Five hundred years ago a church in Italy hired a craftsman to sculpt a massive rock that was given to them with the purpose of turning it into a work of art. Shortly after beginning on this project the professional hired to do the work broke a hole in the bottom of the marble, essentially ruining it.
Assuming that the rock was beyond repaid the church covered it up and it was shrouded for almost twenty years. It lay in ruins until a certain man heard what had happened and how it had been destroyed.
Out of curiosity he sought to find the stone and after seeing it declared that he could make something of it. So the man began sculpting and shaping it. What was once thought lost and broken turned into one of the greatest and most infamous statues ever made.
The statue was of King David and the artist of course was Michelangelo.
What is fascinating is that the story of this statue actually collides with the real life story of David. For most of us, when we think of David, we think of the victories, the throne of Israel and a person after God’s own heart.
While all of those things are true we often forget that David’s leadership of Israel was preceded with over a decade of hiding in caves from his father-in-law Saul.
Gene Edwards, writer of A Tale of Three Kings, speaks of David’s anointing as king like this:
“Quite a day for the life of that young man, wouldn’t you say? Then do you find it strange that this most remarkable event led the young man, not to the throne, but to a decade of hellish agony and suffering? On that day, David was enrolled, not into the lineage of royalty, but into the school of brokenness.”
In a culture where things are made easy we actually see that David’s life was marked with pain and brokenness. Through David we learn that it is in the dark caves of life where some of the most transformational moments in our lives take place. Pain can be a blessing in disguise because pain and suffering is most often where God does his best work.
In 1 Samuel 24 we see a number of things about David:
First, David chose character over convenience. He had Saul right where he wanted him and could have taken his life, but David knew that would come with a cost. You see David and Saul used their power differently. Saul manipulated everyone to get ahead. David humbly put others before himself.
Second, David listened to God. It sounds simple, but this is where Saul blundered. When David’s men wanted to take out Saul he continued to say over and over that “the Lord” said not to. Saul disobeyed but David listened to God.
Third, David let the experiences he was facing with Saul actually change his character. In 1 Samuel 24:8-21 Saul and David come face to fact. Saul learns that David could have, if he wanted, taken his life. Saul seems repentant but we learn two chapters later that he once again is after David, looking to kill him.
Saul had an experience. He had what seemed to be a tender moment with David, but he wasn’t changed. David on the other hand let this experience change him.
We all have experiences but the question is: will those experiences shape our everyday lives? Do those experiences develop character and virtue in our everyday decisions?
Fourth, David lived like a Godly king before he ever had the throne of Israel. This may be the most important thing we learn from the caves in David’s hiding. It is interesting that Saul failed to live into his kingship like he should have and had his reign removed and yet David is making Godly choices even before the throne is his. David is making Godly choices in private, in the caves, before he is ever given public influence.
Fifth, David showed grace and mercy just like the future king of heaven and earth. David showed mercy and grace towards Saul even when Saul wanted to take his life.
As God restarts the Royal Family of Israel through David we know that the eternal king, the messiah would come through David’s line. Jesus came not just to be Israel’s king, he came to redeem and rescue all of humanity. It was Jesus enemies that nailed him to a Roman cross and even in death he looked into the eyes of his enemies and said, “I love you. I forgive you.” Jesus demonstrates his love by giving his life on the cross.
David is a foreshadow, in how he extended grace and mercy to Saul, of the true, eternal, perfect king, Jesus Christ.