Wasn’t David a Raw, Broken, Messy Hero?

David broke God’s law with a high hand for a prolonged period of time, yet he is a hero of the faith. One of the remarkable traits of Scriptural history is its portrayal of the terrible sins of the patriarchs. Does this disprove the thesis that heroes should be models of virtue? No, for three reasons.

  1. David’s life was marked by godliness.

He fell to adultery with Bathsheba after decades of living wisely and in obedience to the law. For nearly 10 years Saul persecuted him, and he “behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul (1 Sam. 18:30).” He refused to kill Saul though David was anointed to be king, and the death of Saul would have been self-defense (1 Sam. 24:6; 26:9). He showed mercy to the suffering men who needed a leader while he was on the run (1 Sam. 22:2; 30:22-23). He showed mercy to Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9:7). He encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Sam. 30:6).

He sinned terribly, but this was a relatively small amount of the Biblical data (2 chapters out of 58) appearing after years of faithfulness and before continued decades of obedience, as well as humble repentance seen in both Psalms 51 and 32.

  1. David lived without the benefit of the Holy Spirit.

Living a life of character must be fantastically difficult because so few do it. However, David did for decades live as a model without the constant indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. His sin is not so remarkable as his many years of good example.

  1. David is only a minor character, and he is not the real Hero.

Who is supposed to captivate our minds, but the shadowy Promise that David wrote about in Psalm 2? “I have installed my King.” He is the true Prophet, Priest, and King. Further, He is the righteous Judge and Lawgiver surpassing Samuel and Moses. Of course, sidekicks and ancillary characters have flaws, but the real Hero does not.

So, if modern authors patterned their heroes after David’s example, they would be placing great men before our eyes. The patriarchs of Scripture are examples of faith, resilience, and self-control. Their sins are sometimes recorded, but evil does not dominate their lives. Yet even when it does, they are still in Scripture to keep us longing for One who plays the man at all times.

  1. Why We Need Virtuous Heroes
  2. Two Kinds of Sin
  3. Objection: What About David?
  4. Good Presentations of Total Depravity
  5. Four Reasons We Need Virtuous Heroes
  6. A Call for Aragorn Rather Than Captain America



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