I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Ps 119.174
What is your delight?
Good friends, majestic scenery, parties, art, family, architecture, books, fine food, the perfect lay-up, a hole-in-one, the resolving note of a symphony, island breezes, good scotch whiskey.
Probably the list is as varied as we are.
Still, I doubt any of us would claim Leviticus or Deuteronomy.
David loved the Word of God. It was his treasure and the joy of his life. There weren’t many copies in those days, but he received his own from Samuel—probably no more than the first five or six books of the Old Testament—after the old prophet anointed him at his father’s house in Bethlehem.
His love for the Law only increased as he matured into manhood, kingship, and old age, a journey he personalized into poems and song. These too have come down to us as sacred Scripture.
Before Samuel even anointed David, God knew the plans he’d ordained to shape the boy into a man after his own heart. That’s why David became such a model of worship and obedience to God’s purpose, especially for those God engages in new or unique ways.
Not everyone is destined for the kind of relationship with God that leads to history-shaping involvement in world affairs.
But we’re all called to abandon ourselves wholly into his hands and to walk faithfully no matter where he leads. It helps when we interpret life circumstances as God preparing us for our place in kingdom work.
David knew from a young age that he would one day serve God as king of Israel. So when Samuel gave him God’s Law, he learned it. A king, after all, must know right from wrong if he’s going to be a good judge.
He’d also need to defend the people. Better start practicing his fighting skills, even if he was too young to go to war with his brothers. I imagine he was like any youngster, making up games about the exploits of Israel’s great warriors—Joshua, Gideon, Samson.
Come to the fields around Bethlehem where a little shepherd boy tends his father’s flock.
Oh, but these sheep are the people of Israel, and the shepherd boy is their king.
He leads them to the water and they drink. He takes them to the pasture and commands them to lie down.
Rambo wants to wander? Rambo, lie down! No?
Out comes the crook, a sharp crack between the horns, and down goes Rambo. That’s better.
Well, Beulah, look at you! And how’s your newborn lamb? Let’s call her Hephzibah. You don’t have to be scolded to lie down, do you, Beulah? Your baby suckles all the time!
And how are you, Micah? That leg’s healing fine. Getting around a lot easier these days, aren’t you?
Reuben! Come here! Let me check that scab on your ear.
Wait! A movement on the edge of the meadow that doesn’t belong. Instantly on the alert—an enemy spy!
Faster than a thought, the sling is in hand, a smooth stone missile launched at the intruder, knocking it to the ground.
In an instant the pasture becomes a battlefield. Predators who stalk the sheep are national enemies.
That lion? King of the Philistine invaders.
That bear? King of hated Midian.
Future king of Israel, on guard! Keep a sharp eye.
Practice with your sling. You don’t know when they’ll come or from where, so be ready.
Every time they attack, counter. And win the victory!
Follow now to the Valley of Elah. Real battlefield, real armies, real enemies. And a real live Philistine champion taunting the armies of the living God. How dare he?!
Out comes the sling and down goes the giant. You keep the sword and armor, I’ll take the head. Run to Jerusalem. Show them what to expect when it’s my capitol city!
That’s how it began, and that’s how it went for David. He never wavered from belief in his call.
Devoted to the God of Israel, battlefield after battlefield lay littered with the corpses of enemy armies. Just as Moses was chosen by God to bring his people out of slavery, David was chosen to rid the nation of its enemies.
He grew up in the pastures and fought in the wars but in every place he was a king who shared God’s heart—wise and faithful, upright and kind.
From David’s own writings we see a man with a well-developed emotional life, sometimes sensitive, sometimes ruthless, always devoted. Sometimes despairing, sometimes elated, always honest.
His greatest desire was to find favor with God in order to know him and honor him. He didn’t always succeed, but he always hoped in the character of Yahweh revealed in the Law, an ancient portrait that has not faded.
How many of David’s psalms are only him choosing to rejoice, extolling the goodness of God and his ways?
No wonder he exhorted others to rejoice in the name of the Lord. And David’s not alone in this charge.
Scripture tells us many times to rejoice, and it doesn’t say only when things are going well.
Why? Because joy should be the emblem of our love for God. He is the most glorious Person we could know and he calls us his children and his friends.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, but like all crops, it must be cultivated.
There’s a discipline of joy that we must develop if our faith is to be characterized by “joy unspeakable.”
It’s called rejoicing, which is nothing more than repeatedly choosing to take pleasure in the things that make us glad.
Why ever wouldn’t we?
Why not start practicing today?