Who doesn’t love a good story? Even those with an aversion to reading enjoy hearing tales of adventure, love, tragedy, revenge. And the truly exceptional stories stay with us long after the last page of the book is turned. It’s like those characters were our friends. We shared in every high and heartache, didn’t want it to end, then eagerly awaited a sequel so we could jump back in and reconnect!
To think there is one book, like no other, true of all these things – we are friends with the main character, we do share in His adventures, and one day we will be together, forever! Yet, this extraordinary book, the Holy Bible, is unknown to so many, and remains untouched, collecting dust, even in the homes of those who do know. Life is busy. I get that. But let’s look at a certain story showing who we are at the core and what can happen when God is not our priority.
David is introduced in 1 Samuel 16 with a very good start. As a mere teen, he was chosen by God and anointed king by the prophet, Samuel. This poetic shepherd boy wasn’t just a defender of sheep – he heroically rescued his people when he conquered Goliath. His life ended well too, as he died with this promise from the Lord, “you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.” Yet, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear David’s name? Sadly, he is often remembered for his greatest sins – the adultery with Bathsheba and consequent murder of Uriah (leave it to human nature to recall failures first). These “private” sins against God brought David lifelong and public consequences. However, we often learn best from our mistakes, and tragedy makes the triumph that much sweeter.
I can’t help but think of the contrast between God’s goodness and our faithlessness. Somewhere in the middle of life, this “man after God’s own heart”, got to the point where he did willful and wicked acts (things he probably never thought he’d do), without any remorse. Oh, there was initial sorrow, in a fear-of-being-found-out kind of way, but that is absolutely not the same as conviction. How did this happen? The same way it happens to us! Distraction, laziness, boredom, being where we’re not supposed to be or not being where we’re supposed to be. David had become self-sufficient, self-absorbed, and it blinded him. It took a “story” from God, through the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), to finally open his eyes. Then, in verses 8-9, the Lord said, “I gave you… and gave you… And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight?” (2 Samuel 12:8-9a) It’s a great question. Why, after all God had done for David, was He repaid with evil?
Our deeds may be different, but the sinful heart is the same. David’s title “a man after God’s own heart” is not because he never sinned. It’s because God was his priority. 1 Kings 15:5 states, “David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” David never turned to other gods, and when he realized he put himself before the Lord, his immediate response was sorrow and repentance.
Have you put yourself above God, replacing His ways with ones that suite your own understanding or desires? What will it take to open your eyes? The Word of God is “living and powerful… piercing… a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). But how can our souls be pierced if we’re not hearing from God? International Bible teacher, Kay Arthur says, “If you despise the Word of God, you despise God.” Believers may never see themselves in this way because “despise” seems so harsh, but maybe we can relate better to some synonyms like: undervalue, neglect, disregard. Don’t let anything stop you from reading the Bible (pride, boredom, difficult passages). Ask the Author to spark your interest and grant understanding. He wants you to know Him more. And that won’t just keep you out of trouble, it’ll make your own life a page-turner.
What’s written on your pages? Don’t like it so far? Keep reading. A chapter can change everything! I still happily engage my grown children with memories of times past, laughing, bonding, teaching life lessons and hoping they’ll learn a thing or two from my experiences. In much the same way, God longs to share with you! He’s already revealed both the past and future, summarized beautifully by the hymn Victory in Jesus (“I heard an old, old story…”). Now, somewhere in the middle of God’s most epic saga, we get to play a part. May our lives be compelled by the grace He has shown so that we can, in turn, extend God’s love to others in this, the greatest, never-ending story ever told!