David is a very positive figure in the Old Testament, but we are familiar with a couple very significant missteps in his reign. He falls into sins that are unique to the resources and opportunities he has through his position, and we can learn much from how he falls into these sins – and ultimately how he reacts to and deals with these shortcomings.
In II Samuel 11, David remains in Jerusalem while his armies are at war. He sees Bathsheba bathing while he is up on his rooftop, sends messengers to find out who she is and bring her to him. II Samuel 24 records God’s anger in David’s insistence of conducting a census. Even Joab tries to deter David, citing the Lord’s strength over man’s. In both cases, David walks into sin. He takes negative advantage of his position, but David also maintains his relationship with God because of his reaction to the realization of his sins.
Taking Advantage of Blessings
In both of these cases, does God set David up to sin? We might say if God had never promoted David to king, he would have never had the position or resources necessary for these sins. I think we understand that blessings from God are not evil, even when those blessings open up opportunities that might lead to sin. Many of us are greatly blessed by God in so many ways, ways we may not even understand or appreciate. We can then either use those positions for good, or we can take advantage of those positions. In I Peter 5:1-5, for example, admonishes spiritual leaders to avoid taking advantage of their authority position. Also, James 3:1-2 warns in caution regarding teaching. With the opportunity to guide comes the danger of misguiding.
Galatians 5 warns against how we view our spiritual liberty in Jesus. Freedom in Christ does allow for indulgence in sin. Paul contrasts between living by the flesh and living in the spirit, and he keeps returning to the importance of love in our spiritual liberty. We are in a great position to be free in Christ, and we need to be willing to share that freedom with others rather than gloat over it. I Corinthians 8 reminds us to avoid being puffed up in our knowledge of Christ and that there will be differences in opinions and values that will not interfere with our ability to come to God. Verses 7-10 specifically address simple misunderstandings that can cause others to stumble. We should be sensitive to those.
Reconciling with God
Just like David, we will eventually take advantage of our blessings in a negative way. James 3:2 assures us that stumbling happens. How we react is what defines us. In II Samuel 12:13 and II Samuel 24:10, David acknowledges his errors. He chooses to submit to God’s judgment. He takes personal responsibility, and He puts Himself entirely in God’s hands.
God has provided us with hope and salvation, with fellowship with Him and fellow Christians. He has given us life from death and all that we have. We are who we are today because of Christ’s influence. Let’s use those blessings to His honor and glory and praise God in all we say and do.
lesson by Ben Lanius