July 15, 2023
“So Gad went to David, told him the choices, and asked him, ‘Do you want three years of famine to come on your land, to flee from your foes three months while they pursue you...”
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“So Gad went to David, told him the choices, and asked him, ‘Do you want three years of famine to come on your land, to flee from your foes three months while they pursue you, or to have a plague in your land three days? Now, think it over and decide what answer I should take back to the One who sent me.’ David answered Gad, ‘I have great anxiety. Please, let me fall into the Lord’s hands because His mercies are great, but don’t let me fall into human hands.’” 2 Samuel 24:13-14 (HCSB)
Several years ago, there was an inspiring episode at the Brookfield Illinois Zoo. A three-year-old toddler fell eighteen feet into an area inhabited by seven gorillas. He was crawling where toddlers shouldn’t and discovered the fate of those who are ignorant of (or disobedient to) the rules. The boy was still alert when taken to a hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. How did that boy ever get out of gorilla land? As it were, Binti, a seven-year-old female gorilla, picked the child up, cradled him in her arms, and put him down near a door where zoo keepers could get him.
The story seems amazing to us because we do not generally associate gorillas with kindness. The toddler’s parents may be grateful to Bitni, but I bet they would prefer not to trust the gorilla with their child again.
David cries, “Please, let me fall into the Lord’s hands because His mercies are great….” David is about to meet the Lord’s wrath and yet is convinced of the Lord’s mercies. Somehow, he imagines that the hand that strikes him will nevertheless spare him. David’s assumptions are astounding! His words in verse 14 communicate more than necessary resignation; they provide abundant consolation. See how well David knows His God! In his crisis, David’s theology seems to emerge almost by reflex action.
Isn’t this how it should be in our Christian experience? Must we always save our best theology for our darkest moments? When we sin (even great sins), is there a kinder place to fall than “into the Lord’s hands”?
I wonder if, in our gut-level thinking, we might have a gorilla view of God’s mercies. We tend to see mercy as a divine exception rather than God’s typical character. David knew he was not facing a fickle gorilla-god even in His wrath. Was David a believer who had a grip on God’s mercy? No, God’s mercy had gripped David.