There are times in life when it’s tempting to make impulsive decisions about something when the best course of action is to stand back and consider the situation. It takes a certain kind of wisdom to be able to do that effectively. Years ago, while I was working as a landscaper, I was asked to burn some garden waste that we’d collected from a series of contracts. It was all too green to burn so I found a can of petrol and sprinkled it about on the pile of prunings and waste. I was looking for a quick solution to an immediate problem. I guess my first 2 matches didn’t find the fuel so I sprinkled a bit more. When I struck my 4th match I suddenly found myself surrounded by flames. Then, as I was having a major panic, the flames died down again almost as quickly as they’d come up. Petrol burns rapidly and doesn’t do so for very long. It was only luck, or perhaps by blessing that I escaped unscathed.
David was a master at assessing the consequences of his actions. He had a natural ability to think things through, to assess risk and make wise judgements as a result. So, in the first part of our reading for today, Abishai was tempted to take the obvious solution to the problem David and all his men had been running from – he wanted to kill Saul and end the hunt against them. David saw the consequences of that action, he would offend God who had put Saul on the throne and carry the guilt with him for the rest of his days. So, they took Saul’s spear and water jug instead so he could show they hadn’t been a threat to the king.
In the second passage David went further and removed himself from Saul’s attention by moving to the land of the Philistines. He knew Saul would give up the chase if he was there and he ingratiated himself with the Philistine king by attacking known enemies of both Philistine and Judah. He assessed the risks and created a safe distance between himself and both of his major enemies.
In the busyness of life, it can be difficult to step back and think clearly. Time is a constant pressure and our own impatience can sometimes be a distraction, but this is how wisdom works. Stop and ask what would God have me do? What would Jesus do here? We need to get into the habit of creating distance so that wisdom can prevail.
Father God, bless me with space to hear your voice in all things. Amen.