October 28, 2013

Introducing the Why

Sometimes we tend to read the Bible in pockets. If you grew up in a Christian home, it’s probably impossible for you to count the number of times you’ve heard the stories about David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions’ den, and Moses parting the Red Sea. But unless you’re a Bible scholar, you probably can’t rattle off the messages of all the Minor Prophets, or recite the historical time line of Paul’s New Testament letters.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing; certain passages—especially stories—are innately more interesting and hold our attention. That being said, when it comes to our Bible heroes, it’s important to understand the lessons, patterns, and trajectory of their lives as a whole.

Case in point: Out of curiosity, throughout the month of March I watched The Bible on the History Channel. Although I wouldn’t necessarily endorse the five-part miniseries (because of dozens of inaccuracies and intense violence), seeing the story unroll in chronological order left me thinking about certain elements a bit differently—especially the story of David.

David bursts onto the scene in 1 Samuel 16. With Saul’s life falling apart, God sends the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to find a new king. To everyone’s surprise, Samuel anoints David, the youngest boy in the family, as the next ruler of Israel.

You know the next part: David becomes an Israelite hero for killing the Philistine warrior Goliath with just a sling and a stone. At first King Saul takes David under his wing. But soon jealousy gets the best of Saul, and he is bent on killing David to keep his throne safe. What follows is a massive game of cat and mouse, with David and his loyal followers hiding in caves to elude Saul and his men.

On one occasion, however, the hunter became the hunted. Unbeknown to Saul, David had tracked him to the back corner of a cave. Standing behind him, knife in hand, David had the opportunity to save his own life by ending Saul’s. You can imagine the war in David’s mind:

I should kill him. You’ll understand, won’t You, Lord? On the other hand, You hand-picked Saul, right? Maybe I shouldn’t take matters into my own hands . . .

And he didn’t. David spared Saul’s life simply because Saul was God’s anointed king. Had he wanted to, David could have easily “pulled a Jacob,” and helped God fulfill His own promise. After all, David was anointed too.

But David was different. That’s why God called him “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).

We don’t know when David’s downward spiral began. But something happened to the man after God’s own heart between the cave and the palace rooftop, something that led him down a path of adultery, deception, and murder.

Imagine if David were a president or leader in today’s world. How would we look at him? For the rest of his days he’d be branded as a notorious political criminal worse than many a scoundrel of our time. The fall from grace would be monumental.

So why did David fall in the first place?

David, the great warrior-turned-king, fell into temptation when he laid down the weapons of war for a life of wealth and comfort. When David decided to stay home instead of accompanying his men into battle, he not only abandoned his duty—he lost touch with the men who held him accountable.

It doesn’t matter how well we know our Bibles, how faithful we’ve been in the past, or what elevated position God Himself has called us to take. If we let our guard down and lose all sense of accountability, eventually we’ll see the depths of depravity to which the human heart can sink.

Whom has God put in your life to sharpen you? Don’t let anything sever that connection. As exemplified by King David, a dull blade is easily defeated.