I have some very strange dreams. I was recounting one of the worst the other day. It was a dream I had well over 10 years ago and it involved biker pigs (stay with me here). The members of this tattooed ovine club relentlessly chased me. As I ran and ran, the dream progressed and I filled with dread of the physical violence that would surely be bestowed upon me, for no discernible reason. I ran till my heart screamed, my legs burned and my eyes were out of tears. Luckily as this was a dream I managed to escape into the world of the awake before a blow was struck, or a knife drawn. I remember waking, calming down and getting up; showering and dressing in my school uniform on a warm spring day. When I opened the front door to leave there in my garden stood five, leather clad pigs. I screamed, slammed the door and this time really woke up in a cold sweat with a heart rate that must have been pushing 180. Even though this was only a dream, it took a while to shake of the genuine fear and the scar of it has lasted nearly two decades.
I have been reading through the story of David (as found in 1 Samuel 21–31), not just as a bible story, but more as one reads the news, understanding that it is real people, real places and real times. I was recently struck by that part of the tale when David was running from Saul, in a manner much like I was running from the pigs. Saul was actively hunting a young David and his band of outcasts for years (some people suggest 17 years). David was on the run from the king, the Lord's anointed one Saul, and his 3,000 strongest, fittest and best trained men, the SAS of the day (ch24). What compounds this and would induce panic, is that David didn’t really understand why he was being chased; he did not know what wrong he had done to Saul (ch24:9–22 and ch26:17-18). As far as David was concerned he had just been obeying the Lord, and doing right by Saul.
What David did know, what he trusted, was that this must be God’s plan, although he was at a loss to explain God’s actions (see David’s desperate writings in Psalms). What really amazes me however, is that David declined two clear cut opportunities to bring it all to a swift, ‘humane’ end. Those around him urged him to dispatch Saul, and the majority of the nation, including Jonathan, the heir to the throne, wanted David to be king. David even wanted it himself, but he knew it was not God’s plan for him to kill Saul. The Lord may have left Saul, his anointed one, but David did not and remained loyal, even after Saul’s eventual death.
David had years of not sleeping, running, fighting and ‘sheltering’ with his enemies. It makes my fear inducing dream of running fall into insignificance. The integrity of David to keep to Gods plan, even when he did not understand the ‘madness’ of it, and with at least two very easy ways out (remember David was no stranger to killing) reminds me of Jesus’ temptation. I am a big fan of the human, tempted Jesus, and for him to be truly tempted, Jesus could not have yet had a full grasp of God’s plan for him, just as we don’t and David didn’t. But just like David, arguably more so, he held firm to God. They both had the integrity to deny the obvious options and trust God and those odd, mysterious ways of his, even if it meant walking into death.
When we are called to choose integrity, be it over homework, cheating in exams, business practice or even our attitude to tax, there are no better examples to remember than David and his descendent Jesus. Although sticking to Gods plan may seem like madness on occasion, have a good think about your actions and ask would I be happy to tell the people at church about this decision? Our lives may rarely be on the line, but our integrity is. Integrity is a key indicator that there is something special going on in our lives and there is no greater generator of respect than integrity. Wear it well, just as David and Jesus did.