You guessed right. The title for this post is borrowed from the gifted, popular and Grammy Award singer and song-writer Joni Mitchell, titled “I Can See From Both Sides Now”, 1966. By the way, two other well known singers, as far as I know, also have covered this song – Judy Collins and Roger Whittaker.
I have always loved, just like you, the story of King David. Even as a child I was captivated reading how David, the young shepherd, killed the giant Goliath. As a youngster I read how David overcame obstacles to become King of Israel. I have also read how David, who had achieved such success, fell complacent and let temptation take over and not only destroy his life but also the future direction of the nation of Israel. The book of Psalms is filled with many of David’s songs. The famous Psalm 23 starts “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” This “Shepherd of the sheep” became the most popular king of Israel. Did fame and honourable status make David want for more?
As a successful, comfortable king, who was very secure in his position, started looking around. He noticed Bathsheba, the wife of one of his Military Officers, taking a bath (or did she plan it with ulterior motive?). This led David into adultery, deception, conspiracy and murder. David posted her husband to the risky front-line of the battle to have him killed in order to cover up his deceit and sin. God was displeased with both David and Bathsheba. Their newborn baby boy died. In short a king of Israel and the wife of a faithful officer committed a horrible and disgraceful crime and SIN! What a horrible example for the current king David as well as his son, Solomon, the future king.
Allow me to make one more reference. David let his eyes wander yet again, this time on to his military strength. He asked his army chief to evaluate the nation’s capability and strength – not Jehovah’s power and guidance; a failure to “trust and obey for there is no other way”. David quickly recognized his horrible error. Again David repented and said unto the Lord, “I have sinned greatly and now, I beseech thee O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.” When David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer “Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.13 So God came to David and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? Or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? Or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? Now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. 14 And David said unto God, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.” (2 Samuel 24:10-14) What was the cost of David’s sin? Many Israelites died of pestilence!
What do we learn from David’s life experience ? Sin is awful, hurtful and painful; but repentance with a humble heart for grace is more powerful. In spite of his faults and failures David was forgiven and restored as a great king and also the “forefather” of the coming Messiah, because God is “full of grace and truth”. Next to Lord Jesus, the Scriptures cover more of David’s life than any other king or man. David, Israel’s greatest king, is one of the most amazing men ever lived. He is known as being a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) despite his life filled with ups and downs.
Coming back to Joni Mitchell, David looked at life from both sides. For those of us that have the privilege of living a number of years, we can look at both sides as well. We can look back and see the excitement, strength and indestructibility of youth, followed by a caulky, misplaced self confidence. If not careful, this often leads to poor judgement, bad decisions and a fall into mid-life reality. But over time, when looking back on one’s life, we can see what David saw. He had experienced the love as well as the forgiveness of God. David knew how great a sinner he was – “my sin is ever before me”. He also knew God’s love and forgiveness. Remember the old chorus: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever, I will sing, I will sing. With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations”.
Yes, “to err is human” but, thank God, to forgive is divine. We do fall for failures and shortcomings, but Jesus knows our needs and weakness, restores and provides his grace and joy at all times. Can you see David “from both sides” now?
God bless, Danny Paul