Why David Bothers Me

As a mature Christian, I find it unsettling that after all these years, the biblical David still really irritates and annoys me, and I would daresay even outrages me.

As much as I try to put this conflict in my heart to rest, I still find it very difficult to accept that he has such a place of honor in Biblical history.

Why doesn’t Daniel (of the Lion’s Den fame) get more airtime? He was so much more committed to God, and humble and consistent overall. His testimony is so much more consistent and courageous.

I find it shocking that David committed adultery and was a murderer, yet so many people all over the world see it fit to name their sons after him. Do they know that he willfully inflicted himself on Bathsheba (a woman who just happened to be taking bath in her private estate)? Do they know that he connived to kill off her husband, Uriah, a devoted and loyal servant of his own kingship when Bathsheba told him that she was pregnant with his son, by intentionally asking his military commanders to put Uriah in the frontline?

Does it bother them that David was so unscrupulous? Or do they like the fact that he was able to transgress on such a phenomenal level and yet still be considered ”a man after God’s own heart,” be crowned King of all Israel and have almost half (73) of all of the 150 Psalms in the Bible to his own name?

I came away today from a discussion on this topic with a good friend who has a Master’s in Biblical Counselling. She said that the difference between someone like David and someone like his son, Solomon, was that his heart was turned towards Christ in repentance. Solomon evaded being honest and laying his heart bare before Christ by continually indulging in worldly things, like wine, women and song, and lots of $$$.

David returned to the Lord again and again when he realized that he had strayed.

So can I ask something else?

Where was David’s heart when he was in the midst of conniving to kill Uriah? Where was his heart when he was bedding Bathsheba? Was his commitment and relationship to Christ something that he could compartmentalize and shut-off?

What happened to his conscience?

According to Freudian psychoanalytical theory there are three components to our psyche: the ID, the Ego and the Super ID.

The ID consists of our natural instincts – aggression, sex-drive and the will-to-survive, it is concerned with immediate gratification, the ego is concerned with manipulating the material world and reality as we see it in practical and tenable ways to get the things we want, and enables us to delay gratification, (think ’the blue pill’ in the Matrix) and finally, the SuperID which is concerned with being ’good’ and meeting ideas of morality and respectability within the socio-cultural frameworks we are embedded in.

I daresay, having had a very close look at David life, he was not governed by the SuperID AT ALL. He defied social-norms again and again, refusing to let others define him or social expectations govern his actions. He boldly came forward to offer his services against Goliath, when he was deemed as a lowly and weak shepherd boy. As the crowned King of Israel, he danced in a such a spontaneous and undignified manner to the extent that he inspired contempt from his own wife. He pretended to be crazy to get out a life-and-death situation with the enemy, he worked as a mercenary for many years and killed off many innocent women and children in his line of work. The lows in his life are glossed over for the most part. But David definitely was a social deviant in many ways.

His life was rather defined by a close relationship with God – not someone he viewed as a distant and moralizing deity, but rather as a close friend, companion and provider of all of his needs. Someone that he owed his life to, but someone who would stand by him through the good, the bad and ugly.

Basically someone that he did not need to hide anything from.

Therein lies the rub.

David trusted God completely, even in those moments when he willfully chose to go against God’s will, (or when his SuperID was asleep), when he was confronted with the truth about his own actions, he was not afraid to turn back to God in repentance and truth.

For many of us, even Christians, we like to hold on to the illusion that we are ’good’ or can be ’good’ on our own terms – we try so hard to win people over, to win God over and to live respectable lives – however, trying to be ’good’ goes against the grain of true Christianity. The heart of Christianity says that we are all decidedly ’not good.’ If we were capable of being good on our own, then Christ would never have had to die, and his death on the cross would be utterly redundant.

Our conscience can rest easy because Christ died for all of our sins, past, present and future. But does that give us license to sin more? No, but it does mean that it gives us a freedom from a guilty conscience and the ability to live without a cloud of guilt and condemnation hovering over us. We can stop trying to be ’good’ and we can start living from our truest selves.

We do not have to run away from those internal voices that keep on reminding us how ’bad’ we are. Instead, we can just kindly tell those voices to leave our head. ’Get out, I don’t need you anymore’ we can say nicely to our harsh internal parents, especially if we didn’t grow up in an environment that felt supportive and understanding of our inner child.

Having said all this, I think my conclusion about David is… it was never about him, rather about how much God’s grace was poured out on his life in spite of his abysmal failures as a leader.

Sure, he had some amazing successes, but it is hard to look past the fact that he was a murderer and adulterer.

It is hard to look past his hypocrisy and pig-headedness on so many levels.

Maybe that is why people name their sons David, because it reminds them of how God’s grace was poured out again and again on David’s life because he kept turning to God in spite of all of his failings.

It is telling that the name David means ’Beloved.’

When we are willing to embrace our ‘inner David’ (Belovedness), we come closer to the heart of Christ.

We come closer to the very heart of love itself.

McLeod, S. A. (2019, September 25). Id, ego and superego. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html

deviance (social deviance)

The Cathedral of Your Mind

What do you build in the Cathedral
Of your mind?

Garbage in, garbage out
What are you watching
These days?

What images play in your mind?
How do you like them?

Does your spirit sense
Something’s amiss
Or is it like sleeping beauty

Waiting for true love’s kiss

Do you feel like you were
Made for something more
Than just another day
Of going through the motions

Which parts of yourself
Do you sell
So you can runaway

Have you considered
That you don’t need
Anyone else

To own your own reality?

Have you realized
That it’s okay to love

Yourself well enough

To let go and ask Jesus for what you want?

Not what you think you should?

Now,

What will you build in the Cathedral of Your Mind?

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Jesus said “Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child, is the greatest in the Kindom of Heaven. And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine, is welcoming me and caring for me.” Matthew 18:3-5

For years as a Christian I couldn’t pray truly honest prayers.

I thought I was being honest, but so many emotions were buried deep within me that I couldn’t access them and articulate them in my prayers to Jesus. A deep sense of shame and unworthiness kept me from accessing my true feelings like fear, happiness, sadness, anger, surprise and disgust that were hidden under a general sense of ‘stress and defectiveness.’

As a result, my prayers to Jesus felt wooden, empty and rote. I felt like I was going through the motions and it felt like a wall was growing between us.

As I have learned to draw near and depend fully on Jesus through this time of testing, I have learned to let go and live as a child, to get in touch with my true emotions and to accept myself unconditionally as a beloved child of my my Heavenly Father.

This means trusting that He is working all things out for me even if I don’t understand how. This means having the peace that passes all understanding even if there is a long-list of things to get done, trusting that I’ll come to each of those items as the Holy Spirit enables and empowers me. I get those things done from a spirit of rest rather than that of worry and anxiety.

This also means not depending on the approval, opinion or validation of others for a sense of internal peace and security, because all I need is God’s approval, and I already have it.

This also means listening to Him and writing down the things He’s saying to me, and also taking steps of faith to do the things He’s asking me to do day by day, even though some of these things may seem difficult and daunting to do.

I do not have a lot of courage or confidence in myself.

I never have, but with the assurance that I can come to Christ as I am, with all of my foibles and peccadillos and be completely accepted and loved, fully as I am, not as I think I OUGHT TO BE, I can find the courage to keep moving forward with honesty and integrity in spite of all the challenges and opposition I face.

In addition to this, I am encouraged to pray boldly for myself, as well as those God has put in my life.

Praise be to God for allowing me to pray freely and live in the fullness of faith!

I do not pray because God is going to necessarily do everything I pray for, but I pray because I know God’s heart is good and He has put it on my heart to pray for myself and others and, as a result I can live in simple obedience to His call on my life. There is so much joy that comes from being able to pray honestly and boldly while releasing the outcome to God’s sovereign will.

In the book of Hebrews, it is boldly stated, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22”

We can approach God in our prayers like little children asking honestly for the things we want. We can also tell him how we really feel about things, like if we feel hatred for someone or wish someone were dead – all these are things that David the Psalmist earnestly and openly shared with God without any shame.

Jesus meets us where we are at and wants the real us, not the ‘good’ (read ‘contrived’) us. Trust God to be big enough to handle you in all your shades and trust Him to bring you to repentance and right-mindedness even as you pour our your heart to Him. So come boldly and ASK.

Ask, Seek, Knock

Ask and it will be given to you; 

Seek and you will find;

Knock and the door will be opened to you. 

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

Matthew 7:7-11

I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe.

Psalm 116: 1-2

Rambutans

Why can’t I let go
Of this memory
The one that I never had
With you?

The one where
We’re sitting at the canal
Looking at the water
Together

Peeling rambutans

Biting into the soft white flesh
Me masterfully pulling
flesh from
woody skin

You gazing off into the distance
Musing about
Jesse and the
Ants
He’s writing his PhD
On

And I silently wonder
How many more rambutans
We have left

The poem above captures an imagined scenario of hanging out with my sister. She talked about it one time, when I wistfully mused about how I wish I could just chill and eat rambutans by the Sunset Way Canal. (See picture above)

She said “Sure, we can go do that, why not?” I felt heartened by her easy carefree way of talking about hanging out. A big part of me wanted to spend time chilling by the canal with her, but in the end, it never happened.

Why not?

Because I rarely had anything meaningful to say to her; most of the time she would dominate the conversation and talk endlessly at me about some guy or another that she was dating. It would get really boring after a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have problems listening to my girlfriends tell me about guys they are dating or interested in, however, I draw the line at 1 hour sessions hearing an endless litany of musings about her current crush, about what he does and this and that.

It’s really boring.

I wonder if it’s because I just wish she would tell me instead what she’s doing. What was she doing apart from hanging out with these guys that she gets so fascinated by and who are just stringing her along and wasting her precious time? Is she doing anything with her own life to attend to her own emotional, spiritual and mental growth?

Also I wished she would actually be interested in me for once. And listen to me without judging me and talking down to me about the things I was doing, saying or thinking. I always came away from our conversations together feeling shit and completely misunderstood.

I never said anything explicit about our relationship in the past because I did not want to cause her offense. But upon writing the poem and having had some time to think about it and what it means, I realize that I wrote it to capture the dynamic in our relationship which was always marked by an abject lack of psychological, emotional and mental connection.

All of this stymied our relationship and led to dead-ends in our conversations. When I tried to tell her honestly how I felt, she would inevitably turn on me and criticize me, saying that I was too harsh or that I did not listen well, or that I had some serious anger problem.

I used to feel really bad about it. There were times things she said would make me feel like ending my life.

I used to think if only I tried harder to be kinder, nicer and more patient, or that if I were more self-aware and tried to sift out the truth of what she said, that we would have a good relationship, but now I realize that somethings just aren’t your fault.

There are some things you are never meant to carry – it’s not your responsibility. Good relationships require mutual respect, understanding and reciprocity; emotional intimacy involves holding space for each other.

She never once held space for me.

I have finally learnt to let go of a relationship that was never good for me.

I have developed what you might call ‘self-respect’.

Below is another poem I wrote about my sister which captures some of the nuances in our relationship.

MY SISTER LOVED ME

My sister loved me
But she broke me
In so many ways
So many splinters in my soul
So many fractures
That never healed whole

Did she know?

And what if she did?

Was the pain she held
Too much to contain?

Did it have to spill over
Messing everything up
Like that?

The seeping spread
The septic wound
The sopping rag
Couldn’t stanch the flow

Of life
She drew out from me
With her harpooned words

I was beached
Like a whale on sand

Gasping for air
Each ragged breath
Drawing sharp
Stabs of pain

The pain that
Tore through
Her soul
A cancer that
Threatened to consume
mine

But I have released her

And

Today,

I’ve found my way back
Into the water

I’ve found my way back
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