I HEARD THE BIRDS SING TODAY
BY: FRED PRUITT
JUNE 30, 2004
Today I heard the birds sing.
I suppose the birds sing everyday. In fact I’m convinced of it. But truth be told, I don’t hear them everyday. So I’m glad I heard them today.
When I did hear them all the world changed. There were a thousand voices in the fray, trains rumbling by, cars on the road below, the conversation of neighbors across the way, unseen dogs up the road raising a ruckus for some dog-imagined danger, but out of that I “heard” the birds singing their songs. It was not just one bird, but a hundred different bird-tongues chirping and clucking and whistling in rhythm with the Unseen Love that causes them to praise and give thanks in the peace and bounty of the Creator’s Summer.
And it was then that I saw that all the world was the One Song and all their different songs were but part of the One Chorus.
I was riding home later with a friend. 95% of my time in a car, I’m the driver, but my friend was driving this night, so I could look out the window at the full moon and muse on it just like I did when I was a child. Then I broke.
It doesn’t matter what brought me there, but in a moment I felt the hot coals of the altar of God on my tongue, and repented in the manner of Peter when confronted with the sanctity and power of Christ.
And then for some reason I caught some understanding of King Saul, and why “an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.”
Saul is who we first think we want to be. He’s the tallest, the fairest, the best of the best, the one acknowledged by the all the world to be the one we’d like to have rule over us. And for a time he has dominion, and wages war against the Philistines and all who trouble Israel.
But things start turning sour for Saul. His first successes turn into miserable failures. Things go from bad to worse. He tries his best to hold on, even to going beyond the commandment of the Lord the prophet gave him, and to presumptuously try to please the Lord by showing off.
And as a result the prophet Samuel came to him and told him the Lord was taking the kingdom of Israel from him and giving it to another. From that time onward Saul’s death was imminent and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
David comes along, and is able for a time to soothe the evil spirit with his songs, so that Saul’s melancholia is somewhat broken and even cheered by the beauty he perceives in the psalmist.
But he also senses his own death and the passing of the kingdom to this same singer. Anger, jealousy and pride get the best of him and even though his beastly nature seems somewhat tamed and joyed by the holy songs of David, he still lashes out at David every chance he gets and tries to spear him through with a javelin.
David, however, who is the image of Christ in humanity, Christ in an earthen vessel, the fullness of the Godhead bodily, who has been secretly anointed King by the prophet Samuel, takes no notice of his known future and seeks not to elevate himself nor to seize the kingdom by violence. David knows from the beginning that the kingdom must be given to him. Even though it has been promised to him, Samuel having declared him by his anointing to be the true King of Israel, David nonetheless hides in caves in the wilderness running from Saul, even dwelling among the Philistines, appearing insane, or as the enemy of Saul, but he takes nothing for himself, until Saul is finally killed at Mt. Gilboa, after which David is made King first of Judah and then finally of all Israel.
And seeing all that in a moment, I saw the infinite Mercy of God, and the Wisdom and Mercy of David, because Saul is the false image in all of us, and David the true image.
The promise of God is that David will ascend His Throne and that His Kingdom shall have no end.
And the lesson from scripture is that Saul dies, pretty much self-destructs, at Mount Gilboa.
Rather than “moral lessons” of how we ought to or ought not to act, as the David and Saul stories are usually presented, instead these are persons within each of us, not persons who within us strive for mastery, as if they are somehow separate beings from ourselves and are trying to take over – no, nothing whatsover is separate from us – but that the lesson here is simple for those who hear it.
1. Saul is made king first, to the children of Israel who no longer wish an intangible, invisible God to be their ruler. He’s the “tallest” among them, and looks good to every eye. (This story is in 1 Samuel.)
2. After a flashy beginning, he doesn’t work out.
3. Another comes who is meek, not so mighty-looking to men, ruddy of complexion, not sophisticated, who spends all his time in the pastures among the sheep and is a singer of songs. This David comes into the scene, but is at first given no thought by most.
4. Then David, the man of the Spirit, is noticed, and for a time much hailed by the people, but eventually he has to flee into the wilderness to escape the persecution of the jealous Saul, who knows David has come to take his place.
5. David takes no hand against Saul who as long as he is alive remains the Lord’s anointed, but dwells in caves in the wilderness while Saul still rules in the country.
6. David takes his rightful place as King when Saul has been killed. When he is dead. “I have been crucified in Christ. [Dead] Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Chist liveth within me.”
7. Of His Kingdom there shall be no end.
We see this, don’t we? This isn’t a history lesson, or a moral tale.
Saul isn’t somebody not to act like, with David being someone TO act like. No, they are within us! If you want to get “Romans-technical,” Saul is “the old man” and David is the “new man.”
But understand, the story of David and Saul is not a theological story, but a story of our life. It is enacted in you and me.
Saul gets first dibs on us. We look for someone to be the king of our own lives and Saul at first looks like the best candidate. The flashy guy.
David then appears on the scene, and though for a time, maybe a long time, maybe here and there, Saul has sway, nevertheless the Promise to David is SURE! One day we absolutely realize SAUL IS DEAD, and David, who is our Captain, and the Fountain of our Freedom, is on the Throne as Who we truly are.
His Kingdom is Certain, and it goes on forever, and never fails.
And that Kingdom dwells in mortal flesh, manifesting always the Life of Jesus.
Through quickenings… In you and in me.
This is for you to hear.
I HEARD THE BIRDS SING [Fred Pruitt] 6-30-04 1