This short list of descriptors was the report one of Saul’s servants gave about the young, anointed David when the servants suggested Saul let them find a man skilled at harp playing to soothe him when the evil spirit from God tormented him. We take a kind of “step back” to review David’s hard wiring. That is, David had these characteristics before we met him…well before he sat on the throne. And it can help our perspective (and relationship) if we consider these permanent parts.
- a skillful musician
- a mighty man of valor
- a warrior
- one prudent in speech
- a handsome man
- the Lord is with Him
As a young man, David was prudent in speech. Look at how the different versions of the bible present this phrase (1 Samuel 16:18).
prudent in matters (KJV)
good judgment (NLT)
speaks well (NIV)
articulate (New English Translation, NET)
intelligent in word (Young’s Literal Translation, YLT)
skilled in speech (Darby Translation)
Honestly, this list makes me scratch my head because to us (at times) it looks like David lacks communication skills. Review the list; that is obviously not the case. According to scripture, David has a command of language and knows well how to convey his desired message. He has to as a king…even if just anointed, before he ascends to his throne. His skill and prudence extends his life when on the run from Saul, or he looks up and hundreds of discontent men in debt and distress make him their leader.
This reported speaking ability though, is not what we see when we rush to cut him off on the road to Nabal’s house. Prudence is not the report of our young man when we meet David. No. We meet him when he has no words — but raw, intense emotion and a plan to kill our entire household. We, in that moment, have to know what to say to one who knows what to say (but we don’t know that yet). Abigail, also called prudent (1 Samuel 25:3), has to talk David back into his skill lest his emotion bloody his hands.
It seems significant how we view David’s leadership. We met him in a marvelous demonstration of manhood — strong, focused, and unchallenged. We approached humbly, softly, and used our words with great care. But later, we struggle to understand certain elements — the (seemingly) random decision-making, the revealed sensitivities, the passion and emotion that looks like “the flesh” to us instead “the Spirit” they told us we need to see in him. The supernatural display keeps us from seeing David’s real makeup (his emotion and passion are part of his gift/mantle as a man of war). And when we see him as a man it’s possible to discount him, his actions, and his care for and protection of us.
Just a thought about the pairing… David’s prudence in speech, his caution with his words is a strategic tool for reigning. He has good judgment, regardless of how we wonder why he did this or did not do that. He is not perfect, but he is also not incapable of communication. Maybe he does not understand how his independence creates breaches of confusion for those who follow or want to follow him. Maybe his constant appetite for battle is the key to his prudence and caution.
So the Lord joins us to him (in friendship or relationship or business or ministry or family) to soften some battle plans. We temper his bold and entitled way with humility and grace. And for some reason he accepts us… and reaches out for us…just like we reach for the brawler we met on the road that day. We appeal to his established future while he fights to stabilize his present battles. Take courage, Abigail sister-friends, and consider that God sent you on the road that day for such a time as this (now).
Selah, and love to all.