Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Knitted Soul
Mephibosheth, my young lion, my son.
I pray this letter finds you well in these troubled times. We are on the eve of battle and my mind is swarming with thoughts and questions that rob me of sleep. I wander our encampment here at Gilboa. My eyes search the heavens for a sense of hope or peace, yet only cold distant stars stare silently back. Mirroring them are the flickering fires of the Philistines across the valley. Burning into the night, into my heart. I wish the Lord would out stretch his hand and brush them from the hillside like dust.
In my youth it was the thrill of battle that kept me from rest. Yet now, I find my heart heavy within me. There is a weight that hangs over our army tonight and yet an emptiness as well. You know well the bedtime stories I have told you of war. Days when your grandfather and I were the only two men in Israel with swords and yet by the Lord’s hand the enemy was delivered over to us. We were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions then. There was a glorious future for all in Israel.
But now, now there are whispers and rumors slithering from tent to tent. Dark stories of heavy sins. I would spare you of them but there are no walls high or thick enough to hold back a man’s iniquities. They claim your grandfather secretly sought out a witch and more terrifying still that he even spoke with the ghost of the prophet Samuel. I tremble at the thought of such a bold foolishness. What terrible wrath might the king have invited on us in the wake of tomorrow's fight.
Son, do not think ill of your grandfather. He was and can be a great man. The seeds of fear were planted years ago. It’s black and twisted roots grew in his heart. Where there is a weed he sees a flower. He masks the fear with pride to cover his insecurity and jealousy. When you are high on a pedestal you have farther to fall. He let fear of man eclipse fear of the Lord, who alone is to be feared. He knows that his failure to obey the Lord has caused the kingdom to be taken from him. Now he grasps to keep hold of what is no longer his to possess. It wretches my heart. Learn from this my son, and let humility and wisdom spare you of the same fate.
Mephibosheth, know that my heart is for you. That tomorrow in battle I shall fight to the last breath to protect you and our people from the enemies of Israel. And should it cost me the full measure of my life, know that I lay it down without hesitation or regret. Yet know how deeply I desire to be home with you, to wrestle in the palace gardens, and instruct you to use a bow. I achingly long to see you grow in stature and wisdom. To teach you the ways of the Lord and to serve Him above all else in this life.
Son, if the victory be to the Philistines, fear not. David yet lives as the Lord’s anointed and He will sit on the throne. Do not fear the reign of David. Though the transfer of power in a nation leads to much bloodshed he has sworn a covenant with me that he will show kindness to our family when he is king. We declared “The Lord is witness between you and me and between your descendants and my descendants forever.” He is a man of mercy and full of compassion. There is no doubt in my mind that he will ensure your safety and care all of your days.
Many will tell you that this is not possible.That the sword of David will not be quenched until the last of Saul’s household are wiped from the earth. You will be tempted to flee and to hide yourself. My son, never doubt that the Lord’s anointed is for you and will be your salvation.
As sure as the Lord lives I remember sitting by your grandfather as David entered the royal tent fresh from victory, gripping the severed head of the giant. Though only a youth, David spoke with such boldness and confidence of the power of the Lord. In all my life I have never found a man in Israel who possessed a passion for the Mighty One of Israel, as this shepherd boy had.
I found my heart leaping like a young calf. My very soul was knit to his. All that I believed of the Lord and hoped for Israel was being lived out in this young man. I have loved him as I love myself. His friendship to me has been as vital as the blood in my veins. I think of the nights that we would sit around a fire and I would listen as David sang psalms of the Lord’s majesty, beauty and faithfulness with honesty in his heart.
On one occasion David tried to teach me how to throw rocks with a sling. By days end David was rolling on the ground laughing at all the bruises on my head. David can laugh with such joy and abandon. It raises up the most downcast heart.
But there has also been shared weeping. Unbridled tears, heart splitting pain and gut wrenching loss. The last time I saw David was in Horesh. He was in hiding and I had found my way to him and sneak away from the king. How does one trust in the Lord when all His promises seem in vain? How my loyalties were tested again and again between my father and my friend. I knew there was little I could do to comfort him but I did my best to reassure him of the goodness and sovereignty of our Lord. I reminded him that there is nothing that can hinder the Lord from saving. Nothing. The promises of the Lord are sure.
Son, I fervently pray that you would be blessed in this life with a friendship as I have shared with David. If you live in rags, and are but a servant but possess a bond like I have known than you will be richer than the greatest of kings.
Mephibosheth, I know that not all I have written will make sense to you now. I trust that you will keep this message with you all your life. May it be a guide and a comfort to you. The sun will break this dark night soon and what will be shall be. The Lord’s will be done.
Your loving father,