Why Great Men Fall (book review)

Dr. Wayde Goodall addresses a subject that I wish didn’t have to be addressed in Why Great Men Fall. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen it; perhaps you’ve even experienced it firsthand with someone close to you. How tragic it is when we see spiritual, business or political leaders lose their influence in the wake of a devastating fall.

Dr. Goodall pulls no punches as he identifies the things that seem to trip men up time and time again. He looks squarely at the root causes – not just the symptoms – and challenges men to do the same. We’re all susceptible to sin and failure. The Bible warns us: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

These words from J.C. Ryle are a sober reminder:

“Great falls seldom happen to a saint, without a previous course of secret backsliding. The church and the world are sometimes shocked by the sudden misconduct of some great professor of religion. Believers are discouraged and stumbled by it. The enemies of God rejoice and blaspheme. But if the truth could be known, the explanation of such cases would generally be found to have been private departure from God. People fall in private, long before they fall in public. The tree falls with a great crash, but the secret decay which accounts for it, is often not discovered until it is down on the ground.”

Why Great Men Fall is not a long book, nor does Dr. Goodall present complicated arguments. It’s a straightforward, easy-to-understand diagnosis of the most common things which trip up great men. I cannot encourage you strongly enough to not only read this book, but to read it with a friend who will hold you accountable.

Guys, your family, your church, and your community need you to STAND STRONG!


Psalm 22 is a prayer of raw desperation. I love how transparent David is with his emotions. Many people would hide this sort of thing: never daring to admit that they had doubts. But David freely admits that he’s frustrated by what is happening—or actually not happening—in his life.

I see three points of David’s desperation:

  1. God, why don’t You answer me (vv. 1-2).
  2. God, why don’t You defend my honor (vv. 6-8).
  3. God, why don’t You rescue me (vv. 11-18).

Do you think David had a right to say these things against God? Remember Jesus said them too!

Do you think David was over-reacting when he said these things? Remember Jesus said them too!

David truly, deeply, felt these things. He truly believed that God wasn’t answering him, or defending him, or rescuing him. At least, AS HE THOUGHT GOD SHOULD!

But David says something VITAL after each of his points of desperation. It’s summed up in one conjunction each time…

  • Yet (vv. 3-5).
  • Yet (vv. 9-10).
  • But (vv. 19-21).

In all of these David recalls past history. David looks to the past to help him look to the future.

He BACKCASTS so that he can have a better FORECAST!

Looking back gives David assurance of God’s faithfulness. This assurance gives David hope for the future. So now look how he responds in his present desperate situation:

  • I will declare Your name (v. 22a)
  • I will praise You (v. 22b)
  • He calls others to join him in praise (v. 23)
  • He realizes that God has not hidden His face… but He has listened to his cry for help (v. 24)
  • He decides to praise God in spite of the temporary disappointments, giving all glory to God (vv. 25-31)

This is what is called a typio-prophetic Messianic psalm: what David experienced, Jesus would both experience and fulfill. So although Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me,” He too could backcast to forecast and get the strength He needed to persevere

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

This is why I’m a big believer in journals: writing things down now will give you ammunition for future trials. Then when you are in those trials, you can backcast to get a better forecast of the hope for God’s deliverance. That will give you joy in the present, just like David. And just like Jesus!

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