King David: On The Sidelines
I recently took part in the Hashtag One-Day conference in Spring Hill, Tennessee, sponsored by the Spring Meadows Church of Christ there. It was a great event, and Scott Bond is doing a great thing there. But that Sunday afternoon, we had a dodge ball tournament.
Now, I'm 31 years old. Still pretty young. But my body has reminded me for the past 3 weeks that I'm not 20 anymore. I'm not as durable. I don't know really what happened, but the tendons behind my left knee have been irritating me ever since. It's taken a long time to heal up, and it really wasn't even that strenuous of an activity either.
It got me thinking (as well as other things that have proved I'm not so young anymore) about if I'm losing my edge or not. Physically, I was a pretty good specimen. I was a US Marine (still am, by the way), and could run with the big boys. Not so much anymore. As in the words of one of our older church members, "Not so limber as to hang out with them youngins anymore, eh?"
We know that not everything that happens in the Bible is chronological. We know that even in some books, within the same book, the progression isn't straight from past to present.
As Lonnie Jones pointed out at Evangelism University last weekend, I think that's the case with 2 Samuel 21.15 and following.
15 There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. 16 And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekelsof bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David.17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, "You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel."
Is this the same David we know? The same David who is a warrior, who always led his armies into battle for Israel?
We may just skim over this and say, "Oh, well, David's getting old. They don't want the King to die, and thus leave Israel without a leader. Smart."
But something tells me this is more significant. And while I'm sure it's not a new discovery, it is always really fascinating to look at the same story we've heard a thousand times and see a new angle.
Remember the story of David and Bathsheba from 2 Samuel 11? Most everyone does. As the story starts, the writer of 2 Samuel gives us a preface to the story:
1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
This is King David. The same David who conquered Jerusalem and kicked out the Philistines (2 Samuel 5). The same David who brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, which was no easy task (2 Samuel 6). The same King David, who, with his armies and God behind Him, whipped the surrounding competition, including Amalekites, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and Ammonites.
But this was also the same King David who let himself be talked into staying at home while his armies fought.
I don't know what happened in 2 Samuel 21.15. I don't know if David is sick, if he's just getting old, or what. But he let himself be talked into not going back out with his armies and fighting in the Spring.
And, in turn, let himself be seduced by Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11.
If David had never remained home instead of heading out to battle, then he would have never began the downward spiral that is the story of David and Bathsheba. The temptation, the pregnancy, the betrayal of Uriah her husband, the murder of Uriah in battle (orchestrated by David himself). You can't make this stuff up.
The moral of the story? Don't let anyone put you on the sidelines for the work of God.
They told David he was too old, too sick, too important , or whatever - to get him to stay home. To take him away from what God had tasked him to do - reclaim the holy city of Jerusalem and destroy all of God's enemies. That was what David was chosen to do, and he let himself be put on the sidelines.
There are two men I know, Gospel preachers, who are getting along in their years. Earl Edwards, professor at Freed-Hardeman University is one, and James Watkins, retired but still preaching and a member here at Church Street. Both men are lifers. They've preached Gospel combined for more than 100 years. They're also old. But they're not stopping. Despite health problems, setbacks, and getting tired I'm sure, they just keep on keeping on. Spreading the Gospel, that is.
Don't let anyone tell you something other than what you were chosen to do. We were chosen to deliver the message of God to a dying generation. We were chosen to spread the Good News to every creature.
Young or old, sick or healthy, God commands us to GO. Will you make David's mistake and be on the sidelines?