In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of seed sown on different kinds of soil to teach his listeners about the fruitfulness of God’s word (Matthew 13:1-23). Every seed has the same potential for growth; it is the type of soil that determines how abundant the yield will be. The prophet Isaiah seems to say the same thing: God’s word, like the seed, always remains fruitful—it will not return void. So it seems that our human response determines the harvest.
Perhaps this explains why some people seem to bear more spiritual fruit than others. The Old Testament story of King Saul and King David offers us a dramatic illustration of this principle (1 Samuel 9–2 Samuel 12). Saul was chosen by God to rule over Israel, but because of his fear and selfishness, he disobeyed the Lord. As a result, God chose someone else—a man after his own heart—to replace Saul: the shepherd David.
Now, David did what God asked him to do. He fought Israel’s enemies, he rescued the ark of the covenant from the Philistines, and he even danced joyfully before the Lord for all to see.
We all know that David was far from perfect. He committed adultery and let himself get caught up in a web of deception and murder. But he also repented (Psalm 51). It wasn’t because he was perfect that David could bear fruit for the Lord; it was because he loved God and tried to follow him with his whole heart.
David and Saul’s story shows that God can work with flawed people who are humble, dedicated, and willing to turn back to him. Through repentant sinners like David and us—the seed of God’s word doesn’t return empty; it can bear much fruit.