When Life Feels Stuck [3/6]
Listen Up | David | 2 Samuel 10-12
He couldn’t rejoice or dance. He was miserable and filled with frustration. He felt such guilt as if his bones had been broken. His strength had withered away as if being out in the hot sun for a long time.
He was stuck. The king. David, the man after God’s own heart, was stuck. Sound familiar?
David was lost in sin. What began as abdication, not going out to war with his men when he should have (2 Samuel 11:1), opened a door to sin. Lust begat adultery, begat murder. He suffered the crippling effects of guilt for some time as Psalm 34 suggests, but he didn’t take action. He didn’t respond to God’s chastening and challenge of his sin. He lived in painful denial, some scholars suggest not just for months but years. He just couldn’t see what he was doing to himself and others.
So God sent Nathan to share a parable of injustice (2 Samuel 12:1-4). David burns with anger at the rich man’s selfish cruelty just as Nathan points the finger and says “you are that man!”
Ouch! Finally, David’s eyes are opened. He is convicted. The seriousness of what he’s done – “utter contempt for the Lord” – hits him. “I have sinned against the Lord!” he says.
Quite often we’re blind to sin and its seriousness. That’s because we’re proud. And so we need to listen to others, those we trust, to challenge us when we sin. Listening up is good advice. It’s something the Scriptures encourage us to be quick to do (James 1:19). Moses benefited greatly from listening to his father-in-law (Exodus 18). Timothy benefited greatly from listening to Paul (1 and 2 Timothy).
This is just one of three key incidences where David is required to listen up in order to get unstuck. The first was when he wanted to build God a house, and God said no (2 Samuel 7). The second we’ve just discussed. The third happened after his son Absalom died, and in the cloud of his grief he lost perspective and needed challenging (2 Samuel 19:1-8). “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” we read in Proverbs 27:6.
How good a listener are you?
What filters, like insecurity, stop you from hearing what’s being said?
Do you spend your time mentally preparing your response – your defence – rather than objectively considering what’s being said?
Do you believe what the other person has to say is important, or arrogantly tune out, planning the rest of your day?
Hearing the truth of another person’s perspective can require courage, but it will bless you, and may just be what you need to get unstuck. Sure, it depends who you listen to (people can be misguided) but that isn’t an excuse not to listen, even when it hurts.
If David hadn’t listened up, he would have remained stuck. He would never have had the transformative experience reported in Psalm 51, hearing the joy and gladness of the Lord again, feeling clean instead of crushed. We would have lost one of the most wonderful foreshadowings of the forgiveness made possible in Jesus.
David listened and courageously responded to what he heard. He repented deeply. This is what separated him from Saul. It’s why David and not Saul was called a man after God’s own heart. Both men sinned, and both seemingly repented. Saul’s sorrow, however, was worldly. He cared more about what other people thought (1 Samuel 15); David’s was Godly, he cared more about what God thought, and the wrong he’d done his Maker.
It might be it’s not just the good advice of a Jethro you need to apply, but there’s some heartfelt confession you need to do. Pray “Search me O God and see if there is any offensive way in me,” (Psalm 139:23-24) and listen up to his answer. Read through Psalm 51 and pray it in your own words, confident, through faith in Christ, that “if we confess our sins, he is faith and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).