It’s been a wild ride reading through the story of David. If I’m honest, it’s actually been quite disappointing. I think most of us were rooting for the almost forgotten shepherd boy who gets anointed king simply because he had a heart after God. But by 2 Samuel 17, David is a king who has no moral compass. The boy who bravely faced a giant can’t muster the strength to keep his family accountable for their actions; probably because he has personally betrayed his own sense of right and wrong. What happened to King David?
Part of what happened is that the tribes of Israel really wanted to idolize David. It’s hard to imagine the embodiment of Israel’s strength as someone with flaws and weaknesses. They want their King to make all the right calls, execute the best decisions and administer the highest judgments. So when he doesn’t – when he lies, deceives, ignores injustice and cowardly abdicates his god-given authority, we realize that King David is just a man. Other nations have great kings. Why can’t Israel have one too?
PAUSE: Did anyone notice how much these chapters are just the biblical version of Game of Thrones? No really – it’s a race between a bunch of random characters to legitimize their right to the throne of Israel.
In chapter 15, Absalom is appealing to Israel’s sense of disappointment in their king. He used Joab’s growing disenchantment with David to get back into Jerusalem after killing his brother (for sexually assaulting Tamar it must be stated); and now he’ll use his father’s unpopularity to ascend to the throne. Joab would launch a military coup if he could. Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son) imagines himself to be Israel’s crippled king; which would be random except that Saul’s whole family is still pretty bitter about losing the throne. And the shocker in the middle of season 3 is Sheba, some ‘worthless’ guy who is the “king of the north” for half of chapter 20; but easily gets his head chopped off by an unnamed wise woman ’cause women always bring their best to season finales! This whole section of David’s story could be compared to the wars with any empire in human history, aka, Game of Thrones. UNPAUSE
Other nations have great kings. Why can’t Israel have one too?
You wanna know what happened to David? It’s simple – he was never supposed to be a king like all of the others. The ultimate authority and highest glory of Israel always belonged to Yahweh alone. When the tribes of Israel crowned David king, they wanted him to be like all of the other kings in the neighborhood, not the prince who only served at the pleasure of the true God-King. They put too much trust in him, and he believed the hype. When he didn’t live up to their standards; they did not turn to Yahweh, they looked for another man.
Y’all know I want to go on, but I’ll stop here with this last point. Sometimes, I look over my life and wonder why I didn’t get to live the kind of life everyone else seemed to have lived. The words I hear from the Holy Spirit are clear: l never intended for you to live like everybody else. These aren’t new words. They are actually the primary message of scripture. Israel was not supposed to be like the other nations. David was not supposed to be like the other kings. And followers of Jesus (Yahweh in the flesh) aren’t supposed to be like everyone else.
What happened to David? He forgot who he was, and that’s why, in my opinion, his kingdom falls a part. What happened to Israel? They kept rejecting Yahweh’s vision for who they should be in the world; that’s why I think they never find the freedom they so desperately desire.
May we never forget who we are: we are Yahweh’s people, meant to be salt and light for the world; and Jesus is our King.