“Then the king instructed Zadok, ‘Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor with the Lord, he will bring me back and allow me to see both it and its dwelling place. However, if he should say, “I do not delight in you,” then here I am — he can do with me whatever pleases him.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever tried to squeeze a goldfish? Or how about a wet bar of soap? Or it could be just about anything else small and slippery. It’s not an easy thing to do. The tighter you get, the more likely the thing is to slip out of your hand. There are things and positions in our lives that are like this too. The tighter we try and hold on to them, the more likely they are to slip away from us.
David was learning rather dramatically that his kingship was one of these things. If he had thought he had everything secured and set, Absalom’s rebellion fairly well dashed those delusions. Absalom had patiently courted the people for months until they started to believe him the better candidate for king. When he declared his intentions, David was astute enough to recognize that if he didn’t get out of Jerusalem and establish a base of operations somewhere secret, he and everyone loyal to him were going to lose their lives.
At this point he really did have two choices: Try and squeeze his power and hold to it more tightly, or let it go trusting that it really belonged to God and if He saw fit to restore it He would.
Now, David was a warrior. His men were warriors. There’s a fair chance they could have defeated Absalom in battle and held what was theirs. But to win that fight would have probably divided the nation and he would have lost his power another way.
So he loosened his grip and ran. This interaction with Zadok about the ark of God captures his attitude for us wonderfully. God had given him the kingship, not Absalom. And, he hadn’t gotten any kind of a word from God that He was giving it to anyone else. But, he also recognized his throne was given to him by God. If he held onto it like it was his he would become Saul. He was not going to do to someone else what Saul had done to him, especially considering that someone else was his son whom he loved.
So he sent Zadok and the ark back to Jerusalem trusting that if God wanted for him to be king still he would return to it. If not, taking it with him, clinging to what he claimed as his, wasn’t going to accomplish anything. If God was going to take it, no amount of holding onto it was going to matter.
This holding lightly to what we might otherwise claim as ours was not only demonstrated by David, it was demonstrated by Jesus Himself. He held the keys to the world and yet walked away to follow after the plans of the Father to the point of death on a cross. We too can hold lightly to what we have. In fact, we’ll hold it best when we hold it with a mind toward giving it all up should God lead us away from it. When we do, we’ll be able to receive the prize of life just as Jesus did when He rose from the grave three days later.