“a fallen setback—AND a major comeback”


King David

He was revered during his lifetime, and still is today, as the greatest and most beloved king the people of God ever had. To this very hour, the star that sat atop his royal crown, adorns the state flag of the nation of Israel.

His name…was David. The prophet Samuel, who anointed him king, referred to him as “a man after God’s own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14). He was a brilliant military leader. He was adored by his people. He was feared by his enemies. He was respected by his equals.

And he was an adulterer and a murderer. The story of his sins is recounted in full in 2 Samuel 11. But the story doesn’t end there. In the very next chapter, David is confronted about his sins by the prophet Nathan. And what was David’s response? I have sinned against Jehovah.” And Nathan said unto David, “Jehovah also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

Did King David sin? He did. Did he suffer consequences as a result of his sins? He did. But did David repent of those sins after Nathan’s rebuke? He did. And did God forgive him of his sins? Yes, He did. David served as the king of Israel for many more years. He led his people faithfully. He fought their battles. He served their interests. He obeyed God. And, in the end, he provided a son—Solomon—through whom would come the promised Redeemer, Immanuel (God with Us).

King Manasseh

Manasseh was just twelve years old when he began to serve as the king of Judah. His reign covered more than half a century—55 years to be exact (2 Chronicles 33:1).

The Bible offers this summary of the reign of Judah’s king. “Manasseh did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. He seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did evil more than did the nations whom Jehovah destroyed before them” (2 Chronicles 33:2).

Manasseh restored the worship to false gods that his father Hezekiah had forbidden. He erected altars to Baal. He commanded the people to worship the stars. He placed idols in the temple of the Lord. He practiced sorcery. He even forced the people to offer their children as burnt sacrifices to the false god Molech. And last but not least, Manasseh “shed innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2 Kings 21:16).

The Divine Record says: “And Jehovah spoke to Manasseh, and to his people; but they gave no heed” (2 Chronicles 33:10).

What happened to Manasseh? 2 Chronicles 33:10-14 provides the answer: God abandoned him, and the king of Assyria “bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when Manasseh was in distress, he besought Jehovah his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And he prayed unto him. And God was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and returned him again to Jerusalem unto his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that Jehovah was God.”

Did King Manasseh sin? He did. Did he suffer consequences as a result of his sins? He did. He lost his kingship and his kingdom, and was carried off in chains to serve his Babylonian enemies as their slave. But did Manasseh repent of his sins? He did. And did God forgive him of those sins? Yes, He did. As a result, Manasseh was restored to his rightful place as the king of Judah, and served in that lofty position for many more years. He instituted numerous positive reforms. He fought his people’s battles. He led them faithfully. He served their bests interests—and God’s. Ultimately, Manasseh was restored to a position from which he could do much good, and ended his life as a faithful servant of God.

King Jehoshaphat

Jehoshaphat began his reign over Judah at the age of 35, and reigned for a full quarter of a century—25 years. And what kind of reign did Jehoshaphat have? 2 Chronicles 17:3 records: “And Jehovah was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David.”

But again, the story doesn’t end there. Between 2 Chronicles 17:6 and 19:2, Jehoshaphat experiences a complete disintegration of his spiritual life. 2 Chronicles 18:1 records how his descent began, as he aligned himself and his nation with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. Verse 3 of that chapter records Jehoshaphat telling Ahab: “I am as you are, and my people are as your people; we will be with you.”

God sent His faithful prophet Jehu to rebuke King Jehoshaphat. Listen to Jehu’s speech to the king, as described in 2 Chronicles 19:1-3—“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have…prepared your heart to seek God.”

Now listen to the very next verse (vs. 4): “So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers.”

Did King Jehoshaphat sin? He did. Did he suffer consequences as a result of his sins? He did. He was condemned by God, and destined to a live out the remainder of his life as a wicked despot. But did Jehoshaphat repent of his sins after Jehu’s rebuke? He did. And did God forgive him of those sins? Yes, He did. Jehoshaphat was permitted to continue his reign as the king of Judah—a position from which he gave a stirring speech to his people, in which he said: “Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon us; take care to do His will, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God.”


Have you ever thought about Moses in this regard? No, I’m not talking at this point about his sin against God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it. I’m talking about his murdering an Egyptian taskmaster. As a result of his act, he had to flee his home in the palace of the Pharaoh, leaving behind his friends and family as he headed into an unknown wilderness. Can you picture Moses there, all alone, tending his father-in-law’s sheep day by boring day? No royal palace. No willing servants. No fancy clothes. No daily feasts. No former friends. No loving mother. Just miles and miles of dust, a tent in which to live, and a lot of smelly sheep—until that fateful day on the side of the mountain when he met God in the burning bush, and everything changed.

Even over Moses’ strenuous objection, God plucked him from obscurity and pitted him against the most powerful man on the Earth at that time. A lowly shepherda former murderer—was sent by the God of heaven to rescue the people of Israel from more than two centuries of Egyptian bondage. By doing so, he set in motion the series of events that would end on a hill called Calvary outside the city of Jerusalem thousands of years later.


Do I even need to mention the account of Saul (who later became Paul)—a man who dragged Christians from their homes and murdered them, yet who became the apostle to the Gentiles, and ended up authoring more than two-thirds of the New Testament?

Do I need to recount the story of Peter, who denied the Lord not just once, but three times—yet who was given by Christ the keys to open the kingdom of heaven on the Day of Pentecost?

Time would fail me if I were to mention all those in the Old and New Testaments who sinned, repented, and became invaluable servants of God. Each of these people provides us with the perfect example of “a fallen setback, but a major comeback.”

Each of these people had sinned horribly—and yet each was restored to what we can accurately call “an impressive level of continuing service.” King David led his nation to greatness. Kings Manasseh and Jehoshaphat instituted reforms that revived the spirituality of God’s people. Moses saved the Israelites from slavery, and by so doing, set in motion the fulfillment of the promise of Abraham—a promise to which we today are heirs (Hebrews 6:17). Peter preached the very first Gospel sermon, and witnessed the institution of God’s heaven-sent, blood-bought, spirit-filled church. Paul spent the rest of his life populating that church. And heaven will be richer for his efforts.

Ask yourself: What is the common theme running through each of these accounts? It’s simply this. People—even good people—sin. But if we are willing to repent, God will forgive us. What was it Jehu said to Jehoshaphat? “Nevertheless good things are found in you, because you have…prepared your heart to seek God.” God can use even the worst former sinner to accomplish His ultimate will! And, He often has!

The following questions are rhetorical—so please, no show of hands.

“Have any of you ever sinned?”

I have.

“Have any of you ever been in need of God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy?”

I have.

“Do you think God can forgive you and still use you in His kingdom?”

I do, because I know what God said on this matter. “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God, in yet another rhetorical question, asked Abraham in the great long ago: “Is anything too hard for Jehovah?” (Genesis 18:14). If God, in His divine providence, can forgive murders, adulterers, and idolaters—and then turn right around and use them to accomplish His eternal purpose—He certainly has the power to exalt you and me in any way He sees fit. Wasn’t it Jesus Who said: “With God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Christianity has been called “the land of beginning again.” God doesn’t want us looking backwards. “Remember Lots wife?” Rather, He wants us looking forward—to a home in heaven with Him forever. So, if we sin—no, when we sin, because we all do—remember that we as Christians aren’t perfect; we’re just forgiven.

And what should be our response to our brothers and sisters in Christ when they sin? Jesus answered that in His great Sermon on the Mount: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Or, as Paul put it in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”

You call me master, and obey me not.

You call me light, and see me not.

You call me way, and walk me not.

You call me life, and desire me not.

You call me wise, and follow me not.

You call me fair, and love me not.

You call me rich, and ask me not.

You call me eternal, and seek me not.

You call me gracious, and trust me not.

You call me noble, and serve me not.

You call me mighty, and honor me not.

You call me just, and fear me not.

If I condemn you, blame me not.



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