Our lives are messy

The greatest ancient kings of the Bible, their downfalls, and how we relate to them today.

January 11, 2024

The greatest ancient kings of the Bible, their downfalls, and how we relate to them today.

Fearful decisions

Why is it that we sometimes know the right thing to do, the good thing to do, the loving thing to do, and yet, we choose not to do it? Ever pondered why we do what we eventually regret?

This question has been asked by great minds throughout history, from philosophers like Socrates to theologians like the Apostle Paul. It's a question comes from the heart of human condition and our struggle with doing what we know is good.

Saul's Rise to Kingship
The story begins with an old prophet and priest named Samuel, a pivotal figure in the Old Testament. For years, Samuel led Israel, guiding them in the ways of God. Despite God being their true King, Israel insisted on having a human king like other nations of this time. God, giving them what they wanted, gave them Saul, a tall and handsome man who looked the part of a king.

Saul's Disobedience
A pivotal moment in Saul's life came about when God commanded him to destroy the Amalekites completely. Fueled by fear, Saul spared their king and valuable spoils, a clear act of disobedience. Samuel exposed Saul's compromise, revealing fear as the driving force behind his decisions.

Fear as Saul's Driving Force
Saul's story highlights how fear, though a natural emotion, can become destructive. The fear of measuring up to other kings and of losing his reputation led Saul to compromise both his role as king and Israel's identity.

The Solution: Trusting in God's Grace
Samuel emphasizes that Saul's kingship is due to God's grace, not personal merit. In this story, fear's destructive power is countered by trusting in God. In fact, even when Jesus was facing similar temptations, He relied on God's Word and does not give into using miracles out of fear, which models the action of trusting God beyond fear.

Jesus' Example of Trust
In the wilderness, facing temptation, Jesus doesn't use His divinity to bypass the human experience; instead, He relies on God's promises and rejects the idea of using miracles to avoid pain. The key is not trusting in bread, even miracle bread, but in God alone. Jesus models a trust that goes beyond fear, finding satisfaction and fulfillment in God's Word.

Application in Our Lives

What does this mean for us? To break free from the fear we all experience, submit to King Jesus, acknowledge the need for grace, and trust in Him. Recognize when fear drives decisions, seek God's guidance, resist compromising, and immerse yourself in His Word. Join a supportive community, prioritizing trust in God over succumbing to fear. Jesus' example and the resurrection offer hope and empowerment to live boldly for God's glory.

Blinding pride

In the Old Testament, the lives of kings are often presented as complex tales of triumph and failure, wisdom and folly. One such king, David, a man often revered for his courage and leadership, also grappled with the insidious force of pride. By looking at the story of David, it's clear that pride, when left unchecked, can lead even the most honorable individuals down a perilous path.

Understanding King David's Early Reign
The story unfolds in 2 Samuel 24, where we find King David wrestling with a temptation that echoes through the corridors of history. The text reveals that God's anger was kindled against Israel, a common consequence when the nation strayed into idolatry. Instead of seeking God's guidance in humility, David, aware of God's displeasure, succumbs to the subtle allure of pride.

The Sin of Census
King David took a census of his army. At first glance, the act of counting might seem harmless; however, the sin is not in the method, but in his motive. His decision to take a census was driven by a desire to find security apart from God. Pride whispered that a large, formidable army would be sufficient, overshadowing God's faithfulness and promises. In essence, David sought strength in earthly probabilities rather than recognizing that God was with him.

The Dangerous Temptation of Pride
The temptation David faced represents a broader human struggle – the allure of accomplishing, producing, creating. It's a temptation to showcase our talents, achievements, or possessions as if they define us. The whisper of pride suggests that we can be our own gods, independent of God. In David's case, it led him to prioritize the might of his army over God's guidance.

Jesus and Temptation
Fast-forward to the New Testament, where Jesus faces a similar temptation in the wilderness. Satan tempts Him to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, using Psalm 91 to bait the hook. The underlying sin is pride – the desire to display His divine power for recognition; yet, Jesus responds with a resolute commitment to humility, quoting Scripture to emphasize that we are to never put the Lord to the test.

The Power of True Confession and Repentance
What sets David apart from Saul is his response to sin. Instead of sinking into a cycle of remorse and repeated transgressions, David demonstrates true confession and repentance. He acknowledges his foolishness, confesses his sin, and pleads for God's forgiveness. This genuine remorse and commitment to change characterizes a heart after God's own.

Breaking the Cycle of Sin and Sorry
As followers of Christ, we're challenged to break free from the cycle of sin and superficial remorse. Genuine confession and repentance require humility – recognizing our faults, agreeing with God about their offensiveness, and decisively turning away from sin. The path of humility, exemplified by David, leads to true transformation and a deeper reliance on God's grace.

The Peril and Promise of Humility
The story of David's census serves as a cautionary tale, warning us of the dangers of pride and the need for humility in our journey of faith. Pride can blind us to our dependence on God, tempting us to rely on our own strength; however, the path of humility, as exemplified by Jesus and echoed in David's repentance, leads to a restored relationship with God. May we learn from David's mistakes, embrace true humility, and continually seek God's guidance in our lives.

Selfish ambition

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often find ourselves grappling with a perplexing question: Why, despite knowing the right thing to do, do we fall short? Now, in the third and final installment, our attention turns to Absalom, the third king of Israel. Absalom's narrative, often overshadowed by his father David's exploits, emerges as a tale of brokenness, revenge, and the insidious allure of selfish ambition.

Absalom's Personal Struggle
Absalom's journey begins with a heart-wrenching violation against his sister Tamar, a victim of assault. Consumed by the desire for justice, Absalom waits for his father David to act, but in vain. Frustration morphs into anger, and Absalom takes justice into his own hands, setting in motion a chain of events that expose the fractures within his own heart.

The Rise of Selfish Ambition
As Absalom returns to Jerusalem, it was clear that selfish ambition was a theme subtly woven into Absalom's actions. Fueled by a desire for recognition, Absalom positions himself at the city gates, filling the void of leadership left by his passive father. The once noble intentions to seek justice and care for his sister take a dark turn as Absalom plots to steal the throne from his own father.

Jesus and Temptation
Similar to Absalom's narrative, Jesus faced temptation in the wilderness. Satan, tempting Jesus with the offer of immediate glory and power, mirrors Absalom's pursuit of the throne without considering God's plan; however, Jesus, rooted in the Word of God, rejects the allure of selfish ambition, choosing the path of humility, service, and ultimate sacrifice.

Fixing Our Eyes on God
The solution to overcoming selfish ambition is found in redirecting our focus from ourselves to God. By fixing our eyes on Him, we realign our ambitions with His purpose. Just as Jesus resisted the temptations of Satan by keeping His gaze on the Father, we too can find freedom from the destructive grip of selfish ambition.

Living with Holy Ambition
We, as Christians, are called to emulate Jesus' example. We are to seek a holy ambition – an ambition focused on God's will, love for others, and the glory of God.

As we navigate the shadows of our own selfish ambitions, may we heed the call to fix our eyes on God, allowing His transformative power to shape our hearts. In doing so, we embark on a journey of selfless love, humility, and purpose – a journey illuminated by the light of Christ.

Listen to our podcast on the messy life we all live:

More episodes

Ask a Pastor

Tags: prayer, pride, pray, fear, repentance, health, biblical, fasting, bible study, kings, community group, ambition, discussion guide, crossroads church, crossroadsabc, group discussion, fallen kings

Previous Page