Living in Ziklag
What a great story is found here in I Samuel 27 and 29. It’s this section where David, the famous one, the ‘man after God’s own heart’ runs to
Hmmm… what do you make of this? Because there’s no prophet confronting him, and because the earth doesn’t open up and swallow him, we’re left to ponder the meaning ourselves. Commentators are split right down the middle, in categories Eugene Peterson calls “moralizers” and “secularizers” in his book about David. The moralizers chasten David and point out that if David had simply continued to trust God, rather than taking things into his own hands, he wouldn’t have suffered such dire consequences. And those dire consequences?... er… hmm… surely something. Ah yes. God doesn’t let David build the church building that God never wanted built in the first place – that’s it. That’s the punishment. Nice try moralizers.
The secularizers have a different spin: David’s just doing what you need to do in order to get on in this world. After all, this isn’t heaven. If we don’t compromise a little bit, and play by the rules of the world, we’ll end up either dead or out in the cold. On the other hand, make a way for ourselves, and we can use the gains we’ve made for God’s glory. Sounds good? Sure. Buy some slaves. Take over some countries like
So what’s left between moralizing and secularizing? I think I’ll save the bulk of the answer for Sunday’s sermon, but in the meantime, let me just say that both the secularizing and moralizing visions for faith fall destructively short of God’s best. Which model, secularizing or moralizing do you see in your church (or the one I lead)? How about in your own life? What are your leanings?