From The Second Half of the Cross
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6)
Like the examples of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, when David is anointed by Samuel the prophet to become the future king of Israel, David is no longer in complete control of his life.
The second half of the cross can be seen throughout David’s life. David was probably just as surprised as everyone else when Samuel anointed him to become Israel’s future king. David understands from the beginning that it is God’s role to fulfill His promise that David would become king, and that he must wait upon God’s timing. David understands that God does not need his help to speed up the process. David’s own ideas about the plan of his life are therefore nailed to the cross of Christ, long before Jesus and the cross come onto the world scene.
David has no advance knowledge of what God has specifically planned for the intervening years of preparation before David becomes king, but David does not lose hope or faith in God despite often discouraging outward appearances. David even rejects the worldly wise council of his friends to take the life of Saul on two separate occasions, which would have ended the constant threat to David’s life (1 Sam. 24:10; 26:8). David will not put himself into the position of being God, of taking over the sovereignty of the events of his life.
The willingness of David to accept danger as part of God’s training program to become king sheds additional light on this concept of the second half of the cross. Handing over our will to God, according to these biblical narrative stories, involves some measure of risk and adventure on our part. From the safety of a comfortable chair we can read the stories of the lives of the people of faith in the Bible and know that they have happy endings.
We can applaud Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David for their faith and trust in God that eventually lead to good outcomes. But in the midst of the playing out of their lives in real time these people did not have the benefit of knowing beforehand exactly how their stories would end.
Abraham might not have had any children through Sarah. Joseph could have remained a prisoner in Pharaoh’s jail for the rest of his life. Moses could have been summarily killed by Pharaoh upon his return into Egypt. David could have been captured and killed by Saul during any one of David’s many narrow escapes.
The participation of God in these events and circumstances is the added ingredient that transforms these life stories into extraordinary lives, which rise above the level of worldly conventional normalcy.
The 23rd Psalm allows us to look into the very heart of David as to what he was thinking about God’s leading for his life:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
- He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
- He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
- Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
- Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The life of David is a challenge to contemporary thinking that the worldly acceptable model for life is a self-made life…that the “real man” is a self-made man. This pervasive worldview of self-directed, self-validation underlies one of the erroneous misconceptions of modern cultural thought about Christianity.
A biblical quality adventure of faith following God’s higher ways is not for the doubtful, halfhearted, or fearful. God’s participation in our lives is an element that initiates the most challenging and difficult character growth life-lessons, having life-changing purposeful direction. A partnership, with Jesus Christ in the leadership position, adds divine energy and creativity to our life-script that works to build tenacious and courageous backbone into our characters no matter where we initially start out on the character strength meter.
The worldly, self-directed approach is to “get ahead” and stay ahead of life’s adversities through education, hard work, strength of personality, family wealth, and any other method at our disposal. The goal is to achieve the “good life” as defined by worldly horizontal thinking…through material wealth, security, and self-validation. In actuality this life approach is based in part upon this broken world’s fear of the uncertainty regarding our self-worth and the whims of chance. The go-it-on-our-own, self-validation approach to life is based upon the need to avoid the outward appearance of negative failure.
The love, forgiveness, and acceptance of God through Christ sets up a new life reality and context, whereby the Spirit-born Christian is free to enter into the risky venture of a journey of faith following God wherever He leads…even into the valley of the shadow of death like David. The adventure of faith component in David’s life refutes the modern cultural misconception that real men do not rely upon God as a “crutch.”
The limited mindset of worldly horizontal thinking, stuck in the self-on-the-throne mentality, makes it difficult for God to break into our lives and straighten us out using a better life-script. The self-directed life is Lucifer’s subtly deceptive counterfeit to the more daring release-of-faith “narrow way” that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 7:13-14). Seeking material wealth and personal acclaim as the means to validate our self-worth is the inverse opposite of “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).