Is A Mistake the End of the World?
Boy have I made mistakes. I mean, I've seen the good, the bad, and the U-G-L-Y. What can I say...I can be a mess sometimes. Thankfully I serve an amazing God who showers His grace and forgiveness on me in those moments, creating what I like to call, a "beautiful mess."
Today I found myself in 1 Samuel 21 and up til now David has been a sort of "golden boy." It seems everything he touches succeeds and everyone except the mad King Saul adores him. So what gets in the way? His human nature, just like you and me. David makes a few mistakes.
When we open up to this interesting turn of events in chapter 21, David is fleeing for his life. Saul is intent on killing David and so the young man literally runs for safety. Quickly he goes from the optimistic man living with the kings family and ready to assume the throne to the homeless man seeking refuge and safety from the most powerful man in the country.
We open up to David running to the priest Ahimelech, not far outside of Jerusalem, for provisions. When asked why he is there, David lies and says he is on official business for the king. This is a lie, and one may wonder (as I did) why this is so bad? I mean, David is merely trying to protect himself in a life or death matter. Seems a little white lie about why he is there wouldn't hurt anyone. Unfortunately, there are consequences to his lie. When Saul hears about this exchange, he has all 85 priests AND the entire town of Nob killed in the next chapter. How devastating, that one seemingly innocent lie cost so many lives. This realization rattled me to the bones. I have often witnessed how one mistake can hurt so many; I have done so to others many times. How I pray that I no longer make mistakes that cost others so much.
After this exchange, in which David acquires the sword of Goliath for defense, he flees to Gath. I still don't understand why David did this? Gath is a Philistine city, and as number one enemy of the state, it's odd that he would go there. In fact, he doesn't just go there. Remember, he has Goliath's sword with him, and Goliath was from Gath. I mean, I'm blown away by this. But for some odd reason he does and ends up in a bad place, obviously. The people of Gath immediately know who he is and in order to protect himself, he feigns insanity. Literally, he starts acting crazy.
This may just be a dumb mistake that isn't anything compared to lying to a priest. However, it's also the first time we really see David lack trust in God.
David had some fear and understandably, he does what he can to protect himself. However, he allowed wisdom and trust to fly out the window in these trying times. I like to believe he learned from his mistakes here, when it came to fleeing for his life, because I noticed a bit more maturity in later chapters. In fact, in chapter 22 we see him acknowledge the mistake he made with the priests. He feels the burden of his mistake. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes must take place to learn a valuable lesson. And unfortunately, I've learned many lessons the tough way...by making lots of mistakes.
The good news is, our mistakes aren't the end of the world. God's grace and redemption is abounding and more than enough to wipe away the past. The lesson here is that we go to God for forgiveness, repent from our mistakes, and learn from them so that they are never repeated.
In a very interesting connection, I looked into Doeg, the man who killed the priests because I was very intrigued whether we would hear from this man again. We do not, however in my study I learned that David wrote a Psalm after this experience with Doeg. Psalm 52 describes the wickedness in an evil man's heart, but the last two verses struck me. I want to leave you with verse 8-9:
"But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people."
The analogy of an olive tree stood out to me, so I looked into the olive tree and my mind was blown! A green olive tree can grow just about anywhere. It can grow in the rocky, dry soil unfavored by many, where rain is scarce and conditions not ideal. It can weather the storms, and in fact are considered invincible.
This olive tree is a picture of you and me. In Christ, we have the strength to weather life's storms. We have the ability to thrive in difficult situations.
David wrote these very words as he struggled with the death of Nob and the priests. He declared his commitment to God and spoke in faith that this trial would not move him. I don't know about you, but my own faith is spurred by this declaration of my heritage of strength and perseverance.
My prayer for you is that you too will stand and declare your heritage. My prayer is that the mistakes you've made will not move you, but encourage deeper faith roots to grow in our mighty God.
Are there mistakes haunting you today? Write them down and ask God to not only forgive you, but thank Him for His abundant grace.
I encourage you to take the next week and declare Psalm 52.8-9 over your life each morning.