The Love of God for David
Throughout the Old Testament, a phrase or concept repeats itself over the course of the history of Israel. It almost serves as a frame or guiding principle for how God interacts with Israel, both in good times and in bad times. The phrase is this: For the sake of His servant David.
God’s actions, in times of blessing as well as times of judgment, were all taken in light of His love for, and His covenant with, David. His covenant promises to David, and His love for His flawed but faithful servant, extended for generations that followed after him, years after he had died.
Though on a much smaller scale, I have experienced a similar love. In my visits over the last year back to Mississippi, where I graduated high school (and my parents lived for some twenty years), I received an immediate warm reception that was far beyond what I should have merited on my own. The folks there knew my parents and loved them intensely, because my parents were (to put it as plainly as I can) awesome people. They were godly, loving, sacrificial, kind, hospitable, giving, and genuine. They were easy to love, because they loved others well. As a result of that, the people there have loved me, though my parents are both in glory. Sure, during my limited time there I didn’t do anything that would disgrace the family name, but the fervency of the love that I have received is rooted in the witness of the life of Earl and Kathryn, not Jay.
Furthermore, my children have experienced it as well. As they have visited, friends of my parents (as well as friends of mine), have reached out to them with that same love. They have said in their actions: “We loved Earl and Kathryn, so we love Jay and now we love you for their sakes.” While it does exist, I have not seen it so powerfully exhibited anywhere else.
Living in Community
Part of the reason for this is explained in the manner in which people are rooted in community down there, compared to other places. Friends of mine have noted how they have lived for years in their cities, and still don’t feel like they belong. The place they live may be familiar, but it isn’t their place. Rod Dreher described this beautifully in his excellent and powerful book, The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming. After his sister died from cancer at a young age in the small Louisiana town where they had grown up, the witness of the love that his family had experienced by the people in that town served to drive Dreher and his wife to relocate from the big city to that small town, to live and raise their own family.
In witnessing this kind of love (both in Mississippi, as well as in Virginia where I live presently), I see a flesh and blood manifestation of the love of God for not only His servant David, but His son Jesus. The Father loves the Son. The Son’s faithful life and sacrifice witnesses to the Father and when the Father looks at us He sees the faithful life of the Son, and His love shines on us.
This is what incarnational living looks like. I pray that, by the grace of God, through the blood of the Son, and the power of the Spirit, you will pursue a life that bestows that same grace to the generations that follow you and that you will seek to love those around you with that same kind of covenantal spirit.