Friday, May 13, 2011

The Fall of King David

David was the great example of a godly king in the Old Testament. In some ways he is greater than Solomon, for he was tempted as Solomon never could have been. Anointed by Samuel when he was probably about fourteen, he had to wait about fifteen years before he actually became king. He came from a humble beginning, and therefore he was subject to the temptations of pride. David faced unjust persecution, and therefore was tempted to violence as a tool for gaining his own ends. Called to be a warrior and to fight the Lord's battles, he was tempted, like Saul before him, to fight his own battles instead. David was exposed to the seduction of violence; kill Saul, and you shall be king. Fight Abner, and you shall be king. Approve the murder of Ishbosheth, for it brings the throne to you. He was surrounded by violent men, in particular Joab and his brothers who urged him to violence and who used it to gain their own ends. In all these temptations he did not yield because he remained humble and listened seriously to God's words which told him that he was a shepherd to care for and to serve Israel, and that he was answerable to God, the real King of Israel.

But he fell. 2 Samuel 11 recounts the story of this sad day. It is often said that it began with a look, but more correctly it began with a failure to look.

David first of all broke the first commandment - he made himself the supreme authority, his wishes final. And then he broke the tenth commandment, as he looked out and coveted his neighbour's wife. Having broken the first commandment and the last commandment, it was simple for him to break any of the commandments in between! And he did. He broke the seventh commandment, for he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Then he broke the ninth commandment as he sought to make it appear that the child was not his - he lied. Then David broke the sixth commandment, he arranged to have Uriah the Hittite killed in battle, and although the hand that killed him was the enemy, yet the reason he was put in that situation in the first place was David's desire for his death. Having done this, David proceeded to break the eighth commandment - he took Bathsheba as his own wife, and that was theft.

David was seduced by power, because he forgot that his power was not his own at all, and that power was not given him for his own glory, but for God's glory and for the good of Israel. Now, there are many men who we count great in Church history. Spurgeon built up a vast church, set up an orphanage and a college, and we honour him for his ministry. But Spurgeon did not set out to build a vast Church, or to set up orphanage and college; he set out to preach the Gospel and to glorify God. Indeed the key-note of Spurgeon's life may be found in that day when the young preacher heard as it were a voice, "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!" And so, because he sought no great things for himself, he was entrusted with great things for God and His people. George Muller is famed for his orphanage. He set up a great thing - but he did not start the orphanage to amaze the world, but to care for orphans! No great work for God has been set up with the idea of it being great, but with the idea of it being good. Soli Deo Gloria! was the motto of the Reformation, and it is the motto of the Church in all ages. To God alone be the glory!

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