David strolled the long veranda on the south side of his palace. His gaze strayed across the valley to his beloved sheep fields near Bethlehem. He missed the days of his youth, setting poetry to tune in those fields. Those had been simpler times – when his only responsibility had been to manage his family’s flocks. Now he must manage an entire nation. There was little time for poetry amid all that demanded his attention.
Aghast at his discontented thoughts, he stopped beneath a lattice canopy laced with flowering vines. Falling to his knees, he bowed his face to the pavement. “My God, forgive me. You alone have raised me up as king of Israel. You’ve called me to follow Your purposes. And I gladly obey. I don’t mean to complain, O Majesty. I’m merely tired. But You are my Strength, my Rock. Please hear Your servant's humble prayer. Renew my weary soul and put a new song for You within my heart.”
A portion of Scripture surged through David’s mind. Determined to read the account for himself, he stood and clapped his hands. Immediately a servant hurried toward him. “Bring me the scroll of the exodus,” David instructed.
When the scroll was presented, he opened it to the incident of the people grumbling against Moshe and Aharon, saying, “You have taken us out into this desert to let this whole assembly starve to death!”
Moshe answered, “Your grumblings are not against us but against Yahweh.”
Tears burned David’s eyes. Forgive me, Yahweh.
He read on, through the glory of the Almighty appearing in a cloud before the people. Yahweh said to them, “At dusk you will be eating meat, and in the morning you will have bread. Then you will realize I am Yahweh your God.”
Quails covered the camp that evening. In the morning, there was a fine, flaky substance on the surface of the desert. It was like white coriander seed and it tasted like honey cakes. The people ate it daily for forty years.
David looked up in comprehension. Setting the scroll aside, he paced the length of the veranda, weeping. “El Shaddai, I am a grumbling Israelite. Many years ago, I carefully copied Your entire Torah, as You commanded Your kings must do. I carried it with me and turned to Your words in every situation. Those words kept me alive when I was in hiding. They gave me strength when facing the enemies of Your people in battle. They were my bread, my sustenance. They tasted sweet to my soul, like honey cakes.
“Now . . . how long has it been since I’ve read from Your Torah? Two weeks? More? Have Your words become bitter in my mouth? Have I tired of them as our fathers tired of the manna? In my neglect, I've given room for grumblings to arise. Please pardon my neglect, O Most Holy One. Give me back the joy I’ve had when feasting on Your life-giving Torah.”
Feeling a hand on his chest, David jumped back. His eyes flew open. There was nobody there, yet the sensation lingered. He stood still as the remorse in his heart ebbed away. Gladness, fresh and airy, replaced its weight and he fell to his knees in awe. The power of God’s forgiveness encompassed him. How long he knelt, praising his Redeemer, he didn’t know.
Eventually a familiar tune pushed into his consciousness. It was a song he’d started long ago but never finished. Calling for his harp and a scribe to copy his words, he settled onto a nearby bench. With a joyous, nimble touch to the strings and fervor in his voice, David composed a new verse.
“How I love Your Torah!
I meditate on it all day.
I am wiser than my foes,
because Your mitzvot are mine forever.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
because I meditate on Your instruction.
I understand more than my elders,
because I keep Your precepts.
I keep my feet from every evil way
in order to observe Your word.
I don’t turn away from Your rulings,
because You have instructed me.
How sweet to my tongue is Your promise,
truly sweeter than honey in my mouth!
From Your precepts I gain understanding;
this is why I hate every false way.”
* * * * * *
Exodus 16 (especially vs. 3, 8, 12 – Complete Jewish Bible)
Psalm 119:97-104 (CJB)
Yahweh = I AM
El Shaddai = God Almighty
mitzvot = commandments
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