Sometimes everything just comes together.
It did this morning at community missions, down on the basement level of our building. I try to go down there every Wednesday morning to greet our homeless neighbors and make them feel welcome. I usually share a thought and say a prayer. I don’t always know what my “thought” is going to be until it’s time to speak, but this morning everything came together.
I was watching people come in from outside, shaking the rain off their caps and jackets. I knew that it wouldn’t be long before they start to come in shivering from the cold. So when Brenda Andrews announced (confidently) that I was going to share a good word I began to tell them about David.
For four weeks now on Tuesday nights I have been telling the story of King David out at Westminster Canterbury, the elegant retirement community on Westbrook Road. This week I was talking about the end of David’s life and how, when he was an old man, he just couldn’t stay warm. “He would go to bed at night and shiver beneath his blankets,” I said. “His bones would ache with the cold, his knees would knock together, and no matter how many covers they piled on top of him he couldn’t get warm.”
I could see people nodding their heads; they’d had nights like that, except they hadn’t had a bed to sleep in and not nearly so many covers.
“You may have read in the Book of Ecclesiastes,” I said: “‘Two can stay warm under the same blanket, but how can one stay warm alone?'” (Ecc. 4:11).
I’m not sure they had read it, but I could see that it made sense to everyone in the room. “Yes, two can stay warm under the same blanket!” Some of them smiled at memories they would have been embarrassed to share.
“So David’s advisors suggested that they find the prettiest girl in Israel and let her try to keep David warm at night. This idea pleased the king (Oh, did it?), and so they held a national beauty contest, going through every village from Dan to Beersheba looking for the prettiest girl in the land. They finally settled on Abishag the Shunnamite, and from that night on (although the Bible makes it clear that she had no “relations” with him), Abishag slept in David’s bed and kept him warm.”
I don’t think most of the people at community missions had heard that story before, though it’s right there in 1 Kings, chapter 1. They smiled at the image of the old king finally warm at night, and some of them must have wondered how they would stay warm when the winter winds begin to blow.
“The thing I love about David,” I said, “is that he was so human, so real. He had been a great warrior—a giant killer!—but he got to be an old man who couldn’t stay warm at night. He loved God and wanted to please him but he also made some terrible mistakes along the way and had to beg for God’s forgiveness. Still, he was remembered as the greatest king who ever lived in Israel, and his story gives me hope.”
“If God can use someone like David, he can use all of us, can’t he?”
And they nodded, they really did.
“Of course he can!”