I can’t help but ponder David’s life this a.m., as I continue my read through the book of First Samuel. This King in the making, a shepherd boy, anointed harpist become giant killer, has matriculated through Saul’s hierarchy as a hero, but now to the point of threat given Saul’s jealous ego.
David is on the run, yet it is apparent that providence is building a team around him, a band of men who have experienced the true nature of David, to the point that they would risk their lives to be with him. It is in these moments that we witness this heart so fitting of a king.
David is fearless when confronted by anyone who defies the God of Israel, yet his self-description is that of a flea. That humble perspective in the midst of miraculous victories only comes from being in relationship with God. If religion alone could provide that, Saul would have been different. He honored religion, even holding back on his legal attempts at doing war right, as he awaited Samuel’s burnt offering in chapter 13…until his patience wore thin. Lacking the character and dependence that comes from deep spiritual communion with God, he defied God and was rejected as a leader. I know that feeling and am thankful for the grace of God.
David, unlike Saul, violates religion by eating consecrated bread (I Sam 21:5) yet is in such relationship with God that his future goes unhindered and his life spared time and again, in a way that only seasons his leadership abilities.
The underlying heart of David, though challenged over time as life hardens around him (I Sam 25:34) is best expressed in his words to Saul, after he had spared his life and sat “conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe” while Saul relieved himself in a cave. David, by now a stealth warrior, describes himself as “a dead dog, a flea” in his own eyes.
He understood, “not by might nor power but by my Spirit”.
I wonder what it would have been like for Saul if he had repented in his heart after his this confrontation by David. The words were there but his heart was not:
17 “You are more righteous than I,” he (Saul) said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” I Samuel 24 NIV.
Neither can I help but ask where our country would be, were it led by men with David’s heart?