I love that in the Bible, God gives it to us straight. He doesn’t hide the flaws of his servants. The only human to ever live a flawless life is Christ Jesus. The rest of us are in pretty bad shape. Yet God made enormous promises to two very flawed people of ancient history: Abraham and David.
Out of fear, Abraham twice put his wife in a situation where other men took her. He had sex with another woman to try to produce an heir. Then the quibbling between the two women caused him to split his family.
His faith walk included growing in fearlessness and learning to trust God—it took over twenty-five years. I’ve blogged about it previously: Faith is Messy. After Sarah’s death, Abraham engaged in at least one more culturally acceptable but morally compromised concubinage relationship (Genesis 25:1-6; 1 Chronicles 1:32-33).
David was an atrocious father and a polygamist. 2 Samuel 11-18 reveals his dysfunctional family free-for-all. When one of his sons raped one of his daughters, David did nothing; then he was angry when another of his sons took matters into his own hands as the avenger. His children were undisciplined and spoiled.
Then there were the eight wives (1 Samuel 18:20-29; 1 Chronicles 3:1-5) and the adultery. David’s beautiful eyes and handsome appearance attracted women and got him into trouble. He disobeyed God’s instruction to kings that they not multiply wives (Deuteronomy 17:17) and God’s creative plan for marriage to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-24).
If these guys were alive today, there would be definite grounds for divorce and family counseling.
Yet God, knowing all of this would occur, loved them and invited them into relationship. God drew them to himself. He promised first Abraham and then David that the Messiah, God’s One and Only, would be born into their family tree. God was not ashamed to be called their God (Heb. 11:16), and they were commended for their faith.
Why did God love them? Clearly, it was not based on their merit. The same is true of us. They had no human perfection. All their days, they struggled to grow. But they believed.
It boils down to this: For some unknown reason, God loved them and chose them. He did a work in their hearts. They responded. He never let go of them. As a result, they returned again and again to him. They got second chances galore! And they took them. God’s love and forgiveness was irresistible to them. They didn’t run away and remain in sin.
They were humble and thorough repenters. In this, they are our model.
We see them falling on their faces over and over before God, repenting of their sins, their parenting errors, their husbandly foibles, their moral blunders, their failure to consult God, and their forgetting of God altogether. David’s psalms of repentance have been used by sinners for millennia as we sob out our confessions: Psalm 51 and Psalm 38.
The faith walk of each of these men encourages me greatly, because I, too, am beset by “profound, pathological, fallen selfishness.” I am seriously flawed to my very core. So were they. Yet God loved them, and he loves me.
In their lives I see modeled the lifelong struggle to trust God and to respond to conviction of sin with humility and repentance. I’m in my fifties. I’ve been working on this for over forty years. This is the reality of human life. But, if God can use them, surely he can use me in his kingdom.
I want to recognize and grab those second chances that God offers every single day. I want to know Christ more intimately. I want him to deal with all my dirty laundry. I long to turn back to him and hold on tight. I yearn to love him with my entire heart and soul. I want the life God wants for me—a life of communion with him, a life of faith and trust, a life of repentance.
How do these flawed, yet repentant, people of old encourage you?
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