In the life of David we have a wonderful and encouraging proof of God’s great use for broken vessels. This shepherd boy who became king of Israel, and was a man in pursuit of God’s heart, was also marked in his life by brokenness. Through the deep and dark valleys of his life he formed his greatest praise and worship and usefulness for God.
Think of the choosing of a vessel. David was the forgotten one when Samuel came to Jesse’s home. After all of Jesse’s other sons had passed before Samuel, the question came, “Are there any more?” There was one more, but surely it wasn’t worth bringing him before the man of God. Not David, he’s just a boy out watching the sheep. Samuel anointed David to be king; that day David was chosen before God. The wonder filled his heart. “How could it possibly be me? What could God do with me? Why did He look on me? Can a shepherd be a king?” Yes, David, a shepherd can be a king and a shepherd (of your progeny) will be the King of kings. The likely is not likely God’s choice.
Think of the forming of a vessel. There was a lot of time alone. There were times when nobody looked on, when David selflessly threw himself between his little sheep and imminent danger. There were times when his heart reveled in the night sky above him, and at the part of the divine plan he had been made aware of. “When I consider the heavens … the moon and the stars … what is man that Thou art mindful of him?” (Ps 8). When no man looked on to see him, the eye of God was upon a boy alone in the field, shaping that heart. When he came to his brothers in the Valley of Elah, the eyes of men were on him. His brothers misjudged him. His king sought to hinder him. He was simply continuing on the path he had walked alone with God. He was stepping between God’s flock and imminent danger as he had done with his father’s flock before. The shepherd did not consider fame or reward in his decision. It would have been easier to remain quiet and immune to criticism. He only saw the danger and fear of the sheep. He confronted that danger as he had always done, face on, without hesitation. A vessel was being formed for God and by God.
As the vessel continued to be formed David learned to wait on God. Years after the promise had been made, and the anointing oil flowed down his head, he found himself exiled in a cave while a wicked king was still on the throne. Time and again his life was threatened; time and again he was miraculously delivered.
Sadly, however, he succumbed to depression. He said, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul” (1 Sam 27:1). God’s promise lost its certainty. God’s ability became questionable. He found himself a drooling fool in a Philistine city. Still, despite his weakness and failure, God was forming a vessel for Himself. It is not the path we would choose, but God, in His sovereignty, used even the failures in David’s life to shape him and to make him uniquely what he would become.
Think of the falling of a vessel. The shepherd king finally took his rightful throne. One dreadful day he saw something that was too powerful for him. No lion could have taken him. No bear, no giant could have threatened him. However, a beautiful woman brought him crashing down. The other threats he faced without fear and in the strength of God. This woman he looked on without God, and in his own human weakness with no fear. In those moments of weakness a vessel for God was broken to pieces. But once again in God’s sovereignty, the brokenness was not the end. After David’s restoration, God could begin molding a deeper life and renewed usefulness for God.
Think of a broken vessel. Watch God’s chosen king lie on the ground and put dust on his once anointed head in shame. Read the words of his broken heart to God. “Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned” (Ps 51:4). Watch God begin to shine out from inside the shards of this broken vessel when only verses later he says, “Open my lips and my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise” (Ps 51:15). See the heavenly Father Who cherishes not the fall, but the brokenness of the vessel. Why? Because what has been broken will allow heaven’s light to pour out. What is inside will be brought out through the weakness of the vessel. The bones that were broken will be mended strongly by God. The heart that mourned will again dance and rejoice. The joy of salvation will be restored. This king will reign and through his lineage will ultimately come the Savior of the world. He will be forever known as a man after God’s heart.
Your usefulness for God will come through your brokenness. You may be the least likely candidate in the minds of those around you, and in your own mind. There will need to be time alone with God. You will be misjudged. There will be trial, there will be doubts, there will be threats, and there will be despair. There will be waiting. There will be weeping. You may give up hope in God. You are threatened by dangerous foes. Not the ones you can fearlessly face, but the ones that easily beset you. Lay them aside. Avoid the path by their house. Flee from them.
There are others of God’s children, wonderful and great; others have been down this road before you. God has preserved them from danger. He has restored them when they stumbled and fell. He has used them mightily. They crowd around the arena of your life and cheer you on from heaven. “Run,” they shout. “Seeing we are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1).