Have you ever tried to fix something but ended up making the situation a whole lot worse? Me and DIY don’t go together so well. I had a stain once on my coffee table. I tried using the sanding tool on my electric drill to smooth it off. That’s when I realised it was veneered. I ended up having to chuck out the whole coffee table. What was once a beautiful table ended up as junk at the recycling centre.
King David has a ‘coffee table’ situation.
David is the youngest son of Jesse, a sheep farmer from the village of Bethlehem. God was looking for someone to lead the nation and picks one of Jesse’s sons. Not the tallest, not the cleverest, not even the most good looking. Jesse’s youngest son is so insignificant that when God’s prophet, Samuel, turns up to pick one of the sons for the job, Jesse doesn’t even ask David to turn up for the beauty parade. It’s only after Samuel has rejected all the others that they go get David in from the fields, where he’s been looking after the sheep.
And God looked at David. Not by his outward appearance but because he was passionate for the things of God. He is brave, facing down lions and bears, even giant warriors. He’s a poet, penning the most famous psalms that have shaped a nation, even the world. And a great military strategist. David has it all. He dances for God’s pleasure, not caring what the crowd thinks. He is beautiful to God, popular with the crowds, successful in battle. If he were a coffee table he would be this origami marble coffee table.
Apparently it retails at £12,000. It’s cool. It’s funky. It has may not be to everyone’s taste but it sure has style. That’s David. And he becomes a great king.
As he gets mature in years, he sends out his generals to go to war. And he sits at home with his feet up. Maybe that’s the first mistake. Because with the relaxing comes a roving eye. He sees a voluptuous young woman taking a bath on a rooftop. (The roofs were flat in Israel). She’s probably high enough up to think she is unseen but David sees her, wants her, takes her to his bed. Mistake number two.
You could almost predict it. She, Bathsheba, is married and hubbie is away fighting the war. David’s war. She gets pregnant and to cover up the adultery, David brings hubbie back from the war and tries to ‘encourage’ hubbie to sleep with his beautiful wife. But he’s having none of it. Why should he get perks like this when all his comrades are fighting on the front. This is a problem for David. He ends up having hubbie stuck on the front line and murdered by enemy fire. Mistake number three. The cover up is worse than the crime.
Adultery and murder. A pretty awful combination. As ungodly as you can get really. He’s having a go at breaking all of the Ten Commandments in one go! Covetousness, adultery, lies and murder. They’re all there.
It is the final nail in the coffin of the idea that God only uses perfect people. After all, this is the great King David, the one who will have a royal line forever. The one from whom Jesus is proudly descended. Very much the father of the nation of Israel.
It is the final nail in the coffin of the idea that God only uses perfect people.
The thing that makes David stand out is not his perfection in battle, but how he reacts when confronted with his sin. God sends another prophet, Nathan, to tell the king how bad a sin he has committed. David confesses, repents and takes the punishment he deserves. There are consequences. David loses moral authority in relation to his family. Bathsheba’s child dies. His other sons follow his bad example with rape and murder and David is powerless to discipline him. How could he? But he accepts his brokenness before God.
I think that’s the key for being a broken pot in God’s service. Nobody is perfect, but realising God loves us, we come to him in our brokenness and pride. When we mess up, confess it and start again. When we are weak, it’s about His strength. When we are poor, whether in character or resources, it is relying on His riches to pull us through.
You know, if David hadn’t made such a colossal mistake, we would never have had Psalm 51. It’s his prayer of confession when the prophet confronts him. Psalm 23 might well be the words of a young shepherd but this later one flows from a lifetime of experience trusting God. It is to me his greatest psalm. And it comes from a place of brokenness. It’s so good to know that God uses us, even in our brokenness … and the glory goes to Him.
You can read the story of King David in the Bible, 1 & 2 Samuel.
His calling: 1 Samuel 16
His fall: 2 Samuel 11-12
This is a part of the Cracked Pots series of posts.