by Norman H. Patterson Jr.
These are the words God spoke to Solomon after he consecrated the temple. They are curious words concerning David, the father of Solomon. God said to Solomon, "if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever."
How can God say this? Wasn't David an adulterer and a murderer? Didn't he covet another man's wife and lie about it as well? That doesn't sound like a man that walked with "integrity of heart and uprightness." Is God wrong here? Is this an error in the Bible?
Not at all! Why? The reason is, God is very different than we are.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
People tend to remember the sins of others. They think that just because a person committed a severe transgression at some point in their life, this sin reveals their true character. It is true that David committed those sins and that he tried to use deception to cover them up. But that's not the last word we see concerning David.
The Bible gives us the whole story. Second Samuel 12:13 tells of how Nathan the prophet confronted David. He immediately repented saying, "I have sinned against the Lord." We have the words of David's prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 where he said things like,
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
God's word to Solomon give me comfort because I am aware of my sins before God. There was a time in my life when I ran away from God. I didn't just commit the "acceptable sins" that most people do like telling "white lies" or allowing my eyes to linger too long on a beautiful woman or allowing resentment against someone to remain in my heart. No, I did some things that I can't justify or explain away. They were blatantly unacceptable.
I have people in my life who remember my sin very well. They point to them and love throw them in my face, if given the chance. They use them as proof that I am a man of low character and am in some way delusional. Some very significant people in my life have parted ways with me believing that they cannot and will not ever trust me again.
These words of Solomon give me comfort because they reveal the heart of God. If God can say that David walked, "with integrity of heart and uprightness," I know He can say that about me as well.
Like David, I have owned my sin. I confessed it before God and took responsibility for my part. I went to each person that I sinned against and asked for their forgiveness. I repented and turned away from my sin and live, to the best of my ability, a life that pleases God. I also forgave those who hurt me and do my best to love them even though they continue to hurt me. I did everything in my power to reconcile and restore my marriage and each broken relationship in my life. And I refuse to bring up the past sins of others when I have that opportunity.
I believe that God has forgiven me through Christ and His blood has cleansed me from all unrighteousness. God knows my heart and the extent of my repentance. And this is why these words of God to Solomon bring me comfort. I believe that long after I am gone, if God speaks to my children or grandchildren, He will say of me that I "walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness."
If God could do this for a couple of notorious sinners like David and me, He certainly can do this for you as well.