King David – poet, soldier, shepherd, lover, musician, statesman – is a central figure in the history of Israel, so important that Jesus is sometimes called the Son of David and his kingdom likened to a perfecting and fulfilling of the golden era of King David’s reign.
In this story we see David’s strength of character and sense of responsibility in turning aside from heart-rending personal grief to attend to the affairs of state. We might notice his willingness to listen to his advisors and to put first the well-being of his people, his self-control, and his sense of priorities – but also the passion and depth of the love he brought to his personal relationships.
The Bible describes King David as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:13–14; Acts 13:22). Why do you think this was? Because of his courage? Because of his honesty? Because he was a 100-per-cent man – all passion? Because of his willingness to repent and his ability to have mercy? Thinking about people you have known in your own life, who would you pick out as a man or woman after God’s own heart?
The story about King David chosen for our study of him shows a moment of tremendous self-discipline, as he puts aside his personal concerns to honour the people in line with his state duty. Thinking about our own national leaders, what comment do you have to make about getting the balance right between private and public life?
Can you look back to a time in your own life, or the life of someone you know, when big personal stuff had to be set aside while you met the expectations and requirements of your job or social position?
For more wonderful stories about David’s passionate nature and colourful life, you might like to look at 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:24 (David and Bathsheba), 2 Samuel 6:12–22 (David dancing before the Lord), 1 Samuel 16:23 (David’s gift of music), 1 Samuel 24 (David spares Saul’s life), and 1 Samuel 17 (David and Goliath), or read one of his songs – perhaps Psalm 51, 55, or 139.
Examine us, O God, and look deeply into our hearts and minds. What do you find there? If we are half-hearted, breathe upon the flame of life ebbing and guttering within us, and kindle it again. If we have been selfish, always putting our own interests above those of our family or community, ignite in us your vision of what it means to serve and to belong to the whole people of God, the household of faith. In this, our time on earth, may we grasp and appreciate the opportunity we have been given to really live and really love; for we ask it in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.