After slaying Goliath, David took a long, tortuous route before becoming King. Jason Helveston explores the path of dreams.
Most people have heard of David. You know, as in “… and Goliath”. But many fail to grasp a deeper understand of the true significance of his story. It’s understandable. I think I will spend most of my life constantly learning the difference between hearing something and understanding it. There is a difference, a massive chasm I’m told, separating aural capacity and comprehension. But, I digress.
As I was saying … David did not remain the dashing, teenage red-head who loped-off the head of a giant. Though I’m sure this episode didn’t hurt his ancient game with Israelite ladies, David, like everybody else, grew up. But unlike most of us he grew up and became king. And having a passing familiarity with his adolescence would make it easy to assume David’s path to the throne would be well-paved. After all he did save all of God’s people from utter destruction by the hand of the man whose name has become eternally synonymous with “big”. Contrary to such preconceptions David’s journey, like everyone’s, was incredibly difficult. In fact at many points in his life it seemed like it wouldn’t happen at all. That’s something I think we can all relate to.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a pastor. I know what you’re thinking, a kid raised in a baptist preacher’s home who becomes a baptist preacher … well-paved (if not utterly unimaginative). Some people consider me to have been brainwashed. I prefer the term baptized. But it’s true. I soaked up my dad’s every move. I listened to him preach. I watched him encourage, counsel, and help tons of people, and I couldn’t wait to do the same.
So from a very early age I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I even felt like God was calling me to do it. But, I realize now–in my seventh year of ministry–how very little I understood then.
When David was just a kid a prophet named Samuel came to town. Samuel was looking for the next king of Israel. David was the youngest of eight brothers. The prophet considered the eldest seven first while David minded the family business by himself on some remote hillside. Samuel did background checks, reviewed resumes, and called all their previous supervisors. None of them checked out. Samuel insisted to see the baby of the family. David, the youngest and last one consider, was anointed as the next king of Israel right in the front of his seven rejected brothers. What younger brother hasn’t dreamt of such an event? I know I have! (Sorry Jake.) I love the Bible.
So let’s recap …
David was the youngest of eight brother.
David was anointed by a prophet of God.
Naturally it was time to take the throne, right? Not exactly. Nor did I become a pastor the moment I felt it was my inevitable course. In fact,if you’ve ever had a vision or calling then you understand that the real trouble begins once you’ve embraced your dream. The path wasn’t smoothed, the trail wasn’t blazed, and an empty pulpit wasn’t just waiting for me. You see, when David killed Goliath he was all but claiming the throne. It was the king’s God given responsibility to step on the battlefield. But for David there was a slight problem … someone else was already sitting on the throne, King Saul. And guess who had a front row seat at the battlefield … yup, Saul. The next few chapters of the story document a host of episodes of Saul trying to take David out.
David had a vision.
David had a calling.
David had a dream.
All of which flew in the face of contemporary convention.
Not to mention Saul’s face.
Have you ever had one of those? A vision? A calling? A dream? Something that was as clear as day … to you. Maybe just you. Something that was completely unavoidable even though you didn’t totally understand it yet. Something that wrapped you up. Something you knew would never let you go.
That book you’ve always wanted to write.
That new job.
Starting that small business.
Poping the question.
If you’ve experienced one of those life-altering joneses, then you know what it was like to be David. You also know what it is like to have to fight for that experience or calling to be fully realized. You know the sound of critics. You know the heat of being chased. You know what it’s like to be hunted by contemporary conventions. There’s nothing you won’t give to win and overcome and realize your dream. That’s what makes David’s story so significant. He had limits.
Right in the middle of the chase David was given an opportunity. Saul’s unrelating pursuit forced David to make tracks all over the map in the back of my Bible. Until one day when David was given the upper hand. Saul stepped into a cave to … well … “go” in the cave. He let his guard down and David had an unmitigated chance to kill the king. David’s running would be over, sleepless nights would be no more, the throne would be his, his dream could be realized in a moment. But he didn’t. He couldn’t he said. Instead, David took out a blade and slice a small portion of Saul’s garment. He didn’t kill him. But he did let Saul know he was there.
When we have the audacity to stand up and speak our dreams out loud, in public, trouble will come. It’s part of the gig. Common convention is slanted against significant vision, calling, and dreams. And if you stand up and speak out, it will chase you all over the map. But this battle is not a mistake. Actually it’s not even a foe. The tension, stress, disappointment, fear, and opposition are all part of the dream. These make the dream matter and breath new life into our calling. This uphill climb doesn’t just make the throne worth it, but more importantly these deepen our understanding of our calling. As we all chase our various visions of the future we would be wise to learn from David. Don’t kill the tension. Just let the tension know you’re there.
Eventually David became king. In fact he became more than a king, he became the king. He is remembered throughout Scripture as the epitome of Israelite kingship. He by no means was perfect (in a word, Bathsheba), but he was an incredible figure. One of the reasons his story casts such a large shadow over the story of Christianity is because of his line. Eventually from his offspring came a man named Jesus. Jesus was a king too. And in a similar fashion Jesus didn’t take any shortcuts to his throne either. Instead he was born in a feeding trough, was ridiculed by a bunch of religious folks, and then died on a cross. All the while letting the tension know he was right at it’s heels.
Eventually I became a preacher. Eventually what burns in your heart will become reality. But let’s not get there too quickly. May a little understanding sink in first.