Photo credit: Creative CommonsHe stood there, in his youth, fresh, strong, ruddy and handsome. He felt the rush of blood through his veins and excitement sped his heart rate to ear pounding levels. He was in the presence of every one of his brothers, his father and the leading holy man of his time. He knew he'd heard it right, there was no denying it - And from the looks on the faces of his kin, it was no less shocking to them either. David had been anointed as the next king of Israel. There were some details he didn't understand, of course - like how he could be king when Saul was currently on the throne - But that didn't matter right now. He would be king... Soon!
I love David. I thank God that He let us know his story intimately. David was small, a shepherd (one of the lowest jobs you could have at the time) and not your typical hero. He was hot tempered (yeah, I can relate to that), red headed (one of my people!) and he screwed up on a regular basis. These things are not what Hollywood would have you believe make up the most recognized hero of the Bible. But most people, even non-Christians, have heard at least part of David's epic tale. Yeah, he's THAT guy. David is the diminutive under-dog that killed the giant. He's also the guy that fell in love with Bathsheba, another man's wife, and had her husband killed so that he could take her for his own. I cherish the allowance God gives us with letting us see David for such a long period in his life. To be able to learn that he starts out strong, is pursued by evil, kicks evil's butt, fails, then epically fails and ultimately ends up exactly as God says he would is a treasure trove of love. I strongly advise reading David's story (1 Sam 17:1-1 Ki 2:10), it is beyond amazing. Be warned, his rule spanned 40 years and he was a busy guy... Not to mention the years before he ruled.
Yeah, that is what I am really talking about here. David was dubbed King of Israel amid his family by the prophet Samuel FOURTEEN YEARS before the crown was laid on his head! Fourteen years, people! And we get impatient waiting for our burger and fries... Before we dismiss that thought with a sage nod of the head and let our brains wash out how long that actually is let's think about it. There isn't one thing I have waited for in my life for that long a period of time. There is only one thing in my world that even comes close and that is my son - He is fourteen. (yeah... Moving on!) Imagine being told you won the lottery... Now imagine that your first check won't come for fourteen years! That's right, you have to go on working for the same boss, worrying about the same bills and responsibilities, deal with the same lines at the grocery store and live in the same house. You have the winning ticket, you know you won, but for fourteen years nothing is going to change. And here's the kicker, you know it will be fourteen years - David didn't know when he would finally be king! Are you getting it like I am?
The years David spend waiting for that moment he would get to wander the halls of palaces and be waited on hand and foot were long and arduous. Not because he lived in ancient times without running water, indoor facilities and wi-fi, but because he was pursued. Yup. The current king was being ousted, but it was going to take a while and in that time period, King Saul found out who his successor would be. Um, can I say that he wasn't thrilled? It made him cuckoo, in fact - literally. Saul went nutty trying to make sure he would stay king as long as he possibly could. He drifted from having David among his court members playing musical interludes (where he also used little Davey for target practice) to chasing the young ginger in and out of caves, around the country-side and onto fields of battle.
If you thought that made any difference in what our young hero did, you would be wrong. David proved to be a resourceful man. We all know the story of how he took down Goliath when everyone else hid, but you have to read on to see how loyal, inventive and intelligent he is after the meeting with Samuel. He is fearless in his youth and nothing seems to sway him. He stays in service to King Saul as long as he can, only leaving when his best friend, the kings own son, advises him and aids him in his escape. He then partners up with some men of questionable reputation (some of them open criminals) and wanders the countryside, trying to stay just out of Saul's reach. He is pursued relentlessly, hungry often, worried for his men, his family and himself and he is often exhausted beyond comprehension. He has lost the company of his best friend, he is under a death warrant for something he didn't ask for and it all seems surreal and unfair.
How easy it would have been for David to chuck it all and figure he somehow got it wrong. To think that David could have walked away, thrown the inheritance of a kingdom and the glory of God down the drain is a testament to his perseverance and his patience. He had every right to say "forget it!" He didn't deserve the wrath of a crazy king. He didn't do anything to be left friendless. He was a godly man who started out a lowly shepherd, did a courageous act in battle for his country no one else would step up to do, and he had been thrown aside and forsaken, even it seemed, by God. He could have done all that, and we would have understood. Except for one thing... He didn't.
David was patient and he persevered. David trusted God and what He said through Samuel. He didn't need to be reminded over and over that God had said he would be king. He knew it. He trusted that God doesn't lie. More importantly, David understood the magnitude of the job. To be king of Israel would take a man that could lead a people reputed for their stubbornness and refusal to obey God's commands. To be king and survive it in humility, David had to learn strength and reliance on the one person who could see him succeed: GOD. He doesn't do it perfectly. In fact, he becomes a murderer and an adulterer, he loses children because of his own sin and he is not allowed to build things he once thought he would. He deals with consequences that most of us would crumple under. He perseveres.
I love David and his story because it shows me how trivial my problems must look. It gives me a focus that is so simple and clear: Do it because it pleases God. It is that plain. Because it pleases God... Not because I will get anything from it, although I may. Not because I will have fame and followers, although I might. Do it because God has asked it of me and my obedience pleases Him.
Whatever you are going through, be reminded that patience and perseverance are rewarded mightily at the hand of a God that knows every hair on your head. He loves you, wants to bless you and will discipline you with the hand of a devoted father. Christ sealed the deal for us with grace and mercy so that we can walk confidently into the purpose set before us. Don't give up... You never know when that promise might be just over the next horizon.