Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Entrusted: King of the Misfits

Have you ever noticed that I Samuel's account of David in exile sounds a lot like the character of Robin Hood? Take a look at the following passages. First, he goes into exile. Then a crowd of men begin to gather about him:
David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul,[a] gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. I Samuel 22:1-2
 Sounds an awful lot like he's accumulated his "merry men". And then he gains a "friar Tuck":
20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 22 And David said to Abiathar..., 23 "Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.” I Samuel 22:20, 22a, & 23
There's also an antagonist in this story whose attitude is similar to that of the Sheriff of Nottingham:
And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. I Samuel 23:8
Chasing, chasing, Saul constantly chasing David....

Do you believe me now that David and Robin Hood are some sort of historical twins? (Born several hundred years apart, I know, but hey- they might as well be!) Pretty cool, huh?

Lately David has been on my mind a lot. I'm currently reading through the Old Testament again and have been taking my time through David's story. There are still so many things about him that amaze me. Things like how flawed he was. I mean, he got a whole bunch of priests and all their family member's killed because he used them to escape from Saul! And he abandoned his first wife, seeming to forget all about her the whole time he was on the run. Then he married another woman. And another.... He even committed adultery and murder,

And yet, these things don't disqualify him from kingship in God's eyes. In fact, He even goes so far as to call David "a man after my own heart". Wow. That's so encouraging for us! If David (who REALLY messed up, by the way) could still be loved and used by God, then so can we.

But that's not what I want to focus on right now. Today my thoughts have not been on his character so much as his kingship.

By the time chapter 22 of I Samuel rolls around, David has had the promise of becoming king following him around like a shadow for what has to be years. He was only a boy when anointed. Now, as he flees from Saul and men gather around him, he's known as a fierce warrior. I'm sure he's put on quite a bit of muscle and a few inches since the oil was poured on his head. He's also grown a little more refined because of his stay in the palace. He's had a taste of the good life. But now... now he's living in caves. His life is that of a hunted man. The comforts of the palace couldn't be more distant. And probably the shining promise of being king seems more like a dream than a possible reality.

And yet... who are these people that gather around him? Are they tax payers? Probably not. Do they pledge their allegiance to the tyrant king named Saul? I seriously doubt it. Who is it they follow without question? Who is it they trust to take care of them and would give their lives for? It's David. David, the Boy Who Would Be King... Someday. Or maybe that day came sooner than he thought. Because weren't these men following him like they would a king?

All hail David, King of the Misfits.

Sure, maybe a pile of rocks wasn't the throne he was hoping for. Maybe his warrior's helm wasn't a crown of gold. Maybe the cave didn't exactly look (or smell) like a palace.

But this was the kingdom God had given him. 

After Saul stopped hunting him the first time, David had the chance to return home. No one would have disputed his right to live in the palace and take his place once again as the King's son-in-law. In fact, I bet it was expected. But David took one look at those following him and he did something that probably no one expected: he chose the misfits. 
Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. I Samuel 24:22b
You see, I believe David understood that his kingdom might not have been complete and it might not have been what God ultimately had for him, but it was there. It was the task set before him in the moment. He knew he'd been entrusted with the care of his ragtag group and he wasn't about to walk away from that until God told him it was time. These people needed him to keep them in line and safe. They needed his wisdom and faith. Without him... who knows? Maybe they would have become a band of robbers, plundering indiscriminately.

What does this have to do with us? Think about the people in your life. Who are the ones that have been entrusted to your care? Who are your band of "misfits"? Maybe they're people from work or school. Or maybe they're your children or youth group. Everyone has someone who needs them and looks up to them, even if it's only in a small way. I do, you do. We all do. We just have to open our eyes to see them. 

So own up to it! Step up to the plate. Look around and take ownership of the weight of leadership and shepherding that has been placed upon you. If it's only in a small way with your little band of "merry men", then great! Start there. Because I can guarantee that your "kingdom" will not always be those people and probably will not stay that small. This, right here and right now, is your training grounds. Just like it was for David.

Just remember: being a leader doesn't mean that there isn't anyone above you. You may be "King" or "Queen" of your band, but whether you realize it or not you are also a member of someone else's. There will always be someone who you look up to and emulate. It's not a bad thing. Use that. Observe those people. Be teachable. And even if you don't have someone like that right now in your life, remember this:

You may be King of the Misfits, but that doesn't make you High King. Someone much more powerful than you holds that title.

Think about it.

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