It was Carl Sandburg who wrote, A tree is best measured when it's down. And that's precisely what we're doing today on Insight for Living, as Chuck Swindoll helps us measure the impact of an Old Testament character named David. What you're about to hear is message number 12 in a 24-part series called, David, a man of passion and destiny. At this midway point, Chuck invites us to pause and take a panoramic view of David's life from beginning to end.
Chuck titled his message, New King, New Throne, Same Lord. The life of David could be measured like the roof of a house. The first 35, 50 years of his life triumph.
The last 20 years, tragedy. The first part of his life is a model of character and integrity. And the last part of his life is a downhill slide in which I believe David died a broken man. Look at 2 Samuel 5. Verse 5, at Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months. But in Jerusalem he reigned 33 years over all Israel and Judah. David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that he, God, had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people, Israel. Before you read the next verse, let me share with you what G. Frederick Owen, a very fine historian who writes like a novelist, says about this reign of David.
Everything favored national prosperity for Israel. There was no great power in western Asia inclined to prevent her becoming a powerful monarchy. The Hittites had been humbled and Egypt, under the last kings of the 21st dynasty, had lost her prestige and had all but collapsed. The Philistines were driven to a narrow portion of their old dominion. The king of Tyre sought friendly alliance with David. With a steady hand, David set out to force back and defeat Israel's enemies who had constantly crowded and harassed the Hebrews. Moab and Ammon were conquered, then the Edomites, alarmed at the ever increasing power of Israel, rose against David but were routed by Abishai who penetrated to Petra and became master of the country.
Commercial highways were thrown open and in came merchandise and culture and wealth from Phoenicia, Damascus, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, and distant lands. To his people, David was king, judge, general, but to the nation's roundabout he was the leading power in all the Near Eastern world, the mightiest monarch of his day. I'll tell you, that's a lot of clout. That's a lot of clout for a man to handle who is given to passion. Very few can be trusted with that kind of power. Now I repeat that this evening and I know you've heard it before because I know there are some in this congregation who have that kind of ability and that kind of influence, not as a king, but that kind of influence over a business. And I warn you vicariously as you enter into the life of David to be careful because with power come those unique kind of temptations that very few can handle.
The hand of God was great with David, but he was still a man and he could still be given to failure and indeed he did. If I were to list his accomplishments right now there'd be several and perhaps it would be of greater interest to some than others, sort of summarizing the accomplishments. First of all, territorially he expanded the boundaries of Israel from 6,000 to 60,000 square miles.
Incredible. He set up extensive trade routes that reached the known world and from that wealth came into Israel like they had never known before. He was a brilliant organizer, a brilliant manager, a brilliant planner, but a man of war. He kept fighting.
He stayed on the front edge of battle. He unified the nation. He brought them together under Jehovah God. He was not a priest, he was a king, but he lifted up the role of the priesthood so that Judaism could run free in the land. He put down the idol altars. Finally, he created a national interest in spiritual things. He's a remarkable man. But now the disappointments, I hate to call them just failures, let's call them disappointments. I'd like to list three of them.
They break my heart to go over. Number one, among his disappointments, he became so enamored of public pursuits he lost control of his family. That's the first disappointing thing about David.
So enamored of public pursuits, he lost control of his family. Did you look at verse 13? Did you take a peek where we stopped reading? 2 Samuel 5, 13, David took more concubines, more wives, from Jerusalem after he came from Hebron. More sons and daughters were born to David.
There's a long list of them. Now, let me list the mistakes, a couple of them. First of all, there was a mistake of too many wives, one's enough for any man. Second, too many children for him to raise and rear properly. He was a man of passion and as he gave himself passionately to these women, children were raised. Children were born and as it were, thrown into the court to be raised themselves.
There's no difference in the street in Skid Row and the street in the courtroom. There's no difference if they have no parental direction and guidance. A king can give birth to prodigals and to rebels just as quickly as those who live in the lands without money. And that's exactly what happened to David. He had undisciplined children. But think of it, Absalom rebelled when he reached the age where he saw his move. He deceived his father and pushed him from the throne and David ran like a wounded animal. It's awful to think of it, Amnon raped his own sister, half-sister, and that led to murder and intrigue within the family. And all it says in the text is that David became angry.
That's all it says. He just got mad. He didn't know what to do. Or if he knew what to do, he didn't do it.
He was domestically passive. Let me show you a verse. 1 Kings chapter 1. 1 Kings 1 verses 5 and 6. We're right in the height of his reign.
He's come to power and all of these beautiful things are happening nationally, but he's losing touch. Look at verse 5. I had you remember the name Amnon earlier.
I mentioned why just a moment ago. I asked you to remember Adonijah and here's the reason. Here's Adonijah, not in the crib, but now on his bike, old enough to call his shots. And look at what happens to Adonijah. Adonijah, the son of Hagath, exalted himself, saying, I will be king.
So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him. His father had never crossed him at any time. Look at that verse. Dads, never once had David pained him, literally.
What does that mean? Well, how do you pain your child? Never once had he spanked him. Never once had he crossed him.
Asking, why have you done so? He couldn't control Adonijah. He couldn't control Absalom. And when Absalom was murdered, that's why David was so grieved. Oh, Absalom, my son, my son, would God I had died for you.
Absalom, my son, my son. This dramatic moving account, as we're going to see in the life of David later on. A great deal of the mourning was guilt.
I had a very effective father tell me one time, your kids can forgive you of anything except no discipline. Newsweek magazine told a story in a few terse paragraphs. When West German industrialist Friedrich Flick died, he left a personal fortune estimated at 1.5 billion dollars. A business empire that embraced all or part of some 300 firms and a reputation as perhaps the crustiest, craftiest magnet ever to operate in the German business scene. Flick was dedicated wholly to his work. He buried his wife at 3 p.m. one day in 1966 and was back at his desk hard at work two hours later. But unlike such German and other German industrialist, he never really made anything. He simply put companies together. He always made the right moves, summed up one odd observer. He was the Bobby Fisher of the industrialist world.
At his death, the Flick empire generated annual sales in excess of 3 billion dollars. But for all his enormous power and wealth, listen to Newsweek, quote, the old man had one very human shortcoming. He could not control his family. A Flick family fight over der Alter Herr's empire had employees, bankers, and politicians alike shuddering over the eventual impact it might have on the West German economy. Herr Flick's dilemma is dramatic. He could put companies together, but he couldn't mold his family together. Flick's fault, says a family man, set out a pertinent point, and it's this, says one evaluator. Success in one area of life does not guarantee effectiveness as a father at home.
Flick scored at the office and struck out at home. Change the words to David and you have a perfect analogy. Sitting in this congregation are some exceedingly successful businessmen striking out at home. I don't say that to mock you, I say that with a heart that understands. That is a need in my own life as well.
I hurt with you. It's my desire in our future days as an assembly to find a space and provide room for family ministries where we can help moms and dads know how to put it together. Because you have to earn a living. God knows we need successful Christian businessmen, but not to the extent of losing a family. David did that. Well, he became so enamored with public pursuits, he lost control of his family.
Here's a second. He indulged himself in extravagant activities of passion. David, whatever he did, he did with all his heart, didn't he? When he loved, he loved with all his heart. When he fought, he fought to the end. Well, you don't read of battles like any other king like David.
He just wiped them down, finished them off. He had numerous wives and concubines. That's one thing to remember under this business of passion. He had inappropriate seasons of leisure. See 2 Samuel 11. When the other kings went out to battle, David didn't. For some reason, in his extravagance, in his passion for leisure, he just overlooked the fact that it was time to be at battle. He hung around the king's chamber that day.
What an infamous day it proved to be. It was the day he fell into sin with Bathsheba. Inappropriate seasons of leisure. He was indolent, he was lazy, he was indifferent, he was unguarded. In his leisure time, like many a successful man, he doesn't know how to handle his leisure. When given leisure, he falls into sin. There's a lack of control on the inner spirit of David.
Of course, the other, underneath this same thought, is uncontrollable lust. As David took Bathsheba, lied to the people around, and only Joab saw through it, as we'll see in days to come. J. Oswald Sanders says, David's greatest fault lay in his yielding to passions of the flesh time after time. It wasn't that he didn't have wives, he didn't have concubines. He didn't have Bathsheba, and she's the one he wanted. He got her. Third, David became a victim of self-sufficiency and pride.
It's tragic. 2 Samuel 24, 1-3, he numbers the people. 1 Chronicles 21 says, Satan led him to do it.
As a victim of self-sufficiency and pride, David simply began to believe his own track record. He said, number the people, Joab. Joab says, why do you want to do that? He says, I said, number the people. In so many words, he told Joab, don't be insolent with me. Don't be insubordinate.
You do as I say. He did, and 70,000 died. It was a judgment of God.
David did nothing halfway. I heard a very fine man say a number of weeks ago, in fact it's been years, he spoke it right here to a group of ministers. He said, I've done a study on the kind of person, the kind of temperament it takes to be a dynamic leader, an upfront leader. There is a charisma, there is a winsomeness that must go along with it. But with that temperament, there is a very definite series of easy faults that he can fall into. He says, to help you remember them, I'll give them to you in S's.
Just like it was yesterday, I remember. Silver, sloth, sex, self. Stop and think of the dynamic leaders that you have seen fall, and I will guarantee, I can't think of an exception, but one of those four was his avenue of failure. Silver, sloth, sex, and self. There are two things that helped me measure the tree of David, and helped me live on today with some timeless principles so I don't just bury it all in David's life.
Here's the first. There is no pursuit is more important than the cultivation of a godly family. Men and women, that is the one eternal thing you leave for time. Your family. There is no pursuit more important than the cultivation of a godly family. Christian Barnard, one life, read that. In the midst of this great surgeon's discoveries, he lost his home, unknown to many people.
He admits it in his book. It was a bright April morning when I drove out of Minneapolis. It seemed a century since I had first arrived there, a time longer than all the years before it. In New York, I put the car in a boat and caught a plane for Cape Town.
A northwest wind was blowing when we came over the sea with the waves close below. My wife was there with the children. I had not written much in the last two months, yet I was unprepared for her greeting. Why did you come back? There was no longer a smile in her eyes.
Oh, God, I thought I made the most terrible mistake of my life. Don't look so surprised, she said. We gave you up. We decided you were never coming back, he responds.
It was only a little delay. I wrote you about it. No, you wrote once to say you weren't coming home.
We were building valves, aortic valves, he answers. No, you were building a family. That is, you were until you dumped it in my lap, she said bitterly. We have ceased to exist for you. I wanted to say I had come home because I loved my children and I believed I loved her. I wanted to because I felt it, but what could I say now that would not sound meaningless? It began to rain, the city was gray. Under a gray sky, it was winter in Cape Town, but in Minneapolis the trees were a splashy bright green.
How was it possible to lose a whole springtime? Men, if you're losing your family, your pursuit lacks God's strategy. Finally, no character trait needs more attention than genuine integrity. No character trait needs more attention than genuine integrity. There's no pursuit more important for you than the cultivation of your family. Don't lose that. And there's no character trait more significant in all of life than integrity. Don't lose that.
There's no amount of success that can take the place of the success you experience as a dad and as a man of his word. May we bow together. Let's be comfortable before the Lord unless he has made you uncomfortable with some direct conviction. Maybe it's time to take a look at where we're going.
I'm having to do that too. There are some changes needed in my life and yours. Not just dads, moms, maybe some kids.
It's one thing to listen to this, it's one thing to preach it. It's so different to live it. Where are you going, parents? How high does your family figure in your future?
Planning to marry? Better think a long time. It lasts a lifetime. The beautiful thing about this tree of David is that when God measures it, he doesn't condemn it. He honors the effort of this man. God judges the motives. He honors the integrity of the heart.
Maybe the Lord is saying to you tonight, you don't know Christ. That's why the priorities are all mixed up. Just receive the gift.
In case you're wondering, that is where you start. Only one life will soon be past. What's done for Christ will last. Suddenly, our father David casts a shadow across our own lives.
Yeah, that tree has fallen. How the mighty are fallen. But we would ask not just for a nostalgic feeling right now, but for some decisions that are forthcoming. I pray that you might speak in direct ways to grandparents as well. What they lost with their children helped them to know how to make up with their grandchildren. And those paths that have been scarred with the litter of yesterday, may they be people of integrity to make it right with their children today. It's possible you use this message in the lives of some Absalom's and some Amnon's who are here, rebellious children who have lived on the bitter edge of life, making life miserable for their folks.
Whatever, Father, don't stop talking. We would ask you to minister in a very special, special way to whatever the need may be. For we are one.
We're together. In Jesus' name, Amen. If you're looking for a great book to read, one that will remind you of God's unfailing love, even in our lowest moments, we highly recommend this one. You might be interested to know that Chuck first delivered this series on David several decades ago, during a season of exponential growth at the church he pastored.
Because the seating in the worship center was limited, he delivered three sermons on Sunday morning and two more on Sunday evening for a total of five sermons every Sunday. The David series was presented to the congregation on Sunday nights. From this teaching series, Chuck later wrote his biography on David, and it's available right now by giving us a call or visiting our online store.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org slash offer. Here's Chuck. Thanks, Bill. Perhaps it goes without saying that we're living in chaotic times. The headlines are filled with alarming news about inflation rates, innocent families threatened by rogue nations, and the unsettling aftermath of a global pandemic. Amidst these distractions, my hope and my prayer is that Insight for Living has become a calming oasis for you and for many others. By design, this is a place that dispenses the life-changing truth of the Bible. Our daily focus is vertical, not horizontal. We look upward for our answers, not outward. This is a place where God's wisdom, not human wisdom, reigns supreme. And it's all made possible because people just like you give voluntary donations. That's the truth. People just like you make it happen.
On June the 30th, Insight for Living Ministries will close the accounting books on another financial year. All we need to reach for June is enormous, but we know that our God is great. He will supply our every need, and He will do that through His people who give generously.
People, again, just like you. So please, as we give our contact information, take a note and then give us a call. Or perhaps you wish to go online or even address a letter. As someone who gives to Insight for Living Ministries, you personally play a major role in providing a calming oasis in chaotic times. So ahead of time, even before your gift comes, I want to say thank you so much.
Thanks, Chuck. Your gift will truly make a difference. To give generously today, go to insight.org slash donate. One of our listeners said, I was arrested twice and participating in all devices, but thanks to Insight for Living, I changed my family tree for at least this generation and the next. Thank you for all you've done for millions around the world.
That is beautiful. It's your contributions that make comments like these possible. Once again, you can give online at insight.org slash donate. Or call us if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. We look forward to hearing from you soon. I'm Bill Meyer. Find out why Chuck Swindoll titled our next message David and the Ark when you listen Thursday to Insight for Living. The preceding message, New King, New Throne, Same Lord, was copyrighted in 1978, 1988, 1997, 2009 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. The implication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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