Sunday, February 28, 2010

1 Samuel 16-20: David

Now we've reached the part of the story where David enters the scene.  This is a story that I think everybody knows, but it's really pretty fun to read because there's a lot of action in it.  It starts with God telling Samuel to stop mourning for Saul and to go anoint the next king, who turns out to be David, the youngest of eight sons.  At first Samuel thinks that one of the older sons is the chosen one - probably because Saul was a tall handsome guy, and Jesse's oldest son is a tall handsome guy too, but God says that he's looking at the heart.

Right after David is anointed as the next king, Saul has really problematic mood swings.  It says that an evil spirit from the LORD torments him.  I've always been confused as to what this means.  Is it referring to a fallen angel type being, a creature that is evil but is under God's control, as all things are?  Or is it more like the angel of death, a good being but one that causes destruction?  I have no idea.  And if it's a demon, then is it God Himself who's telling the demon to torment Saul, or is it more indirect than that?  Why is Saul getting tormented by a spirit at all just because God's Spirit has left him?  These are my questions.  But anyway, it's pretty ironic that they look for a musician to help soothe Saul, and it turns out to be David, the guy who's just been appointed to replace Saul someday.  By the way, I think this makes an important statement about the power of music and the arts, even the spiritual power of art.

Next is everybody's favorite story: David and Goliath.  When I read this story this time, I was struck by the fact that out of Jesse's eight sons, only three of them are at war.  Now what that says to me is that only those three are of fighting age.  From what I learned reading Numbers, fighting age is ages 20 and up, so there are 4 sons between age 19 and whatever David's age is.  The absolute oldest David can be in this story is 16, and that's like if his mom had a kid every 9 months. My little brother is 17.  I can totally picture him in David's role here.  He is super cute, super smart, and super opinionated.  He would have no problem going up to some hotshot gigantic Philistine and telling him to shut the heck up.  He's the kind of kid who really stands up for what he believes in, you know?  I picture David like that, only not blond.  My brother is blond.

Can you just picture a little 14- or 15-year-old kid who hasn't hit his growth spurt yet, running out to meet this 9-foot-tall Yao Ming on steroids?  Yao growls at the kid, who shouts back at him with his voice cracking, I'm going to cut your head off!  Then everybody here will know that there is a God in Israel! You would think, what a punk!  Goliath probably thought David was a punk, and he probably thought that right up until he died.

Thing is, David didn't give himself credit for what he did to Goliath.  It's clear he was pretty confident - he even told Saul that he'd armwrestled a bear and a lion before and won, but he wasn't claiming credit for those victories either.  He said that God was the one who delivered David from those enemies, and God was the one who would kill Goliath.  David had a lot of faith and a lot of courage, but not in himself - it was all in God.  What a dude.  No wonder all the screaming fangirls of Israel fell in love with him after that day.

Saul now goes through a wicked stepmother, "who's the fairest in the land" phase.  He doesn't like being #2 to this punk kid who can't even fit into his armor.  He tries various methods of getting him accidentally killed - send him on a dangerous mission, make him marry his daughter, throw a spear at him - but none of these subtle techniques seem to work.  That's partly because David has an inside man.  It's Jonathan, the honey-eater from earlier.  Jonathan and David are BFFs.  This is where we get a clue about what a great guy Jonathan is, because he knows full well that David is going to be king someday, and that is the job that he, Jonathan, has been brought up for all his life.  But he doesn't resent David.  In fact, it's his idea to make a covenant with David, swearing allegiance to each other all the days of their lives.  That's pretty hardcore.  So when David is afraid Saul is going to kill him, Jonathan finds out so he can warn David.

David has another inside man, actually an inside woman: his wife Michal.  Michal is Saul's daughter.  At first Saul tried to get David to marry his older daughter Merab, but David didn't feel worthy of the honor of being the king's son-in-law.  But Michal was violently in love with him, and Saul wanted him to kill a bunch of Philistines to marry her, so that made it okay.  Michal also helps David escape one time when Saul is trying to kill him, and I think it's pretty big of her to stand up to her dad when he comes looking for her.  Unfortunately, this is the last good thing I'm ever going to say about Michal.

So back to Jonathan.  Jonathan comes up with a plan to warn David if he finds out that Saul wants to kill him. Saul is really furious with Jonathan for being David's friend, and I kind of see why.  Jonathan is Saul's son; he's supposed to be on his dad's side.  Making Jonathan king after him represents everything they've been working for, all of Jonathan's life.  To see Jonathan so willing to give that up to some kid who smells like sheep is an even bigger blow than the son who doesn't want to go be a football player at his jock dad's alma mater because he would rather pursue a degree in musical theatre.

So you can guess what happens: Jonathan warns David, they have a very tearful farewell because they probably know they'll never see each other again, and David takes off running.  He's going to be running for quite some time.

So I think at this point we've seen Saul reach pretty much his all-time low.  I had really really liked him at first, and it makes me sad to see him turn into such a jealous paranoid freak.  I like David though, and Jonathan, and the friendship that David and Jonathan have.  I love the faith that David has in God to protect him in whatever circumstances he faces.  He's going to need that faith for the next several chapters.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I love the story of David. Loved your point about music being spiritual,I have always thought that music in relation to God has always been underrated.