For I am Poor and NeedyPosted: June 22, 2014
For I am Poor and Needy
SLIDE 3: DAVID LED ONE HECK OF A LIFE
David led one heck of a life. At least that is what the scriptures would lead us to believe. In truth David is more of a figure of legend than history. One thousand years before the birth of Christ the Hebrews were not yet quite literate – not quite civilized. So there are no written records only oral traditions dating from the time of David. Now we should not simply dismiss the contents of oral tradition, but we need to note sometimes there are contradictions and inaccuracies. For instance, in I Samuel 17:51 David slew the giant Goliath of Gath in single combat. But then in II Samuel 21: 19 we read: “And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, the Bethlehemite, slew Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
SLIDE 4: SHEPHERD, WARRIOR, CHIEFTAIN, DAVID’S CITY
So who slew Goliath? Probably Elhanan, and then later oral tradition credited David with the accomplishment after he became King. Now the term King is also a relative term. David was a shepherd. He then became a warrior in Saul’s army – a tribal chieftain who had established his hegemony over many of the Hebrew clans. Then after a falling out with Saul David became the leader of a band of outlaws, who hid out in the hills and extorted money and provisions from local land owners. Later he hired himself and his followers out to the Philistines as mercenaries. Finally, when Saul and Jonathan were killed in combat, the tribal elders of Judah asked David to be their leader. Archaeological evidence suggests that Judah may have had a population of only about 4,000 inhabitants. When David later conquered Jerusalem it was a small walled village encompassing no more than 6 or 7 acres and a few hundred people.
From Jerusalem David established control over most of the other Israelite tribes in the Highlands, and with an army of mercenary soldiers he began to demand and receive tribute from many of the Canaanite Cities in the valleys of Central Palestine. But in many ways he was more of a gang leader establishing control over turf, than a King who was ruling and administering a nation.
SLIDE 5: DAIVD — MOODY — MERCURIAL
History or legend David was a colorful character. He was charismatic in an age when men followed leaders who inspired their loyalty. According to tradition he was strong, handsome, daring, a poet, a singer and a lady’s man. Many of the stories surrounding the figure of David and the Psalms suggest that he was a moody mercurial personality.
One commentator illustrated David’s mood swings this way. On Monday he wrote: Psalm 6: 6 I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief, it grows weak because of all my foes.
On Tuesday he was feeling better and he wrote: Psalm 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You whose glory above the heavens is chanted 2 by the mouth of babes and infants. . .
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, the children of God that you care for them?
By Wednesday David thought the week would never end and he wrote: Psalm 13:1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
By Friday David was looking forward to the weekend and he wrote: Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you, I will sing praise to your name, O God Most High.
SLIDE 6: SOMETHING OF WORTH BEYOND OUR FLAWS
David was not perfect. In addition to his mood swings he was impulsive, temperamental, disloyal, unfaithful, a liar, an adulterer and a murderer. And yet the scriptures describe David as a man after God’s own heart. Perhaps God can look past the weaknesses of a person to see something of worth beyond the flaws of our personalities.
SLIDE 7: DAVID DEVOTED TO YAWEH
Our Psalm this morning suggests four attributes that made David a person after God’s own heart. First, while David tolerated the worship of other gods, especially by other people he appears to have been devoted primarily to the Israelite God Yaweh. Other Canaanite gods were more concerned with sexual attraction, fertility, the accumulation of wealth and power, but Yaweh was a God of prophecy and justice. Oh it is true that David abused his power taking Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and arranging for the death of Uriah. But when the court prophet Nathan called David to account, David repented. Any other oriental monarch in ancient times would have killed Nathan for calling him to accountability. So many other ancient religions confused the power of the monarch with the power of the gods. But Yaweh was a different God and even a King could be held accountable before Yaweh. David was devoted to this strange more egalitarian God of justice.
SLIDE 8: EMOTIONAL HONESTY IN PRAYER
David’s second attribute that made him a man after God’s own heart was his emotional honesty in prayer. The public prayers of preachers offered in stained glass voices lack the emotional honesty of David. “How long O God? Will you forget me forever?”
The most honest prayer I have ever heard was offered by five year old at Vacation Bible School. The teacher was closing the morning by gathering the children in a circle and asked each one to say something for which they were thankful. The first little girl prayed, “I thank God for my Mommy.”
The second little girl said, “I thank God for the flowers.”
Then a little boy with eyes closed prayed fervently, “I thank God I didn’t pee in my pants today.”
SLIDE 9: HONESTY IN PRAYER COUNTS FOR A LOT
Honesty in prayer counts for a lot. Only when our prayers are straight forward and sincere can God engage us in genuine relationship. To the extent that some of the Psalms represent the prayers of David many of them express an honest relationship with the divine: Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. Why are you so far away, when I need you?”
Psalm 18: “I love you O God. You are my strength, my rock, you save me from my enemies.”
Psalm 32: “Blessed is the person whose sin is forgiven. When I tried to hide my wrong doing, my blood pressure went up, my digestive tract was in distress, I was ill with the guilt of my sin. When I confessed what I had done, God forgave me and my strength returned.”
SLIDE 10: SPIRITUAL NEEDINESS
David’s prayer life was honest and intimate. And that leads to the third attribute of David that made him a person after God’s own heart, he was in touch with his own neediness. Our culture lauds self-sufficiency, the myth of the self-made individual who doesn’t owe anything to anyone. Someone who can take care of all of his or her needs. Much more so than in the past many of us are able to provide for all of our basic physical needs. We have enough food. We have houses that are heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. We have appropriate clothing to wear. Most of us are difficult to shop for at Christmas time. And that reminds me of part of a meditation about Christmas by the great preacher Peter Marshall: “You can’t think of anything they need (which is rather strange when you take time to think of it). Maybe there is nothing in a store that they need. But what about some token of love — what about love itself, and friendship, and understanding, and consideration, and a helping hand, and a smile, and a prayer? You can’t buy these things in any store, and they are the very things people need.”
SLIDE 11: WHAT DO WE NEED?
We may have all of the material things that we need, but what about love, friendship, understanding, encouragement, a helping hand, a smile, a prayer? How many of us allow ourselves to be aware of our neediness – our emotional neediness? Do our prayer lives reflect an honest appreciation of our neediness? How many of us need to pray like David: “Listen to me God, for I am poor and needy.” We can ask ourselves what needs we do not want to acknowledge – a clear conscience, encouragement from friends or co-workers, acceptance from family and friends, some good spiritual friends who can accept us for who we are and pray with us and for us.
SLIDE 12: SHARE SOME NEED WITH GOOD SPIRITUAL FRIENDS
One of our rituals at the Sharing Table is for each person to share some need they would like others to pray for them. It doesn’t have to be a deep dark secret, or anything embarrassing, but some real need we are willing to share so others might prayer with us and for us. Many of those prayers have been answered, for as Jesus taught us, whenever two or three of you pray together, the power of those prayers is multiplied exponentially.
SLIDE 13: TRUST GOD’S FORGIVENESS
The fourth attribute that made David a person after God’s own heart was that he trusted absolutely the forgiveness of God. I doubt that any of us have out sinned David – killing, stealing, extortion, black mail, adultery, conspiracy, murder. David was passionate about life, and so when he transgressed his sins were no ordinary peccadillos. But David was also honest and passionate about seeking forgiveness, and once he had sought God’s forgiveness he did not allow the past to paralyze him.
SLIDE 14: GOD WHO SAVES MY SOUL
I do not recommend David as a role model, but I do admire his passion for life and the honesty of his relationship with God. “Listen to me O God, for I am poor and needy. Accept my thanks God for your steadfast love that saves my soul.”