I was reading in Psalms this morning and Psalm 69:5-6 jumped out at me.
O God, You know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from You. Let not those who hope in You be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek You be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
It’s like David’s saying, “You know I’m dumb and I’ve made some stupid mistakes – don’t let my stupidity and my sins ruin the reputation of Your people.”
As the king of Israel, David knew by experience that he was doubly accountable for his actions; not only for himself, but for the effects they had on the entire nation. When he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, Nathan the prophet told him that his own son (Absalom) would turn against him. The turmoil Absalom caused affected the entire nation. Not to mention that time David took a census of the people and bunches of them died as a result. You can see the principle in action even more as you read through the various kings that came later on. The wicked kings caused the nation to fall into wickedness, while the good kings led the people to worship God. When they sinned, the whole nation suffered from oppression or catastrophes.
But there’s another reason David was especially accountable for his actions, and it’s the one that really stood out to me:
David was accountable for his actions because of the reputation it created for everyone else who served the Lord.
This is true of every Christian today. To the outside world looking in, the example of one follower of Jesus often becomes the stereotype they apply to every other Christian. Paul writes in Titus 2:7-8,
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Even more importantly, we represent Christ Himself, and our reputation can directly affect how people think of Him. That’s a scary thought when I think about how often I shrink back and keep to myself instead of making the effort to show Christ’s love to the people around me. What reputation are we making for Christ?
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ~ 1 Peter 2:12