We join David again this morning, in the Judean wilderness. It is a place of retreat, selected so because over time, it has been mostly uninhabited. (It was great for social distancing!)
When I think about David at this point in his life, many things run through my mind: He carries the baggage of his past—both huge mistakes with dire consequences, and great successes as a man, a soldier and king, faithful to God. His household is messy. How grievous it must have been to have your own son pursue you with hate in his heart. To survive, David is forced to abandon the privileged comforts of his home, the routines and benefits of leading a nation, and, I imagine, those closest to him (because who would drag their beloveds into desert caves while being pursued by family member with violence in their heart?).
For the time being he is stripped down to the bare essentials. In that, he never loses the companionship or care of the LORD.
As vastly different these circumstances are from our current situations, there are parallels with which we can identify, and from them draw strength.
At this particular writing, there is an enforced global desert. The world is responding to an enemy virus by retreating. We find ourselves disrupted and dislodged from our regular routines, lives, and fellowships. At any other time, we may find ourselves in the desert of barren relationships, unemployment, financial struggles, familial strain, church difficulties.
So what does God, through David, have to teach us? (especially in verses 1-6?)
When we are living in our own kind of desert, God’s steadfast lovingkindness remains. Those that endured some of the worst kind of situations were convinced of this Truth. Even Paul confidently claimed it: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
We can SEE God. Are you looking? The LORD is not contained by human parameters, nor limited to human form. His wonder, His power, His grace are all manifested daily in His creation: the rhythm of the seasons, the power of a storm, the unfurling of brilliant color, the uniqueness of each spring snowflake. He moves through people in loving gestures, words of guidance, strength of leadership. He reveals Himself in the endless cosmos filled with new things for us to discover. He raises up and dismantles power. He surprises us with solutions we never thought of, and satisfaction we could not have dreamed.
God’s steadfast love, His lovingkindness, His CHACED, is better than the sum or parts of all we consider to be Life here on Earth. This word, chaced, troubles the translators. It has been difficult for them to narrow down all that chaced contains to one word. How does one describe the most important essence of God in His relationship with His people without speaking paragraphs? The best they can come up with has been lovingkindness or steadfast love. Contained in this word is all that is unique to God, and therefore worthy of our praise. It is the kind of love that refuses to let go. It is God’s determined faithfulness toward His children, despite their wandering minds and hearts.
“The word stands for the wonder of His unfailing love for the people of His choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between His righteousness and His loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.” http://www.bible-researcher.com/chesed.html N.H. Snaith, Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, London (1944).
This is so unique to God, we have no one word to accurately use that conveys the true meaning and its many layers.
I am going to cling to this now, as the lush greenness of non-virtual fellowship, freedom of casual mobility, and ease of hunting and gathering is disrupted. I am going to return here again and again when our 401K limps along pathetically as a casualty of pandemic. I am going to wrap my arms around this Truth in the future as I age and perhaps lose abilities, awareness, and independence. (I’ll need you all to help hold my arms in place!)
Name one thing in nature that assured you of something in God’s character today. (His creativity, power, knowledge, faithfulness, etc.) Lift your heart up in praise to Him for this!
How did He show His presence in your life today, or this week, through a person?
Remind yourself of the times that God’s steadfast, unrelenting love was evident to you. (Would you perhaps share it with us here, to encourage us?)
Next time we get together here, get ready for a FEAST!
Be blessed today.