There are so many differing opinions on David’s character and motivation, it makes me dizzy. It can be difficult to work out which point of view is correct, as each time I read one, it seems absolutely spot on. Then I read something opposing, and that seems right too… Have you ever had this problem when trying to understand the Bible?
What matters the most is what we take away from David’s story. Below are views which I find encouraging, as they make me pause and consider how I react to sin, and how God reacts to me when I mess up. May they encourage you too.
Charles Swindoll: A Man of Passion and Destiny, Great Lives Series, Book 1:
There were three major failures in David’s life: (heart-breaking disappointments)
1. he became so involved in public pursuits that he lost control of his family – Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah
2. he indulged himself in extravagant extremes of passion – BathSheba
3. he became a victim of self-sufficiency and pride – census
“No pursuit is more important than the cultivation of a godly family.”
“No character trait is more needed than genuine integrity.”
“When God measured the tree of David’s life… He didn’t condemn it to be cut down for kindling. In His great love, mercy and grace, He honoured the many efforts of this man on behalf of God’s people and the Name of Jehovah, as well as the integrity of the heart.”
Charles Spurgeon, A Treasury of David:
Psalm 59: “Strange that painful events in David’s life should end in enriching the repertoire of the national minstrelsy… Had he never been cruelly hunted by Saul, Isra’el and the church of God in after ages would have missed this song. The music of the sanctuary is in no small degree indebted to the trials of the saints.”
Psalm 43, when David escaped Abimelech feigning madness, [1 Sam 21:1-15] “Although the gratitude of the Psalmist prompted him thankfully to record the goodness of the Lord in vouchsafing an undeserved deliverance, yet he weaves none of the incidents of the escape into the narrative, but dwells only on the grand fact of his being heard in the hour of peril… We may learn from his example not to parade our sins before others… David played the fool with singular dexterity, but was not so real a fool as to sing of his own exploits of folly…” This Psalm was “intended to commemorate that event… It is well to mark our mercies with well carved memorials.”
Psalm 25: “Here we see “the very heart of “the man after God’s own heart.” It’s evidently a composition of David’s later days, for he mentions the sins of his youth… It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.”
From Understanding the Old Testament by Dr Paul House:
“David’s failings do not negate Gods faithfulness. And the king praises the Lord’s goodness in chapter 22:1 through 23:7. This is a full and wonderful confession of David of all that God has done for him. Whatever his other flaws, and there are many, David rarely forgets how he rose from shepherd boy to king. He is not guilty of ingratitude, he always gives God the praise for the good things he has.”
“God will indeed not clear the guilty. But never forget God’s main impulse is to be patient and kind and forgiving and loving. It is not His first impulse to judge but He is willing to judge and the guilty will not get away with their sins.”
“God commands Isra’el to make offerings such as the sin offering, because: “He does not expect the people to be sinless, to be flawless moral beings. He knows their weakness. He knows their sinfulness. And He makes a system so that their sin might not stand between them and God.”
Understanding the Old Testament by Dr Paul House is available free from: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/understanding-old-testament/paul-house
From The Bible Illustrator
“What were the means which God took to awaken David to a sense of his wickedness and danger? Did He raise up enemies round about him to lay waste his country and destroy his people? Or did He rain down fire and brimstone from heaven, as He once did upon the guilty cities of the plain, in order that He might sweep this wretched monarch from off the earth? Or did He send terrors to take hold of him, and the messengers of death to arrest him? No; He sent to him one of his own humble and faithful ministers, in order that he might reason the matter over with him, call his sin to remembrance, and convince him of his guilt.”
“What effect God’s message produced on David. Did he fly into a rage with the man of God for thus faithfully discharging his duty? Did he exclaim, with an outburst of angry passion, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” Or did he call to the governor of the city, and say unto him, “Take this fellow away, and put him in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction?” Or did he, like his father Adam, try to shift the blame from himself, and lay it upon the woman? David was so horrified at the picture which Nathan had drawn of his own conduct, and so convinced of its truth, that he exclaimed without a moment’s hesitation, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
What lessons we ourselves may gather up from the contemplation of this painful subject.
1. In the first place, then, we may learn that there is no sin beyond the reach of God’s mercy.
2. And, lastly, let no notorious sinner be emboldened, from David’s unhappy fall, to presume on God’s mercy. Let such a one remember that David’s sin was committed but once: he was no habitual transgressor. (E. Harper, B. A.)”
Expositors Bible Commentary:
Bathsheba: “When everything prospers to a man’s hand, it is a short step to the conclusion that he can do nothing wrong. Then there was the absence of that very powerful stimulus, the pressure of distress around him, which had driven him formerly so close to God. His enemies had been defeated in every quarter, with the single exception of the Ammonites, a foe that could give him no anxiety; and he ceased to have a vivid sense of his reliance on God as his Shield.”
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