Tuesday, August 30, 2016

David: lessons in faith, forgiveness and accepting God's plan

David is considered one of the greatest men in the Old Testament. From his humble beginnings as a shepherd boy, he was chosen by God to be become king. He is a poet, writing many of the 150 Psalms. He slayed the giant Goliath when no one else dared to try. He would be an ancestor of Jesus. His son, Solomon, would be known as the wisest king in the world. However, he was also a liar, adulterer and a murderer. Despite his flaws, David was considered a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). Through his strengths and weaknesses, his successes and failures, we can learn from David’s example. God looks in our heart first when calling us to serve. Forgiveness of our sins does not remove the consequences of sin. Accepting when God answers our prayers with “no” for He has something greater planned for us.

First, God sees our heart when calling us to serve. In David, God saw a man who had an unwavering faith. In David, God saw a man who loved him and wished to serve him to the best of his abilities. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God tells Samuel “…the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” when He called David to be the anointed king. God saw that David’s heart sought Him. He trusted Him and worshipped Him in all he did. David was outraged that Goliath, the Philistine, dared dare defy God (1 Samuel 17:26). David saw a mortal man defying almighty God. He knew he would not fight alone. God would fight with him. 1 Samuel 17:46, David says “…I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” And when David was successful, he attributed his success to God. Not his own strength or cunning but to God. When the ark was returned to Jerusalem, David danced and leaped in front of the ark as it entered the city. His wife, Michal, would despise him due to his actions and confront David about his behavior. David replies, “It was before the Lord….I will celebrate before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21). You may ask, what does David’s faith have to do with me? David was the youngest son of a shepherd but God saw in his heart a desire to serve him. God made him king of Israel. He became a very important ancestor in the genealogy of Jesus. I believe that God will reward us beyond our wildest dreams for our faith and desire to serve Him.

Second, forgiveness of our sins does not remove the consequences. The best example of this is David’s affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. As told in 2 Samuel 11-12, King David sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing one night. He sends for her to his room where he sleeps with her, knowing full well that she is another man’s wife (2 Samuel 11:3-4). When David gets word that Bathsheba has become pregnant, he tries to cover up his sin by bringing Uriah home from the battlefield to sleep with his wife and trick him into thinking he is the father (2 Samuel 11:6-13) When this fails, David sends Uriah to the front line where the fighting is the fiercest (2 Samuel 11:15) and Uriah is killed. David later marries Bathsheba and she gives birth to a son. Nathan, the Lord’s prophet, comes to David and confronts him. David immediately seeks forgiveness and he is forgiven but the consequence of his sin will be the death of his son. (2 Samuel 12:3-4). Sin has irreversible consequences. The saying “it is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission” simply isn’t true. “I’m sorry” doesn’t erase the hurt and devastation caused by a sin. You may ask why the child had to die. To me, the child’s death was a greater punishment to David than his own. Knowing the consequence could be the death of an innocent child. Therefore, be quick to seek forgiveness and confess our sins but be prepared for consequences of those sins.

Third, accepting when God answers our prayers with “no” is one of the hardest aspects of faith. Despite his faith and heart for God, David was not allowed to build a temple for the ark, a “home” for the Lord. David wanted to build a place for the ark of God, which remained in a tent while David lived in a palace (2 Samuel 7:2). The prophet, Nathan, tells him to go ahead and build the temple but receives a message from God that that was not his desire (2 Samuel 7:3-16). In this message, the Lord tells David that his job is to unite the people of Israel as one nation. This task would require a great deal of David’s time and energy and a great deal of bloodshed as he would defeat Israel’s enemies. And David’s son will build the temple (2 Samuel 7:12-13). David’s request was good. He had the best intentions when he wanted to build a temple for the Lord. But the Lord had a greater plan for David and told him no. When I pray, even though I desire God to tell me yes, I always remember that God answers prayers in three ways: yes, no and not yet. It takes great faith to hear “no” or “not yet” as God has a greater plan for me in my future. Maybe I am not ready for my request to be fulfilled. Maybe He sees something else in my future, something better than I was asking for. Whatever the reason for God’s answer, I know that when He answers “no,” He still loves me. There have been many times when I prayed for something and it didn’t happen. However, down the road I was blessed with something greater and better. I know it was God finally saying “yes.”

In conclusion, David was a great man of faith who performed great feats for the Lord. He had a heart to serve God and a faith to help him in uncertain situations. However, he was a man who faltered and sinned. No matter what his sin was, he was quick to confess his wrongdoings and seek forgiveness from God. We can see David’s life as an example of how a faithful man lives. He wasn’t perfect. He failed, he sinned but he always sought after God. He lived a life to please God and not others. He also accepted when God answered his prayers with “no.” Can you imagine what blessings God could bestow on us if we had a heart and faith like David’s? If we were quick to confess our sins and seek forgiveness? And if we were more willing to accept God’s “no” as an answer to our prayers?