Well-known men and women featured in the Bible were flawed. Some would even call them failures in present times. The stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, even Hosea are examples of serious family dysfunction. Although the Bible praises Solomon as the wisest man in the world, he had a serious sex addiction (1 Kings 11). Jacob was a pathological deceiver (Gen. 27) and Noah a drunk (Gen. 9:20-21). Both Moses (Numbers 20:11) and King Saul struggled with anger. David, a man after God’s own heart, fell into sinful pride and adultery. Even the prophets of God struggled with impurity, depression, unfaithful spouses and broken families.
We speak of the great and inspirational lives of Bible folks but often forget they were not perfect. Like us, they too struggled with sin. God did not justify their wrongdoing and consequences for sins were played out, but God through grace forgave and used them. Dysfunction cannot be equated with our standing before God. Most of those listed above are characterized as righteous—or at least as people of faith (Hebrews 11).
We ALL fall short of the glory of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
But here is some good news. God’s grace can cover our flaws and His power will enable us to accomplish His work.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)
When we examine the life of King David, we see a forward progression of humility, faith, and obedience. But, there is a time when he let down his guard. 2 Samuel 11 states,
“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”
Why did David remain behind? Was he too confident of his position, weary of battle, or in need of some fun and relaxation? No matter his reason, by staying in Jerusalem David fell into sexual sin with Bathsheba, the wife of his faithful soldier, Uriah.
Uriah was one of the band of David’s mighty men. Learning he had impregnated Bathsheba while Uriah was off fighting in battle, David tried to cover up his sin. He called Uriah home, hoping the soldier would sleep with Bathsheba, thus covering up his betrayal. When Uriah refused the comfort of his marriage bed (because his fellow soldiers were still in battle and away from the comforts of home) David made a devastating decision, and it involved murder.
“In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” 2 Samuel 11:14-15 (NKJV)
As the story unwinds, we learn that Uriah is indeed killed in battle. David marries Bathsheba, and their baby is born. Consequences for David’s sins follow but eventually he repents and returns to his steadfast walk with God.
Failures are a part of life. Temptation is something to keep a close watch over, for they are always nipping at our heels. But God does not toss the baby out with the bathwater. King David, you, and I have sinned. We will continue to sin, though we do not wish to do so. This does not mean we are unworthy of serving God. It simply means, as sinners, we must continually repent and call out for the grace that covers us by the blood of the Lamb. Forgiven over and over, and slowly sanctified into Christ’s image, we will fulfill those works God has prepared for us to do for His glory and His honor.