Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Embodying Lament

My heart has always been captured by the biblical scene of David and all his officials, mighty men and servants fleeing Jerusalem from Absalom's rebellion (2 Samuel 15:23-16:23). Listen to this description and imagine it:

"The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the desert. . . . David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up." (2 Sam 15:23, 30 NIV)

A few comments:
- The entire countryside was weeping and wailing, as if the creation itself joins in mourning. David and his men embodied the genre of lament. Their most honest expression of sadness found its home in lament, and creation joined them. We may have pondered at creation joining in our worship, but what about our lament? I think of Romans 8:18-23 in light of this.

- David is still humble, unwilling to assert his "rights" as king. This is shown in several ways - his refusal to treat Yahweh as a talisman, to claim that God is "his" to move with him where he pleases; his willing acceptance to be cursed by Shimei, a relative of Saul; his surrender to the Lord's will in the loss of kingship, which for all he knew was permanent. Here we also think of Jesus, who submitted to the worst ridicule, torture and cursing from men (1 Peter 2:21-25).

"Then the king said to Zadok, "Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the LORD's eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again.  But if he says, 'I am not pleased with you,' then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him." (15:25)

"David then said to Abishai and all his officials, "My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today."

 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself." (16:11-14)

It is difficult to capture the beauty of this scene in just a few comments, but it magnifies my love and admiration of David, and subsequently, my love for David's greater Son, who is known as "despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" (Isaiah 53:3). For on the cross, Jesus embodied the genre of lament too and accomplished the salvation of my soul.

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