SHAMELESS PLUG: GUT CHECK PRESS has published a juvenile and sophomoric piece of fiction which takes a massive pot-shot at the genre of end-times dispensationalist thrillers, aptly named Beauty and the Mark of the Beast. I mention it for two or three reasons. First, I wrote the foreword, which is probably the last time you'll see a piece of fiction with a foreword. Second, it's available on Kindle and will only put you out $ 2.99, so at the very least you will get $2.99 worth of laughs out of it. Third, I promised the guys to review it three weeks ago and rather than putting the 3 hours in it takes to write a decent book review I have been serializing my Sunday School Lesson on the Goodness of God because, well, why waste a really decent prep?
So that said, go buy you a copy before you don't have any more lazy summer days to do fun reading in.
I think it’s important here to see that David is not saying, “wow: at least it’s not as bad as it could have been.” David is in fact saying that God has delivered him from an evil end. On the one hand, he has been delivered from the hands of Achish who is his true enemy. David was not put to shame to be either killed or put in debt to the enemy of God’s people. But on the other hand, David is also delivered from Saul – who ought to be his ally and friend, but is instead jealous of him to the point of madness.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;In David’s view, God is the provider of Moral refuge and Moral guidance. Think about this: David is stuck between two kings – both rejected by God because, frankly, they are evil. Achish is the king of the Philistines, a godless people who have been at war with Israel for generations. Saul was chosen to lead Israel, but this is what God says of Saul: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” Both Saul and Achish are, simply put, foolish men. They both are enemies of God, and they reject the idea that God has a right way for a man – even a King – to follow.
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
This is why, by the way, David’s view of this is different than mine. In my view, if God promised me something, he should deliver it right now – or else he’s the one at fault. In my view of it, God should stop making me wait for things he promised me. In Achish’s view of it, we ought to be able to trust in a Giant, and a wooden Idol. In Saul’s view of it, the king should be able to trust in himself, and maybe his son. But these are the tasteless views of God, the views not prepared to receive what God is really doing in the world.
David doesn’t see it that way at all. David sees that Achish is in fact surrounded by madmen – in his own words. And Saul is himself a madman – a murderous man who can’t decide whether he wants his son to be king or to be cursed – as long as David is no longer in the way. For both, when trouble comes, there is no place to turn to. There is no hope for a long life, good days, or peace. In David’s view, the first provision of God to people in trouble is wisdom. This is a huge theme in the Old Testament – a theme which gives us, among other things, the book of Proverbs. But David isn’t talking about a literary theme here: he is talking about what God’s provision is in a world where we are literally surrounded by crazy people: God give us moral, ethical counsel so that we may live in a way which is actually good for us.
When trouble comes, what God has given us is instruction in righteousness. That is: we don’t do these things because we are especially good. We don’t even do them because we think it makes us better people – because our instinct in hard times is to be afraid of the future, and afraid of the consequence of not looking out for ourselves. David tells us that we behave in a wise way because we believe God. We have received good counsel from Him about the right way to live – and how to know that men like Achish and Saul are, frankly, wrong.
But more tellingly: when things are good, I am no less willing to simply do whatever it is that occurs to me rather than taking the full counsel of God which is worth more than mere comfort.
David here cuts under both of these tasteless views and says it plainly: the fear of the Lord is found in obeying Him, and trusting His good counsel.