I find myself thinking more and more about David these days. Wish I was more like him – but then I think about all the stuff he got wrong – very badly wrong – and what I really want is to be like him in his better qualities.
I almost can’t believe he is such a hero in the Bible – as a father, as a king, he made some really terrible choices. Unbelievable. But when I look at his better qualities, I just wish I was that good.
And one of those qualities is patient trust.
He was so disciplined and acted with so much integrity towards Saul. I remember – often – the story where David was hiding in a cave and Saul came in to relieve himself. Completely vulnerable. David crept up and cut a little piece off Saul’s cloak.
David waited for 25 years
It’s something like 25 years(!) from the day when David is anointed as future King to the day he wears the crown, and perhaps 20 until this moment in the cave.
He is so patient, and full of trust in God, so noble, refusing to take matters into his own hands.
I’m amazed. He is like a still pond: calm, serene.
I did a search on the phrase “How long” in the Bible recently – and a few of David’s psalms came up. Heh – here we have the “still pond”:
“Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?”
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
Every day, huh? Wow. He must have found it really tough. And the questions: Has God forgotten me? Has he hidden his face from me?
I believe that “really tough” must be a huge understatement.
So then I wonder, how on earth did he do it? The temptation to kill Saul must have been incredible – and his men, saying to him, “This is the day the LORD spoke of…” … go, kill him.
How long, O LORD?
Have you ever just longed for an ordeal to be over? I certainly have, and I can relate to that “every day” thing.
David was both incredibly tough, and incredibly vulnerable, at the same time. It seems to me that over the years he maintained his sensitivity, his, well, I guess his emotional intelligence. He chose the vulnerable path rather than becoming hardened.
I think that’s part of what God loves about him – David stuck to his integrity, and when he failed in that, he was mostly quick to apologise. When he was slow to apologise, at least when he finally did say sorry he meant it. Do you know that when Saul died, David sang a lament? I think David truly loved him, so then, I imagine anguish and confusion in being attacked and pursued by someone he loved. He apologised to Saul for cutting the corner off his robe in the cave.
Again and again, David went to God as the master of his future. Not always with positive expectation – so I’m not sure that we could always call it “trust” in the sense that we normally understand trust. Sometimes it was that too.
Real, intimate, and vulnerable
Psalm 57 – which is from David’s time in the cave, says, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.” Sounds more like begging than like calm, patient trust… to me, at least. Then he says, “I take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed”.
In your life, if you long for an answer to “How long, O LORD”, I sincerely hope you don’t have to wait 25 years. I think David kept his conversation with God real, intimate, vulnerable – even when David was angry with him, or puzzled, upset, confused – I think he just kept talking to him. Somehow he made it until the promised day.
Life wasn’t simple after that either – but he remains a role model for me – vibrant, alive, real, honest, intimate, strong, trusting.