Monday, April 11, 2022

King David and the Last Crusade

Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 19:18-24 or 1 Samuel 19:1-24 (the whole story)

One of my favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Aside from the awesomeness of having Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in the same movie, the Last Crusade does a good job reminding people that Jesus was a carpenter and not some rich guy who lived in a palace surrounded by luxury. Sean Connery's character, Dr. Jones the elder, is an academic who is appalled when his son uses violence to free him from his prison and shocked when Indy has to engage in impromptu acts of "daring do" in order to save them. A turning point for Dr. Jones the elder comes when he and Indy, on the run from the Nazis, are exposed on a beach with a jet bearing down on their position. Indy is out of ideas. Suddenly, the elder Dr. Jones pulls out his umbrella and begins stirring up a flock of gulls on the beach. The birds take to the sky, blocking the jet pilot's vision and ultimately causing the jet to crash into the side of a mountain.  Indy looks at his dad in shock, while the older gentleman quotes Charlemagne, "Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky."

The Bible is full of very interesting escape situations like that scene on the beach, scenes where rescue comes in some very unexpected forms.  In 1 Samuel 19, King Saul begins his quest to kill David before the young man can ascend to his throne. David's wife and Saul's daughter, Michal, helps David escape in the middle of the night and David flees to Ramah where Samuel is living. When Saul finds out about it, Saul sends troops to capture David. "But when they arrived and saw Samuel and the other prophets prophesying the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also began to prophesy" (1 Samuel 19: 20, NLT).  When Saul heard what had happened, Saul sent another set of troops who were also stopped by a fit of prophesying. Finally, Saul himself went to get David and Saul, too, was overcome by the Spirit of God and began prophesying, allowing David to escape.

This particular story isn't as well known as the time when David spared Saul's life in the cave or the time when David snuck into Saul's camp and took Saul's spear to demonstrate that, while he had the opportunity to kill Saul, David had no desire to kill Saul and was no threat to him. This particular story isn't as suspenseful as either of those two. David isn't the hero of the story. In fact, David appears almost helpless. Whereas the other two accounts are tense and exciting, this account is almost comical. David is saved because the Spirit of God causes Saul and his troops to have an uncontrollable fit of prophesying. I mean, that's not the most exciting story I've ever heard.

But, in spite of its comedy and its less dramatic elements, I like this story more than the other two. You see, in this story, there is no moral choice for David to make. There is no false resolution where Saul pretends to change his mind in order to save his reputation. God stops Saul from killing David. Period. And he does it by causing Saul and his men to prophesy?

Sometimes, when we find ourselves in really tough situations, when we are scared more than we have ever been, when we are out of options and see no way of escape, God can use the most unexpected and extraordinary things to rescue us. God doesn't need an act of bravery or heroics.  God doesn't have to use powerful weapons or great feats of skill. God can use anything or nothing at all and still accomplish God's purposes.  God can provide a means of escape out of the weakest, most insignificant events or circumstances.

When we find ourselves in impossible situations, when it feels like there is no way out and nothing left that we can do, just remember that God can save us with absolutely nothing. Sometimes, God does exactly that just to remind us that He is God. God can rescue us whether we have any strength or not, whether we can help ourselves or not. Impossible situations are never impossible with God. 

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