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Breezin’ Through The Bible #12, David Falls

January 10, 2014

David, How the Mighty Fall

The saga of David demonstrates it is not enough to love God: one must follow his commandments.

The powerful seem most vulnerable to corruption. “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it,” said Prime Minister Pitt the Elder to the House of Lords in 1770, and a hundred years later Lord John Acton wrote in a letter to Bishop Chreightin, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Surely these words could not apply to David, King of Israel, mighty warrior, and sensitive poet who loved God. 

The Crime     In 1025 BC, with directions from God, Samuel anointed David, the young shepherd son of Jesse, with the spirit of the Lord. David won battles to increase the power and size of Israel. Fifteen years later, King Saul died, and David became the second king of Israel with increased wealth and power. Although David loved God, he sinned. The sins were prohibited by the Ten Commandments.

David slept with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, and she became pregnant. When Uriah would not sleep with his wife before engaging in battle, David devised a plot to have him killed by the enemy. Uriah was slaughtered when his companions withdrew from the battlefield, leaving him alone. Then David married the widow Bathsheba and she bore him a son. David had committed sins of murder and adultery. Such crimes cannot go unpunished.

The Punishment     The prophet Nathan confronted David with his wicked behavior. Begging the Lord’s forgiveness, David confessed his sins and wrote, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven.”

“Let the punishment fit the crime,” sang the chorus of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. “Let the judges make diligent investigation,” says Deuteronomy 19:17-21. Punish “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is written in Exodus 21: 23-17. Murder and adultery are grievous sins. How would David be punished? 

Sins visited to the next generation     God promised there would be trouble in David’s house. It would not be peaceful. The baby son of Bathsheba died, and David cried. Although God had expressly forbidden intermarriage, David arranged marriages with the daughters of his enemies to keep peace. His wives and many children did not live in harmony together, and his house was not peaceful.

Amnon was David’s eldest son and heir. The next oldest with a different mother, was Absalom. Absalom had a sister Tamar. Amnon raped Tamar, and Absalom killed his half brother in revenge. Absalom went into exile; later he returned and ingratiated himself with the people, moving into the position of heir to the throne. Absalom was popular and handsome, with a head of long beautiful hair, but he was impatient for David to die and staged a coup. David fled Jerusalem, and Absalom slept with each of his father’s ten concubines to prove he had taken control. David put down the rebellion with no intention of killing Absalom. Absalom was killed in retreat when his hair caught in a tree and his mule kept going. David wept for the loss of his son.

Permission denied     David dreamed of building a splendid temple for the Ark of the Covenant to supplant the tent of God’s dwelling place. Nathan said no. God wanted a king of peace o build his house. David had too much blood on his hands. David’s son and future king Solomon would build the temple. David accepted his punishment, but he spent the rest of his life and fortune amassing huge amounts of building materials and making plans for his son Solomon to build the temple.

The mighty are fallen      David died a broken man, whose sins had cost his happiness and credibility with the Lord. David reigned 40 years. After his death in 970 BC, his son Solomon became king.

After the fall        David’s relationship with God is best seen through his Psalms. Psalm 23 reminds us of the young David. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”

Many are the woes of the wicked,

But the Lord’s love

Surrounds the one who trusts in Him.

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