By Holly Culhane
David, the remarkable shepherd-king of old, was an example of bold obedience, humble service, and sacrificial courage.
However, along with the victories in his walk with God, there is also a lesson for us to heed.
At the age of 30, when he was anointed king, David committed to walking with integrity in his new role. When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem, David reiterated his pledge to the Almighty. However, 10 years later, David’s behavior took a turn. He skipped leading his men into battle and, instead, lusted after Bathsheba, commanded she be brought to him, committed adultery, and intensified his sin by plotting and facilitating Uriah’s murder.
At any one of these turning points, David could have stopped. He could have rebuffed the enemy. He could have maintained his commitment to the Father. He could have said, “No, I will not treat my God this way!”
But he did not.
You see, fellow under-shepherd, starting out strong, fully devoted to the God of the universe does not necessarily equate to staying devoted or finishing well. Both require a moment-by-moment and day-by-day commitment to the Father and His decrees. No matter where we shepherd.
As I write, I am reminded of a conversation with a dear friend, a godly shepherd leader that I deeply admire. I had asked him how I could pray for him, and his response was an important lesson for me: “Pray that I will finish well today.”
David learned that lesson the hard way.
What had happened? How did David move from full and repeated devotion to the Father to impiety for the One he had praised, worshipped, obeyed, honored, and adored?
Compromise. Of some sort. At some point.
And here is the lesson for God’s under-shepherds: When we take our eyes off the Father, when we stop following His decrees and living the life He requires, when we rebel against the God of the universe, we will suffer the consequences. So will our families, teams, churches, organizations, communities and, sometimes, the larger body of Christ.
For David, Nathan told him that his household would rebel against him. And, in fact, his wives were given to another man in a fashion that produced public shame, he and Bathsheba’s child died, and later, his son tried to steal his kingdom.
Sin leads to shame and death, but obedience leads to joy.
Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for Him with all their hearts.
They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.
We know that God forgave David and redeemed him, and that David once again found delight in his Lord. Although he had lost his way temporarily, David had regained a position of integrity with the Father. The songs he wrote after that time confirm his joy had returned.
The lesson is clear. The warning obvious. The next step imperative. Will you trust God enough to stay by His side? To act with integrity toward Him and others, even when the requisite behavior requires the sacrifice of a shepherd? Even when temptations are the toughest?