Were Men Like King David Really Great Men of Faith?

This week, Pastor J.D. answers the question “Were men like King David really great men of faith?

Show Notes:

  • You know, one of the things you realize are some of the great men and women of faith in the Bible had some pretty significant flaws.
    • David’s were legendary. There’s the situation with Bathsheba, which was, at best, an abuse of power. Then you have multiple places of compromise and he seems to be a pretty terrible father. And at the very end of his life, he commits a sin that grieves God so bad that 70,000 Israelites die.
    • So why do we talk about David as a hero of the faith?
  • I recently was teaching through the story of David at our church, and at the end of David’s life there’s a verse that the author of Samuel uses to summarize David’s life.
    • 2 Samuel 22:21-25, ” The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands, he rewarded me, for I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God, for all his rules were before me and from his statutes, I did not turn aside. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my likeness in his sight.”
      • We read this and we’re like, ah, David. Blameless is not the word that I would use to describe your life. How could any of us reading the story of David say, “Oh, yeah, David was blameless and clean.”
      • Why would David say that? And why would the editor include this at the end of David’s life?
  • I see three options as to why the author would say that about David as a great man of faith:
    • Option number one is what we call hagiography. Hagiography is just a fancy word that means that you tell the most polished version of a person’s life and you leave out all the bad parts. Basically, you turn them into a hero. I remember when I was a kid reading this biography of George Washington and the biography is basically said George Washington did no wrong. He walked five miles in the snow to repay a penny somebody had overpaid him. He could tell no lies, and when he chopped down the cherry tree. He was dauntless fearless, a man with no flaws. And that’s why that’s why America is awesome. To be clear, George Washington was a great man. But we know that he liked like a lot of great men had some some pretty significant inconsistencies, some grievous ones. So is the author trying to whitewash David’s past? Well, I mean, no, I mean, the same author that put this here also recorded all of the bad stuff in the preceding chapters and the author is not trying to pretend that what he just recorded didn’t actually happen. The sin that David committed was real, and the pain he caused was real. The Bible has been clear about that.
    • Option number two is what we call positional righteousness. And that is where you say, well, these statements are declarations about David’s positional righteousness in Christ. Because after all, that’s what the gospel is about is how God trades our unrighteousness for Christ’s righteousness. When we trust Christ, we receive His righteousness. But I would say there are several things in this text that don’t quite fit with that explanation. Several things that indicate that positional righteousness is not the not the best answer to this dilemma we find. Look again at what David says in verse 21, “according to the cleanness of my hands, I have kept the ways of the Lord according to my righteousness. I did not turn aside.”
      • I think it’s pretty clear here that David is referring to good things that he himself did, and not good things that Jesus did in his place.
  • This leads me to the third option, which I believe is the correct one, and that is what I would call new creation righteousness.
    • What that means is that this final statement about David demonstrates the reality and the power of God to restore the believer.
    • In fact, let me point you to a couple of the things David said that I think really illustrates this. In Psalms 103, David says, “The Lord does not deal with us according to our sins.” God doesn’t remember our wicked deeds, but he does remember our righteous ones. And that means that because of Jesus, our lives can be defined by by the good that we do, not the sins that we committed.
    • I mean, it’s very possible that somebody’s listening to me right now you sin grievously in your past. And listen, I’m not trying to minimize that or whitewash what you did. That pain that you caused was real. In many cases, it needs restitution. In some cases, it leaves lasting earthly consequences. There are certain kinds of abuse that mean you’ll never be able to reengage in certain relationships. But the good news of the gospel is that even with the reality of those sins, your life can be defined the summation of your life will not be the bad that you did.
    • The final verdict on David’s life, the label that Scripture gives him, is not abuser, compromiser, negligent father, or murderer — even though all those things are true — the label that God puts on David in the Scripture is humble man of faith, blameless one, gracious man of God, man of courage.
  • You see, because of your past, you might label yourself a cheater, thief, adulterer, absent father, abuser, criminal, compromiser, coward, alcoholic, failure, but see, just like with David, God has a new label for you and from this point forward your life can be defined not by the sins you committed, but by the by the works of faith and the love that you’re going to do.
  • It’s time for some of you to get on with that. Stop wallowing in the shame of your past and get on with the good that God has for you.
  • Say with David, “God can restore me so that what I’m defined by are the works of faith and not the sin I committed.”

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