“You are the man!” I do not know how many times you have heard this statement, but probably more than you can count. Perhaps, someone has even said it about you. If so, then how did it make you feel? The answer would probably depend on how you viewed their sincerity and motives. For example, if someone declares “you are the man” as a tribute and honor for a moment of glory, then it makes you feel good.
I have heard it used after a great golf shot, a winning homerun, or an unbelievable catch. In this setting, it separates one person from all the others and glorifies his deeds over theirs. “You are the man” at that moment when others were not. Not that they were incapable, but you were the one at the right place and at the right time, and you came through.
On the other hand, there is a sense in which none of us would want to be “the man”. If, for example, someone points his finger and says, “You are the man I saw committing the crime”, then we would not want to be the man accused. Neither would we stand for someone to falsely accuse us as “the man”. I am reminded of the State Farm commercial featuring Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. In the commercial, Mr. Rodgers mentions that he was MVP last year. To which one of the children responded, “Mr. Hubble says trophies are for people with self-esteem issues.” Mr. Rodgers asked, “Who is Mr. Hubble?” and the real Mr. Hubble ripped off his name tag and pointed to another man and said “that’s Rod Hubble”. The innocent man responded, “No it is not.”
“You are the man” were the words Nathan used to convict King David of some of the most horrific sins committed in Scripture (Read 2 Samuel 11 &12)). These offenses included lust, abuse of power, adultery, deceit, and finally murder. To cast an even darker shadow over the scene, they were all perpetrated against one innocent man, Uriah.
The story begins with the king rising from bed and going to the roof of his house where he sees a beautiful woman bathing. David’s interest clearly crossed the line because when he inquired about her he learned that she was the wife of Uriah. Even with that information, he sent messengers to bring Bathsheba before him and then committed adultery with her.
Upon learning that she was pregnant with his child, David sent for Uriah who was away fighting for the king. When Uriah return, David asked him about the war and then told him to go home. It was his hope that Uriah would go to his wife and lay with her, and thus hide that she was pregnant with another’s man’s child. However, Uriah’s integrity kept him from going to his wife. David tried again, this time getting him drunk, but still Uriah would not go. So the king sent a letter to Joab to “set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him.” Uriah died in battle.
Later, Nathan approached David with a story about how a rich man mistreated a poor man. David’s anger was so kindled against the man that he pronounced a judgment of death on him. It was at this point in the story that Nathan said, “You are the man”. You see, God was judging him because of the way he had abused Uriah.
However, the problem was not just with the way David had treated Uriah. There was much more. God had given him everything; protection from Saul, made him king, and blessed him with riches. If that had not been enough, God would have given him more. But David took what was not his to take, and by so doing showed contempt for God’s blessings. He despised God and His commandments, and gave excuse for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme Him. I am sure this was one time when David would have rather not been “the man”.
Thankfully, the story does not end here. David did not deny his guilt or complain about God’s judgment, instead he said, “I have sinned against the Lord”. And what terrible sins they were, but earlier God had chosen him king because of the character of his heart. In fact, Samuel says of David, “The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) This point is important because it shows why David responded in a way God forgave.
It also suggests that good men can sin horrifically, but with the right heart they can still come back and please God. The story reveals that God can and will forgive the worst of sins if we humble ourselves before Him. This fact should give everyone comfort “for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
When we sin, we must respond as David did with humility, sorrow, and trust in the Lord, if we want forgiveness. He was a man after God’s own heart, not because he was perfect, but due to his attitude and faith. King David is still known by both stories, but he is defined only by one. When Paul preached in Antioch, centuries later, God inspired him to say, “I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes.” Yes, he was “the man” on both occasions, but his heart helped him to overcome his sins. May each one of us be the kind of man David was.