Leaders & Mirrors: A Lesson from King David
The biggest giant King David ever faced was not on the battlefield, nor the office, but actually the one in the mirror. It wasn’t some overgrown military contender determined to strike him down that got the best of him. No, instead it was his underestimated internal set of dispositions.
In an idle, un-captured and unguarded moment, the “man after God’s own heart” left his spiritual mindset to pursue “forbidden fruit” – if but for a few hours’ time. That’s all it took. The luster of his kingdom would be forever tarnished. David’s biographers have used different phrases to describe the king’s fatal attraction to Bathsheba, including:
Charles Gulston observes, “he fell a great distance.”
Clarence McArthrey called it “a dark day.”
F.B. Meyer considered it “the sin of his life.”
Chuck Swindoll called it “the most distressing episode in David’s life.”
Alexander Whyte said: “David’s self-deceit was deep-seated.”
David was about fifty-years-old and had been king for approximately two decades when he fell. This king, poet, musician and warrior possessed many wonderfully godly characteristics, but on the horizon of his life lurked a little fox that was poised to ruin the vine.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. . . But David remained in Jerusalem.” 2 Sam. 11:1
Seems strange, doesn’t it? That at “the time when kings go off to war”, David “remained in Jerusalem.” Had David taken a closer look in the mirror, he may have seen he made two catastrophic mistakes that set him up for his fall:
MISTAKE #1: HE PULLED BACK FROM THE BATTLE.
MISTAKE #2: HE TRADED CHALLENGE FOR COMFORT.
Rising from his bed and walking around on the roof of his palace that fateful night, this time the king wasn’t meditating on God’s Word, as was his frequent practice. After all, his own psalm affirms that this was his regular practice:
“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Ps. 119:148
This night, however, was different.
David was different.
What was going through David’s mind as he walked on the roof? Was he regretting that there were few enemies left to conquer? Was his masculinity in question? Was he wrestling with getting older? Maybe he just did not FEEL like worshiping God. Ever felt that way?
The consequences of this sin of David’s were astounding and worth remembering (from 2 Samuel):
David was rebuked to his face by a prophet — Nathan (12:1-14).
David’s relationship with God was apparently shallowed (12:15-23) — he seemed
to have lost much of his “heart for God.”
David’s son, Amnon, became a rapist and his daughter, Tamar, one of his son’s victims (13:15). His sin affected and horridly infected his family (Num. 14:18).
David apparently became yet another disinterested father and Absalom, his son, a murderer (13:23-29).
Absalom turned on his indifferent father and sought to steal his throne and destroy him (ch. 15).
David fled his throne in fear for his life (15:13-37).
Absalom was tragically killed (18:1-18).
David’s son, Solomon, multiplied his father’s sexual sins.
You and I can’t look in David’s mirror today as leaders, but we can look closer into our own. The 19th Century Scottish pastor and Bible character biographer, Alexander Whyte, offers this challenge:
“…when you become a man in the books you read, and in the matters of your
own heart; and especially in the superlative deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of
your own heart, you will stop all your childish exclamations over David, and will say
to yourself, I myself am David; I myself am that self-deceiving man…
Self, that utterly ungodly, diabolical, inhuman, inconceivably wicked, and
detestable thing that was so strong in David and is so strong in you and in me. He
who watches the workings of self in his own mind and heart will not be (prone) to
throw a stone at David: he will not be surprised at anything he reads about David or
any other man.”
God, keep us as leaders looking honestly into our own mirrors and passionately towards your face. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Ps. 119:9 ESV)
ROBERT and PAMELA CROSBY are the Co-founders of Teaming Life, investing their lives in men and women who desire to live as Teaming Couples, Teaming Families and equipping leaders to build strong Teams in the Church and Marketplace. Robert’s works include The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration and The One Jesus Loves. Together they have written, The Will of a Man and the Way of a Woman, recently released.