The more I pay attention to the story of God in the Old Testament, I see God constantly rushing in with mercy at the slightest evidence of a turn in our heart.
Let me explain from the story of Saul and David. First some context.
Remember, Saul, a guy’s guy. He’s the guy you would see at the sports bar recanting stories of heroism. The guy with all the other guys circled around him wanting to be a part of the cool crowd. A guy a head taller than the rest of Israel, strong, tough and God’s choice to be the first king of Israel.
Yet Saul lost everything. His life became a tragic tale of missed opportunities and wasted potential.
And that is where David comes in. A poor shepherd boy elevated to the highest seat in the nation. As David began his ascent upward (killing Goliath and leading troops on raids against the Philistines), Saul (sliding down from his former glory) became jealous and looked for ways to put away the challenger to his throne. Saul’s fury kindled hot when he heard the top songs of the day include lyrics of how David killed his 10 thousands compared to Saul only getting credit for his thousands.
David, the wily young general, knew he best get out of town and avoid the assassination attempts from the king. He went and hid out with Samuel in Naioth of Ramah.
When Saul’s spies tweeted to Saul where David was laying low, he sent messengers to bring David back to his courtyard. Here is where the mercy bit on God’s side starts to become evident. As the messengers approached Samuel and came upon the company of prophets, the spirit of God fell on them causing them to prophecy. They stayed in a state of spiritual engagement so long that Saul sent a second delegation of henchmen to grab the boy with kingly aspirations and drag him back to face Saul. These messengers too experienced the Spirit of God fall on them causing them to prophecy. Both groups remained with Samuel and the company of prophets in the presence of God so long that Saul, fed up with this unending drama, took matters into his own hand.
Now, Saul fuming mad, with smoke coming out of his ears, marches out to confront David. I could only imagine the twitter feed from the royal twitter account during this whole political debacle. Saul, deadest to eliminate his competition for the throne, came upon the prophets, and he too was struck by the presence of God. Adding in a bit of my own thoughts to fill in the blanks. As he came into the presence of God with Samuel and Samuel’s disciples, he was reminded of what it was like when he walked with God. At that point, the Spirit of God fell on him as well. I am not sure what to do with the part of Saul stripping off his clothes and staying there naked with the other prophets.
My take home from this story and what has stuck with me since I read it in devotions the other day is how God constantly shows up with mercy even with the most unlikely of characters. Saul did nothing to deserve God’s presence, but God, the Holy One, was there waiting, looking for an opportunity, and offering mercy freely.
If you are reading this and think you have done something too bad to ever be with God again, let me say no you haven’t. No matter where you stand with God right now, you are only millimeters away from God’s grace coming around you and holding you close. More than that, God is at your side tapping you on the shoulder daring to get your attention and draw you back into relationship with him. We see in the life of Saul how God stood by him as he worked tenaciously to stamp out the life of his enemy, David. God kept him from having his life totally come undone, waiting, hoping, pushing to see Saul turn around.
All we need to do is remember that God wants to be with us way more than we ever give him credit for. God’s mercy, when I reflect on it, is a wonderful and precious commodity that he freely gives out.