Friday, March 05, 2010

Honorable Mention

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In contests, reward ribbons are blue, red, and white designating first, second, and third places. Sometimes an additional category is designated as “Honorable Mention.” That prize means the entry was on the right track. It needed a bit more spit and polish, but the work merited enough to garner an “honorable mention.”

That’s where we find our biblical hero David this week. He wins “honorable mention” award for his actions and reactions during his wilderness wanderings. The wilderness tests his character. He will have occasion to work underhanded, but he will instead chose a righteous path.

The last chapters of 1 Samuel tell how David runs from harm. King Saul, accompanied by 3,000 men pursued David to kill him, but David ran to a wilderness region, “Crags of the Wild Goats.”

Our wildernesses can be locations or circumstances. David’s was both. He had fled to less-traveled, rough terrain to evade his enemies. His wilderness location could compare to the hills of Afghanistan where even today men evade their pursuers.

David had an entourage of society misfits, who recognized his leadership and pledged their allegiance. They defended and helped protect David. A place of solitude can offer quiet refuge that a city cannot. Without hurried city life, street noise, and crowded markets, David gained clarity. He had time to contemplate his response to the murderous chase initiated by Israel’s first king.

The king, through skewed vision, saw David as an outlaw and a traitor. At least two times, David was within a gnat’s breath of King Saul and had occasion to kill his enemy. But he chose a nobler path.

The first time, David and his men had gone into the recesses of a cave to rest. The cool, darkness proved to be a good choice. David could see the entrance but not be seen. King Saul entered the same cave to relieve himself. In hushed tones, David’s followers suggested he kill the king. He refused and “crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe” (24:4).

“Afterward, David was conscience-stricken,” and berated himself saying, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed…for he is the anointed of the Lord” (5-6). When Saul exited, David called out to him, even using the term “my father,” and bowed prostrated to the ground. He said he wished the king no harm, and then showed him the corner of his robe, proving David’s proximity.

Upon David’s entreaty, the king relented from his hostility and even acknowledged that David would reign instead of himself one day. Saul returned home. However, David remained at a stronghold with his men. Later, a second close encounter with King Saul yields similar results. David—near enough to rid the kingdom of Saul—again said no to the temptation because he knew that the Lord decides about kingdoms and whether they stand or fall. He refused to intrude upon God’s calendar.

This story finds both Saul and David in wildernesses. Saul gave in to the darkness while David chose to turn to God. He will later write, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2).

Lord, may each of us rely on you in the wilderness. Train our consciences in your ways and strike them with your thoughts. O King, we long to please you. Guide us so that our hearts and actions receive honorable mentions in your courts. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful thougths , Cathy. Thanks you for reminder to be faithful in our hding places.