David was a good king. That’s actually an understatement. David was a great king. He was a leader of steadfast character, bravery and loyalty. His rise to power and his military exploits are well documented in the Old Testament books of 1st and 2nd Samuel. David had risen from a shepherd boy to astronomical heights of power. But as we noted in last week’s article, gravity affects everyone.
In 2nd Samuel 11, we read about David’s fall. It is an awful story of lust, adultery, deception and murder. The fall of David is shocking to anyone who reads it - it seems to come out of nowhere. But if you look closely, you discover a backstory to his fall. Every fall has a backstory.
David had a vulnerability, and when he let his guard down, that vulnerability jumped up and bit him. What was David’s vulnerability? Well, a quick read of the first 10 chapters of 2nd Samuel reveal a pattern. David had many wives. In just one passage, six wives are identified as having born sons to him. Over the next few chapters, more wives are mentioned. We really don’t know how many wives David had.
Then there were the concubines. The only reason I bring it up is to substantiate the fact that David had a vulnerability. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, that vulnerability was women.
Back to chapter 11. At the beginning of the chapter, we read that David decided to take a rest from war. He sends his soldiers into battle while he remains in Jerusalem. As king, he certainly had the right to do so. His rise to power had no doubt exhausted him. Some time off would help him regain his strength and focus.
While resting, David decides to take a walk on the roof of his palace. From that vantage point, he sees a women bathing. He sends for her and they spend the night together. She becomes pregnant. David tries to cover his transgression with deceit. When his plan fails, he commits murder. David falls hard.
At first glance, it really does seem that David’s fall comes out of nowhere. But a fall doesn’t just happen in a moment. Every fall has a backstory, and like most falls, David’s backstory begins with an unguarded vulnerability.
We all have vulnerabilities. A vulnerability is an aspect of life that is susceptible, easily persuaded, and prone to failure. We don’t get to choose our vulnerabilities. They are attributable to both our nature (our temperaments that create a natural tendency to behave in a particular way) and our nurture (a behavior brought about by our circumstances and experiences). Regardless of how we get them, we all have vulnerabilities.
In Romans 14 and 1st Corinthians 8, Paul writes about “weaker brothers”. A weaker brother refers to a combination of vulnerability and immaturity. Over time, immaturity can be corrected; but a vulnerability can only be guarded. David may have been a mature leader, but he left his vulnerability unguarded - a dangerous error.
When we speak of a mature Christian, we are describing someone who has become, by God’s grace, proficient at humbly identifying their weakness and carefully guarding their vulnerabilities. The result is what we may call a holy life.
Ironically, Christians who believe they are holy will sometimes forget their vulnerabilities. Like David, they end up revealing a new vulnerability: pride. Pride is a vulnerability that causes a person to believe they are no longer vulnerable – that they can defy gravity. When you believe you can’t fall, you stop taking precautions. Hence, pride comes before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
What are your vulnerabilities? We all have them – we just don’t like talking about them. When health and strength allow us to focus, our maturity overcomes our vulnerabilities. But friends, we can never allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that the vulnerability no longer exists. There is great wisdom in being honest with ourselves. David would have been very wise to recognize his vulnerability and then protect himself. He didn’t. His pride got the better of him – and he fell hard.
Are you aware of your vulnerabilities? Do you think you have progressed enough in life that you are no longer vulnerable? If so, then pride is getting the better of you. Be careful my friend, your arrogance may be setting you up for a fall. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with God. Be honest with a trusted friend. Confess your vulnerabilities and guard them diligently.
Remember, while a fall is always possible, it is never inevitable. By God’s grace we can stand on the heights! Psalm 18:33
Next week we will talk about intensified vulnerabilities.