When I was young I always thought that if I had a son I would name him David. For no logical reason, David was my favorite name. It sounded both strong and gentle to me; I just liked it – not Dave really, but David. And this was before I ever encountered the famous David of the Scriptures.
All the readings for this morning speak of or at least advert to David in some way. The Acts of the Apostles and Psalm 89 name him, while Jesus just speaks of “my chosen.” That got me thinking of what a complex character David was and how wonderful for the rest of us that he was not perfect – at least for those of us who tend to compare ourselves to others (a very bad habit indeed!).
I think of David in the fields tending sheep and wonder if he was sorry to be called away from that duty. Being alone out in nature with the animals – recalcitrant though they might be at times – in the quiet that allows reflection must have had its appeal for him. I can only imagine the shock of hearing when he was summoned into the prophet’s presence that he was to be King of Israel. No one could have predicted that, it seems, but God.
If one believes that David is the author of all or even a majority of the scriptural Book of Psalms, it’s easy to intuit the ups and downs, the sins and repentance in his life. Noted for expressing every emotion known to humans, they are the perfect witness to his misuse of power, adulterous behavior, deep friendship with and loss of Jonathan and – most of all – his recognition and humble acceptance of God’s deep, all-encompassing love for him. I like to think about David because although he seems in every way larger than life (no event in his life was a small thing) he is also, essentially, like the rest of us: sometimes faith-filled, devoted and well-motivated and sometimes less so. He made big mistakes, was even punished for them, but never gave up on his relationship with God nor did God give up on him. So I sing with the psalmist this morning in gratitude for the example of great love even in imperfection and with confidence that God sees us no differently than this beloved servant.
Your love, O Lord, I will forever sing, your faithful friendship shall be the subject of my song. For I have come to know your love as fountainhead, its ceaseless source not here, but in your high abode. And you yourself have made this oath of faithfulness to us and all of David’s line, a covenant proclaimed to all you chose, a promise made to us that never ends. (Ps. 89:1-4)