(As we were publishing a series of blog posts called Ramblings from you Grandparents by Janice Kelley, one post was inadvertently left out. Ironically, it was the post titled “When We Fail.” So, if you’ve been missing reading her work, here’s a two part blog about failure and how to react when we do wrong.)
When We Fail
And when God had removed King Saul, He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also He gave their testimony, and said I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all will. ….Acts 13:22 KJV
So far in this rather lengthy epistle we have talked pretty much about joyous outcomes and lovely attributes. We wish this particular subject were not necessary but human beings….being human beings….will fail in our attempt to do the right thing all the time. It has been so since the Garden of Eden and the entrance of Satan in the form of a serpent who talked. Such a clever fellow! He simply took God’s command to Adam and Eve:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17) and added one simple 3-letter word: “And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘You shall not surely die.’” (Genesis 3:4) And so began the battle between man and Satan that raged on through the centuries to this very day! Satan is still lying to us and we are still succumbing to his wily ways!
When Eve and then Adam took a bite of that forbidden fruit they DID die! Oh, they didn’t fall down and go breathless; but something happened much more significant than physical death. They died a spiritual death. They no longer had sweet fellowship with God and every human being from that day on has followed the same pattern. We come into this world innocent and without sin, just as Adam and Eve were when they first awoke in the Garden of Eden. They walked in perfect innocence with God as long as they obeyed Him. When they chose of their own free will to disobey His command, they lost that sweet relationship. God, in His mercy and grace, gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for their and our (yours and my) sins so that we could again be a part of His family! That fact ought to leave us gasping for air and falling to our knees in gratitude to our Creator for such love and mercy! And to His Son, Jesus, Who willingly obeyed His Father that we might have our sins forgiven, be adopted into God’s family, share all Heaven with our Elder Brother, be joint-heirs with Him in the riches waiting for God’s children, and live forever with Them!! WOW!! What love! What sacrificial pain! And WHAT will be our response? Hold that thought!
Failing to follow God’s Direction
There are many stories in the Bible of God’s redeeming love, but we are going to look at just two very different but equally reassuring stories that teach us that when we fail to follow God’s direction, there is hope! Fast forward to about 1000 B.C. during the reign of King David. Saul was the first king of Israel and he started out in a powerful manner, but eventually he totally displeased and angered God and caused God to remove the succession of his son to the throne giving that lofty position to a young shepherd boy named David. David thought about God a lot, sang songs praising God, listened to God, eventually sat on the throne of God’s chosen people, Israel, and was a mighty king. Then, one restless night he gazed out over the city and saw a beautiful woman on a nearby rooftop. We all know the sordid story! David wanted her, summoned her, slept with her and then….in a short time found out she was with child….his child! Now what to do? Bathsheba’s husband was one of David’s best and trusted warriors and he was away at battle! King David sent for Uriah to come home (not hard for us to realize what David had in mind), but Uriah was more noble than the King and he refused to go to his home, to visit his wife and enjoy the pleasure of her company, even for a night. Uriah returned to the battlefield and now the King had a bigger problem. How could he cover his sin? Bright idea! King David sent word to his commander to put Uriah in the front of the next battle and when things got really tough, pull all the troop back and leave Uriah without his soldier companions. Well, that bright idea worked and Uriah was killed, Problem solved! David sent for Bathsheba, married her, the baby arrived in due time, and they lived happily ever after in the palace of the King of Israel! Well, maybe not!!
Let’s take a look at the list of sins in this sad story: lust, adultery, deception, lying (don’t you wonder what kind of excuse the King gave for summoning Uriah home?), pre-meditated murder, dragging others into his evil ways (Commander Joab undoubtedly knew what was going on), murdering an innocent, faithful warrior and friend, selfishness and probably a good many more that we haven’t even thought of. QUITE an impressive list! Can David ever be forgiven for such dastardly acts? Will there be consequences Let’s take a closer look.
Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children….Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion. Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household….’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” So Nathan went to his house. (II Samuel 12:1-15)
Admit, Repent and Work
Can you feel a little of what David must have felt when Nathan pronounced, “You are the man”? We suspect David had been living with guilt for some time, guilt he refused to admit even to himself, but it stole his sweet relationship with God and would not let his spirit rest. Yes, there was forgiveness for King David, even for those very wicked, pre-meditated deeds; but there were also consequences, as there is with all sin. David would live out his long life with unrest and sin within his own household, even some of his own sons would try to de-thrown him and kill him. The child conceived in sin would die despite David’s pleadings with God for mercy. But King David appears to be a changed man after this crushing, sinful event. He spent the rest of his days listening to God, praising God, obeying God, and walking humbly with Him. Yes, he continued to make some poor choices from time to time, but we never again hear of him deliberately going against God’s will. Another thing about David that we need to give careful consideration to: when David DID sin, as mankind is prone to do, he immediately took the blame for his choice and never tried to blame someone else, make excuses, argue with God. That bad habit gets a lot of us in trouble and we should avoid it like the plague! When we do wrong, admit it, repent and work to never do it again!