Even the greatest of men fail. One of the most remarkable men mentioned in the Bible was King David, a man after God’s own heart. He was esteemed and loved, in God’s own words,

 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

But the Bible is also brutally honest in its depiction of people, unlike the media of today that preaches and glorifies what suits them and conveniently ignores the numerous failures of its heroes. The last week has been media eulogy time for Muhammad Ali, whose life was an inspiration for many and whose recent death, a time to reflect on his many achievements- as a boxer, a social activist, an agent of change, a man who stood up to the establishment, who sacrificed his career temporarily for what he believed in and leveraged his popularity for many good causes. But conveniently ignored are the facts that he totally misunderstood and misrepresented true Christianity in his highly publicized and erroneous quest for Islam, his promiscuity, his pride and his glaring failure to treat his opponents in the ring, notably Joe Frazier, in a true sportsman like manner, befitting a champion.

David was a truly special man, who despite the tumultuous times he lived in, and having had to fight many battles starting with Goliath, going on to the many fierce enemy nations surrounding Israel, found it possible to nurture a unique relationship with the true God. It is remarkable when a man is able to center his many accomplishments and all his effort around the centerpiece of his life, that is God. David was such a man and it is such men whose names are preserved for all eternity.

However, David had his moments of failure. His incident with Bathsheba was given prominence in the Bible. Not only was this an adulterous relationship with a wife of another man, David went from one disaster to another having taken the first step into calamity. He attempts to deceive Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband and then uses his authority to intentionally arrange for his killing on the battlefront. For a man who was used to being constantly in the presence of God and responding accordingly, this was a rare failure. It doesn’t take long for the prophet Nathan to confront him, and to David’s credit, he repents and turns back.

The other glaring failure in David’s life was not bridling his children’s passions. There was obviously a lack of parenting for his children. Perhaps he was too busy with various battles, perhaps running the kingdom was no easy job, perhaps he had too many wives, fact is, discipline was lacking in their lives. Right from Amnon, his firstborn son who raped his half-sister, Tamar, to the ambitious and fatal designs of his sons, Absalom and Adonijah, his children ran amok, leaving behind a trail of violence and ungodliness.

Heroes need to be honestly evaluated for the legacy they leave behind. David was an extraordinary man who had his moments of failure. But because the Bible doesn’t hide its heroes’ deficiencies, we can learn from their mistakes and be better off for them.



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