Do you like the Psalms? Do you find them inspiring? I try to read through the Psalms every year or two. I find them to be some of the most inspiring, comforting and sometimes challenging passages in the Bible.
Almost half of the Psalms were written by King David. He was called “a man after God’s own heart” (cf. Acts 13:22). What a wonderful accolade! David is held up as one of the most inspiring, reflective writers in the Bible, and the greatest King of Israel. According to Biblical prophecy, he will one day play a critical role in the future Messianic Kingdom (cf. Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hosea 3:5).
But here’s the thing – David was also an adulterer, a liar and a murderer (cf. 2 Samuel 11:1-12:23).
Think about it. We treasure the writings of a man who knowingly committed some of the most egregious sins imaginable.
Why is that?
It’s because David was not the ultimate author of the Psalms. God was. It’s God’s inspired words that we treasure when we read the Psalms. David was simply the broken vessel God used to communicate His words to us. In fact, it’s because of David’s flawed, sinful, human qualities that the Psalms have such a great impact, because God chose to use a guy just like us.
“Hold on”, I hear you say, “I’ve never committed adultery or murder!”
Really? Are you sure about that?
”You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ... “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28)
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
God users liars, adulteress and murderes to accomplish His will every day.
If being a perfect Christian was a prerequisite to serving God, Jesus would not have chosen the 12 Disciples, Paul would not have been used to spread the Gospel around the world nor would he have written most of the New Testament, Martin Luther would not have been used to ignite the Reformation, John Newton would never have penned the lyrics to ‘Amazing Grace’, William Carey would not have taken the Gospel to India sparking the modern missionary movement and Billy Graham would have never held a single evangelistic crusade.
Sure, God could have accomplished all these things on His own, but He loves us so much that in-spite of our flaws, He chooses to work through us. It brings Him great pleasure to do so (cf. Psa. 147:11; Phil. 2:12-13).
The next time one of our human ‘heroes of the faith’ stumbles or falls into sin, let’s not get on our high-horse and jump to judgement. Let’s not dismiss every good and helpful thing they ever wrote, said or did on the basis of their imperfections or mistakes, no matter how grave (remember David!). Before we can do that, we need to take a long look in the mirror of our own souls.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matt. 7:1-5; cf. John 8:2-11)
God’s Word will accomplish everything He wants it to, irrespective of the broken vessels He chooses to use in its fulfilment (cf. Isa. 55:10-11). That’s the beauty of serving a loving sovereign God. He always triumphs and we’re blessed in the process.
So if you’re feeling like a fragile jar of clay unworthy of being used by God for His purposes, remember that it’s not the quality or worthiness of the vessel that matters. It’s the perfect, powerful and prevailing truth of God that transforms lives. All He asks is that we humbly admit our failings and turn to Him for strength, purpose and guidance. God takes care of the rest.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)