Good morning my friends,
Was king David a coward or a good king? It seems that whenever David faced opposition he ran. Was this from cowardice, or was it a means to avoid unnecessary bloodshed? Was this directed from God or did David decide this on his own? It is hard to tell without being there but we do have some clues to help us make up our minds.
The first clue is the quality of people who stood with the king. There were warriors who had dedicated their lives to king David, strong, brave warriors. When he released them this was their response:
"As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be." (2 Samuel 15:21)
Not a response that a warrior would give to a coward. It was the same when David told his servants they had to prepare to flee:
"Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses." (2 Samuel 15:15)
Despite all his faults David still had the anointing from the Lord to lead his people. There was something about his character and the anointing that caused the godly men and women of the nation to rally around him.
Remember that David was a shepherd and possessed a sense of responsibility for the people he was anointed to protect. Look at his reasoning for leaving this well fortified city:
"Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword." (2 Samuel 15:14)
He could have held out for a long time but eventually Absalom would have taken the city and probably kill everyone who was loyal to the king. So David's retreat also preserved the city and her people. When Absalom arrived he simply marched in and again David avoided bloodshed. This appeared to always be David's preferred course of action, to preserve life. It was his strength but many saw it as his weakness. In fact, it sometimes led to indecision which caused this problem with Absalom to rise in the first place.
However, we can see in his plans that David did not plan to be gone for long. He left people to look after the palace, he left the ark along with the priests, he even had a spy set in place to frustrate the council given to the king. He was planning to be back. If you truly want to see David's heart then read Psalm 3 and 69 which will allow you to see the private thoughts of the king at this time.
I wonder how often we are willing to swallow our pride in order to avoid conflict for the sake of others. When David left he left humbled and humiliated. He was jeered by people who had no clue. Would you be willing to be jeered at for the sake of others? Could you carry such a mantle of leadership, willing to put the safety and feelings of others ahead of your own? Well, Paul said that we always have that responsibility as Christians. We are told that the strong must look after the weak and we must consider the needs of others more important than our own. That is a challenge in a world that finds it difficult to think like that, yet it is what we have been told to do,
If we allow ourselves to be possessed and controlled by the Spirit then we will find it quite natural to respond with such a character. However, it is hard to respond with a Christ-like character if we are not possessed by this character. Christianity is not about conformity but about character. Are you being transformed by the Spirit or are you trying to live by an impossible code? Remember, the Spirit of God was on David as the anointed king, but he wants to be in you as a child of God.