GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
In the history of the kings that followed King David, those kings are often compared to him.
Sometimes it is by contrast: “. . . [Abijam] was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.”
(1 Kings 15:3)
At other times it is favorable: “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did his father David.” (1 Kings 15:11)
There are also mixed reviews: “[Amaziah] did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like his father
David. . . .” (2 Kings 14:3)
Does it surprise you that King David is held up as a favorable standard by which others are judged? Isn’t this the same David whose ill-advised motivation led him to command a census of Israel? Afterward he admitted that he had sinned greatly and done foolishly (1 Chronicles 21:8).
The greatest example of how flawed and sinful David was, however, was manifested in his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. That was no mere stumble. Spiritually speaking, David fell flat on his face. Earlier, Samuel had said that God had found David to be a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). We shudder to think that a man like that could fall so hard.
It may also strike us as a bit perplexing to read that years later God referred to David as His servant “. . . who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes.”
(1 Kings 14:8) Was God talking about the same David? Yes, He certainly was!
David’s trust in God was displayed often in his life. His willingness to face Goliath was just one such example. David’s love for God was also manifested in many of his psalms. Yet, the greatest example of his trust in God
and love for Him is found in connection with his most grievous sins.
The truest worship we can offer to God in this life has repentance and faith as its foundation and source. The central message preached by Jesus in His Galilean ministry is summarized thusly: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) It is only when the Holy Spirit works repentance and faith in our hearts that we are reunited with God as His children. Only then can we offer thanks which He accepts and praise in which He delights.
Genuine repentance doesn’t always come quickly or easily. In the case of David, his repentance was a process that lasted for months and finally culminated in his confession, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13) The depth of his repentance is revealed in Psalm 51. Consider
verses 3 and 4:
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
No denial. No excuses. No blaming someone else.
David takes full responsibility for his sins, but notice in verses 1 and 2 where he places his trust completely:
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
See how repentance and faith are the key to a close relationship with God? Only when his transgressions are blotted out, his iniquity is washed away, and he’s cleansed completely from his sins, can David be seen by God as a servant “who followed Me with all his heart.” David wasn’t sinless, but he repented of his sins and trusted in God and His mercy. Repentance and faith are the hallmarks of a close, everlasting relationship with God.
Delwyn Maas is pastor of Gift of God Lutheran Church in Mapleton, North Dakota.