Holy Fools: David

Holy Fools: David

Holy Fools: David.

David was totally unique in Scripture. Raised a shepherd boy, the last of eight boys, the one everyone seemed to overlook, he became a renowned musician, a legendary poet, a fierce warrior, and the most beloved King in the history of Israel. He was a faithful worshiper of Yahweh, and, the highest accolade one could receive, he was “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14). Was he a prophet? Yes. His psalms prove that. Was he a priest? Well, he led worship and offered sacrifices when the ark was brought to Jerusalem, wearing a priestly garment at the time. Was he a king? Unquestionably, the greatest king of Israel. David’s life certainly hinted at his distant relative, the Messiah Jesus, who was the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King.

If there was one quality he had in his personality, he definitely wasn’t shy. The following are three vignettes of his holy foolishness.

Goliath. Is there anything more foolish than a basically empty-handed boy facing off with a fully-armed bully of a grown man? And a very large bully at that, about nine and a half feet tall and a fierce, experienced soldier. But this was no ordinary boy. This was an anointed shepherd boy who had already killed a lion and a bear in his defense of the sheep (1 Samuel 17:36-37). Word was already out that David was a “brave man and a warrior” even while a very young man (1 Samuel 16:18). And since the day of his anointing by Samuel, David “had the Spirit of Yahweh on him in power.” (1 Samuel 16:13). So David was extraordinary even before he challenged Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

So maybe it wasn’t so surprising that young David was willing to have a duel with the Philistine giant. One of the qualities that sets David apart from practically everyone else is his overflowing confidence in God, learned and ingrained as a boy in the fields. To get a sense of his confidence in God, look briefly at his song of praise in 2 Samuel 22.  David composed this song after God rescued him from his enemies and from Saul. The song displays his unshakable confidence in God to support, strengthen and rescue him. This confidence was a dominant part of his personality his whole life. He developed this confidence as a shepherd boy, as a warrior, and as King of Israel. In this song, which is virtually identical to Psalm 18, David states that Yahweh saved him, rescued him, supported him, restored him, helped him, preserved him, and delivered him. David acknowledged that God faithfully kept him from defeat. The song triumphantly exults in his Rescuer by calling the Lord his rock, fortress, deliverance, refuge, shield, strength, salvation, stronghold, lamp and champion. In this song David rejoiced in the LORD, that “with your help I can crush any army, I can leap over any wall.” (22:30). With this overwhelming confidence in Yahweh, David wouldn’t shy from any conflict that involved the Lord’s honor and name and reputation. St. Paul reflects David’s confidence and trust when he said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). David no doubt was thinking the same thing as he approached this giant soldier. He’s a mere pagan giant? Bring him on! With God on David’s side, Goliath was doomed from the start.

Craziness. David is escaping from Saul and making his way to a major Philistine city, Gath. David must be desperate if he is running to a Gentile enemy’s camp. The Philistines were only too happy to give David access to Gath, since they probably thought he was a defector from Israel, and maybe a helpful military leader at that. Eventually the Philistines got nervous about someone who had evidently slain thousands of Philistines in the past. Then it was David’s turn to get nervous, assuming the Philistines might do something drastic to rid themselves of David. So, since it was customary to leave the mentally unstable protected and unharmed, David pretended to be insane. He started scratching his feet on the doors of the main gate, and he went around town drooling into his beard, spittle covering his face. The leaders of Gath soon dismissed David as insane and sent him on his way. David might have felt foolish acting out of his mind, but those clever antics served him well. It saved his life. (1 Samuel 21:10-15).

Dancing. David was full of joy as he escorted the Ark of God back to its rightful place in Jerusalem. The Ark represented the very presence of Yahweh, and it established Jerusalem as the religious center of Israel. David was thrilled that the Ark of the Covenant would be accessible for worship in Israel’s capital. So there was “great celebration” as they brought back the Ark. “David danced before the LORD, whirling about with all his might, wearing a priestly loincloth.” So David and all the people of Israel formed a riotous parade with shouts of joy and the blowing of ram’s horns. But when his wife Michal saw King David “leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for David.” Michal was disgusted with David for making a spectacle of himself before all the people. “How distinguished the King of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!” David defended himself, and said “I was dancing before Yahweh, making merry out of pure enjoyment… And I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” After this exchange, their relationship hit the rocks, and she remained childless (2 Samuel 6:12-23). It needs to be noted that David’s priestly loincloth was basically linen underwear worn by priest when offering sacrifices. (Exodus 20:26 and 28:42). The Lord instructed the priests to wear the loincloth over bare skin. But in his celebration before Yahweh, David didn’t worry about playing the fool. He said he would engage in even more of this foolishness if it was called upon!

Looking back on David’s life, it seems that it was David’s heart that set him apart. It wasn’t his artistic excellence in word and song, it wasn’t his physical beauty, it wasn’t his military valor as a warrior. There was something about his heart that caused Yahweh to accept David so intimately. Remember the Lord’s words at David’s early anointing… “Man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16;7). That’s what God was looking for, and in David that’s what He found. Because of his heartfelt trust and confidence in Yahweh, David was unafraid to play the fool. Perhaps David is the greatest holy fool in all of Scripture. The only competitor for this would be his relative, Jesus Christ. In this case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. There is no question that Jesus was the Son of David.