What a peculiar life that King David lived. Boy shepherd, giant slayer, the chosen prince, king of Israel, uniter of the 12 tribes, adulterer, murderer, father, the man after God’s own heart. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for me reading through the life of David this summer. At first, it was so easy to admire him, to look up to his courage and faith. The way he never stepped down because he knew God was for him. I even started to see myself as David in the story. Because who doesn’t want to be a chosen prince that brings peace to all the land?
This is the man after God’s own heart.
Then it became hard, uncomfortable, painful even, to continue being David. The aging, bitter king that lost his moral compass. Who took a 15-year-old girl from her husband, who murdered her husband to hide his sin, who turned his back and abandoned his daughter when she needed him most, who killed off entire people groups because he felt it was right. My initial response was to create distance between myself and David. I’m not like that. I would never do those things. All I had to do to continue engaging with David comfortably was to strip away his humanity. To not see him as a real man but as a broken idea.
Yet still, this is the man after God’s own heart.
All my life when I’ve heard that phrase, I’ve always put the emphasis on “after God’s own heart.” Because that’s beautiful, the idea that someone would find themselves so deep within God that even their heart would take on the shape of God’s. But today as I’m writing this blog, the emphasis is on the word “man”. Because David isn’t simply an idea. Or a myth. Or a legend. Though he is all of those things, when David walked the earth he was a man. And today I find empathy with David. Because David was human. And that alone means we are more alike than not. I am David.
No, I’m not a king. No, I’ve never murdered or committed adultery. And yet, I have lost my way. Time and time again. And yet, I have lived a double life. Pure and holy on the outside and dark and empty on the inside. In a sense, in my life, I have experienced the same highs and lows of this man David. David’s life is the full gamut of the human experience. Love, fulfillment, faith, darkness, sin, pride, recovery, second chances, starting over. Reading the story of David is like looking into a mirror. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable for us. We are David.
And yet, we are the people after God’s own heart.
Maybe that is the point of it all. The true brilliance of God is that God loves us in the middle of all our darkness. Not simply when we present ourselves pure and clean. There is so much for us to learn from David of Bethlehem. But if we take one thing away from this story I believe it’s this; it’s never too late to come back to God. You’re never too far, you’ve never waited too long, you’ve never committed too much sin to separate you from the loving arms of God. This is what we see modeled again and again in the life of David. Even in David’s bleakest moments, we see him turn to Yahweh.
Friends, I hope this summer series has been impactful for you. I hope you find yourself in David’s story and allow his life to impact you in truly meaningful ways. Peace and love.