Wednesday, July 06, 2005

David's Heart (part 1)

There are a few things that I think make David a man after God's own heart. He was far from perfect, and one of the things I love about the Bible is that the writers refuse to gloss over his character flaws. He was deeply troubled and dysfunctional. He had eight wives, 11 concubines, rebellious children, adulterated relationships all over the place.

But he only had one God.

Unlike most of the other kings in Israel's history, David never bent his knee to a false god. He never went over to Baal or Asherah or Dagon. When he failed (which he did often) he took his regret and his brokenness to one source: YHWH. When he was confused or afraid, he did not seek refuge in the gods of the Philistines or Moabites. He went to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

At the end of his most famous poem David wrote, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6b). Usually, we think of this line as if it refers to heaven and eternity. I'm not sure that's what David had in mind.

Maybe David was an old man when he said those words, with a long, gray beard and a wrinkled face. Maybe he remembered when he was young and handsome, and that weird old man, Samuel, poured oil over him and said the mysterious words that started it all. Maybe he remembered how on that day, so many years ago, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.

Maybe he remembered how he decided when he was a young man -- the way young men do -- that when he was king things would be different. He'd get things right. Sometimes he did, and sometimes he didn't. But he stayed in the house of the Lord.

He did not write, "I hope I will stay there" or "Maybe I'll stay there." He said, "I'm staying in the house. I'll make a mess sometimes. I'll spill stuff on the carpet and knock over lamps and break expensive things. It will be a pain having me in the house, but you're going to have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

That may be why one reason why David is known as a man after God's own heart.