I've been reading through the book Patriarchs and Prophets for the first time. I've learned so much, especially from the life of David. It is jam packed with lessons and insights on the Christian life and experience.
One thing struck me. So often we look at David’s affair with Bathsheba as the “only” failure of David’s life, including the sad and terrible consequences that followed. But as I was reading, I realized that David actually failed many times throughout his life.
For example, his “first error,” as the author of the book calls it, occurred when he first fled from Saul and went to the tabernacle at Nob, where the high priest was.
"Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, 'Why are you alone, and no one is with you?' So David said to Ahimelech the priest, 'The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, "Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you." And I have directedmy young men to such and such a place. Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found' " (1 Samuel 21:1-3 NKJV).What did David just do here? He lied. He was afraid of being caught, and he distrusted God to the point of lying to the priest, who could have helped him had he told the truth. David lost hold of his faith, and out of fear he resorted to deception.
Right after leaving Nob, David fled to Gath, a Philistine city.
"Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, 'Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying:
"Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands"?'
Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath" (1 Samuel 21:10-12).
We’re starting to see a pattern here. How does David handle his fear this time?
"So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, 'Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?' David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam" (1 Samuel 21:13-22:1).
Patriarchs and Prophets says that “his second mistake was his deception before Achish” (PP 656). Again, because of fear he used deception to escape his situation. Instead of trusting God to save him out of his predicament (that he got himself into) he trusted in himself.
As I read this, I started to wonder how I could relate to David’s experience. Just a couple of paragraphs later, I found the answer:
“Every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith. When shadows encompass the soul, when we want light and guidance, we must look up: there is light beyond the darkness. David ought not to have distrusted God for one moment. He had cause for trusting in Him: he was the Lord’s anointed, and in the midst of danger he had been protected by the angels of God; he had been armed with courage to do wonderful things; and if he had but removed his mind from the distressing situation in which he was placed, and had thought of God’s power and majesty, he would have been at peace even in the midst of the shadows of death; he could with confidence have repeated the promise of the Lord, ‘The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed.’ Isaiah 54:10” (PP 657).
Sometimes, at the end of a day, I look back and I see how much I failed, maybe even in little things. Have you ever felt that way? I don’t know what it is for you; it could be anything from neglecting your devotions to letting your tongue get the better of you. Maybe you look back and you see how selfish you were, or how little you seemed to accomplish. You fill in the blank.
But whenever you fail or make mistakes, remember that “Every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith.” That sentence nearly blew me away when I first read it. The first words conjured up all my recent failures, and I saw truth in it's piercing light. Every time I failed, it was because I lacked faith. It was just that simple.
I once read this passage for my devotions in the summer, and I had an idea. It says that David “had cause for trusting in Him” and then went on to list why. So, I decided to prayerfully write down my cause for trusting in God.
I encourage you to try it. Sit down with a pen and paper, and ask God to remind you specifically how He has proved Himself to you in the past. I guarantee that you will gain a huge blessing, and you will discover that there is no reason to distrust God "for one moment."
Maybe you are facing personal battles today. Instead of being afraid, taking things into your own hands, and turning fear into failure and a lack of faith, remember God’s faithfulness. He will work all things out for good, and if you go to Him in faith, He will give you more faith and fill you with courage to do what is right. He will be able to save you from failure, if you constantly trust in Him.
One more thing. David did fail many times, including committing the gross crimes of adultery and murder, but in the end... Well, I'll save all of that for the next post :)