February 14, 2018
“A Sermon Dialog with King David”
Rev. John Larson & Michael Zehnder
Ascension Lutheran Church, Littleton Colorado
The Sermon Dialog with David is delivered by Pastor Larson (P) and Michael Zehnder (R) in the role of King David:
Crossroads. They are there for all of us. We may move along from day to day easily, walking in the sunshine, enjoying the view, feeling at peace. And then it comes. A crossroad. A choice point. There we stand, frozen to the spot. Which way now? Right? Left? Straight? What waits down each of those choices? Which way does our heart call us to go? Which makes sense? Which is God’s way?
The answers aren’t easy. A crossroad can bring daunting spiritual pain. And it can bring us to our knees.
This evening let’s interview one for whom crossroads came often and painfully. Let’s ask King David if he can give us any insight into what a crossroad can mean for us and how we can go about choosing the right way. As you may recall, David was the greatest of the kings of Israel. He was a remarkable man, chosen to be king while still a child. He won fame by defeating a huge Philistine giant with only a slingshot. He was a fierce warrior, often violent, and yet crafty enough to escape his enemies by pretending to be insane. He was noted as a musician and poet, and many of his poems are still a part of the Book of Psalms. Some of those psalms revealed his overwhelming life struggles against enemies, against his own weaknesses, and even against his own son. David is truly a man for the ages.
(David arrives. He might be in biblical costume, or simply dressed. He stands firmly in front of congregation.)
P Well, King David. It is good to have you with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
R I was king in Israel for many years. I was chosen while still a boy, and struggled to achieve my throne. I had to escape the murderous plans of King Saul, escape from the camp of my enemies, fight many bloody battles, outwit opponents, stand against the plots of evil men, and more. I was king, but the task was never easy. I could not have done it alone.
P Alone? Who did you have with you?
R I had God with me. I cherished his love for me, his protection and guidance. Many times I came to points of despair over the evil around me, the threats on my life, even rebellion by my own son, Absalom. But he stood with me. Almost all the time.
P Almost? You mean there were times when God left you alone?
R No, he never left me. Like a faithful shepherd he was always there. Always waiting. Always seeking me out, calling me back, keeping me safe. Except when I chose to follow my own selfish ways.
P You? With all your advantages, with your wealth, your power, your constant victories over your enemies? You strayed? That hardly seems possible.
R Possible? Too possible. I serve a good God, but I am not always a good man. I tend to be full of myself. I tend to think I can take care of things, do it myself. I tend to believe the praises that my people cry out after me. I tend to turn my way.
R Those crossroads. You know what they are. Those choice points. Sometimes it is too easy to choose the path that seems to be calling, that seems convenient, that seems satisfying.
P Can you give an example?
R To my shame, I once had a man murdered so I could take his wife. I know that sounds terrible. And it was. But at the time, my eyes saw something I thought would bring me happiness and contentment. And at the crossroad, I chose to get what my eyes had seen, what my heart desired, what my power allowed me to take.
P And it didn’t make you happy?
R The choice I made at that crossroad made me miserable. When the Prophet Nathan accused me, I was crushed. And I could have run, could have escaped into the result of my own choice. But God did not let me.
P Let you?
R When I realized what I had done, how I had sinned, how I had chosen my selfish way, God put another crossroad in my way. “Which way now, David?” he seemed to say. “Which way will you follow?” And there, on my knees I knew that there was only one way for me. From my heart, with confidence in God’s forgiving love, I chose the path of repentance. There was nothing else to do. When I kept my sin inside me, when I refused to seek the crossroad that God was putting in my way, when I refused to get on my knees, I suffered real pain. “My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”
P And you felt God calling you back?
R “His hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” But here is the miracle. I was not left on my knees, in pain, to suffer the result of my choice, of my sin. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and he forgave the iniquity of my sin. And it did not happen just once. Every time I got to the crossroad of my own foolishness, my own weakness, my own sinfulness, God was there to forgive, to stand me up again and give me the strength to choose his way.
P Thank you, David, for your insight and honesty. Thank you for your help.
Of course, we know that David is not alone. All of us could stand in his place. All of us could recount the times when we made the choice that we regretted, when we followed our own way, when we felt the hand of God, the touch of the Spirit calling us back.
This is Ash Wednesday. We receive a mark of ashes on our heads on this day. That is not only a reminder that we are mortal, going from ashes to ashes. It is also a reminder that we are marked by sin. We come to confront our own frailty, our spiritual need. And we are assured that God is here. He is coming after us to forgive us.
(From At the Crossroads: A Series of Service for Lent”)