There are few figures in Scripture as notable as David. Even today, people unfamiliar with the Scriptures as a whole have at least heard that phrase, “The LORD is my shepherd…” (Psalm 23:1). David was a prolific song writer and the Psalms are one of the church’s greatest heirlooms. Even more than a simple musician though, David was a warrior-king. He defeated the giant Goliath in open combat with nothing in his hand than a sling, his shepherd’s pouch, his staff and five smooth stones. With these simple tools, the herdsman turned sniper eviscerated Goliath and victoriously removed his head from between the titan’s shoulders.
David was courageous. He was fearless. He was valiant in battle, swiftly conquering every foe. He was everything Israel’s first king, Saul, could have been but wasn’t because of cowardice. In sum, David was the ideal king. At least, until he wasn’t.
We have to remember that David himself had been called by God chiefly as the antidote to Israel’s failure known as King Saul. Saul’s faithlessness rendered him unfit to continue on his throne. As the prophet Samuel declared to Saul’s very face, “The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:14 ESV)
David is first described as a man after God’s own heart. This description flies in the face of Saul’s descriptions earlier as an impressive looking individual because David’s qualification was invisible to the eye. God was directed Samuel the prophet to David saying, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature . . . the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV) David’s heart was different than Saul’s.
The excellence of David’s character was displayed throughout much of his life. Yet for all of the good in David’s life, whether in conquering Israel’s foes, in singing and songwriting with the people of God, in sparing Saul’s life when Saul senselessly sought to kill him, David was not perfect.
David himself would remind us that the sin which so easily entangles us is something everyone has from birth. We are all infected with this inward corruption because of Adam and Eve. David wrote of it in this way, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) In this psalm in particular we learn about David’s greatest sin: his adulterous affair with Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband Uriah.
For a fuller account of David’s sin with Bathsheba one need only look at 2 Samuel 11. David’s life was never the same after this event. His son born out of wedlock dies. His future son becomes a new Saul figure in the land leading David into a new season of flight, just as in his younger years. His sin forever mars his legacy. But we also see that Psalm 51 gives clear language to the depths of David’s repentance.
However, it is neither David’s repentance, nor his bold beginnings which make him acceptable in God’s sight. God accepts no man because of the sincerity of his repentance. Every sin requires the shedding of blood. David would need someone greater than himself to reconcile him to God, and that man is the Lord Jesus Christ.
God was not surprised by David’s sin, nor was He caught off guard. Though difficult for us to comprehend it was all part of the unfolding plan of God to bring the Messiah, to bring forth the promised seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), the great blessing from Abraham to the world (Gen. 12; 22:18), the future king of the line of Judah (Gen. 49:8-12; 1 Samuel 17:12).
God had made a covenant with David, even before this great sin, that God was going to forever establish David’s house as a perpetual dynasty. God blessed him saying, “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:13 ESV) God’s promise could not be undone by any human effort. And that same truth comforts us even today.
As David’s sin was great, so was his repentance and restoration. God pardoned David’s sin, for no reason found in David but only by the mercy of God. David’s sin was covered by the blood of the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every psalm of David finds its zenith on the lips and life of Christ. Every psalm finds its origin in the Spirit of God and the life of His Son. This is what makes David so remarkable. David found grace, and this caused him to sing for joy. This is one reason why the book of Psalms is still sung and cherished by churches even today. They are songs of God’s people, written by a king for the King of Kings.