I’ve been blessed to know many great men in my short (but ever-aging!) life. Most of the exposure to these men have been through 2 avenues, church and school. The guys I think of have all displayed, to certain degrees, the qualities of strength, wisdom, integrity, humility, compassion, patience, grace and love. These guys have been great examples to me, and have motivated me to try and replicate their character.
However, I think we (me included) must be careful when we acknowledge these men. It’s easy for us, whether we are secular or religious, to place them on a pedestal. Sometimes we can forget that they, like all of us, have their own personal struggles and shortcomings. No other example epitomizes this better than the life of the great King of Isreal, David.
The historical account of the life of David is thoroughly documented in the Bible, mainly contained in the books of Samuel and Kings. He was described as handsome and courageous (you remember Goliath, right?), a strong warrior, a loyal friend, just and upright, and wise. God said David was a “man after my own heart.” Overall, the same characteristics most of us would say make up a great man today. Undoubtedly, countless younger men aspired to be just like David. Many likely had put him on a pedestal, thinking David never did wrong or made mistakes.
However, the written account also tells of great wrongs and mistakes made by this great man. Pride, lust, and envy that led to adultery and murder. Nothing there worthy of praise. I expect this was devastating for the people who looked-up to and admired David and what he stood for. However, I also expect there were others who celebrated his failure and loss. Applause with shouts of “hypocrisy” and “self-righteousness” surely came from some who despised what a man like David represented.
The failure of a great man today evokes similar responses from the majority. From the religious comes cries of disappointment and shame, while from the secular comes cries of hypocrisy and bigotry. However, Christianity teaches that failures, even from great men like David, are only to be expected. You see, David, who lived 3,000 years ago, struggled with the same thing you and I do today. Every human being, whether religious or secular, struggles with something deep inside their core. It may be pride, lust or envy. It may be sexual immorality, lying or stealing. It may be hatred, greed or intolerance. Whatever manifestation is expressed, it is simply sin. Sin effects each of us, from the guy who “has it all together” (like David) to the one who seems to be totally lost. Failure will happen to all of us.
How do we stop from failure? Religion? No, with religion we will never be “good enough” or find a true desire to change. Secularism? No, with secularism we can only hide failure by amending what is truly right and wrong so many times. How then? Only by accepting the life, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. Understanding that he died for you (and me!) despite our inward struggle/sin can we have a real desire to change. By having faith in who He is, we can be assured our wrongs and mistakes are forgiven. You see, as David understood, God is full of mercy and love to forgive each of us.
King David’s life shows us 2 great principles. One, that all of us, no matter how great our character, struggle with sin, either inwardly or outwardly. Two, God’s grace and love to forgive each of us through His son, Jesus Christ, never ceases.
“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 (ESV)