Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two Kings

Two kings, chosen by God to lead the people of Israel. Two Kings who, early in their reign, would be given the choice of obedience or disobedience to the very God who had given them their kingdoms. Two kings, I could not help but reflect on their stories as I stood there at Beth-Shen in Israel, the wind blowing softly though the top of the tress. For it was there at Beth-Shen that one would reap the repercussions of his choice, even as the other was being elevated to the place of authority.

Saul had been ruling for but two years when we first find him in an encounter with the Philistines. Though their numbers were few, the men of Israel won the battle, as Saul’s son, Jonathan, led the charge and defeated an entire garrison of Philistine warriors. Taking the credit as his own, Saul proclaimed that a trumpet was to be blown throughout the land of Israel to announce his great victory.

But the war was not yet over. Just days later the Philistines regrouped, complete with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops that numbered “like the sand on the seashore”. Men of Israel who just days before had been dancing in celebration, now found themselves caves…in holes…in rocks…in cisterns…even in tombs. Their fear was palatable, permeating the very air that they breathed.

Have you ever been there? Frightened, surrounded by all that is causing you to tremble? If you are like me, you just want to do something…anything! Anything, that is, but wait. And yet, that is so often what God asks of us. To wait. To give God time to work.

That was God’s word to King Saul. Wait, Saul, just wait. In seven days Samuel will come and make an offering. In seven days you will see my plan, be given direction. In seven days I will make my way known. But Saul could not wait. He was too afraid…of his enemies, of his own people, of losing his kingdom. Decisions made that day would culminate on a mountain overlooking Beth-Shen, where Saul would be cut down in battle; his body hung on a tree in that ancient city, his Kingdom given to another.

Another who would come and find himself in an almost identical situation. Surrounded by the Philistines, David inquired of the Lord as to what he should do. Such wisdom. The Lord told David to go forth, that He would give them victory over their enemy. God did as He promised, and David declared, “The Lord has burst through my enemies before me like a bursting flood”, giving all glory to God. Such humility.

Some time later the Philistines regrouped, on the attack once again. Had I been David I would have gone forth immediately to attack, assuming that God would provide the victory as before. Not David. It is recorded in the book of 2 Samuel that David inquired of the Lord. Again. And what was the Lord’s answer? “Wait, David, wait.”

There it is again. Wait. For what? To give God time to work. “Wait, David, until you hear the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees. For then, the Lord will have gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.”

Try telling that to your army.

“What is your command, oh King?”

“Wait until you hear the wind in the top of the trees.”

Surely they would have thought him a bit crazy, which, perhaps, David was. Crazy about God, the one who had chosen him, an insignificant shepherd boy, to be King of all Israel. Crazy enough to believe that if God said he would send a wind in the trees as a sign that it was time to march to victory, then surely victory would be theirs. Crazy enough to wait for that wind to blow.

He did not question how he would be able to distinguish the wind of God from the every day breeze that blows. This was a man after God’s own heart, a man who made a practice of listening to the voice of God. This was a man who would not find his end on a desolate hill somewhere overlooking Beth-Shen, but rather he was a man to whom God made the promise, “I will establish your Kingdom forever”.

Oh that I might be like David, so in tune with the voice of my Lord that I am willing, at His command, to wait. To give Him time to work. To quell the voice of fear that tells me waiting is foolish, that action is required. To wait until I hear the wind of His spirit blowing, going before, that the victory and glory might be His. May I choose to look towards that Kingdom which is forever, where I will spend eternity with the King of Kings.