I see him running bloodstained through a dry riverbed. His men, blistered and spent, beg for a rest. He suppresses a sigh, checks the sun, and nods. It’s a terrible time to stop. Would Saul’s men be stopping? Maybe. Probably not. But there was a little distance now. And besides, a rest would give him a chance to write.
There is a dying tree offering shade over rounded rock nearby. That is the spot. Reaching into his satchel, he pulls out his treasure from a Philistine raid: a laptop computer. It is old, of course, but it does the job. Nothing like what he used in the palace, but that was a long time ago.
He plugs in a network adapter and signs in. More notifications. He had intended to shut those off months ago. The comments were always the same now. He’s either a hero for the underdog, or a young public menace, leading this rowdy and impressionable generation into rebellion. The truth was less interesting. He was just running for his life. Why couldn’t they see that?
The comments don’t interest him today. The unfinished post does. He had almost published it the night before, short as it was. His readers loved those visceral, angry posts. The Bethlehem Gazette was especially enthusiastic:
“As a blogger, David is pithy and controversial, and that’s why I read him. He doesn’t try to tie up his thoughts with cute little bows. The priests may hate him for it, but I say, Rant on, young warrior! We are cheering for you!”
Of course, that was the hometown opinion. It was supposed to be gushing, wasn’t it? There were just as many detractors, and not just the ones loyal to the current King.
He squinted at the dim words on the screen:
You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
He had been exhausted when he wrote that. Hungry and afraid. And now, twelve hours later, he still had not eaten or slept after yesterday’s near disaster. The question felt more tangible now than it had in the dark.
He shakes his head and types in another question:
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
It would be yet another in a long line of questions in his head: What had he done to provoke the King? Hadn’t he been loyal to God and to Saul? Hadn’t he obeyed every order, no matter how dangerous? Hadn’t he begged for the chance to kill the giant? Why had Samuel not warned him of all this?
Life was messy. Samuel had never understood that. Maybe none of them had. The priests. The prophets. His father. Had they ever been hunted by a man they had adored?
Despair. That was all he knew now. God had deserted him. Just like everyone else.
And yet, his fingers start to twitch and crawl on their own.
Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
A prayer? His prayers had run as dry as this river bed, but there it was. His hands continue moving. Faster now.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
He stops to remember the lyre. The songs in the court of the king. Better days. Days long gone.
But he would sing again, one day. Maybe not today, but one day. And his voice would find the notes without a struggle. They would come easily.
He looks down over his men stretched out along the rocks, some still panting and bleeding. Loyal men. Good men. Some of them not even men yet, but fierce nonetheless. Time and again, they had stood firm against Philistines and Hebrews without falling back. They were true warriors. And to think Saul had once laughed at “that band of drunkards!”
David exhales slowly. He has not the strength to smile, but he can exhale at least.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
His clicks “Publish” and closes the computer, not giving himself time to reconsider.
The Bethlehem Gazette would not like the upturned finish. They would call the post “trite.” They would say he was losing his edginess. But he did not care. Hope and sorrow… who ever said they could not live together for a time?