David acknowledges that ALL he has gained is by God’s hand. He is confused now because he is on the losing side and he doesn’t know how he got there.
In the time of David, the Law God gave to Moses and the people is in full effect. Under this Law, blessings follow obedience and curses follow disobedience. It is believed that life is just that simple. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to good people and vice versa. So David wants to know why his armies aren’t vanquishing all their foes. “Why are we loosing battles?”
Usually this is a very simple question for David. He IMMEDIATELY recognizes, or at least acknowledges, that there is some sin in his life that is responsible for his circumstances. But Israel is following God, as a whole. Idol worship is NOT permitted within David’s kingdom. ALL are commanded and led to serve the Lord. So, again, WHY are they not victorious?
I don’t know how God answers David because he doesn’t share a ‘turning point’ with us as he usually does in his psalms. I can make only a couple of assumptions. 1) There is some sin David isn’t aware of or isn’t acknowledging as sin. 2) Good things do indeed occasionally happen to bad people and vice versa. 3) God has some sort of lesson He is bringing about in all of this.
When David was deep in his sin with Bathsheba he wasn’t calling it sin. He appeared to be still expecting things to ‘be ok’ with his forces while he went about HIS business. He even planned an act of murder using the battles his armies were fighting in order to take Bathsheba as his own. Funny thing is that his troops were ultimately victorious, even when he was in sin. Did he expect them to be? I have a sneaking suspicion that if they hadn’t been, he would have counted their defeat as punishment for his sins. He is famous for acknowledging his own sins when called on them. Is there a sin he doesn’t know about or won’t admit at the heart of Israel’s trouble?
In several of David’s psalms he talks with God about the fact that good things are happening to bad people. He also comes up with the answer that God sets everything to rights in the end. The wicked may prosper for a time but there WILL be a reckoning. So why is this time so different to him? What is it about this situation that has him scratching his head in confusion?
Could God be teaching Israel some sort of lesson right now? Is there some promise God is keeping to another group of people for Israel’s past sins against them? Are the defeats David is referencing keeping Israel contained in the boundaries set by God in the beginning?
Another thought occurred to me as my dog was bopping me with her pig toy. Sometimes being loved hurts. I was saying I can’t decide if I would like to be her pig toy or would be afraid of being it. Being the pig would mean that I would know that I was loved more than ALL her other toys. But in being ‘loved’ the pig is chewed, shaken, pulled and given to be thrown by whoever she can coax into playing with her. As the toy horse in the Velveteen Rabbit said, “Sometimes being real hurts.”
That holds true for those who are loved by God too; especially when we also ask to be used by God. In any battle there are going to be some wounds. Bumping up against the enemy leaves marks. A ‘perfectly safe’ person is one who NEVER gets off the shelf. They NEVER get used in God’s kingdom. They don’t have any opportunity to test their faith or to grow.
Instead, they find another kind of danger. It’s called decay. Dust begins to collect and settle into even the deepest cracks. If not taken out and dusted, those fine particles of dust begin to accumulate until there is little left to be seen of the original beauty of the object. And when that dust is finally shaken off it fills the air causing those around discomfort and making whatever was used to clean the dust off dirty. Sometimes the original item is actually damaged by the accumulation of dust and needs further repair or tossing in the trash.
I think I’ll take being the pig. I’ll put up with the fact that there will be times of discomfort but my ‘Owner’ ALWAYS loves me! He ALWAYS wants me by His side. He will use me in His daily ‘play’. I will accept that being used by Him has consequences. Unlike my dog’s pig, I KNOW my ‘Owner’ will NEVER tire of my company or destroy me. I am precious to Him and He cares for me. He protects me but doesn’t insulate me. He lets me be ‘real’.
Father God, You use the strangest things sometimes to teach me Your truths. Please use me! Don’t leave me on the shelf where ‘it’s safe’. Put me into action for Your Kingdom. I KNOW You will protect me during the hardest knocks. And I KNOW that there WILL be knocks but being Yours is enough to make the pain worthwhile. I also look forward to the ‘cuddle times’ where we just snuggle up together. Those are special too.
I just realized that David’s look back on the past was through ‘rose glasses’. Israel had hard times too. They had times of being ‘real’. A lot of them came from sin, but not all of them. Even Moses’ arms had to be held during the battle. He was certainly feeling ‘real’ as he was being used at that time.