army (his 1.3 million troops were a source of pride and false security). This displeased God who sent a plague and slew 70,000 men — 2 Sam. 24:1-25.
Obviously, being a person after God’s own heart doesn’t mean perfection or David would have been disqualified. In fact, with his rap sheet, he should have been dethroned, banished from Israel, executed for adultery and murder, separated from God, and damned eternally. That is what he deserved. Instead, he was forgiven, restored, allowed to stay in power, given an everlasting covenant, included in the lineage of Jesus, and was promised to reign again as a prince with Christ in the millennial kingdom (Ezk. 34:23-25). So, how do we explain this? MERCY and GRACE! Mercy is when God does not give us what we deserve; grace is when God gives us what we do not deserve!
Why was God so merciful when David messed up so royally? First, because he genuinely repented (Ps. 51). Second, David was merciful to Saul when he could have killed him many times but refused to lift his hand against “God’s anointed.” Third, David was merciful to Absalom when he attempted a coup. Fourth, David was kind to a crippled man named Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son) and let him live in the castle as one of his own sons. David sowed mercy, and when he needed it the most, it returned to him like a boomerang.
So, how can we honestly say David was a man after God’s own heart? Because he was hungry for God, he sought after God, he had a passion for spiritual things, and he tried to please God despite his failures. His actions proved he was a God chaser:
- He penned 73 Psalms of worship. He may have also written some of 49 anonymous Psalms; these lyrics express his deep desire for God and his heart-felt worship.
- He positioned the Ark in Jerusalem. By doing so, he made his capitol God’s headquarters on earth. He loved God’s presence so much he wanted to be as close to it as possible.
- He provided a new tabernacle to house the Ark. This replaced Moses’ Tabernacle and revolved around true worship rather than sacrifices and rituals — 2 Sam. 6:16-17.
- He promoted musicians and singers to full-time worshippers. Since he couldn’t worship God 24/7, David delegated others to do it — 1 Chr. 16:1-6, 37.
- He proclaimed his desire to build God a permanent temple. He felt guilty for living in a cedar palace while the Ark was in a tent and told Nathan his dream to build a temple — 2 Sam. 7:1-14.
- He planned and funded the Temple. When God refused for David to build the Temple because he was a man of war, he stockpiled materials for Solomon (a man of peace) to build it.
- His “perfect heart” (KJV) never turned to idolatry. Most of the forty plus kings of Israel and Judah, including his own son, Solomon, fell into idolatry; David never did — 1 Kgs. 11:4.
- He was a pioneer in worship. David was a man before his time (a New Testament man in an Old Testament era). He started worshipping Yahweh as a shepherd boy on his harp while tending sheep. God noticed and promoted him from the pasture to the palace where he specialized in musical worship.
Truly, David was a man after God’s own heart! Notice how God let him eat showbread (reserved only for priests) and wear an ephod (a vest-like priestly garment) when he danced before the Ark. Usually, God kept the kingship and priesthood strictly separated. In fact, King Saul was scolded for offering sacrifices and Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for burning incense (2 Chr. 26:16-21). But David was a type of Christ who is both our King and High Priest, who has called us to reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). David expressed his passion for God, “My soul follows hard after You” (Ps. 63:8). The Message reads, “I hold on to You for dear life!” David was a God chaser, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts ... for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2). He knew the secret of running after God instead of running away from Him. David was far from perfect, but his heart kept pursuing the only One who is.
“David’s reign is the climax of centuries of waiting through other models of leadership; Jesus is the descendant of David, the Messiah of whom the prophets spoke. Thus they proclaim one greater than the ancient hero David.” (Keener, IVP Bible Backgrounds)
It’s easy to idealize the heroes of the OT, and perhaps neglect the character flaws, moral issues, and other cultural issues. Andy Stanley brings out in this video those moral issues with the Bathsheba/Uriah situation. The issues of adultery and murder are not minor issues, especially when such a King had been a sample of obedience and faith and obedience to God’s calling of “a man after God’s heart”. Andy does a service in bringing out these problems and consequences. Having safeguards, listening to others, not minimizing sin need repeating and reminders.
In my opinion, it would have also been helpful to at least acknowledge the obedience and faith, and repentance of David to his audience. God didn’t hold his failure with Bathsheba against David, because David repented. David did leave a legacy, as the OT and NT testify of it.
One may appreciate that even though David was the greatest King Israel ever had, this great hero had his flaws, as wonderful as he was, and so did all the heroes of the OT. The King of Kings had to come, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8).
Finally, as I was reading this post, I received an email with a link to a video on this very topic of David, a man after God’s heart, bringing out leadership lessons. [Moderator: Video links don't show up in Comments so I posted it in the following "Comment Page".]
I really like your commentaries, Jon and Marc. They help fill out the picture for me. Thanks.
But may I add a question? Could mentioning that be a little tricky?--How to say it without inadvertently leaving the door, even if ever-so-slightly, open for one to rationalize and stretch it that the sin may be okay in some circumstances? (To AS's credit, he did a separate series of 5 talks just about David discussing both sides of questions like this.)
Is it similar to times in the past where we may have read a single "sermon" and then acted on something it said without more prayerfully considering the full counsel of the Word ... and without considering possible future repercussions or outcomes. I've done this. There are decisions I've made in the past--and they are in the past and for which I'm still sorry--but when looking back at them now I'd clearly decide differently.
But even there, I think there's a difference. My example is about taking a liberty, whereas AS's talk is exposing a problem. It seems to me that when "handing" someone a new liberty that it's important to state the balance of full counsel, whereas when exposing a problem or a pitfall to be aware of it's okay that the message be left unvarnished.
At this point my feeling is that messages like AS's are best left as is. I don't know that anything he said was "wrong" so maybe hard-hitting helps ensure the point being made is undeniable. The responsibility then is on us to find out (and thank the Lord for) the rest of the story. (Marc, I haven't had a chance to watch Sara Breuel's talk yet.)