King David–Upright King or Scoundrel? Part 1
In the book of Acts, King David of the Israelites is remembered as follows:
He [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.’
This statement in Acts 13:22 called to mind for me two different passages of Scripture I also read recently, concerning David.
In Psalm 109, David is crying out to the Lord for being falsely accused. It is not clear who his accusers are, but his sense is that “In return for my friendship, they accuse me,…They repay me evil for good and hatred for my friendship” (verses 4,5). David couldn’t identify anything he had done wrong…in fact, he had been kind, but complained that his main accuser “never thought of doing a kindness” (16).
David was pierced to the heart by what others were saying about him and appealed to the LoRD–“I am a man of prayer” (4). He was determined to work this out in his own heart before the LoRD. He goes on to be brutally honest with God at how this betrayal of friendship has made him feel toward his accusers, and one in particular. He wants no mercy for them from God. He wants God to deal with them how their words have indicated he should be dealt with.
I could imagine this situation being the one described in 2 Samuel 10, where David had sought to show kindness to the son of the Ammonite king who died. King Nahash had been kind to David, so he sent sympathy and gifts by way of some of his men to the son, Hanun. The Ammonite nobles were suspicious of David’s motives and turned Hanun against him. They started a war with Israel over it!
Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.” (David’s army commander, Joab). (2 Samuel 10:12)
With God’s help, David and his men prevailed, the Ammonites fled, and many Arameans, who had had entered the battle as mercenaries at Hanun’s request were killed. Out of fear, the Arameans made peace with Israel. This may or may not be the situation described in Psalm 109, but it shows God using David to punish evil intentions of other nations…one of God’s purposes in calling him to serve as king. (“…he will do everything I want him to do,” Acts 13:22.)
I love the turning point in Psalm 109, verse 21. David recognized the goodness of the LoRD, who is Sovereign over all circumstances and who has His Own Good Name to protect. David begins to think about the LoRD’s reputation instead of his own, and asks the LorD to deliver him and deal with him in a way that preserves the LoRD’s name. David begins to humble himself before the LoRD, and acknowledges the hurt behind his anger (22).
But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
In verse 26, David calls on the help of the LoRD to save him, “in accordance with your love.” He has shifted from seeking vengeance, and instead wants the LoRD to put Himself on display to these accusers through him. He wants them to see that their evil intentions are no match for God’s good intentions, that they may be shamed rather than destroyed, as he had at first prayed. As the Ammonites fled rather than be destroyed, it still could fit with David’s prayer…they would have reason to fear the LoRD and see his goodness to David, with an opportunity to turn and trust God and His servant.
David realized that God’s goodness on display is much better than wrath, and would give him opportunity to praise the LoRD, not only in private, but publicly as the One who stands with the needy and saves him.
With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.
From these passages, David very well fits the description of an upright king, a man after God’s own heart.
But what about the grave sins of David also recorded in the Bible, which make him out to be a scoundrel? I’ll leave that for Part 2.
In the meantime, let me always be humble and seek to uphold the Good Name of the LoRD. When I face opposition, may I desire for them to see God’s goodness through me and pray for it in Jesus’ Name. (Read all of Acts 13 to see why Jesus is worthy of having anyone pray in His name.)
P.S. Anyone who wants to explore this topic further could read about it at the following website address: