When Character Shines

Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God; there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. (2 Samuel 15:31-32)

One piece of advice I remember from my youth is that when you want to buy a used car, don’t look at it at night or in poor light. Without good light, you can’t really tell how it looks or if it smokes badly from the exhaust. In people, character is just the opposite – it is most clearly seen in the dark seasons of life. These brief verses from a dark chapter of David’s life reveal his godly character.

First, we see David was a man of prayer. Upon hearing the bad news that the wisest strategic mind in the kingdom had just joined Absalom’s rebellion, David didn’t respond with despair – he responded with prayer. He begged God, “Turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” David knew that Ahithophel was normally a good advisor, but he prayed that the counsel he gave to Absalom would be foolish.

This was a prayer against the odds. How can you pray that God will make a wise man foolish? How can you pray that God will direct the thoughts and words of another person? But David believed God was big enough to do it, and so he prayed in faith. His prayer was wonderfuly answered – and the answer to this prayer would become Absalom’s undoing. David seemed to have nothing to his advantage. Absalom had the better armies, the political popularity, the energy of youth, and the value of momentum. But David had the power of prayer, and that was mightier than anything Absalom had. The history of the world has been influenced more by the power of prayer than most of us think. Remember that the queen-mother of Scotland was heard to say that she feared the prayers of John Knox more than an army of fighting men.

Second, we see David was a man of worship. We read that “David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshipped God.” David’s life was in danger and he had to flee. Yet he took time to stop at the top of the Mount of Olives, look back upon Jerusalem and the tabernacle, and there he worshipped God. This tells us that David knew worship was always important. If there was ever a time when he could be excused from worship, a crisis that threatened his kingdom and life would seem to excuse him. But David knew it was important to stop, take the moment, and give glory to the God of heaven.

It also tells us that David could worship when circumstances were bad. Anyone can pour out sweet words of thanks and praise to God when things are good. But David served a God greater than his circumstances. Under the circumstances, we might excuse David from worship. Fortunately, David didn’t live under the circumstances – his trust in God raised him above his admittedly bad circumstances to a place of praise.

We remember David’s greatness in many ways. He was a great warrior and a great king. But more than anything we remember that he was a great worshipper and a great man of prayer. God took special care to preserve the record of this in the Book of Psalms. In both the Psalms and in 2 Samuel 15 we see that David was no fair-weather follower of God – his character shined brightly in the dark times. How brightly does your character shine? Do you make excuses for an unspiritual life because of bad circumstances? Let God’s work in King David show you that in Jesus Christ, you too can rise above those circumstances.

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David’s weekly devotional is also translated into German.

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