We Don’t Have to be Perfect

In many ways, he was a man who had it all. He was a strong and powerful king who had been successful on the battlefield. He was handsome and a gifted musician. His court was well established; his kingdom was growing wealthier. This man of action was deeply prayerful and attentive to his inner life. King David was a man after God’s own heart.

And yet, his family was a mess. More problems than we can count. Upon hearing about his son Absalom’s death, David cried out “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:33) What’s so stunning about this verse is that Absalom died while trying to kill his father and take over the kingdom.

Into this family mess the prophet Nathan had already spoken God’s promise: “‘The Lord declares to you (David) that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood … and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever … my love will never be taken away from him…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:11-16)

In the middle of his messy life, raising children, fighting battles, and dealing with the disappointments of family, God makes this promise to David of an everlasting kingdom and a descendant to rule. As Fleming Rutledge writes: “God did not wait until David got his family straightened out before he made the promise. God’s unconditional promise came to David in spite of himself.”

Here in the middle of the Old Testament is the promise of God we find realized at Christmas. God did raise up a descendant of David to rule forever. Things don’t need to be perfect. We don’t need to be perfect for God to keep his word. God’s promises are faithful and true even when we are not. All we can do is look upon God’s goodness in wonder and give him thanks.