Thursday, June 25, 2009

Singing from the cave

As we follow the story of David on Sunday mornings, it’s easy to think that his ascension to the throne was quick and without trouble – ok, without much trouble. We think of David being anointed, of tackling that giant problem the Israelites were having, and then quickly taking the throne after Saul’s death. All quick and easy, right? Maybe in the Reader’s Digest version of the story. But the story the Bible tells is one of heartache and disappointments of danger and close calls.

Shortly after his glorious victory over Goliath, David is sitting in Saul’s court playing his harp and minding his own business when he hears the whoosh of spear hurled his way. Have the Philistines invaded? Is this a surprise attack? Nope. It’s just King Saul deciding he can’t have someone as popular as David hovering around the throne. From that moment onward David’s reward for killing the giant and saving the day would be a decade of running for his life. Think about that. Ten years of looking over his shoulder, of covering his tracks, of wondering if life would ever return to normal. Some reward for doing what was right.

Most of us think that if we just do what is right, good things will happen to us. And while the principle generally holds – work hard on your homework and you’ll get a good grade – it doesn’t always. One needs to look no further than David or Job or Jesus to see that sometimes all we get for all our good efforts is other people’s enmity. The world doesn’t always make sense.

So what do we do in the midst of the chaos? What did David do? At first, the scriptures tell us, David went and hid in a cave (1 Sam 22:1). Not exactly the height of bravery. But there in the cave, David apparently went back to the one thing that always brought him solace, the worship of God. David would go to writing songs, three of which are recorded in Psalms 142, 57, and 34. In those songs David discovered that God had not abandoned him. God was still at work in David’s life and in the world around him despite the current circumstances. This awareness would give David the strength he needed to press on in the midst of overwhelming trials, the grace he needed to maintain his righteousness in the face of Saul’s evil, and the patience to wait on the LORD’s deliverance for as long as was required.

Are you suffering today for doing what’s right? Do you feel like hiding in a cave? Sing one of David’s songs and find the God who “is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1).

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