As a mature Christian, I find it unsettling that after all these years, the biblical David still really irritates and annoys me, and I would daresay even outrages me.
As much as I try to put this conflict in my heart to rest, I still find it very difficult to accept that he has such a place of honor in Biblical history.
Why doesn’t Daniel (of the Lion’s Den fame) get more airtime? He was so much more committed to God, and humble and consistent overall. His testimony is so much more consistent and courageous.
I find it shocking that David committed adultery and was a murderer, yet so many people all over the world see it fit to name their sons after him. Do they know that he willfully inflicted himself on Bathsheba (a woman who just happened to be taking bath in her private estate)? Do they know that he connived to kill off her husband, Uriah, a devoted and loyal servant of his own kingship when Bathsheba told him that she was pregnant with his son, by intentionally asking his military commanders to put Uriah in the frontline?
Does it bother them that David was so unscrupulous? Or do they like the fact that he was able to transgress on such a phenomenal level and yet still be considered ”a man after God’s own heart,” be crowned King of all Israel and have almost half (73) of all of the 150 Psalms in the Bible to his own name?
I came away today from a discussion on this topic with a good friend who has a Master’s in Biblical Counselling. She said that the difference between someone like David and someone like his son, Solomon, was that his heart was turned towards Christ in repentance. Solomon evaded being honest and laying his heart bare before Christ by continually indulging in worldly things, like wine, women and song, and lots of $$$.
David returned to the Lord again and again when he realized that he had strayed.
So can I ask something else?
Where was David’s heart when he was in the midst of conniving to kill Uriah? Where was his heart when he was bedding Bathsheba? Was his commitment and relationship to Christ something that he could compartmentalize and shut-off?
What happened to his conscience?
According to Freudian psychoanalytical theory there are three components to our psyche: the ID, the Ego and the Super ID.
The ID consists of our natural instincts – aggression, sex-drive and the will-to-survive, it is concerned with immediate gratification, the ego is concerned with manipulating the material world and reality as we see it in practical and tenable ways to get the things we want, and enables us to delay gratification, (think ’the blue pill’ in the Matrix) and finally, the SuperID which is concerned with being ’good’ and meeting ideas of morality and respectability within the socio-cultural frameworks we are embedded in.
I daresay, having had a very close look at David life, he was not governed by the SuperID AT ALL. He defied social-norms again and again, refusing to let others define him or social expectations govern his actions. He boldly came forward to offer his services against Goliath, when he was deemed as a lowly and weak shepherd boy. As the crowned King of Israel, he danced in a such a spontaneous and undignified manner to the extent that he inspired contempt from his own wife. He pretended to be crazy to get out a life-and-death situation with the enemy, he worked as a mercenary for many years and killed off many innocent women and children in his line of work. The lows in his life are glossed over for the most part. But David definitely was a social deviant in many ways.
His life was rather defined by a close relationship with God – not someone he viewed as a distant and moralizing deity, but rather as a close friend, companion and provider of all of his needs. Someone that he owed his life to, but someone who would stand by him through the good, the bad and ugly.
Basically someone that he did not need to hide anything from.
Therein lies the rub.
David trusted God completely, even in those moments when he willfully chose to go against God’s will, (or when his SuperID was asleep), when he was confronted with the truth about his own actions, he was not afraid to turn back to God in repentance and truth.
For many of us, even Christians, we like to hold on to the illusion that we are ’good’ or can be ’good’ on our own terms – we try so hard to win people over, to win God over and to live respectable lives – however, trying to be ’good’ goes against the grain of true Christianity. The heart of Christianity says that we are all decidedly ’not good.’ If we were capable of being good on our own, then Christ would never have had to die, and his death on the cross would be utterly redundant.
Our conscience can rest easy because Christ died for all of our sins, past, present and future. But does that give us license to sin more? No, but it does mean that it gives us a freedom from a guilty conscience and the ability to live without a cloud of guilt and condemnation hovering over us. We can stop trying to be ’good’ and we can start living from our truest selves.
We do not have to run away from those internal voices that keep on reminding us how ’bad’ we are. Instead, we can just kindly tell those voices to leave our head. ’Get out, I don’t need you anymore’ we can say nicely to our harsh internal parents, especially if we didn’t grow up in an environment that felt supportive and understanding of our inner child.
Having said all this, I think my conclusion about David is… it was never about him, rather about how much God’s grace was poured out on his life in spite of his abysmal failures as a leader.
Sure, he had some amazing successes, but it is hard to look past the fact that he was a murderer and adulterer.
It is hard to look past his hypocrisy and pig-headedness on so many levels.
Maybe that is why people name their sons David, because it reminds them of how God’s grace was poured out again and again on David’s life because he kept turning to God in spite of all of his failings.
It is telling that the name David means ’Beloved.’
When we are willing to embrace our ‘inner David’ (Belovedness), we come closer to the heart of Christ.
We come closer to the very heart of love itself.
McLeod, S. A. (2019, September 25). Id, ego and superego. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html