The life of King David runs through significant ebbs and flows, from the time he first appears in the pages of scripture as a bold young man trusting in God in the face of Goliathís taunts. The simple expression of trust in God and belief in Godís ability to achieve His purposes was evident through the times of waiting while Saulís last days as king extended over years, often resulting in threat to Davidís own well-being. It is not until David is installed as king that signs of this trust dissipating begin to emerge: first when he decides to shirk his responsibilities by not leading his people into war, and later when he balks at responsibility for Tamar, and then Absalom. David demonstrates a greater sense of uncertainty, and an ambivalence towards the purposes of God.
As one gazes back across the history of Israel, Davidís feats predominate the landscape: expanding Israelís borders to unprecedented and unrepeated levels; establishing Jerusalem as the home of Israel, laying the foundations for building of the temple following construction of the palace. Yet alongside these achievements are significant failings.
David was greatly loved by God: a love which did not change according to the particular circumstances of Davidís life. The temptation in our time is to judge our value in Godís eyes in direct relationship to our performance. When we adopt such an attitude we are bound to ride a roller-coaster of doubt and triumph, of self-assurance and insecurity. David was loved by God not because he was such a great king, He loves David unconditionally.
Of course it is tempting to make the leap to conclude that our actions are irrelevant. If God loves us unconditionally, then what does it matter how we live? Davidís dereliction of his army duty resulted in the death of Uriah and his own child. His failure to deal with Amnonís rape of Tamar was the breaking of his relationship with Absalom and a split in Israel. God is vitally interested in shaping who we are, because God loves us unconditionally. It is out of this that we understand the Easter events: ďWhile we were yet sinners, Christ died for usÖĒ (Romans 5:8)
Success and failure is often beyond our control. God loves us nonetheless. The lesson of Davidís life is that we maintain our commitment to living in ways which reflect Godís love at work in our lives.
When we take up that challenge, we will fail from time to time, but we might also see Godís kingdom come amongst us in surprising ways.
March 6, 2005