1 Samuel 22:1-2 (the message)
So David got away and escaped to the Cave of Adullam. When his brothers and others associated with his family heard where he was, they came down and joined him. Not only that, but all who were down on their luck came around–losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts. David became their leader. There were about four hundred in all.
You know how sometimes you might be taking a swig of your drink (yes, I said swig. Right. I live in the South.) and someone says something funny or outrageous and you just about choke? So that was me this morning. Well, not literally. But as I was reading about David running for his life from one very unstable king Saul, I just about choked on the verse above.
Losers and vagrants and misfits…
I’m thinking, does my Bible actually call some of these folks losers? What??!! Now, that is not nice!
Take into account this is The Message paraphrase, but I love it for this very reason. Yes, I know some think it’s like “Bible for dummies” and a great beginners Bible for the newly converted, but I don’t care. Smile. I have my NIV, NLT, NKJ, and Amplified at the ready (grin). But the wordy girl in me has always been drawn to the grit of this paraphrase.
I am learning to pause when a scripture really jumps out at me, not to move on too quickly. Why is it catching my heart’s attention? What is Holy Spirit wanting me to see?
Well, there are several reasons I appreciate David. I’ve read 1st and 2nd Samuel several times over the years because it’s the back story for some of the most beloved writings of all time! The Psalms: Creator’s go-to for humanity when we are unsure of how to pray or worship or just be honest with Him. Real, rich and raw.
As I arrive home from taking Rivers to the doctor (ear infection!) and put a cranky Leighton down for a nap, the green of the trees and bright orange of my new potted dahlias draw me in. I stop to enjoy the quiet and begin to sort through my heart. Why, even though I’ve read his story before, do I now imagine meeting David one day in Heaven? Look forward to seeing this man who God used to touch and encourage so many lives?
Ah, wait. I believe that’s it. Encouragement.
There is no doubt in my mind that David was a special sort. A blend of God-given ability to lead with a compassionate, encourager’s nature. The sweetest mix of moxie and mettle with a tender, shepherd’s heart.
How do I know? (Well, really I don’t. But I suspect!) Because losers and vagrants and misfits would not flock to a man who had been so highly revered in the kingdom unless they found hope in his presence. Unless their heart’s were encouraged in his nearness.
See, people know, almost inherently, if we genuinely care about them or not. I know…you know…and they know. We all know, underneath the fluff and stuff, when people are the “real thing.” We know, because deep in our souls we find safety in the company of a humble yet strong encourager. We want tpo be loved without words sometimes. We want to be inspired by the genuine acceptance and compassion we find in the presence of a true encourager.
We all need encouragement. Genuine, inconvenient-to-give-sometimes, encouragement.
I believe the few hundred men that flocked to David in that cave would have drawn back into the shadows had he been a different sort of man.
Do you see? Do you see the sweetness of Jesus dripping down? Jesus was bold and strong yet meek and humble. He was a Heavenly warrior on a mission carrying it out with kind eyes and a healing touch. Jesus repelled the overtly righteous-in-their-own-eyes as the losers, vagrants and misfits of His day fought to be near Him.
Stormy lake waters…
The outskirts of town…
Homes of the riffraff…
Wells amongst foreigners…
Summit of a mountain…
Valley of a Cross…
Our Jesus could always be found surrounded by losers, misfits and vagrants. Those deemed “unclean” and unworthy. He did not scare them off or intimidate them. Jesus drew hurting people like a moth to a flame. He communicated truth with the integrity of His Father and every single decision He made was Just and Blessed.
Jesus decided to abandon the prose of Deity for the position of servant.
Jesus decided it was better to get dirty with the hurting and helpless than stay sparkly and presentable in the eyes of others.
Jesus decided that every ill-spoken man, woman or child that would draw near was worth His time, touch and revelation. Worth His very life.
Jesus decided that words without in-your-core meaning were worthless, and so history recorded the sounds of infectious laughter, compassionate tears, hammer against nail and the war-cry of Victory over the grave.
Jesus decided to live His earthly life as an encourager…a hope-giver…a dream-builder.
Jesus chose to become the Cornerstone.
Centuries have passed since David’s rag-tag gang rallied with him in the Cave of Adullam. But I can see it this morning…dismissed and disregarded, they found something worth fighting for in this soon-to-be king. They believed their hope was safely placed in this harp-playing warrior and in turn God confirmed a destiny of shepherd-leadership.
Encouragement may be offered in various ways: unmeasured time, kind words, extra-long hugs, physical presence, practically met needs and unfettered understanding. But it still looks like one thing: Love.
And Jesus. Oh, yes. It is the substance of His love in action that fertilizes our hope and helps our misfit hearts to bloom.
Jesus, Help me to be the kind of woman who draws people out of genuine compassion…Help me to offer encouragement and never intimidation. Help me recognize the loser, vagrant and misfit that lingers in my own flesh…Help me to live a life that builds on the Cornerstone of all that You are.