DAVID: A BETTER MAN THAN KING SAUL
In our previous offering we looked at the failures of King Saul. Actually, we only touched on the highlights (or maybe we should say "lowlights) of his kingship. It was one mistake after another for King Saul. And it was early in his reign that God rejected him as king. It was in 1 Samuel 13:14 that God's prophet spoke these words to Saul:
"But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you."
The Lord rejected Saul as king because of the unlawful sacrifice he made at Gilgal. God already had a new king in mind to replace Saul--a man after God's own heart.
Yet, when we look at David, we learn that he is not a perfect man by any means. He made lots of mistakes as the leader of God's people. I use the word "mistakes," but most of what I am talking about are more than mistakes--they are sins. We could start with the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah. David was guilty of grievous sins in this episode.
How then was David any better than Saul? Both men had a number of sinful episodes in their lives. How can David possibly be "a man after God's own heart"?
My first answer has to do with David's integrity. David admitted and confessed his sin unto God. King Saul, when confronted with his sin, made excuses and blamed others. In the matter of the unlawful sacrifice in 1 Samuel 13, he blamed Samuel for not being there when Saul thought he should be. In regard to the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15), Saul lied, claiming he had obeyed God; and then, he tried to shift the blame, insisting that it was the people of Israel who were responsible for the sin. There are more examples, but you get the point.
What made David different? In the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah, when confronted with his grievous sin, David said, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:13). No excuses, no shifting of the blame, a heartfelt confession. Psalms 32 and 51 were evidently written at this time of confession. David had a contrite heart, as is demonstrated in those psalms.
Leaders will make mistakes. Sometimes leaders will sin. Sometimes their sins will be so great that they can no longer lead. But the question for a leader is this: "Do you have the personal integrity to admit you have done wrong?" David had that kind of integrity.
It's just one of the things that made him a man after God's own heart!
By the way, a couple of questions for each of us: Do we demand perfection from those who lead local congregations? Are we willing to admit that such men have human frailties?