It’s not every day a Biblical character walks into an art supply store. Yesterday it was David. His mane and beard looked like wolf hair. His eyes were pink, blue and gray like spent flashbulbs. He looked as if he were a Chinook salmon that had just been rasped on the rocks of despair. This David wore a fireman t-shirt. I decided his Goliath must have been a raging fire or perhaps 9-11. His voice sounded like ashes. ”How can I preserve these words?” He brandished a newspaper clipping.
Can You Hear Me Now? King David wrote from the noisy battlefield and while hiding in caves. Small wonder the bars of receptivity between him and God grew weak at times. David was plainspoken. He told God not to ignore him or hide from him. He said, “do something!” In short, he howled like a beat poet. No bloodless sheep this one! He said he was falling apart at the seams. He told God his family and friends considered him a pathetic joke. He said in essence, “rescue me from my enemies, oh, and please hurry”.
Sick ‘em David made no bones about his desire for God to punish those who persecuted him. Although he did not inflict revenge on his enemies, he asked for them to fall on their faces or for God to break their arms. In Psalm 109 he let all of his venom out. That Psalm is rarely read in Sunday School class because of its candor.
Take Me to the River David was hardly sin free. He made no bones about asking God to launder his sins. Psalm 51, written after Nathan confronted him about Bathsheba, is quite heartfelt. He owned his wrongdoings, took regular moral inventories and invited God to open the book of his life.
You Take My Breath Away In an era in which critics of religion have named sentimentality as one of the greatest flaws of the church, David is a breath of fresh air. Praises and compliments that he gave to God are genuine, imaginative and poetic. He was awed by God, appreciative and humbly surprised at God’s interest in him.
Thank You Notes Many of David’s Psalms end with gratitude. After eloquent whining, pleas for help, prayers for forgiveness and admiration at God’s wonder, David humbly says “thanks”. David was quite human.
My customer, David and I wandered through the art supply store toward the sprays. I showed him a new product that makes paper acid-free and archival, preventing yellowing and deterioration. I showed him how to laminate his clipping. He offered me a look of gratitude and knowing. What I know is that he wanted to preserve a story that is sacred to him, a tale of triumph against impossible odds. The Davids of the world are misunderstood believers bending God’s ears to intervene while the world stands by with snares and ill will. Davids are an odd lot.