David – the comforter
Illustration by Elhanan ben-Avraham
King David brings some of us much comfort. He was called “a man after God’s own heart.” His name means ‘beloved,’ and he was beloved by God. And yet when we look at David’s life we see a man of great passions and weaknesses, not unlike ourselves, zealous for the kingdom of God, but a flawed human being.
He was a brave and vicious warrior, an outlaw persecuted by the royal authorities, and also a sensitive poet and musician, writing many of the psalms sung for the last three thousand years in synagogues and churches around the world unto this day. He was loved by some, and hated by others, as may be the case with some of us as well. At times his own lusts overcame his better judgment and his own great knowledge of God’s Law, which led to adultery and even murder, sins for which he suffered the consequences.
His life was filled with triumphs and defeats, with family dysfunction as his own son betraying and rebelling against him, and even another defiling his own half-sister which led to a son murdering his brother, and he thus suffered the anguish of two sons dying in disrepute. But all this did not stop David from his personal relationship with YHVH, his heart remaining sensitive and tender despite his rough exterior. On the contrary, unlike King Saul who justified his own transgressions and was dethroned in favor of David, David poured out the details of his own in writing for the whole world to see, translated for all generations to behold. He openly admitted his sins and wept before God and man, asking forgiveness, even as king of a nation. Perhaps this is part of his greatness, and why he remained beloved by God who made promises to him and his descendants forever, and from who would come the King Messiah.
David is an example and an encouragement for us all who stumble at times in our human weaknesses and passions. His life gives us the comfort of knowing that our sins may be forgiven when brought to light and humbly and honestly confessed to God and man. His example to emulate also teaches us that it is better to bring them to light now for forgiveness, rather than to conceal them, only to have them broadly exposed in the light and time of God’s judgment.
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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.