The Greatest King Ever
Read 2 Samuel 7:12-13 (ESV)
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Despite his serious sins, how does David demonstrate his faithful heart toward God? What evidence do you see of God’s faithfulness to us despite our sinful failings?
History typically remembers kings as either “good” or “bad.” A few kings even have the honor of being called “great.” Throughout the Bible, we read of kings who either “did evil in the sight of the Lord” or “what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” But one king of Israel was known as the greatest king of Israel. In fact, he was the king that all others were measured against—King David. In order to be a good king of Israel, you needed to rule like David did.
So what made King David so great? We find out when we read 2 Samuel. It’s important to note that 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book. For that reason, 2 Samuel starts up where 1 Samuel left off—with the death of King Saul. The ten northern tribes (referred to as Israel) and the two southern tribes (referred to as Judah) had trouble getting along and being a united nation. After the death of Saul, David became king of Judah and reigned for 7 and half years. We read in 1 Samuel that the Lord had commanded Samuel to anoint David as king over all of Israel, not just Judah. But after King Saul’s death, a power struggle for the kingship of Israel ensued. The house of Saul and the house of David were at war with each other for 7 years.
Eventually, lack of leadership prompted the elders of Israel to approach David and submit to him as their king. They conceded that even during Saul’s reign, David was Israel’s best military commander and they fully understood that David had been chosen by God to be the King of all Israel. Thus began David's reign over a truly united Israel that lasted for 33 years (1004-971 B.C.).
David was a righteous ruler who kept Israel free of idolatry. He was courageous and mighty in battle but full of wisdom, integrity, and compassion. His tender heart toward God and his musical artistry can be seen in the poetic psalms he wrote in worship to the Lord.
And yet, despite all of his positive qualities and actions, when we come to chapter 11, we see the great king of Israel experience a great moral failure. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of David’s mighty military men. When Bathsheba told David that she was pregnant with his baby, he had Uriah killed in battle to cover up his sin. But the Lord was not pleased with David and He sent the prophet Nathan to tell him so. David and Bathsheba’s son died as a result of his sin and David’s kingdom was never the same.
Given the fact that he was an adulterer and a murderer, how is David considered Israel’s greatest king and “a man after God’s own heart”? Because David was quick to sincerely repent for his sins and humbly turned to God seeking forgiveness. In Psalm 51 he wrote: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:10-11).” David sought a restored relationship with God and that is what God graciously gave him. God still maintained His covenant promise that the King of Kings, Jesus, would come from David’s line.
You see, what made David a great king was his relationship with the Lord. He sought to serve God faithfully and righteously. David knew that while he was the earthly king of Israel, the Lord God is the true King and the Greatest King Ever. David walked in the fear of the Lord. He was not perfect but we see the Scarlet Thread of redemption in David’s story: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Friends, that is the promise of the Gospel! When we turn to God in repentance for our sins, seeking His mercy, that is what we’ll find.
Lord, thank You for the example of King David, a man after Your own heart. It encourages me to know that even though he was guilty of great sin, he was also greatly forgiven by You and greatly used by You. Thank You for the promise of forgiveness and restoration to those of us who turn to You in repentance. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford