Friday, October 21, 2005

King David's Conversion

We studied a few biblical examples of conversion, such as that of St. Paul & St. Peter. But the one that really jumped out at me was the conversion of King David.

Now, "what conversion of King David?" you ask. Well, remember that there are two levels of conversion. The first level, from non-belief to belief, was not necessary for King David, as he, from the get-go, trusted faithfully in God. But that second conversion of progression in holiness, he did have to undergo. Just as all of us do.

Consider the stark difference between the two versions of David: David pre-conversion, and the David post-conversion.
And David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of men who say, 'Behold, David seeks your hurt'? Lo, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave; and some bade me kill you, but I spared you. I said, 'I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD'S anointed.' See, my father, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me upon you; but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, 'Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness'; but my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! May the LORD therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you, and see to it, and plead my cause, and deliver me from your hand." 1 Sam 24:9-14

Then the king said to Zadok, "Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his habitation; but if he says, 'I have no pleasure in you,' behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him. -2 Sam 15:25-26
And David said to Abi'shai and to all his servants, "Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD has bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look upon my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for this cursing of me today." -2 Sam 16:1-12
Notice the difference. Before his conversion, David is very confident, almost to the point of being "cocky." He does nothing wrong, but he clearly is presuming upon God to ensure that favorable outcomes will always be bestowed upon him. What is really lacking is his humility.
After his conversion, his humility abounds. David realizes that he carries the burden of guilt and has found disfavor with the Lord. He subjects himself to the mercy of God.

So, what happened? Recall that David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and subsequently had her husband Uriah killed so that he could marry her. In short, he sinned. Grievously. This is the moment at which he realizes his sin:
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, "There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared it for the man who had come to him." Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity." Nathan said to David, "You are the man. Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul; and I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uri'ah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uri'ah the Hittite to be your wife.' Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.'" David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." -2 Sam 12:1-13

The spiritual lesson in all of this is that, a fundamental prerequisite for advancing further along in conversion is becoming convinced and convicted of our own sins. It's a truth of the spiritual life, verified by saint after saint after saint, that the more one is sure of their righteousness before God, the more one is truly not righteous. Conversely, the more one shows humility and is painfully aware of their own faults, the more one is truly righteous.

Let us all strive to be like David, and recognize our own sins, so that we may grow in humility and renew our efforts to progress in the 2nd stage of conversion.


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