David means 'Beloved of God' and recently I have gained a deeper appreciation for what this could mean from an essence point of view. Who was this man, who was once a boy? How did it feel to be anointed so young? Did he know how much story he would have to write before he sat on a throne? How many miles did he walk with his men? How many nights did he stay in caves vs canvas? His life plays a melody with romantic ruddiness to show more than a fluffy romantic notion. Maybe he suffered melancholy in moments but so many times we also see him choose gutsy right-action and take another step. His essence as 'Beloved of God' was full of learning and leaning and I want to touch on some of this today.
As I sit and write I slow my breathing down, deeply inhale and exhale and bring to my imagination a little boy in the fields and wilderness around Bethlehem tending sheep. Having been to Israel a number of times it is hard to imagine just how quiet and unpopulated those spaces were, and on top of that to imagine that there were wild animals in various dramatic forms. It was a different era all together. I think of David singing with gusto and then with a tenderness. I wonder if he wrote the prose and melody at the same time, those improvised rhythms and tones. Did he hear harmonies as he sung? This young boy wandered and tended flocks, and being the eighth son of a large family I am sure that home life was pretty chaotic and full of fun and games too. This young boy had to learn to thrive in solitude though, and wow, what a rich experience and opportunity to greet his essence early in life.
We know all the fun Sunday school tales of David but if we really look at what unfolded in those giant days we see a young boy engage something unseen inside him. He speaks truth to authority (King Saul) and has to refuse the armor offered him, and for a good portion of his life is fleeing that same man. At a young age David was anointed as King but he doesn't sit on the physical throne until much more story has unfolded.
This is where 'Fight and Flight' came to mind for me. David seemed to have this capacity to do both and sometimes even the same time. He did flee when being pursued by Saul and yet he had this deep and loving friendship with Jonathan, Saul's son that provided comfort and prophetic insight throughout much of his story. This to me is a picture of fight and flight. The both-and of the living.
In 1 Samuel 23 v 11 David has this conversation with God. He asks him some of the most direct questions I have seen in the text and receives some very direct answers from God in return, an equally rare occurrence. David speaks of the fear that him and his men have, and when those answers couldn't seemingly be any worse on the one hand, David continues forward and does it afraid. Fight and Flight.
Beloved of God seems to show us his humanity and his calling over and over again. He shows us that every day is a school day and some days were easier than others to stand firm. David often fled to strongholds, caves set in the wilderness where he was able to lament, stop, minister, prepare and choose the steadfastness he needed for this next part of the story. He was tempted in these caves too, faced with Saul alone and in the dark he could have reached out and killed the one who was causing so much torment and rise to his Kingship in his own strength, and with all his own good ideas. Instead he spared his life and learnt again that when it comes to matters of life and death his heart and ability to choose right action were set in fight and flight for a Kingdom and calling greater than himself.
I want to end this blog with a little encouragement to you today. In the book of first Samuel David, Beloved of God, and Jonathan, Gift of God, make a covenant. Their friendship is one of the purest and sweetest in the text. Jonathan, the son of Saul, chooses to support and affirm his friend. They both experience the beauty of the covenant God in their midst. In a moment when David was feeling discouraged and afraid, Jonathan shared four encouragements.
1. Do not be afraid.
2. You won't be found by your enemy.
3. You will be King. Or in our stories maybe understanding that we will fully inhabit our calling.
4. I will be next to you.
Are you this kind of friend? Do you need this kind of friend? Who are the Jonathans, 'gifts of God' in your life? In moments or fight or flight what might be received to instead see that in the midst of your choices fight AND flight are possible?
There are times and seasons for certain friendships and my prayer for you this day is that you will be encouraged to continue forward, knowing you are writing a faith-filled story full of gifts and grace. You are Beloved.
N.B I am not dismissing fight or flight, I am just posing an idea that sometimes we can recognize that both might be happening at the same time.