Day 70—David, the Tailor—“Secret of Seeing” 1 Samuel 21:1 -24:22
March 11, 2021, 7:40 AM

Day 70—David, the Tailor—“Secret of Seeing” 1 Samuel 21:1 -24:22

(New feature—I am going to write meanings for the names of our Bible characters in italics the first time they appear in the blog. It helps us understand more about who they are.)

The entire section of scripture we read today describes David (beloved) as fleeing, always running from Saul (asked for, prayed for) and from Saul’s determination to kill David. David ends up in the wilderness, and whenever this happens, it is worth paying attention to the things that happen there.

First—the showbread, or bread of presence. Why was David allowed to eat only what priests were supposed to eat? Clearly he survived after eating it, which is a good sign since we know what can happen when someone comes a little too close to the holy things of God. But we need to read from the gospel of Mark to fully understand what had happened.Remember these things: 1. David was chosen by God. 2. It was not yet his time to reign. 3. He was fleeing from Saul’s wrath. 4. He was hungry.

In Mark 2: 25-26, Jesus uses David’s eating of the holy bread to compare what he and his disciples were doing: they were gleaning grain to eat on the Sabbath, which meant they were doing work, which was considered unlawful, and this is pointed out to Jesus. But Jesus says this: “25Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2: 25-28

In this example, Jesus made a clear comparison, between David and himself. So take note of that as we continue to read about King David in the next several days.

These chapters teach us so much more about the heart of this King in the wilderness. While David shelters in the cave of Adullam (a hiding place), all sorts of unlikely people begin to gather around him—those who are in distress, those who are in debt, those who are discontented. We are seeing a charism, which means a spiritual gifting, that makes David sound very much like Jesus looking after the lost, the least and the left out. All these people go out and find David, and he welcomes them and he “became captain over them.” 1 Sam 21: 2

Ahimilech (brother of a king), the priest who gave David the bread, defends David to the point of his own death as he tells Saul about the goodness and faithfulness of David. Shortly after this, Abiathar (the father is great ), who is the son of Ahimilech, comes to David and is guaranteed protection. David is becoming a figure of strength, safety and comfort for his own family and for those who are running from the corruption and violence at the heart of Saul’s reign.

David’s encounter with Saul, however, is the turning point. Can you imagine running from an oppressor or someone who desperately wants to kill you, and, when given the clear opportunity to end the situation--it’s hard for me to say ‘kill the oppressor’ because that is counter to everything I believe in, but we know that’s the true context here—when given that exact opportunity while Saul is relieving himself in the cave (ah, the earthy Bible speaks again!!), David simply cuts off a corner of Saul’s cloak and is then filled with remorse and runs after Saul to tell him what he has done.

What the…? Why didn’t he kill Saul? Because David trusted that God was going to reveal how He was going to give David the throne, and David did not sense this was the time.

David recognizes that he has deeply dishonored Saul by cutting the cloak, and David is humble enough to recognize that Saul is still the anointed one who is the reigning King. To cut off the corner of the cloak of a Jewish man such as Saul might mean that David has cut off one of the tassels, the tzitzit, that Saul is required to have on the four corners of his robe. That would be an offense against God. However, to cut off a piece of the robe of a King signifies that the King has been dethroned, removed or otherwise overcome. Robes have great power in the ancient world because they were difficult to make and to replace. To tear or damage a robe caused real trouble for the wearer because it was no longer a ‘whole piece’. To be given the mantle or robe of a king or prophet also signified the passing of the power from one person to another (we’ll see this with the mantle of Elijah being passed to Elisha, for example).

While all this was interesting to me, I am most drawn in by David’s honesty, his vulnerability and his conversation with Saul at the very end of our reading. David runs after, and calls out to Saul so that Saul knows what has happened. Even then, David could have caught Saul off guard and killed him, but David tells Saul that God will be the judge and avenger: “May the LORD judge between me and you!” David calls out to Saul, “May the LORD avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.” 1 Sam 24: 12

While the scripture does not explicitly say so, Saul’s heart melts when he hears David’s voice, a very different reaction that Pharaoh had to Moses when the mere sound of Moses’ voice would harden Pharaoh’s heart, and Saul begins to weep. “Is this your voice, my son?” Saul calls out to David. Indeed, even David’s enemies love him, recognize his righteousness in God, recognize David’s call to be the true King of the Israelites.

At times we are tempted to fight against the very change that God calls for in the world, and it can be hard to discern what those changes are, but we are called to have faith, to trust and to remain in contact with God. In fact, I think the hardest thing is to wait on God. Remember that Saul refused to wait for Samuel to make the burnt offering, and he lost his kingdom almost before he had even started to reign. From that time forward, Saul was waiting for God to remove him, and to dismantle the kingdom Saul had established. Imagine the tension of that. David was waiting for the same thing, but David trusted God to speak, to protect and to establish the kingdom that had been promised to him by God.

What are you waiting to hear from God?

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

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