The Old Testament reading set for Morning Prayer today was 1 Samuel 26, an extract from the life of David. At this point in his life, David and his companions are outlaws. The older, power-holding and deeply insecure king Saul is seeking to take away their hope of a future, and they have been betrayed, to Saul’s advantage (and not for the first time) by the wider community around them. David takes a friend with him, and together they sneak into Saul’s camp by night, indeed, right into Saul’s tent while he and his right-hand-men are caught sleeping.
David’s friend sees this as a moment of opportunity, to rid themselves of Saul once-and-for-all. But David will not permit it. Saul’s downfall will come, in God’s time not at David’s hand. Instead, he takes Saul’s spear and water jar, and retreats to a safe distance. From there, he wakes the guard, exposing their incompetence, but keeping the focus on the injustice of Saul’s actions, humbly asking to be heard and using the situation to appeal for reconciliation. In this, David succeeds, albeit that Saul, true to form, will later go back on his promises.
In his wisdom, David sets an example for us in our own polarised context, and at a time when our young people find themselves thrown under the bus, of forbearance. Of refusing to enact character assassination by social media or perpetuate strife, while nonetheless exposing incompetence and highlighting injustice and taking a stand for the future of our young people, and other marginalised groups.
There is much heat and very little light this summer around (clear) governmental sleep-walking incompetence and injustice. The outstanding question is, how will the Church support young people to grow into their calling in such a world?