Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Adullam*

When he saw the blood, repentance and worship ensued. 

Upon entering the dark cave, our eyes catch a distant, flickering light.  It is unclear just how we are able to arrive there so quickly during the night.  A full moon has certainly aided our journey.  Drawing near the light, the men who we’d left to guard the king are alerted to our approach.  

Our bodies are exhausted beyond belief.  My ankle is severely swollen, and the pain is intense.  Eleazar has a shattered forearm from a severe blow he absorbed during the fight.  Most bloodied amongst us is Shammah, but it seems his dark stains are mostly those of other men.  Being steadied to walk only by the support of the extended arms of these men, we are a hobbled mass of cuts and bruises.

“Where is the king?” I inquire of the men. 

“He sleeps,” is the reply, “just beyond the light, behind that rock to the left.”

“Wake him, and meet us at the fire,” I instruct them. 

Awakened, the king walks towards us anxiously, and we bow, offering the basin of water before him.  At first, he begins to laugh, almost uncontrollably.  He shouts words of gratitude and praise.  He raises his arms in triumph, as we have seen him do so many times before.  Our countenance is lifted.  

He draws nearer.  His eyes see the basin, and he rejoices with shouts of praise yet again.  But by the light he more clearly begins to discover our faces - dirty, bruised, scraped and bloodied.  His countenance is quieted.

He stands before us but is now unable to speak.  With his mouth gaping open, his gaze lowers to see our blood soaked garments.  His body trembles, and slowly, he drops to one knee, then the other.  He sobs uncontrollably, it seems.  His hands cover his face.  

“My lord,” I offer after only a short time, “the Almighty One has spared your servants…”

“Our strategy was sound,” I continue, “but a young shepherd boy discovered us soon after his stray lamb found us hiding under a pile of brush as we awaited nightfall.  We spared the boy and instructed him to return home.  Having then moved our position, we waited even longer than we’d first planned.  Finally, we maneuvered slowly, cautiously.  How they knew our objective was the well, we are unsure.  The ambush started just after we had filled the basin.  Of those who attacked us, none were spared.  But they were many, and narrow was our escape.  The shepherd boy reappeared as we fled.  He aided our escape as we hid in his father’s barn the next day, while soldiers searched for us and swarmed the gate.”

Suddenly, our king rent his garment, sternum to shoulders.  He then covers his face with ash he gathers from the nearby fire.  

“Salach,” he cries, arms extended upwards.  “Salach!  Salach!”  He begs now of us, posturing for a response.

“My lord, we forgive you if you insist,” I reply.  “Please, my king, take and drink your water from the basin.  May it comfort your mind and restore your soul.”

A moment passes.  His gaze is fixed upon the basin.  He approaches it and lifts it high over his head.  Although indistinct to our ears, he murmurs what seems to be a prayer.  He overturns the basin, pouring the water on the ground before us.  We are stunned in disbelief. 

At last, he speaks.  

“Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this.  Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?”  

And with his praise offering of the water, we embrace.  Our tears are mixed with laughter.  Our king breaks out in the familiar chorus, and we join him, singing:

“I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, 
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, 
and I am saved from my enemies…”

Several days later, after mending our wounds, we depart the cave and return home to our families.  Pondering that late night by the light of the cave, I am enlightened.  It wasn’t our loyalty, bravery or courage that moved him.  He knew this about us before we were sent.  What moved him to repentance was the sight of our blood.  Our blood drew him out of his own lust.  Our blood brought him to his knees.  Our blood led him to pour out the costly, pure water as an offering.  

When he saw the blood, repentance and worship ensued.

*Partly imagined and partly transcribed, this account is inspired by the historical events of 2 Samuel 23:13-17

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