Daddy Long Legs
My wife tells this funny story of how she once chased a guy much taller than her after realising that he lied to her to get some money.
This happened years ago after we got married. I remember how I thought she was both brave and, just possibly a little unwise during this episode. It was one of those long sop stories people tell. You know, a dad in distress, needing some money to see his kids in some other town, but now his car had broken down, and he is looking for a bit of help from anybody who might come to his rescue because he really misses them and life has handed him a lemon—something like that.
Ronel, being Soft of Heart and Pure of Soul, gave him the amount he needed to take the bus. But what a surprise! Walking to the shops a few hours later, Daddy Long Legs was using the same story again to get another ride on another bus to another flock of kids. Ronel, now being Red of Sight and Short of Temper, proceeded to lees vir hom sy Leviete voor (basically gave him a sermon). She did this so enthusiastically that he actually started to run away! And what does my lovely wife do? She took pursuit and used the opportunity to give him some more “advice”, even trying to get a shin kick in.
Don’t make Ronel angry. It’s all I can say.
We still tell this story at the family dinner table every once in a while and have a good laugh about it. (We also use this to make the kids think twice if they ever plan to lie to their mother!)
Although this story turned out to be quite hilarious, it also illustrates how often we might rush into things without giving proper pause to think about it. Much less to pray about it. Sometimes, in my quiet time in the mornings, I think through the day, intending to be more prayerful as the day walks on. I plan to ask God’s wisdom before a particular meeting or help with guidance during certain decisions. But in the rush of jumping from one session to another and juggling work, I often don’t give pause and don’t take time to collect my thoughts. And I don’t lay them out before Adonai.
For the past twenty years or so, I came into the habit of continually reading through the Bible. I often follow a reading plan; I like the chronological ones best. Once I finish, I start from the beginning again. I might then use a different program, for example, The Bible Project read-through-the-bible-plan (they introduce each book with a very well made and informative video).
Anyway, some of my favourite books in the Bible are 1 and 2 Samuel, especially the stories of David. These books were written in an easy-to-read, engaging, inspiring style. David brings some hope of being a Spirit-filled leader, and the narration takes a positive turn away from all the failings of the Judges and the poor character of King Saul.
The Great Kidnap
There is this one story where David and his men we engaged in a battle, but when they returned home, they found, to their utter dismay, that the city they lived in at the time had been raided and that their wives, children, livestock and goods were all taken by the Amalekites. You can read about it in 1 Samuel 30.
David was in real trouble here. For some background, David was not yet king, and he was continually escaping homicide from the murderous Saul. Saul was jealous and knew that Yahweh gave the kingdom to David. David hid in caves and even lived among his enemies, the Philistines, for a while. During this time, many men gathered with them, including his father’s household. But he also attracted a few bad boys;
all those in distress or debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader1 Samuel 22
Back to the great kidnapping. Furious, heartbroken and greatly distressed, “bitter in soul” (1 Sam 30:6), the men who just won a victory in battle with David now wanted to stone him. David himself lost two wives, children and goods to these bandits. But he was David! The MAN. The future worrier-king of Israel! Of him, the women of Israel sang,
“Saul killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands!”1 Samuel 18:7
Fearless in battle, killer of lions, bears and giants.
So David rounded up all his men at once, jumped on their horses, sounded the war cry and pursued! Red of Sight and Short of Temper, they chased hard after their enemies and taught the dreaded Amalakites a lesson they’d never forget, completely destroying them and getting all their belongings back!
Um. No, this is not quite what happened. You’d think that is the logical step, right? I mean, why wait? They have your wife and kids. You have fighting men in distress ready to take revenge! Why would you not just go and take back what belongs to you!?
David, under much pressure and in nobody’s good books (he’s the boss, everything is his fault), what does he do? Well, David is not like other men. Instead of getting hyped or intimidated by the death threats of his peers, he gets calm and
He “strengthens himself in the Lord”1 Samuel 30:6
Bring me the ephod
David tells the priest: “bring me the ephod”. Counter-intuitive, some might say, to lose valuable time, which could mean the difference between the life and death of your family. But this is precisely what David did.
Using the ephod, together with the Urim and Thummim, was how the ancient Israelites inquired of the Lord to get guidance from him. They were used similarly to how we might think about casting lots today. In this way, David asked direction from the Lord first;
Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?
Pursue, for you shall surely overtake, and you shall surely rescue”, comes the answer.1 Samuel 30:8
Now we’re ready
Then, and only then, David rounded up his men, jumped on their horses, and pursued hard after their enemy. They found an Egyptian slave during their chase, abandoned by the Amalekites and left for dead. They helped him and fed him, and this act of mercy directly helped them find their enemy. They got everything back they’ve lost and more. They had the Help and Hand of Favour of the one they call Adonai, the Lord of Hosts, and the God of the Jews.
It is not the first time I read this story with some wonder. And each time, David reminds me that, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what the external pressures might be, no matter how “obvious” a decision in front of me is… going into a particular direction without asking guidance and blessing from the Lord, and without taking a bit of time to consider the options in front of me is a dangerous thing to do. It was one of the significant differences between Saul and David. The one waited for the Lord, and the other one didn’t. Their lives took very different directions with had different outcomes.
King David must have told all the stories about his adventures to his kids. One of them, King Solomon, perhaps had this one in mind when he wrote many years later…
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.Proverbs 19:12
His dad did not miss his way that time.
And I think back and am grateful for all the times where God answered my prayers for guidance, enjoying the blessing of his favour and his loving hand on our paths. But I also think back to those times I have rushed in without taking time to consider him, his ways and his word, and I am still living with some of the consequences of that today.
Rom 8:28 became a favourite verse often quoted on this website and is now again something to hang on to for those who feel dejected, in despair, tired of fighting the present darkness or battling through the difficulties of life.
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
But remember those most important words…
“Bring me the ephod!”