I love David.
It’s different, but similar to, the way I feel for Moses. I’ll never forget the first time I read of his death in elementary school. This awkward little kid reading through a gifted NKJV, solo, blazing through tabernacle specifications and slowing down for scenes of deliverance. When I read of God taking Moses home I sat there and cried. I just wasn’t ready for him to go.
Moses teaches me of humility, miracles, frustration, faithfulness in frustration, perseverance in it, prayer in it. Doing life on behalf of others. Not giving up on them. Going to the Father for them.
But David! David is this man. Handsome, God says. But not the greatest of these. He is confident in his God. He’s not just confident that He’s got a god, but that he’s got in his corner the one true God. He is brave and triumphant. A mighty warrior, a leader of men.
He’s also a man of war, not of peace. He suffers for the sin of others and for his own sins. Before, and after, times of triumph, he goes through times of fleeing, hiding, betrayal. He is an adulterer and a murderer. He doesn’t always make the right decisions in raising his kids. In fact, he makes a few calls in regards to them that are so bad that murder between his children occurs. He loves his God. And he fails his God. Grandly.
And do you know what God calls this man? Can you imagine it? He calls David a man after God’s own heart. When God refers to David after his death, He refers to him as an upright man who obeyed God. But how? How on earth when he fell so hard? That’s a question I need an answer to because although I haven’t murdered, I know I’ve failed my God in a million other ways. So I love David, because I’m him in all of his humanity, and his life gives me hope. His relationship with God gives me hope. God’s view of him gives me hope.
And there’s one other big/little thing. David is a surrenderer. (not a word, sure.) I’ll get to this later.
My words usually multiply, quite unfortunately, before I get to the point, but even for me I think the explanation is simple. David was not a man after God’s own heart because he was perfect. David was a man after God’s own heart because he kept coming back to Him. He kept turning from his sins, even when they were so big that many give up hope and just lie in the muck. He was after God’s heart because he realized his insufficiency and put his hope in the Almighty. This man tried and tried, even after failure. He realized that he could do so only because His God was his strength. He chased after God’s heart, relentlessly.
I picture this man: strong in the sight of people, but on his knees in a posture of need, release, and even weakness in the presence of the Lord. He seems so valiant in the historical account, but also so submissive and ready to admit his failings. He doesn’t offer a bunch of excuses. He seems consistently to just put his hands up. Then I want to quote Paul, “O wretched man that I am!” These men are so relatable. They love God so much, and they struggle mightily to give Him the worship they know He deserves. Me, too. Me, too!
But this “failure” is a man after God’s own heart. He had promises made to him that span the existence of the world and is bragged on throughout Scripture. Jesus came from the line of David. (And from other misfits. Tamar. Ruth. Rahab. Judah. [Judah’s story is fantastic, by the way.]). David is awesome because he loved and is loved by an awesome God, because God hears the humble and forgives mercifully.
Though his sins were scarlet, God made them white as snow. God saw David in a way that we even can’t. Can you believe that? We judge David more harshly than the Creator of the universe. God forgives fully. I’m so, so thankful for that.
I’m going to switch gears to David’s hopes and dreams. One particular one. There’s this song I was listening to today and its message reminded me of David in a really new way. The song alluded to David’s son’s words – of focus on things in this life being akin to chasing after the wind. A line goes like this, “Giving up all my hopes, giving up all my dreams, so I can better follow my King.”1
David did that on more than one occasion. (Look up David and Bathsheba’s first child).
One that hit me in the midst of that song was that he wanted to build the Temple. We have no reason to believe that he wanted to do this out of selfish ambition. In fact, the mention of his idea to build God a temple went like this:
“Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” II Samuel 7:1-2
So he was disturbed at this inequity. (The ark of God used to indicate God’s presence to the people. It was in the tabernacle, literally a tent, back then).
Anyway, God told him no. It would be his son, Solomon, who would build the beautiful temple. His reason was that David had been a man of war. Let that sink in a little; don’t breeze through it too quickly. David loved God and a thought occurred to him that he could really do something for God. His intentions were good. This was significant enough for it to be put into Scripture and read thousands of years later. This desire was no small thing. It was absolutely a dream, an ambition of a king for his God. And his God said, “No.”
David’s reply was, no kidding, one of thanks. God promised, in the rejection of David’s idea, that he would establish David’s royal dynasty forever (Jesus is the culmination). No, David. You can’t build God’s house. Your son will. But your line will last forever. In your line there will be real, lasting deliverance.
Read David’s whole reply of thanks. It’s fantastic. II Samuel 7:18-29. Copied through verse 22 for you below.2
I’m just trying to tell you two things: trust in God like David. Your failings won’t make you fail, because your hope will be in a God who forgives, redeems, and upholds. Second, give it all to Him, because His dreams for you are bigger than your dreams for yourself.
God is just wonderful, folks. There is no one like Him.
1Chasing the Wind – Anthem >> https://anthem.bandcamp.com/album/anthem
2Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of Your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! And what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord God! Because of Your promise, and according to Your own heart, You have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.“
Bonus!!: For the sake of Your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Psalm 25:11
A psalm written by the same David.