Reputations matter. We like to say that they don’t. We like to think that we don’t judge or categorize people, not at all considering what we heard or haven’t heard about a person before meeting him, but that’s simply not true. We take words and stories and past experiences into subconscious consideration. Reputations, fortunately or unfortunately, shape our perception and relationships each and every day.
David has a reputation. David was king of Israel. David broke something like nine out of ten commandments in one chapter in the Bible. David breathed God’s grace in and out. David was a in charge of armies that had unprecedented victory. David’s leadership brought unity back to Israel.
David has a reputation. David was called a man after God’s own heart.
A man after God’s own heart.
I’ve been aware of this reputation for as long as I can remember. I learned about David as a young child in Sunday school, studied the Psalms as a student of the Word and have taught on his life countless times. David, a man after God’s own heart, I get it.
Yet, every once in a while, like that guy you know who seems like all the other normal people in your world, it’s possible to uncover a layer of someone’s story that reveals that their extraordinary character is well above the ordinary.
Reading through 2 Samuel, I came across a story in chapter 18 that, yet again, is a remarkable example of David being a man after God’s own heart.
This scene is one that every father would dread: a messenger from the battle lines is returning with news about his son. A bloody war is taking place, and the father’s beloved son is out there, fighting for his life. What makes this story unique, however, is that David’s son is on the other team.
Absalom has been plotting and planning ways to overthrow his father’s kingdom, to the point of rallying an army of his own to fight against David. He has already killed his half-brother in defense of his sister and had all kinds of family drama that is beyond the imagination of Hollywood…and now this. He’s out to destroy his own father.
Nonetheless, David only had one question, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
Is Absalom safe? Is my son safe? Is he OK?
David’s fatherly love tumps any and all normal responses to someone who is seeking to destroy you. All logic would say to fight back, destroy the enemy and stop the threat. But David’s love—love that reflects God’s own heart—prevails.
There is no human love that can forgive and care with such concern or grace. It defies logic. It doesn’t make sense. But that’s the beauty of God’s love. It’s beyond our own ability to care and forgive and leaks all over our lives in ways that we don’t deserve. How amazing is it that there is nothing—absolutely nothing—that we can do to make the Father not forgive us and not want to make sure that we’re safe?!
Now that’s a reputation worth seeking to make our own.