I can’t enter the mind and emotions of mature King David as I could imagine them when he was a boy, or even as with the other Patriarchs: Noah, Abraham, and Moses; I can only consider the events of David’s turbulent life as king in wonder at the complexity of the man who at the same time had both the brutal power of a killer and the tender soul of a monk.
How, I wonder, does our Almighty God proclaim this son of Jesse to be “a man after His own heart.” God pulled this young man out of throngs of boys and set him on an earthly throne as a model for all of us aspiring immortals; to show us what it means to be a man in the bleak world but of God. David was and is the standard bearer as a person who is ALIVE.
David is the first king of kings.
This man of war and women, who deeply loved his children was also the greatest poet in human history. No poems are as familiar, and as revered, as the 23rd Psalm, “the Lord is my Shepherd”, or the 51st Psalm, “Have mercy on me o’ God,” or “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” That David was in many ways a child of The Most High God cannot be denied when reading the treasury of psalms that we have inherited from him. These psalms are medicine for the soul. Often, they become messages from God in times of trouble and confusion, and they rejoice with us in times of awe and gratitude.
Because David is such a special man, it is worth studying his decisions and responses to a great variety of circumstances, and to see how God fathered him. We make our own destinies through our decisions. Life certainly is an exercise in Cause and Effect. Each of us forges our own path through the one life we have, and if that leads us into a wilderness, frightening, dark and filled with sadness then we only need to look for the light of the sun and follow it up and out. The light of God, like the sun, is always there. He illuminates the right path for those humble enough to ask for it, then to see it and be guided through the wilderness of the brief and turbulent life on earth. David is a prime example of this. Though he encountered difficulties innumerable, heartache, passions, nevertheless he reached deep within his heart to seek the light which is God, and to cling to Him, and in return God always led him out of the wilderness and loved him.
When Michelangelo was commissioned to carve the statue of David in marble, he produced the image of a perfect form, a perfect young man in the full bloom of life. By artfully sculpting perfection in David, Michelangelo asks us to translate the physical David into the man of God David.
To be a man after God’s own heart, God who made us in His glorious, light-filled image and likeness, who demonstrated Himself to be loving, reasonable, and tolerant, but demanding and fatherly, accepted David and fathered him. When David had Uriah the Hittite killed by sending him to the battlefront without back-up so that he may take his wife, and when the prophet Nathan made him aware of the severity of his transgression two things happened. David sincerely repented and he was punished. The punishment was that he would be a warrior for the rest of his life. Because his life was consumed by battles of kill or be killed, he was not free to do the one thing he wanted most to do, which was to build the Temple as a glorious home for the Ark and for God.
God, the wise Father, did not allow David to build his Temple, just as He didn’t allow Moses to enter the Promise Land, and He didn’t allow Saul to remain king. Decisions have consequences. Repentance does not ensure reversal of the consequences or release from punishments in this earth-phase of life.
David was the Adam who trusted God. Did David trust God as much as Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac? Yes, and more. David trusted God so much that he boldly offered himself in the battle with Goliath, and like Isaac was saved from annihilation. David spoke to and heard from God as did Moses.
David, with all his faults, but with all his humility received the highest honor of all which was to be the forefather of God’s Son, of God incarnate: Jesus Christ.
For you and me, David is a steppingstone to Christ. He is the nearest stone over the fast running brook, and he is flat and wide, and as big as Goliath’s foot.
One sad day David died. His family and all of Israel mourned. They whaled and they cried. His son Solomon, the second son of the wife of his biggest sin, rose to inherit David’s throne. Solomon was half the man his father was simply because, for all his wisdom, he was not humble or obedient to the law as David. Solomon shows us how a man can have all the Wisdom of the world, and all of its wealth, but without humility and obedience he is as dead.