Waiting

Waiting has sometimes been a theme in our readings to date this year.

Abraham was promised not only an heir, but that his progeny would be so numerous as to be uncountable. The failure to wait in the face of unlikely physical circumstances led to the birth of Ishmael and a conflict which remains to this day.

Joseph waited well in the face of unjust persecution, slavery, false accusation, imprisonment and abandonment to become God’s instrument for the rescue of His people.

Saul failed to wait for Samuel to come and offer the sacrifice with disastrous consequences.

Waiting is hard, yet in recent days we’ve seen an example of waiting well in the face of circumstances that seem to fly in opposition to God’s promise.

As a mere sheepherding teenager, with an anointed and sitting king still on the throne (Saul), David was anointed as the future king of Israel. Sitting kings/rulers didn’t have much tolerance for potential rivals then. The common practice in antiquity was for a king to consolidate power and protect any threat to a dynasty by eliminating all potential rivals. Herod was, in fact, doing that very thing when he ordered the “slaughter of the innocents” in Bethlehem in an attempt to secure his throne against the one the wisemen came seeking. It’s in this context of competing claims to the throne of Israel with all of the associated potential consequences that we see David waiting.

How long does one have to wait? David has been anointed, yet he remains loyal to Saul. He waits. Even when being targeted by Saul for death as a rival not only to Saul, but in Saul’s eyes a rival to his heir Jonathan, David remains loyal. He waits. When encouraged by his band of followers to take Saul’s life, David spares Saul’s life twice when Saul is totally at his mercy. He waits. When Saul’s death is reported to him by one bringing Saul’s crown and who claims to be the one who ended Saul’s life, David does not rejoice. David, in fact, mourns Saul’s death and ends the life of the one who claims to have ended Saul’s. He waits. During the ensuing civil war when proof of the demise of Saul’s heir and David’s rival is brought to David by murderous men, David does not reward them - he enacts justice on those men for their shameful act. He waits. We’ve finally read this week that David was acclaimed as king over all of Israel. The waiting has stopped – for now.

How could David wait while enduring incredible odds and obstacles - bearing up under years of deprivation, running, intrigue and civil strife all while rejecting opportunities to seize the throne through murder or be the benefactor of murderers? Add to that the stress of living for years under a death sentence based on the false accusation of a jealous and powerful man desperately clinging to his position and most people would have given up in utter despair or have grasped any occasion to seize the throne regardless as to the method or the consequences. Succinctly - David had an unshakable faith in God’s promise based on his intimate understanding of and faith in God’s proven character.

The exciting thing is that the same offer to come and know God and His character is here for each one of us. It makes me want the same and pray that the same desire has been sparked in our daily reading for many at Grace Point. It makes the waiting in our lives possible – what am I/are we waiting for?

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