He Wept & He Slept: Do You Take Discipline Like David?

Woman with head down being disciplined

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

Psalm 3:3

What do you know about David? I mean, beyond slaying Goliath and sleeping with Bathsheba?

Did you know that God said (Acts 13:2), “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart“?

Why was David a Man after God’s Heart?

Why did David receive such an honor? What was it about David that would have God give him such high praise?

I don’t know all the reasons why. But I think they include the way he worshiped with his whole heart (Psalm 86:12), fearlessly fought for God’s glory (1 Samuel 17:45), and persistently sought the LORD’s face (2 Samuel 21:1).

But I think there’s another reason.

David was God’s man because David took God’s discipline with meekness. Whether it came directly from the hand of a holy God or through the second cause of a sinful man, David received it as from a loving God who intended his good. He did not “regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose heart when reproved by him” (Hebrews 12:5b).

In other words, he neither blew it off nor withered into a self-pitying heap.

What Was It About David?

David knew that the presence of consequences does not mean the absence of God’s love. Centuries before God breathed it out, David knew the truth of Hebrews 12:6, that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.”

Which is probably why he could say, Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.

David was used to God’s hand. He was a tamed horse, easily steered, not a foolish mule or a bucking bronco. The Latin word for meekness is mansuetus. It means tame, a compound of the words that mean “used to” and “hand.”

David was a man after God’s heart because he was used to God’s hand.

If meekness is key to delighting God’s heart, then how can we grow more meek?

Curses And Stones

Well. It turns out meekness grows when we are provoked. Like when Shimei hurled curses and stones.

Shimei was a pain in King David’s neck. He was a distant relative of King Saul, and a bitter provocateur. Now, decades after Saul’s death, he still resents David’s kingship. Shimei is not afraid to kick a man— even a king—when he’s down.

Here’s the scene: King David is running for his life, fleeing a hostile takeover by his usurper son Absalom. He and his loyal followers are just outside the city when they hear Shimei heckling, “Get out, get out, you worthless man. The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul… you are caught in your own evil” (2 Samuel 16:8).

To which Abishai, a loyal, right hand man asks, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

A less meek, wounded dog would have.

But David didn’t.

Leave Him Alone

He didn’t let Abishai take revenge. Even though it was well within his power to avenge Shimei, he did not. Instead, I think he realized that God might be speaking to him through this cursing critic.

Here’s David’s reply,

Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”

And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust.

2 Samuel 16:11-13

He that is down fears no fall, John Bunyan wrote. The king is down, running from his rebel son while Shimei goes alongside, hurling curses and stones.

But David calls off Abishai. He doesn’t defend himself, but leaves vengeance to God.

He lets Shimei speak.

3 Reasons David Let Shimei Speak

Bible teacher David Guzik offers three reasons why David let Shimei curse. He doesn’t use the word meek, but do you hear it?

David let Shimei speak because:

1. He saw the hand of God in every circumstance (The LORD has said to him). He knew that God was more than able to shut Shimei up; David didn’t need to give the order.

2. He put the “Shimei problem” in perspective. (See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite?) David knew that his real problem was Absalom not Shimei, and he did not lose this perspective.

3.  He knew that God’s hand was on the future as well as the present. (It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day) David knew that God would take care of the future.

But that doesn’t mean David didn’t grieve.

David Wept

In 2 Samuel 15 we read, David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up.

Forgiveness does not mean consequence-free.

In a probing message on David and Absalom, Paul Tripp explains why the king wept.

This is a monarchy—in order for Absalom to take the throne, David must die. David weeps for the people he loves, people he can no longer lead.

But there is another reason for David’s weeping…When Nathan confronted David with the sin of adultery and murder, he predicted that evil would rise from the house of David against him—as a direct result of David’s sin. He is not just mourning his son. He is mourning the consequences of his sin.

The man after God’s own heart experienced God’s forgiveness (Psalm 32:1). But he still mourned the consequences of his sin. David’s sin with Bathsheba brought consequences on himself, his family and his kingdom.

So he wept.

But godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. We do well to weep over our sin

So David wept.

And David Slept

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

That’s what Psalm 3 verse 5 says. David wrote that. But do you know when?

The superscript over the third Psalm reads, “A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.”

David wrote that when he had every reason not to sleep. In How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep, Kevin DeYoung, explains,

When David wrote “How many are my foes!” (Psalm 3:1), he is not just waxing poetic. There were literally thousands of people risen against him. David had massive, life-threatening, family-disintegrating, career-shattering problems.

And yet, David slept.

There was an army trying to kill him. His own son hated him to death. His family had turned against him. Yet God was a shield about him, his glory, and the lifter of his head.

So David slept.

Do you take discipline like David?

In the face of discipline, David did what maturing children of God do. It’s explained Hebrews 12:5, “My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose heart when you are corrected by him.” The meek avoid both extremes.

David didn’t take God’s discipline lightly. He didn’t “blow it off” as if his sin was no big deal. He wept.

But he also didn’t crumble into a heap. David did what the meek do when they’re disciplined: He confessed his sin and trusted God’s love. Then he slept.

He wept and then he slept.

At the moment we kiss the rod of his discipline meekness is being formed in us. We are growing into men and women after God’s heart.

But David’s is a tough act to follow.

I Hang My Head

A friend cared enough to confront me about some unkind words I spoke to her recently. I listened to her and agreed.

Guilty as charged.

But I hung my head. I was a puppy cowering beside her on the bench, my tail between my legs. My friend called me on that too.

Why are you sitting like that, with your head down?

I’m a complex case and I know it. But a big part of the answer was the obvious one.

I guess I still don’t like to be corrected.

It’s part of the “all or nothing” syndrome. Does it challenge you too?

It rears its head in relationships this way: When I realize I’ve hurt someone, I’m tempted to disengage and walk away. That’s the “nothing.” But the “all” would have me go hyper-verbal, defending my cause and explaining why her thin skin is the problem.

But that’s not what David did. All-or-nothing is not how the man after God’s own heart took discipline.

What about you?

Like great David’s Greater Son, David entrusted himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). He didn’t face off with Shimei. He accepted hard words because he trusted that God would right wrongs.

When you face discipline, even from the mouth of a sinful man, will you let the LORD be the shield about you, your glory and the lifter of your head

What about you? Are you moving toward David’s wept-then-slept response? Do you graciously accept God’s discipline while trusting in His love?

The Lifter Of My Head

My friend Jen told me a story about her four-year old. Grace did something very naughty one morning. She made a mural on the wall with Jen’s Sharpies.

So they had a talk. Then Jen sent Grace to her room.

When lunchtime came, Grace slunk in, chin down, eyes glued to the floor.

But Jen loves Grace. That’s why she disciplined her and why she knelt beside her and stroked her tear-smeared cheeks.

Then Jen did what God does. She lifted up her child’s head.

And Grace did what meek ones do. She melted in her mama’s hug.

Let us pray that we may kiss the rod and bless the hand that holds it.

Let us pray unto God that we may see His hand in every affliction and say, as David does, “Oh, Lord, Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me!”

Thomas Watson

Strong Fair Horses

His delight is not in the strength of a horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.       
Psalm 147:10-11
  
Percheron mares, aged 3 and under 4: Please enter the ring, sounded over the arena loudspeaker. 

His pleasure is NOT in these strong horses? resounded over my bemused brain.

What is it about draft horses?

Their stable is just inside the east gate at the Walworth County Fair. We enter through that gate. So we stop and see the draft horses. We all stop. And I gawk.

Entranced.

By such immense strength enveloping exquisite equine form. By burly, bulgy backsides and shimmery, sleek shoulders. They bear witness. Divinity designed such elegant power.

In the case of the yesterday’s Percherons, French breeders played a role. In harnessing living, breathing strength:

From the war horse (heavy saddler) to diligence horse (heavy coacher or light draft) to the true horse of heavy draft, the breeders of Le Perche sculpted away on their beloved indigenous breed for hundreds of years, altering the animal to meet the demands of the times and to entice the buyer. (http://www.percheronhorse.org/origin/default.html)

Entice they did. I stood in awe of Belgian Drafts, Clydesdales, and Percherons. And their Creator. To lay eyes on these beautiful hulks is to marvel.

So why did God say his pleasure is NOT in the strength of a horse? He praised them to Job (39:19-24), asking:

Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with strength?
Do you make him leap like the locust? 
He paws in the valley, and exults in his strength;
He goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear, and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword . . .

What does God mean, then, when he says he doesn’t take pleasure in horses? John Piper’s explanation is helpful:

God is not displeased with horses and legs, but in those who hope in their horses and their legs. He is displeased with people who put their hope in missiles or in make-up, in tanks or tans, in bombs or body-building. God takes no pleasure in corporate efficiency or balanced budgets or welfare systems or new vaccines or education or eloquence or artistic excellence or legal processes when these things are the treasure in which we hope or the achievement in which we boast.

To feel secure and take pleasure in visible strength is only natural. Patriot pride swelled my heart as I watched the Blue Angels this spring. I felt secure. Big bank accounts and low blood sugar have a similar effect. But aegis of God they are not.

They’re false security. But worse.

When we swell secure with anything less than the Lord, we not only dig broken cisterns, but forsake the Living Water (Jeremiah 2:13). Buy our own-save our own-be our own strength, while we reject God our strength.  

Strong fair horses point past themselves. They point to a God who is not impressed by sheer strength. God helps those who help themselves doesn’t have a Bible address. Almighty God is not dazzled by military might and financial force. Or delighted by our healthy lifestyle and a BMI under 25.

…but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, 

in those who hope in his steadfast love. 

To swell the heart of God fear and hope in Him. Both. Together.

Matthew Henry writes that fear and hope not only may, but must concur:

In the same heart at the same time, there must be both a reverence of his majesty and a complacency in his goodness; not that we hang in suspense between hope and fear, but we must act under the gracious influences of hope and fear. Our fear must save our hope from swelling into presumption and our hope must save our fear from sinking into despair.

Oh, for this holy, God-exalting fear! Not the slavish fear of God that mistrusts him, recoils at his majesty. Perfect love casts that fear out. Nor is it an apprehensive fear that the shoe is about to drop; that some sickness or sorrow will inevitably overwhelm body and spirit. Fear not for I am with you. And it’s definitely not a fear that his love will fail and run out. Not a chance! They will never perish, His sheep, and no one can snatch them out of His hand.

But, dear Friends, there is another fear that ought to be cultivated—the reverential fear which the holy angels feel when they worship God and behold His Glory—that gracious fear which makes them veil their faces with their wings as they adore the Majesty on high! There is also the loving fear which every true, right-hearted child has towards its father—a fear of grieving so tender a parent—a proper feeling of dread which makes it watch its every footstep, lest, in the slightest degree, it should deviate from the path of absolute obedience. May God graciously grant to us much of this kind of fear! – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) taken from: The Right Kind of Fear, Sermon No. 2971, September 2, 1876. 

John Piper describes a place where this right fear of God commingles with hope:

Hope turns fear into a happy trembling and peaceful wonder; and fear takes everything trivial out of hope and makes it serious. The terrors of God make the pleasures of his people intense. The fireside fellowship is all the sweeter when the storm is howling outside the cottage.

And why God delights in us when we’re there, hoping and fearing at once:

Surely it is because our fear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace. God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence.
God has pleasure in those who hope in his love because that hope highlights the freedom of his grace. When I cry out, “God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!” I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God. http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-pleasure-of-god-in-those-who-hope-in-his-love

Some would argue that these heavy horses have served their purpose. No more armored knights needing trusty steads. No more cavalries needing war horses. In city and in country replaced; by taxis and hundred horsepower tractors.

But still.

Strong fair horses were truly glorious. I get why Solomon broke the command and multiplied horses and chariots. There’s security in strong horses. I think that’s why God chose them. It’s a lesser to greater argument: but trusting those gams will let you down. But, He who hopes in me will not be disappointed.


It’s a wondrous loop. A ride I never want to leave. I fear and hope in God. He gets the glory he deserves. I find security in His unfailing love. His grace is exalted.

Better than a ride on a Percheron, I’d venture.

Some boast in chariots, and some boast in horses; 

but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. 

Psalm 20:7