In the reading today Absalom is dead, his reign in his fathers place is very short lived. So with Absalom dead, David returns to the throne, no problem right? David returns and things go back to normal. Um… no.
Instead of seeking out David and bringing him back, there is a dispute among the people. David has to negotiate his way back, he has to convince Zadok and Abiathar to be his PR flacks to drum up support and promote Amasa to be the commander of his army to sway enough support to bring him back. Along with this if you read the passages between yesterdays reading and todays, you find that David is utterly destroyed on a personal level, his grief for his rebellious son is heart wrenching.
When I read these messy stories about King David, they seem to run counter to the big picture of the heroic David that seems to be projected though the rest of scripture. David is seen as “The” king, long after David is dead the stories of scripture point back to him longly as a prototype, when the good old days are remembered, they are of David and his time.
The key here I think is not so much that David was perfect, he certainly wasn’t, nor was he always heroic, or faithful. So why has he earned this reputation, why does God use this messed up king as a key part of his plan and promise?
Over and over again when he goofed up, when caught in the thicket of his sin and its repercussions, David repented. David wondered time and time again from God’s will, he sinned, he was human, very human just like you and me. David’s kingship was not a straight line of awesomeness, it was a crazy straw of human sin and divine redemption. King David was King David not because of David, but because he continually turned back to God.
So then prototype of the perfect king in David isn’t so much about David as it is about God. These stories are good reminders that in the midst of our sometime messy lives, that we are not the sum of our mistakes. Rather we are the beloved children of God, and washed in the waters of baptism, we have a promise of forgiveness and are called to lives of repentance. This is our story, it is God’s story, it is a story messy at times to be sure, but also one full of grace, mercy and the love of God, just like David’s.