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David is one of my favourite Bible characters. We are given insight into much of David’s life from a young age through to his death, and David is seen from all angles. He wrote many of the psalms, so we gain insight into his inner life in ways we rarely have the privilege to see. We see him in action on the battlefield, but we also see his ‘ordinary’ shepherd life beforehand. We see him as a powerful king dispensing justice, but we also see his tumultuous relationships with people and the way he treated individuals. One reason I think so many people identify with David (even though few of us are shepherds or kings!) is that he is seen as an intensely human character. His flaws and failings are laid before us as visibly as his virtues and victories. David goes through so many trials which have the the stuff of the familiarity of everyday life about them. Sibling rivalry, jealousy, injustice, loyalty, love, hatred, unpopularity, scheming, political juggling, folly, rashness, impatience, impetuosity, kindness, mercy, rage, bitterness, compassion and despair are all woven into David’s life.
David’s humanity and fallibility remind us that God looks at the heart. This important principle, brought out for us at the start when Samuel meets this youngster to anoint him king over Israel, is key to understanding David. He was far from perfect and some of the sins he committed later in life (when he definitely should have known better!) are truly bewildering, but he loved God intensely and was passionate even in repentance. David knew great highs and loves in life, but through it all, he kept on returning to God. His weakness was never disputed but was not a barrier (see 2 Sam 3:39). Like Paul, he discovered that when he was weak, God was strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10)
David teaches us:
to keep going with God no matter what
to put God first always
to trust in God’s love, mercy and forgiveness more than in our own strength
to admit when we’re wrong
to turn to God in repentance when we mess up
to wait for God’s timing in everything
to honour God, even at our inconvenience.
Such an example inspires us in our own faltering pursuit of God.