Faith and Grace

The book of Samuel records kings being established over the nation of Israel, first Saul and then David. The story moves so fast through 1st and 2nd Samuel it’s hard to keep up! But, a simple summary goes something like this:

  • Israel wanted, demanded, a king. God warned them that living under a king was not a good or easy thing (1 Samuel 8:10-18). Besides that, Israel’s desire for a king is basically a rejection of God (1 Samuel 8:6-8).
  • Israel get’s a king, Saul, who neither understands or is able to exercise the responsibility of being king over God’s covenant people Israel. He fails miserably.
  • God anoints David as king in Saul’s place. The rest of Samuel record’s David’s life as king.

We know right away David’s reign over Israel is going to be different than Saul’s. Not because David is some kind of moral superhero, he isn’t (take the Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite episode, for example). David’s reign is going to be different because God chooses David to be the one through whom he continues to work out his covenant promises.

When you read 2 Samuel 7:9-16 you should be thinking “this sounds vaguely familiar.” It does. It is reminiscent of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:1-8, and with Jacob in Genesis 35:9-12. God promises a safe land; numerous descendants; a linage of kings. So, now we know David is in the line of the offspring of Abraham and heir to the covenant God made with Abraham.

Look closely at what God says to David:

I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

God is talking about a different kind of Kingdom than the kind of kingdom Israel wants - a house for God’s name that will last forever. So David has a huge part to play in God’s redemptive plan, even though God knows David is going to have many failures. Look:

When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. (2 Samuel 7:14-16)

God tells David: your kingship and your heritage is going to endure because I, the LORD, am going to make it endure. As you read the rest of Samuel you see David is just like every other human being (and not too different even from Saul) in that he is adulterous, murderous, and unforgiving. The one thing that separates David from Saul is faith. The thing that connects David to Abraham is faith. David is absolutely confident in God, trusts God, believes God, even though he makes sinful and selfish choices.

The Kingdom of God is established by God’s grace and inhabited by people who live by faith. Make no mistake, God’s grace is more powerful, more consistent, and more steadfast than faith - David’s, mine, or yours. Faith cannot atone for sin, that requires blood and grace. 

The story of David has always been encouraging to me. Not because of what David does but because of what God does. God establishes David and preserves his Kingdom. It is a Kingdom of faith and grace, where grace is great even when faith is questionable. I’m glad for that.