Another Valley

“And when David was a little past the top of the hill…

And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.

 And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.”  -2 Samuel 16:1,13-14

Down By The Way

It strikes me as significant that David finds himself passing into a valley before his greatest trial yet. He crests the top of the hill, only to hear that his adopted son, Mephibosheth, has forsaken him, after his biological son, Absalom has threatened his life and taken the kingdom from David. Then came Shimei, son of Saul, taking out his anger and revenge on his former father’s competitor for usurping and taking what should have been his. Discouraged King David walks down, down, down to the depression lined with woe and worry carved into the hills by the finger of God.

There have been many songs wrote about the blessings of the ‘valley-time’ in a person’s life. Generally, we recognize peace, growth, and rest as positives, and shadow, trial, and death as negatives. David himself sang of these valleys, and crossed many of them. But there was no precedence for the depths that he sunk to on this day.

A Kingly Disposition

How should we take these valleys of despondency? David had never been hurt like this before, yet his first reaction was humility. There was a scarlet memory still fresh in his mind of a battlefield-turned-graveyard for Uriah the Hittite. Reaping was prophesied by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12; the King did not rebel against the Lord’s judgment.

David was also a man of understanding. Shimei was cursing David now, because in his former position he was untouchable. In the back of his mind, David never forgot the awkwardness the first day he drove his cart into the Israelite entrenchment. The feelings of unworthiness, being ridiculed by his own brothers, and being intimidated by  King Saul himself. No, he had not forgotten, but he had been distracted from these feelings by the duties he faced daily. “Let him curse,” said David, “I would feel the exact same way in his situation.”

Content to take the reproach, he continued his descent until the ‘dust settled’ and collapsed beneath the shade cast over the setting sun by the steeps on both sides. Sometimes you can’t avoid the down-times ahead; you must face them with endurance.

The Lord Is Still Shepherd

But O, the joy of memories despite the weight of his present distress. He was strengthened by the memories of valleys already past. Valleys where God stood with him. Valleys where God fed him. Valleys where God sheltered him. Valleys from which sprang victory.

  • As a shepherd, David witnessed the restoration of the valley by the still waters.

“He restoreth my soul.” Psalm 23:4

  • As a soldier, he gained reinforcement from the valley of Elah, before slaying the giant, Goliath.

“(He) chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a…scrip.” 1 Samuel 17:40

  • But now, though he had lost oversight and leadership of Israel, and even though the fight had left him, he finds in this valley a fresh grace as a sufferer.

“And the king, and all the people… came weary, and refreshed themselves there.” 2 Samuel 16:14

When you’re too weak to fight back, too depressed to care, too burdened to pick your head up, then haste to the valley! Hurry to the place of solitude with God, the place of memory of His goodness, the place where the Lord can renew your mind and renew your strength.

Sometimes these valleys look like nursing homes. Other times they look like a pay cut, or the betrayal of a close friend. Maybe yours will come as a prolonged illness, or persecution for being an outspoken Christian testimony. Perhaps it comes upon you as a seasonal change, where summer’s jubilance becomes winter’s drudgery. Whatever your case, turn to it with resolve, trust the Shepherd, this valley is for you.

 

My Saviour chose this path for me
No stroke of fate my load
His love and care for me have placed
His footprints on the road
He knew the way was rough and drear
He knew my heart would sink with fear
Yet comes his whisper, “Child I see,
This rugged path is best for thee
This rugged path is best for thee.”

My Saviour chose this path for me
Though thorns my feet would tear
He knew the heights I’d have to face
And valleys of despair
He knew my faith would rise and fall
With loving heart, he heard each call
And still his gentle voice to me,
“This lonely path is best for thee

My Saviour chose this path for me
And so my heart is blessed,
That all along this winding road
My hand in his is pressed
His loving arm shall bear me when
My strength shall fail, my eyes grow dim.
A few more steps, and I shall see,
The path he chose was best for me;
The path he chose was best for me.

“My Path,” by Mina Oglesby

 

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