The thing about the end of a good cappuccino is that by the time you get there, that sip is cold and fortified with renegade grounds, but it’s still the last sublime ration you’re getting until the next one. And you don’t want to waste it.
The bitter always bears an aftertaste of sweet.
There was more than a little bitterness in the words David penned in the Psalms. I would have journaled some pretty crazy stuff too if I were convinced my life was in peril. But that same David, with all of his sketchy choices and character-forging cliffhangers, got nicknamed by God “a man after my own heart“. I’ve been thinking about his story recently, and it’s not just because I have a thing for Davids ❤️.
We first meet David in 1 Samuel 16 and he’s a teenager with stand-out guts and a strong identity as a favored child of God (1 Sam. 17:26). It only takes him five little chapters to become the arch-enemy of Saul, the unstable monarch. By 1 Samuel 22, David is running for his life and hiding in a cave where experts say that he wrote Psalm 142, cowering and confused.
So, Psalm 142 + 1 Samuel 22 = the whole story*. These two scriptures give us David’s inner monologue in that cave juxtaposed with the scenario according to everyone else. It pops off the page for me right here:
1 Samuel 22:1-2 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul,gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
Clearly David was terrified, but compounding that, he feels entirely isolated and at wit’s end. Been there? Don’t we sometimes feel alone even when we aren’t? Sure we have people, but our people are clueless. They’re just not soothing us in quite the way we want them to, so we keep on crying out.
But God sent them to David for a reason. Don’t dismiss the dregs.
When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul
David was not alone in the cave, or if he was, it was not for long, but the folks who came out for him were perhaps not the ones he really wanted to see. It sounds like his family came over to his hiding spot as soon as they heard of his circumstance. I love this part.
1 Samuel 22: 2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him.
Literally, David’s following was a herd of misfits and family members. I bet David WISHED he was alone!
Maybe because he was real instead of regal, he got REAL back. Instead of people who just cared about jumping on the coattails of the maverick who would be king, what God sent to David was a little kingdom of his own kind; bewildered, beholden, and bereft.
My friend Erica explains that her whole life has been a narrative of rejection but she is always sustained by God, and somehow he seems to love to give her opportunities to bravely trust him. In all her environments, people flock to her. We can’t get enough of her faith, because she is drenched in it. The girl is a miracle-magnet and a legitimate hot mess. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Candidly, it hurts like hell to live with your heart that open. All kinds of riffraff wander in.