As a part of my New Years Resolution, I’m reading The Bible this year. And, each Sunday, I’m reflecting on what I’ve read, which often coincides — funny how The Bible works like that — with something happening in my life. This isn’t meant to proselytize or to thump The Bible. Writing just helps me understand what I’ve read, so that’s what I’m doing.
The story of King David is one of the most well-known in the Bible. Watch any basketball game early in March Madness next month and you’ll no doubt hear references to the story of David and Goliath, and what 16 seed has the slingshot to topple the 1 seed this year?
It’s as widely known as it is for good reason. David’s accomplishments throughout his life are extraordinary, going well beyond his one shot that took down Goliath, the giant Philistine. His exploits as a military leader are unparalleled. He was forgiving to a fault, forgiving even those who sought to kill him, to the point that his own men grew angry with him, accusing him of loving his enemies more than he loved his own men.
“From evildoers come evil deeds,” he told Saul in 1 Samuel, 24:13, whose multiple attempts at killing David were all thwarted, “so my hand will not touch you.”
Just two chapters later, the title is: “David again spares Saul’s life.”
He was a ruthless killer as a military man yet otherworldly patient. He was the ultimate underdog story. He was, in short, blessed with what we nowadays refer to as “God-given talent.”
He also messed up as bad as any protagonist we read about in the Bible.
It’s not a story I’ve heard told often. In fact, I had heard it just once, from one of the best speakers I know in Caleb Anderson.
It begins in 2 Samuel, Chapter 11. David had just defeated the Ammonites, and he was hanging out on the roof of his house when he saw a beautiful woman named Bathsheba taking a bath. So David, being a guy in a position of power, sent a buddy to find out who she was. His buddy came back and told him that Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
David didn’t seem to care if she was single, married, engaged or in a complicated on again, off again relationship. He sent his buddy to go get her, and that night he slept with her.
A few weeks later, David gets the worst of news from his one-night stand: Bathsheba was pregnant. Worse yet, her husband, Uriah, was off fighting a war for David, so if he came home and his wife had somehow become pregnant, he would have known she had been unfaithful. So David, in an attempt to protect both himself and Bathsheba, sent for Uriah and he told him to go home, enjoy some time with his wife.
Instead, Uriah, being one of the most underrated standup guys in all of literature, sleeps outside, telling David, “my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
David tries again the next night, instead getting Uriah drunk. Surely a drunk, testosterone-filled guy, who had been fighting wars, would succumb to sleeping with his beautiful wife.
Uriah again sleeps outside. David’s now in a full-fledged, Lance Armstrong style cover-up. He knows Uriah won’t sleep with his wife while his men are at war. So instead of coming clean, fessing up, David orders Uriah to the front lines, where the fighting is at its most violent, where Uriah will almost certainly get killed.
In effect: King David murdered Uriah the Hittite. He didn’t even stop there, either. No, David went on to marry Bathsheba, and together they had a son.
The first time I heard that story it blew my mind. Can you imagine if something like that had happened in today’s society?
I can, because it happens all the time. And we hear about things like this all the time. The only difference is that in 2019, our failures, both big and small, massive and minute, are put on display for all to see. The tabloids would have eaten up the story of David and Bathsheba. It would have been on the front page of every newspaper and magazine and website and television show, right along with every other celebrity and high-profile athlete who commits acts of infidelity.
The point of the story is this: Everyone, even the best of us, as King David was during his time, will fail. And everyone will fail spectacularly. Maybe they won’t sleep with a guy’s wife and deny it and have him murdered. But they will fail.
Adam failed when he ate in the Garden of Eden.
Moses failed when he told God he didn’t want the role God had asked him to play.
Jacob failed when he allowed arrogance to blind him.
The entire book of Judges is one failure after the next.
Jump forward to today and the men and women we anoint as role models are no different. Michael Phelps. Tiger Woods. Hope Solo. The list could fill the entire internet.
We fail because we’re human. We fail because that’s how God made us. He made Adam imperfect, susceptible to temptation. In my opinion, he did this to see how we would respond when we fail.
When it dawned on David just how badly he sinned, he was overcome with grief. Later, he would write a song, one of my favorites I’ve read thus far, in 2 Samuel, 22:17-20: “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
God didn’t smite David after he sinned. He rescued him. He didn’t banish David to hell. He delighted in him. He did this because – and again, this is just my opinion – after David realized the sin he had committed, he turned to God. He responded in the manner God wants us to – by finding Him, asking Him for help, for guidance.
Our greatest battles are the ones waged within, our worst enemies ourselves, begat from temptation. At some point, we’ll lose those battles, no different than David did.
God isn’t asking us to be perfect. He’s asking us to respond, to allow Him to rescue us from ourselves.
“You are the lamp, O lord,” the song continues in verse 29, “the Lord turns my darkness into light.”
It calls to mind one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite characters from my absolute favorite piece of literature, Harry Potter.
“Happiness,” Albus Dumbledore says, “can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light.”
God wants us to turn to him, so he can flick on the light.