Wednesday, July 13, 2005

David's Heart (part 4)

I'm trying to get ready to teach tonight. We're up to the story of David and Goliath, a story so well-known that I'm struggling to figure out what to say that hasn't already been said.

I'm also struggling with anger right now. I'm so angry at so many different people and situations. I'm angry at the fact that 30,000 people will die in Africa before the sun goes down today. I'm angry that I've got thousands of dollars of outstanding invoices and stacks of unpaid bills. I'm angry that God isn't clearer in his guidance. I'm angry that he sometimes blesses people who are jerks and seems to withhold blessings from people who are desperate. I'm angry that sometimes things seem to move too fast and sometimes not fast enough. Angry that my phone won't stop ringing. Angry that I can't form the words for this next chapter in the book.

I'm angry at myself. Angry at people I've never met. Angry at people who are close. Angry at people who are far away.

David was a passionate man. We've seen that. When he felt something -- whatever it was -- gratitude, lust, anger, joy, sorrow -- whatever he felt, he felt strongly. He gave his heart away with wild abandon. But he tempered that by also having a heart of deep reflection. I've tried reflecting deeply today, and it just made me mad.

So, there is this third aspect of David's heart that I'm going to attempt to imitate today. David's heart was stubborn. When he gave his heart to someone, he didn't take it back. When David loved you, you stayed loved -- even if he hated you sometimes.

Think about the people in David's life. First, there's King Saul. He was once a promising young king, but now he had become increasingly corrupt, tormented by a pathological jealousy of David, paranoid and eaten up by his own anxiety. Several times he tried to kill David, but David just kept loving Saul. Twice David could have killed him, but he wouldn't. He probably would have been justified in doing it, but he refused. And when Saul eventually died, David wrote one of the most heartwrenching poems for him. "How the mighty have fallen," he said of Saul. Knowing everything he knew of Saul, he wept at his death. He loved Saul to the end.

Then, of course, there's Jonathan. He was Saul's son and could have been David's rival for the throne. You might have expected them to be at each other's throats, but instead they had one of the great friendships in all of literature.

Many years later, after both Saul and Jonathan were dead, David started looking for someone from their families just so he could show that person kindness. Someone eventually found a guy named Mephibosheth -- Jonathan's son who had been crippled in a childhood accident. David went and got him and brought him into the royal court. He treated Mephibosheth like a son because of his intense love for Jonathan.

And then there's his own son, Absalom. He tried to overthrow his father and take the throne. He actually takes over the capital city and forces David into exile. As soon as he's in power, he stages an elaborate orgy held in broad daylight on the rooftop with all of David's concubines involved. That's detestable. But when David finally is restored to power and he receives word that Absalom has been killed, he doesn't rejoice in the fact that he is safe and secure. Rather, he cries out that he would gladly exchange places with his son. He wishes that he had died in Absalom's place.

When David loved you, you stayed loved. I so badly want a heart like that. A heart that says regardless of what you have done, are doing, will do, might do, you are loved. I want myfriends to know that. I want my daughters to know that. I want my wife to know that.

That's God's heart for us. When God loves you, you stay loved. No matter what you try to pull. No matter how much unrealized potential. No matter how distant and separated you may be. No matter how rebellious you've been. God says, "Oh, I wish I could die in your place." And that is precisely what he has done.

David's heart was characterized by this stubborn love. And that's the final reason why I think he was called a man after God's own heart.