Last Sunday at the Y, we discussed the decisions that tainted David’s reign as king of Israel. The stories we like about David are his defeat of Goliath, his victory campaigns as king, his songs that he wrote in Psalms. David is known as a man after God’s own heart. He longed to please God in everything he did leading up to being king and during his reign. One night changed the way we look at David. His affair with Bathsheba and subsequent ordering of her husband’s murder is a giant black-eye on the face of his leadership. I have one question that has been hanging on to me since Sunday: How would we respond to David’s actions today?
As I said Sunday, most of us don’t set out to make a decision that could forfeit our entire leadership. The CEO doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to go out and lose his family and steal millions only to spend the next 20 years in prison. The wife doesn’t just wake up one morning and say, I’m going to throw away my family and go find a fling. The student doesn’t just decide to throw away his college opportunity by blowing off a semester. Our big decisions don’t happen in vacuums, but are a culmination of a series of smaller decisions that shape us into people that have the potential for good or bad. David was no different than we are. He didn’t decide to disappoint God. He didn’t lay his kingship on the table and bet it all on one night with Bathsheba. His urgent need overtook his capacity to make the right choice and that bad decision led him to a series of horrible decisions.
We’ve experience leadership failures – some of us much more closely than others. We see civic leaders involved in scandals, pastors involved in immorality/adultery, teachers involved with students, professional athletes indiscretion, and more recently, coaches involved in sexual abuse with teens. If David were to fail in the same way today, I’m not sure it would matter whether God forgives him or not.
In our society, we rarely get a clear picture of the backside of the sin. You know, we get the report of failure, but then never get the report about recovery. VH1 has attempted to show some level of redemption for musicians who have bottomed out, but it’s hard to know if that is just for television. We have leaders that respond to their failures like both Saul and David. Some are not humbled and often find themselves back in the same situation again. Others, though, may actually respond like David did. They may come before God with a broken and contrite heart…really.
These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. – Isaiah 66:2
Have we become a society that is so distrustful of people that we don’t even allow for God to do something incredible in their lives? Maybe it’s not a leader, but a friend. Maybe it’s a family member. If we are going to be like Jesus, we must follow his lead in reaching out to people who not only have succeeded, but have failed. Whether it’s a public figure or a private friend, our response ought to be Christ-like. Even if it’s hard.
Those are just some thoughts that have hung around this week after spending a week with David and his sexual rendezvous and murder plot. What are your lingering thoughts and feelings after reading about David’s story.