Learning Character from Biblical Characters: David, God’s Man


John Jackson looks at the life of David and discusses the power of failure and forgiveness.

The Bible is full of stories about people and their relationships with God and with each other. Contained within the Bible, are people who are ordinary and those who are extraordinary. It also includes people who are holy and unholy. Most folks fit somewhere in between. Part of the story of the Bible is that God is always dealing with us. Reading the record of how God deals with us is revealing of the character of God and of our character.

We are going to look at the life of David; our two character marks are freedom and forgiveness.

David was many things. He was a shepherd, warrior, king, poet. One of the major figures of the Bible. Abraham, who is called “the father of faith” in the NT is mentioned 14 times in Scripture, whereas David is mentioned 56 times. David is seen as both a saint and a sinner. Served royally and sometimes lived shabilly. Read his story and see his pain. Sometimes he failed greatly. His is a story of the pinnacle and pit.

There were essentially no miracles in the life of David, with the exception of God’s forgiveness. God was willing to work with David. David, even in his sin, was open to God’s leading. God can only deal with those who are open to God’s leading. David is a reminder of God’s grace and that failure need not be fatal. Alan Redpath said, “Salvation is a miracle of the moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime." Regardless of David’s place, whether pinnacle or pit, he always remembered that he was a child of God.

To understand David, and see the power of failure and forgiveness, let’s walk the road of his life and stop at some key markers.

David was a leader who was after God’s heart:

1 Samuel 13:13-14, Saul’s demise: “'You acted foolishly,' Samuel said. 'You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’S command.'”

David was anointed king by a human being, but he was empowered by God’s Spirit:

"The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed stands here before the LORD.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah" (1 Samuel 16: 1, 6-7, 12-13).

Facing giants successfully requires God’s gameplan, not your own:

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:16,32-37).

Giants you face: spouse, sibling, child, chronic illness

Fear causes us to exaggerate the capacity of the enemy and diminish the power of God:

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

A pilot said “Flying is hours of sheer monotony interrupted by moments of sheer terror." You have to be ready to use your capabilities. My note: you can’t “hurry up” and be spiritually mature.

The result was the same for 40 days. But on the 41st day! The Israelites were fleeing rather than fighting. All of us have giants to face.

When will the 41st day come in your life?

When freedom from a giant occurs, don’t gloat, but be grateful.

After victories like these, you should be set right? Wrong! You’ll remember that it was after the Children of Israel were freed from 400 years of captivity in Israel and saw God do a miraculous rescue of them at the edge of the Red Sea, after they saw Him provide everything, it was then that they experienced the idolatry and lack of faith in the middle of the desert.

Sometimes a great victory sets you up for a nasty fall.

David was in his mid 50’s, at ease. His kingdom was at peace, he had been victorious in battle and lived in relative prosperity. Life was good, and he was on top. Chuck Swindoll says what happened next was the case of the open window shade. David up on the veranda taking a little mid day stroll. Bathsheba taking a bath and then it happened.

David fell when he saw, stared, sizzled, succumbed.

Temptation is not sin. Surrender to temptation is sin.

God always provides a way of escape when we are tempted:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Forgiveness and repentance must be linked together: That’s a character issue!

God’s mercy is freely available to all who sin, and all who are sinners:

"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 and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge”(Psalm 51:1-4).

God’s forgiveness brings cleansing and renewal:

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.11 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” (Psalm 51: 7-12).

God delights in seekers who want forgiveness now:

"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, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:16).

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

Suppose a man of generous spirit were to resolve to forgive all those who were indebted to him; it is clear that this can only apply to those really in his debt. One person owes him a thousand pounds; another owes him fifty pounds; each one has but to have his bill receipted, and the liability is wiped out. But the most generous person cannot forgive the debts of those who do not owe him anything. It is out of the power of Omnipotence to forgive where there is no sin. Pardon, therefore, cannot be for you who have no sin. Pardon must be for the guilty. Forgiveness must be for the sinful. It were absurd to talk of forgiving those who do not need forgiveness—pardoning those who have never offended.

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