Summary: When David became complacent his heart for God turned to a heart for self.
I want to start today with a story entitled “Kierkegaard's Complacent Duck.”
According to his parable, one spring, a duck was flying north with a flock. In the Danish countryside that particular duck spotted a barnyard where tame ducks lived. The duck dropped down and he discovered these ducks had wonderful corn to eat. So he stayed for an hour....then for the day....a week then went by and a month. And because the corn and the safe barnyard were so fine, our duck ended up staying the whole summer at that farm. Then one crisp fall day, some wild ducks flew overhead, quacking as they winged their way south. He looked up and heard them -- and he was stirred with a strange sense of joy and delight. And then, with all his might he began flapping his wings and rose into the air, planning to join his comrades for the trip south.
But all that corn had made the duck both soft and heavy -- and he couldn't manage to fly any higher than the barn roof. So he dropped back to that barnyard and he said to himself, "Oh well, my life here is safe and the food is good!" After that in the Spring and in the Fall, that duck would hear wild ducks honking as they passed overhead -- and for a minute, his eyes would look and gleam -- he'd start flapping his wings almost without realizing it...but then a day came, when those others would pass overhead uttering their cry -- and the now tame duck would not pay the slightest attention.
As I read this fable I pondered whether the duck was content or complacent. Complacent means “to be pleased, especially with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; to be self-satisfied.”
While contentment means “to be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.”
So it would seem the duck in the story had become complacent. The food was good. He felt his life was safe. He knew that he did not belong in a barnyard but it got easier each year to resist the call of the wild. He was truly self-satisfied. It did not seem to occur to him that the hand which fed him perhaps one day would butcher him for a meal.
The wild ducks were content. They migrated from the north to the south as they were designed to do. They would always find food, water, and a place to rest. There was a joy and delight that they shared with each other. They were satisfied with who they were and with what they had. And they desired nothing more.
So what does this have to do with David? Today we are going to discover what happens in a man’s heart when contentment becomes complacent.
Remember all that we have learned about David. At the age of 15 he was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. The reason wasn’t his looks or his stature but it was is heart. God saw a young man that had a heart for God. He saw a young man whose inner being was centered on pleasing God. It would be that heart for God that would give him the motivation, ability, and attitude to slay the giant Goliath.
He would spend the next 22 years of his life first serving Saul than fleeing from Saul. At the end of these 22 years David would finally descend the throne and become the King of a united Israel.
Then once again we see David’s heart for God shine forth when he sends for the last descendant of Saul. That would be Mephibosheth and his son. While it was customary for a conquering king to kill all of the relatives of the conquered king, this was not David’s intent. He wanted to return to Mepibosheth the inheritance of his father Jonathan because David had taken an oath to do so.
As David begins to enter his forties, he has become content. The nation is united. Wars have slowed down. But David had a side to him that is very seldom discussed.
One of the reasons that he seemed so contented was the number of wives and concubines that he had. While this was a common practice David seemed to take it to a new level. He was married to eight wives and had ten concubines as well. The reason he made them concubines is if a pregnancy does occur, they were covered by a marriage contract. This introduced the concept of marriage as a pleasure contract not necessarily for procreation. David felt something for these ladies though, as after they are defiled by Absolom, he makes sure they are taken care of for the rest of their lives but he never touches them again. In addition there are other wives and concubines hinted at but unnamed.