Devotional: Was David a Good Role Model?

king-david-251x300“I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”—Acts 13:22 Everything? Did David really do everything the Lord wanted him to? Apparently, or He wouldn’t have said it. What earned him the title “a man after God’s own heart” and also gave him more space in the Bible than any other person—including Jesus?

 Is David the role model to which we aspire? Is his life something to emulate? The strength of David’s story, says Eugene Peterson, is that “David deals with God. As an instance of humanity in himself, he isn’t much. He has little wisdom to pass on to us on how to live successfully. He was an unfortunate parent and an unfaithful husband. From a purely historical point of view he was a barbaric chieftain with a talent for poetry. But David’s importance isn’t his morality or his military prowess but in his experience of and witness to God. Every event in his life was a confrontation with God.”

Wow.

For some of us with a heroic ideal of David in our minds, that statement feels harsh and disillusioning. But we can’t skirt the facts of David’s life. He did what he did, and that statement is accurate. That’s what makes David so important!

John Calvin wrote of David, “Let us therefore remember that David is like a mirror, in which God sets before us the continual course of His grace.”

David did what God wanted him to do —he learned from his mistakes, repented of his sins—he paid dearly for some of his sins—and he always turned back to the Lord, always cried out to Him for mercy and strength. He proclaimed, out of the depths of his heart, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…” (Psalm 51).

David had it right. He wasn’t much of a role model for life, but he was an example of loving God with passion, and of allowing God into his life, to love him and mold him into the man after God’s heart.

 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned … Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” —Psalm 51, a prayer of David