The days in the wilderness were David’s darkest hours. You know them as his pre-king days, but he didn’t. He assumed this was his lot forever. Suffering was giving birth. Humility was being born. By earthly measures he was a shattered man; by heaven’s measure, a broken one. God has a university. It’s a small school. Few enroll, even fewer graduate. Very few indeed. God has this school because he does not have broken men. Instead He has several types of men. He has men who claim to be God’s authority…and aren’t; men who claim to be broken…and aren’t. And men who are God’s authority, but who are mad and unbroken. And he has regretfully, a spectroscopic mixture of everything in between. All of these He has in abundance; but broken men, hardly at all.In God’s sacred school of submission and brokenness, why are there so few students? Because all who are in this school must suffer pain. And as you might guess, it is often the unbroken ruler (whom God soveriegnly picks) who meats out the pain. David was once a student in this school, and Saul was God’s chosen way to crush David.
“But why, David? Why not fight?”
“It is better I be defeated, even killed, than to learn the ways of . . . of a Saul, or the ways of an Absalom. The kingdom is not that valuable. Let him have it, if that be the Lord’s will. I repeat, ‘I shall not learn the ways of either Sauls or Absaloms.'”
When I first started in ministry 11 years ago, Pastor Brad made me read a book called “A Tale of Three Kings, A Study in Brokenness” by Gene Edwards. He said that it would be one of the most important books I’d ever read and need in ministry and life. It is a look at three major kings of the Old Testament: Saul, David and Absalom, their characteristics as they ruled, and as they were transitioned out of their kingdoms for whatever reason.
Pastor Brad was right, and this week I was reminded why. (Some of this will make more sense if you’ve read the book or are familiar with the three kings). A situation was brought to my attention that (doesn’t) concern Robert and I, but is about us. A “king in the line of Saul or Absalom” would jump in and try to save their own kingdom from whatever harm has come to it, maybe even use the situation to dishonor Saul (you know, take him out while he’s on the pot in a cave)? But, we’re not OF the line of Saul. We’re of the line of David. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our moments, of course…but like it says above, “THAT kingdom is not that valuable.” The ways of Saul, and his kingdom are not top on my list of things to do today.
A friend of mine said to me that the entire situation from the start was never going to be about what I could give to it, or what it could contribute to me. It was going to be about developing my character. That was true in the end – and I think primarily that was done through the “King Saul (maybe he’s a LITTLE Absalom)” character in it. God used the King Saul character to reinforce to me what a good king is – what he looks like. In the process God broke me in a lot of ways. Maybe I needed breaking? I’m not thrilled that it had to come at the hands of a Saul or Absalom, but it did. In any case, I pray that I will always be of the line of the king of David, and that if (or yes, even when) I should go bad or mad, someone will tell me or confront me and bring me back to a right place.
Or kill me. Either one works. Whatever.