“Before long, the king made himself at home and God gave him peace from all his enemies” (2 Samuel 7:1, The Message).
This is the verse that stared back at me this morning when I opened my Bible after a long hiatus of being “too busy” to read the Bible.
The king referred to here is David. He’d just spent the previous few years running from a mad man who tried to kill him, and fighting wars to defend God’s people.
No doubt he was tired – bone weary as well as emotionally spent. His best friend was killed, he watched another man become so consumed by his own lust for power that he eventually fell on his own sword, and he struggled to understand God’s presence in his circumstances through years of war, conflict, and strained relationships.
In the end, God’s promises all came to pass, as they always do. And when they came to pass, God gave David a season of rest.
Three things come to mind when reading this story:
David faced circumstances outside of his control, as we often do.
He couldn’t change Saul’s maniacal behavior or bring Jonathan back to life or go back to the way things were when he was a simple shepherd boy on his father’s ranch. I’m sure that would have been a nice alternative to years of war – sitting in an open field, playing the harp and watching the sheep eat grass.
If it were me who was uprooted from my blissful life and plopped into the middle of David’s plot, I would’ve spent valuable energy writing blog posts about how sad I was to leave my awesome, introverted, non-conflicting life behind.
Most of the time we can’t control what’s happening to us, but we can control how we respond.
David was all in, as they say.
Sure, he had doubts. Sometimes he wondered where God was in the midst of his circumstances, and sometimes he wished he was dead. But according to the many Psalms he wrote during that time in his life, God was the primary target of his worship and his pain.
When God gave David a season of rest, he worshipped.
I’ve noticed this about all the patriarchs of the Old Testament: God sustains his people through some really tough shit, then he provides a season of rest. And while his people are resting he re-tells the story of everything they just experienced, play by play, while reminding them of every instance that he provided for them.
God is a delicate documentarian. In these playbacks he captures the heart, the spirit, and the accurate facts because he knows his people will forget, lose heart, and try to do things on their own (like build golden calves to worship, for instance). But like a loving parent, he reminds his people that he is always with them, that he’s always been with them.
While David rested, God spoke through his prophet, Nathan, and recounted everything David experienced from the time he was a shepherd in his father’s fields. As per usual, he reminded David of all the times he provided. David responded in worship through adoration, thankfulness, and action…and then he went back to war.
Whatever circumstances I find myself in – whether emotional turmoil, financial hardship, or even just a busy schedule – God will not only sustain me in the midst of it, but he will provide a season of peace.
But it’s not the sort of peace where I catch up on laundry, sleep, and 30Rock episodes, but a peace that’s intended to remind me of who God is and how he sustained me through the day (or week, or month, or however long I’ve been slogging along).
He provides an opportunity for restful worship.
This kind of worship is what I’ve been missing, because no matter how much I “take it easy” in the midst of my current busy season, I can feel myself drying up like a leaf in October.
God doesn’t provide a season of rest so I can focus on myself, but on Him.