Summary: During those times in our life when it seems we have no hope, we can read the words of David to know that God is always present. Jesus said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."
Spend time every day in God’s Word. Find joy in something each day. Work on self improvement. Try something new. Venture out and do something different.
One of my favorite musical artists is a man named James Taylor. I’ve enjoyed his guitar playing and ballads for over 35 years. In the early 70’s, his first album depicted him on the cover with shoulder length hair as many of us had back then. And today, his hairline is a lot like mine.
Recently, in a concert made for PBS, he released a new CD with many new songs and some of his favorite old ones. Perhaps my favorite on the CD is a song entitled “The Secret of Life.” The first line of this song says, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” And you know, in many ways this is so true. The secret of life is enjoying life, enjoying people and the things around us. I would expand that a bit. I believe that the secret of life is knowing where we will be when it’s all been said and done, so we can enjoy the passage of time. A relationship with Jesus Christ secures our everlasting eternity with Him, so before we leave this rather short time here on this planet, we should enjoy every day that God has given each of us.
Perhaps my favorite person in the entire Bible, other than Jesus, is David. From his boyhood as a quiet shepherd, to his adulthood as a mighty King, as human as we are, a man after God’s own heart, he had an amazing life – a life that God used to provide for us all an example.
In Psalm 51, these words were penned by David at a time of his life when he felt separated from God. This classic passage in the Old Testament speaks of man’s repentance and God’s forgiveness of sin. Did I say sin? Can I say that in church? This Psalm was written after David’s encounter with Bathsheba and his directive to have her husband Uriah murdered. It is one of 7 penitential Psalms in the collection. To David’s credit, he recognized how horrendous his sin was against God, blamed no one but himself and asked for God’s forgiveness, and God forgave him. God still forgives today.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:10-12.
David was a man after God’s own heart. But I want to focus for a few minutes this morning on another time David felt separated from God and that was toward the end of his life. You would think that David would have learned, but age alone is no guarantee of maturity or freedom from error, according to Pastor, author and teacher Chuck Swindoll. As Elihu said to Job,
“The experts have no corner on wisdom; getting old doesn’t guarantee good sense!” In this life it would be wonderful if as we grow older we automatically grow up, or that the longer we walk with the Lord the more we are guaranteed immunity from sin. As we know, this is not the case. We will never be immune from sin’s appeal. Often those who fall the hardest are those who have walked with God the longest.
In 2 Samuel 24 (and its parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 21) we are given a vivid account of a tragic example of this when David was consumed with his own accomplishments, pushing God aside. This event probably took place on the heels of a war between Israel and her age old enemy, the Philistines. David’s first battle was against the Philistines in the classic account when he faced Goliath, and he was victorious in this battle as well. And after victory, David was most vulnerable. And the same is true in our lives today. After victory we too are most vulnerable, and I believe this is when Satan can really take hold of us.
When things are going really well, we tend to reflect on what we have accomplished, what we have done, and how great we are. In this familiar passage, David gave the decree to number the people in his army. David said, “I want to know how many we have in this land from Dan to Beersheba” (north to south, all throughout Israel.)
He wanted to know the strength of his army. In other words, his motive was pride. He wanted to see how big his land really was, how vast his kingdom, how impressive his army. It sounds self serving doesn’t it? We think, how could David, after walking with God all his life, turn inward to reflect on how great he was? In 1 Chronicles 21, the passage reads “Then Satan stood up and moved David to number Israel.” It was the enemy who was directly responsible for impressing David’s mind with this wayward thought. It is not surprising, though, since we know that the real battle for our lives occurs in the mind.