Long ago there was a man named David. He was a mighty warrior and king of Israel.
The book of Acts chapter 15 verse 22 helps us understand David’s relevance in God’s eyes saying, “He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”
David was a man after God’s own heart and said to be one who would indeed execute God’s will as the leader of Israel. Yet, scripture tells us that at given points in time David failed to embrace God’s law and sinned against God.
King David had many wives, but this did not stop him from taking and impregnating the wife of another, and in the process, he attempted to cover it up by arranging the demise of his loyal subject Uriah.
A tragic byproduct of David bearing children from multiple wives is seen in the rape of David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon in 2 Samuel 13. David was angered over the incident, but chose to do nothing to Amnon. David’s failure to properly address and punish Amnon was a fatal decision as his son Absalom would choose to take vengeance on his half-brother Amnon by murdering him.
David’s sins and shortcomings go well beyond his treatment of Uriah, his wife Bathsheba, and his offspring. He brought the nation great pride and immense discouragement and suffering as well. If anyone understood sin it was David. If anyone understood the need for forgiveness and repentance it was David.
In Psalm 51 we see David recognizing and repenting of his sin. In verses 3 through 4 David said, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight.”
In Psalm 51:10 David seeks restoration saying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
And in Psalm 51:12 he acknowledges the basis on which potential restoration rests saying, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
In Psalm 32 verses 1 through 2 David shares the joy of God’s forgiveness saying, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Interestingly enough, David, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did not believe his sin disqualified him from serving and instructing others.
In Psalm 51 verses 12 through 13 David said to God, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways.” David saw his shortcomings as a springboard to teaching the wayward about God and His ways. Thus, from David’s and thereby God’s perspective, one’s sin and shortcoming can be a source of ruin in this world, or one of hope and purpose, as we recognize our sin, confess it and turn from it.
It is ever so easy for us to condemn David for his sins, yet as James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” Our pride and arrogance can lead us to look down on and condemn others for their sin, but from God’s perspective, if we fall short at one point of the law, we are “guilty of all.” Thus, God leaves us no room for pride or self-righteousness in terms of our personal purity and righteousness. Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written:“There is none righteous, no, not one.” Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” And 1 Corinthians 10:12 reminds us saying, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
David fell short of God’s glory, but so do we. If serving God were based on our purity and perfection, no one would serve, no one would share the gospel, preach, teach or counsel on behalf of God. But as David noted, our shortcomings, once rightly resolved before God, affords us with the opportunity to “teach transgressors” about God and His ways.
How is it possible that David and others are able to rebound from their sins and shortcomings? We see the means established in Psalm 145 verse 8. There it establishes four traits God displays that affords us with the ability to recover from sins and shortcomings.
Psalm 145:8 says, The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is Gracious
In Psalm 145 verse 8 it establishes the essence of who God is saying, “The LORD is gracious.” The root word in the Hebrew used here means “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow.”
The almighty God humbles himself before His lowly creatures in such a way as to show us undeserved kindness and favor.
David understood God’s graciousness.
In 1 Samuel 16:11 scripture notes that David was a shepherd. Verse 12 describes him as “ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking” young man.
In 1 Chronicles 28:4 David said to Israel, “the LORD God of Israel chose me above all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever, for He has chosen Judah to be the ruler. And of the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father, He was pleased with me to make me king over all Israel.”
As a lowly shepherd, the least among his brothers, God selected him as king. God provided him with the ingenuity and ability to defeat Goliath, God gave him the insight to lead his country to victory over the many foes they faced, the indwelling Spirit to write the many psalms he wrote, and allowing his seed to establish the presence of Christ Himself. God was gracious beyond graciousness when he reached down into the humble fields David shepherd, and raised him and his offspring up to the most lofty of heights.
Matthew 5:45 underscores God’s graciousness saying, “for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
From cover to cover, the Bible displays numerous examples of God’s graciousness not only to people such as David, but to those who despise Him as well.
The Lord is Full of Compassion
In Psalm 145:8 it adds that “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.”
The compassion spoken of here is one of showing love to another. By His actions and many blessings, God showed His love and support of David. In spite of his sins and short-comings, God showed him great compassion.
Leviticus 20:10 says, “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”
When David committed adultery with Bathsheba God held him accountable and he was punished for his sin, but God did not demand his life. Rather, God showed compassion on David and allowed him to live and prosper.
When speaking about the hardheartedness of the people of Israel, Psalm 78:37-38 points out the nature of God, saying, “For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant.38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, And did not destroy them.Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath.”
God shows His overwhelming compassion, no matter how great the offense over and over again.
The Lord is Slow to Anger
Psalm 145:8 goes on to say, “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger.”
The word slow denotes that which is drawn out, lengthened and long in nature. In other words, the Lord is not quick tempered, but tempered and patient toward us.
God is slow to anger. The Hebrew term for anger portrays the imagery of ones nostrils flaring, or ones breathing becoming passionately rapid.
Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life.”
The Lord had every reason to vent His righteous anger on David on numerous occasions, but David did not receive the fullness of what he deserved for the Lord was repeatedly slow to anger when it came to his failures.
The Lord is Great in Mercy
The Lord is gracious, compassionate and slow to anger, but He is also “great in mercy.”
The word great denotes that which is exceeding, far, long and mighty.
The mercy spoken of here centers on the favor, kindness and pity God has for His wayward creature.
David took confidence in the fact that the Lord was a God of mercy. In Psalm 21 verse 7, David said, “For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.”
God’s unending mercy toward David gave him great confidence. David could not be moved regardless of the circumstances surrounding him, because he knew God was “great in mercy.”
When David faced Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, he did so with great confidence, not because he thought highly of himself, but he understood the Lord would have mercy on him and his people and afford them with an undeserved victory over the giant. In verses 45 through 47 David said to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
On that most memorable of days, God indeed handed the giant Goliath into the lowly hands of this shepherd boy. Why? Because He had mercy on His people. The same people who sought a mere man to reign over them as a king, rather than the King of kings.
In closing, indeed, “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.”
How does that impact us? It impacts us in that we too may taste of the same blessings as David did long ago. We may taste of the Lord’s graciousness, compassion, patience and mercy. How? Through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.
Scripture says that the only thing separating us from eternal separation from the blessings of God is His grace, compassion, patience and mercy. But this time of grace will not last forever and it is imparted to all of us up to our time of death. After that, all those who reject it, will feel His wrath.
This graciousness, compassion, patience and mercy David spoke of and personally felt is the basis of why the apostle Paul could confidently say in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
David messed up in some very big ways. Yet the Lord offered him forgiveness and pardon. No matter how much you or I may mess up, the same God that forgave and pardoned David offers us this gift as well. The same graciousness, compassion, patience and mercy David tasted long ago, each of us can drink of today if we embrace the Lord’s gift of salvation.
No matter how much we have failed, through Christ, there is hope amid the ruins of life.