The Finish Line

The Finish Line

Bang! The gun sounds. Runners burst from the blocks, and the race is on. All begin on equal footing, but soon the field spreads. Some surge ahead; others fall behind. Competitors battle for every inch, but, really, only one thing matters.

The finish.

A strong start or a bravely-fought middle mean nothing if you don’t finish well.

Here’s an interesting bit of Bible trivia, courtesy of Dallas Theological Seminary: Out of 400 leaders mentioned in Scripture, only eighty finished well.

Twenty percent.

One fifth.

That’s it.

Why? Because, as Olympic runners can testify, a stumble in the middle can cost you.

Let’s examine David, a man after God’s own heart.

David’s sin? Adultery, rape (I doubt Bathsheba consented), abuse of power, and the premeditated murder of a friend and loyal warrior. Oh, did I mention the pride and attitude of entitlement that spawned it all? (2 Samuel 11)

Let’s look at the ramifications of David’s sin. When confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), David’s own verdict was to pay four-fold.

God’s sentence: God accepted David’s four-fold payment of four lives for Uriah’s one. The sword would never depart from David’s house. David’s wives would lie with someone else in broad daylight.

Here are the highlights as David’s sin baton is handed off and passed again and again through his family:

  • David’s verdict of four-fold payment comes true in four deaths. The son born as a result of the sin dies. (Death #1)
  • David’s son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar. Tamar’s full brother Absalom kills Amnon. (Death #2)
  • Absalom later tries to usurp the throne from David. David flees for his life. Absalom sleeps with David’s concubines in full view of the city. Absalom is later killed by David’s general. (Death #3)
  • Another son, Adonijah, claims the throne for himself as David nears death. He is killed by Solomon, David’s chosen heir to the throne. (Death #4)

This doesn’t touch the emotional and spiritual wreckage of David’s sin. Let’s start with Bathsheba. She’s been taken by the king against her will. David’s friendship with her husband has been betrayed. Her husband has been murdered. David brings her into the palace as his wife. Then, she carries to term and loses the baby that resulted from David’s lust. Great basis for a marriage.

Let’s move to Tamar. David’s daughter is raped by her half-brother. The passage describing how David dealt with his rapist son, who behaved just like Dad, and his scarred daughter? Not there.

Because David does nothing.

Can you imagine the message that sent to David’s other children? If I’m a royal princess, I’m beyond concerned. If I’m Tamar, I’m devastated not only from the rape, but also from the fact Dad didn’t care enough to defend me and to administer justice. Tamar’s brother gets the message loud and clear. Dad is passive, so Absalom kills his sister’s rapist and cares for her himself.

David’s authority in his own household has vanished due to his sin, his unwillingness to publicly make things right, and his consequent unwillingness to hold his children accountable for their sin. We see a record of David’s conviction before God, but nothing regarding the other relationships impacted by his choices other than bringing Bathsheba into the palace. Sons Absalom and Adonijah both reject David’s authority and attempt to usurp David’s throne.

We haven’t even touched on the effect this had on David’s friends and fellow warriors who thought their fearless leader had their backs, only to find he had seduced his friend’s wife and then had him murdered. Morale issues in David’s military? I think so.

David’s sin with Bathsheba marked a turning point in his story. B.B. (before Bathsheba), one saw a man walking closely with God, and blessings flowed over his house and his nation. A. B. (after Bathsheba), David’s story became a hot mess, leaving a trail of wrecked lives.

Granted, few of us will find ourselves in David’s sandals, but he never thought he would compromise either. In Psalm 51, David teaches us how to get up again after a fall. That David did get up and finish his race is significant and is not to be overlooked. David finishes by placing Solomon on the throne and by doing the groundwork for the Temple his son would build. Yet, the man after God’s own heart limps to the finish line of his race. Make no mistake, David’s relationship with God was solid, but he was humbled, and his legacy to his family and nation was tainted.

Sin matters. “Small” ones morph into “big” ones, but each speaks of our independence from God and a departure from His will. Stay close and finish well.

Questions:

When have you been negatively affected by another’s sin?

How has your sin affected others?

Was there a ripple effect?

How did you make it right?

Does your sin make you more or less likely to call it out in others?

Tweetables:

Competitors battle for every inch, but, really, only one thing matters. The finish. Click to tweet.

A strong start or a bravely-fought middle mean nothing if you don’t finish well. Click to tweet.

Out of 400 leaders mentioned in Scripture, only eighty finished well. Twenty percent. One fifth. That’s it. Click to tweet.

As Olympic runners can testify, a stumble in the middle can cost you. Click to tweet.

The man after God’s own heart limps to the finish line of his race. Click to tweet.

Sin matters. Stay close and finish well. Click to tweet.

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