There were two kings, both real, historical figures. Both men were long shots to be king. Neither was the oldest son of their father and neither family had a clear claim to the throne. Both men married at least 6 wives and had at least one affair. Both men had people murdered to cover up their moral failure and to get their way. Both men had enormous impacts on the history of God’s people. And yet, one is remembered as “a man after God’s own heart” while the other…well, he left a different legacy.
King David was the second king of Israel and one of only three kings who ruled over all Israel. He was known from his youth as a man of faith and was described as handsome in the Bible. He was chosen by God to replace Saul as king at an early age but was not actually made king until probably in his 30s. David was an incredibly successful warrior and general. He married at least six wives, probably more, and he had dozens of children. It seems that his greatest failures were with women and his children. David is famous for his affair with Bathsheba, whose husband he had murdered so that he could marry her and cover up the affair. He almost lost his kingdom when one of his sons led a nearly successful rebellion.
King Henry VIII was known in his younger days as a vigorous defender of the Catholic Church. He was the second of the Tudors to rule England. He was the picture of a king, athletic and full of vigor. He was a great jouster. Henry VIII’s military endeavors were largely successful. He married well by the standards of the day. The king was discontent with having a daughter for his only heir, however, and was known to keep a number of mistresses on the side. Eventually, his discontent grew to the point that he determined to divorce his first wife so he could remarry. This he accomplished by splitting from the Catholic Church and founding the Church of England and naming himself the head of the church. He would go on to marry five more times, beheading two of his wives, divorcing one more, losing one in childbirth and being survived by his sixth and final wife.
The key difference between these two kings is their response to their sin. Henry VIII dove deeper and deeper into his sin. He broke with the Catholic Church to get his way, he killed dozens of political and religious leaders to make sure that he got his way. And yet, the Protestant Reformation would have probably not been nearly as successful (at least at this point) had it not been for him. Many of the largest denominations today exist in part because of Henry VIII. God has used the events that followed to bring thousands of people to Christ and send missionaries all over the world through these denominations and at one time from England. He appears to have been largely unrepentant. God worked in spite of this king.
David, on the other hand, appears to have returned to God in full contrition. The words of Psalm 51 describe a man who knew his failure and repented of his ways. They describe a man who turned back to God and asked that God redeem his life. David chose to unite himself with God and to pursue a life of righteousness. God also used David. Jesus earthly ancestry goes back to David. God worked through David.
So are you going to be unrepentant like Henry VIII or are you going to run back to Jesus like David?