John F Kennedy made famous the quote
For of those to whom much is given, much is required
Tied to it is the principle that one day we will be judged by our success or failure in the post we hold. Citing courage, judgement, integrity and dedication as the markers of serving.
We expect more of those put in positions of authority. We expect them to lead by example. In one way that is only fair, yet they are only human like the rest of us, with the same temptations and failings.
Here David shows his very human side:
David and Bathsheba
11 It was now spring, the time when kings go to war. David sent out the whole Israelite army under the command of Joab and his officers. They destroyed the Ammonite army and surrounded the capital city of Rabbah, but David stayed in Jerusalem.
2-4 Late one afternoon, David got up from a nap and was walking around on the flat roof of his palace. A beautiful young woman was down below in her courtyard, bathing as her religion required. David happened to see her, and he sent one of his servants to find out who she was.
The servant came back and told David, “Her name is Bathsheba. She is the daughter of Eliam, and she is the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
David sent some messengers to bring her to his palace. She came to him, and he slept with her. Then she returned home. 5 But later, when she found out that she was going to have a baby, she sent someone to David with this message: “I’m pregnant!”
6 David sent a message to Joab: “Send Uriah the Hittite to me.”
Joab sent Uriah 7 to David’s palace, and David asked him, “Is Joab well? How is the army doing? And how about the war?” 8 Then David told Uriah, “Go home and clean up.” Uriah left the king’s palace, and David had dinner sent to Uriah’s house. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. Instead, he slept outside the entrance to the royal palace, where the king’s guards slept.
10 Someone told David that Uriah had not gone home. So the next morning David asked him, “Why didn’t you go home? Haven’t you been away for a long time?”
11 Uriah answered, “The sacred chest and the armies of Israel and Judah are camping out somewhere in the fields with our commander Joab and his officers and troops. Do you really think I would go home to eat and drink and sleep with my wife? I swear by your life that I would not!”
12 Then David said, “Stay here in Jerusalem today, and I will send you back tomorrow.”
Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day. Then the next day, 13 David invited him for dinner. Uriah ate with David and drank so much that he got drunk, but he still did not go home. He went out and slept on his mat near the palace guards. 14 Early the next morning, David wrote a letter and told Uriah to deliver it to Joab. 15 The letter said: “Put Uriah on the front line where the fighting is the worst. Then pull the troops back from him, so that he will be wounded and die.”
King David had done some amazing things. But this doesn’t stop him seeing a lovely woman, and wanting her. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there, as that leads to her becoming pregnant. Unable to persuade her husband to go home to his wife, so it may be assumed the child is his, David eventually arranges a murder.
One tiny error of judgement, giving in to one temptation, snowballs out of all proportion. One wrong action leads to another, and another…
How easy it is, even for the best of us. If David, great as he was can fail, it should be no surprise that we fail too, and others fail us.
Have you ever had it said to you,
But you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t get things wrong
Christians are hypocrites, no better than the rest of us.
Well the truth is we do still get things wrong, sometimes very wrong. David got some things spectacularly wrong in his life. He was a man of deep faith and devotion to God, but still made some bad choices. Even the best of us can get it wrong. The story moves on… but more of that next week.
To not rush on, for now perhaps we need to sit with the acknowledgement of failure, of poor choices, of downright disobedience. Of how easy it is for one little decision to escalate out of control.
Perhaps you’re thinking I’ve never done anything that bad. But are we talking about degrees, not actions?
Can any of us stand before God and say we have never done anything wrong?
Perhaps you’re fully aware of what you’ve done wrong?
Is today the day to bring it to God, to hear his voice, and receive his peace and forgiveness?
as I read this story,
I can sit back –
glad that I am not an adulterer
or a murder.
But then if I actually pause and think,
I recall the things I have got wrong,
times when I have gone the wrong way,
done the wrong thing,
not done the right thing,
and I find that I am no different.
as I read it,
I am only too aware of what I have got wrong.
I acknowledge before you,
the things that I have got wrong,
and I come
seeking your forgiveness,
and I thank you for the chance to start again.