Friday, March 2, 2012

Lent Day 9: Thankful for knowing and being known

"Why was David a man after God's own heart?" someone asks. Perhaps because he did not run ahead? Knowing he was to be king, he spared his predecessor twice––during manhunts for his own life.

A group of us circled a beautifully appointed living room last night (thanks, Paul and Bev). Once a month we meet to study Bible characters. Each one exposes God and humanity = God's interaction with us in community and as individuals. Yesterday, David came under the magnifying glass.

We read scripture passages aloud and then discuss the nature of God, the nature of humans, and our response to God within the joys and challenges of our own humanity. On the way home, W and I talked about what we had learned.
  • My personal takeaway? Creating opportunity for others to understand God's truths makes me happier than when I learn things myself. Clear as a bell, my heart rang out with the pure joy and energy of leading a group. 
  • Training and teaching others feels like finding a puzzle piece or watching internal gears click into place. A sense of ease and comfort comes from facilitating the exploration and application of scripture. This is not something I struggle to learn or do but who I am. I'm surprised by sheer happiness every time I speak in public.
  • What we learned about Samuel and David? Samuel, the veteran leader and intercessor of Israel, was stuck. The worst thing had happened to his successor: Saul was a dud. Yet God was ready to move on and provided Samuel with the satisfaction of anointing the next generation.
  • David had tremendous self-confidence because he knew his God and himself. He was comfortable in the gifts God gave him, a love of music, the ability to strategize, the confidence to run toward a giant who was defying God's name. When given an opportunity, David seized it and did the job with gusto (unlike Saul whose lack of self-confidence never matched up to his kingly appearance.)
  • David did menial jobs with enthusiasm and never pushed himself into the foreground. Knowing he would be king and having accomplished champion feats, David willingly stood in the background of the palace, playing music and lugging armor while Saul ruled. (I wonder how many of David's ideas for sound monarchy came from observation: "Wow, good plan there!" or the contrast: "Saul, what are you thinking!? This is a bad idea." 1 Samuel 16)
  • As the youngest brother, he got no respect from his dad, who didn't even call him to dinner with Samuel. (Read the full story below.) His older siblings discounted him––even after they had watched Samuel anoint David for kingship (shades of Joseph?) David's feisty response of "What have I done wrong now?!" possibly exposes a pattern of family put-downs and "Go away, little brother, you don't know anything." (1 Samuel 17)
  • David used his own gifts, training, and experiences rather than relying on the proven armor and battle plans of others. He laid aside the burden of Saul's armor (though he had been an armor bearer for the king and probably knew it well) for smooth stones and a stick, tools he felt comfortable with.
  • David pinpointed the heart of the issue rather than looking at circumstances. He recognized Goliath as God's enemy, not as a human giant or seasoned opponent and dealt with him on that basis. The fight as well as the victory belonged to God. However, David did not let go of Goliath's severed head until he was taken to the king as proof of his accomplishment. Hmmm.
  • David had many opportunities to make God's plans come true but he was unwilling to act beyond what he knew of God's character. Because of this, he and those allied with him suffered while: 1. others got credit and lived in the inner circle; 2. David was hunted like an animal and led a rabble pack of raiders; and 3. he absolutely rejected chances to seize power through "divine appointments," even when prompted by others.
Maybe David's patient humility, decidedly unusual among those in power or the ambitious, endeared him to God. Though David committed adultery, murder, and disobeyed God in many ways, God saw a heart that longed for obedience and surrender.

When Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse's sons as future king, he noted that God looked on the inner person rather than the outward appearance. David's quest to please God and his willingness to let God work out the details in God's time set him head and shoulders above seven brothers. It made the shepherd "of a few sheep" (according to a snide remark from his brother) an amazing leader of a nation.

I'm ending a season of study. I get many suggestions of what I could do and where God might be leading me. The study of David reinforced my caution against moving forward and making things happen. I'm going to wait for God's go-ahead and a clear call to action.

Oh God, may we seek and obey you with the humble confidence that knows you are pleased with how you made us and have a place for us. You are able to use us without our "help" in pushing others aside, propelling ourselves forward, or boasting about our accomplishments. 

Make us beautiful inside so that your Spirit can direct us in life's menial and circuitous paths as needed, whether kingship or sheep herder is our destiny. Amen.

Read more:
*The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.”

Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. 1 Samuel 16

*Read more about David in 1 Samuel 17 through 2 Samuel 2.

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