It is hard for me to wrap my head around the life David lived. The days in which he lived are so different than my life… harsher and rougher. To provide for his men and family David spent a year raiding towns and killing everyone; men, women and children. Today we would call him a murderer and thief or possibly even a terrorist.
While the text indicated a smidge of honorableness in David’s actions: Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish (8-9). These peoples were not Israelite but ancient enemies of the Israelites; there is for me still a horror in David’s actions.
I equate David’s actions with the wildwest US military raiding parties who killed thousands of Native Americans and for that matter, Native American raiding parties who killed many settlers during those years as well.
I also struggle to think that this same David wrote so many of the magnificent Psalms. I thumbed through some of the Psalms…
Psalm 41:1-3: Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble. The LORD protects and preserves them— they are counted among the blessed in the land— he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.
Psalm 26:1-11: Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered. Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, LORD, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me.
This man raided and killed unsuspecting people.
I don’t know what to do with this. I also have never fled for my life, spent years on the run from a powerful and cruel adversary all the while being responsible for the care of few thousand people (600 soldiers and all their family members) while on the run.
One thing about the Bible is that it doesn’t sugar coat its heroes, we see them in their raw humanness.
I still know integrity matters (yesterday’s lesson) and that living up to God’s laws matters. I also know some people are forced into horrible situations and have to make terrible decisions.
I just pray:
Lord, should I ever find myself in those kinds of situations I pray I will remain true to You. I pray, too, that my heart never grows hard and cold. Like David, for all his faults and humanness, he remained a man after Your own heart. May that be true of me, too… May that be true of m,e too. Amen.