David really is an interesting character, not just for the good things that he does or for his devout and faithful heart or for his honest and humble repentance; he's an interesting character because he is so much like so many of us. He is just so...human.
We can really see this in some of his instincts, in the habits that he's developed that keep him doing the same things over and over and over again. Like running away.
Running away is not usually something that we associate with David. For us, one of the greatest - if not the actual greatest - stories about David is when he stared down the giant and defeated Goliath. A little boy with a slingshot and a few select stones standing before an enemy who had intimidated Israel's best forces for far too long doesn't really seem like the kind of guy who is prone to running away. And yet...
David comes into the service of Saul and also finds himself under the anointing of God as the next king of Israel. Saul knows this, and his jealousy builds until he begins to throw spears at David's head and plot against him. David, figuring all of this out, takes off into the fields and starts hiding in caves. When he gets the chance to kill Saul, he doesn't take it (for good reason), proves himself worthy, and returns...only to be targeted again and to run back into the hills.
This happens a couple of times, and in fact, it's in the hills and the caves and Philistine territory where David actually builds his following.
But fast-forward to after David has been king for awhile. He's firmly established on his throne, beloved by almost all, solid in his rule. Great things are happening in Israel, and Israel knows these things are in no small part due to David. Life is good.
Until one of his sons goes rogue and tries to declare himself king, usurping the throne and gathering a following of his own. David hears about it, starts to tremble in his boots...and runs away.
Yes, the mighty king of Israel finds himself hiding in yet another cave despite the fact that he's the most powerful man in all the nation.
What gives? David is king, which means he has the power and authority to squash any rebellion of the people. He's father to this usurper, which means he could spank the kid if he had to or at least ground him, if you're not into the whole spanking thing. But David does neither - he doesn't take advantage of the authority that he has either relationally or politically. Instead, he runs off into the hills.
When we read this, there's something in us that can't help but say, "Really? Really?" But yes, really. Because that's what David is hard-wired to do. It's a pattern for him. It's how he deals with these things. Even when he has other options available to him, it's his default; he doesn't consider any other course of action. He can't.
Like I said, he's so very human. Because this is the way that all of us operate. It's our M-O. We get into these patterns that are set pretty early on in our lives, and that becomes just what we do. It's why it's so hard to change some of our behaviors, even when we really, really want to. It's why we keep doing the same things over and over again. It's why we kind of just are who we are, even when we know we aren't that person any more. It's just what we do.
That doesn't mean it's the best way for us to be. Think about how David's story could be different if he'd recognized his authority as king and father and acted on it, rather than reacting from his auto-programming. Think about what it would mean to be different when your natural inclination is so strong.
One of the greatest challenges of our lives is learning to live differently when we discover that we are, in fact, different today than we were yesterday. It's hard to do new things in new ways. It's hard to remember that we don't have to do the old things any more. They just come so easily to us.
But easy doesn't mean good.
How would your story change if you knew that you have already changed? If you knew today was different because you're different? By the grace of God, you're different....