Thursday, June 14, 2012

Loyalty, Stupidity, Mercy and Destiny

By Brenda Black

If Hollywood ever gets ahold of this story, they'll have a movie blockbuster. The plot pits once dear friends against one another in a struggle for power and fame, interlaced with noble loyalty and insanity. The hero waffles from righteous actions to foolish decisions, while the arch rival breaks his own kingdom's laws to call on a witch to conjure up the dead. There are battle scenes and village burnings, pillaging and kidnappings. Ultimately, an entire family is wiped out in one day with the head of the clan committing suicide.

Though it sounds like a modern day version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth or a hodge-podge of headlines from today's press, this story is an historic account of Saul, King of Israel, and David, the one who would take his seat on the throne. By chapter 26 in the book of 1 Samuel, Saul is in hot pursuit of his nemesis, David. But David is still denying any wrong doing and proving his loyalty genuine with clever acts of bravery as evidenced in verses 9-11 when David could have easily snuffed out his opponent.

“But David said to Abishai, 'Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,' he said, 'the Lord himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord's anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let's go.'”

David had the means and the opportunity. He had just cause, but he didn't take justice into his own hands. Though wronged, he chose to do right – not because Saul was so deserving of such grace, but David knew that Jehovah God is the author and finisher of life. Loyalty to His Lord kept David from sin. Next time someone stabs you in the back, think of this scene. Play it over in your mind and pray for God to help you walk away with clean hands.

So, how does one so noble in his actions, suddenly become so foolish? David was human. He stopped listening to God's wisdom and took his own advice. That was a big mistake. “But David thought to himself, 'One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines...” (1 Samuel 27:1) Famous last words before falling into the land of stupidity. David followed his inkling without seeking the Lord and it cost him his family, a city and the respect of his community. He lied his way throughout the land of the enemies of Israel and pledged allegiance to a pagan king. His band of faithful followers were pushed to the point of stoning him in grief and anger. What a mess the merciful David had gotten himself into!

At the same time, Saul was also caught up in a state of stupidity as he sought the counsel of a witch and asked her to beckon Samuel for advice from the dead! You can read about that in chapter 28. When trust in the Lord waivers, humans reveal how truly desperate and pathetic we are on our own. I'm not accusing. I'm confessing. As a fellow human to these men of old, how often I have followed the beat of my own foolish thoughts rather than practiced obedience to the counsel of the Living God. The results have been futile at best, disastrous at times.

Samuel, in his ghostly state, delivered the indictment to Saul: “'Why do you consult me now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors – to David. Because you did not obey the Lord...'” (1 Sam. 28:16-18a)

God was merciful toward David. He led him to the camp of the raiders who had kidnapped his family along with all those belonging to his army. In pure “I Am the Almighty” fashion, God used a sick and abused Egyptian slave as his instrument of victory for David's army. I wonder if David saw himself in that desperate man who was left to die in the desert. Did David piece together the miraculous work of a God who would use the “least of these” as a spy for His glory? I wonder if it dawned on him that slavery to sin is a deadly option.

Speaking of death – the angel there of vanquished all of Saul's family at the hands of the Philistines during battle, just as David had predicted. No man took “the anointed” one's life. In fact, he fell upon his own spear to finalize the critical wounds Philistine archers had inflicted upon him.

One man rose to take the thrown while the other one fell to the ground. Each reached their destiny. David would live many more years (read 2 Samuel and 1 Kings) to capture the praise of people and the blessings of God. But he never quite got over that human condition that also caused him to stumble on occasion. He was loyal at times, stupid at times, merciful at times. And God was always supremely in charge – just like He is in our lives.

copyright 2012 The Word's Out - Brenda Black

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