Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Concourse, by Jevan Watkins Jones, 2011, Charcoal on Paper
What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
— Psalms 34:12-14
When David, on the run from Saul's irrational wrath, hides himself in the cave of Adullam, the poor, desperate and dispossessed of the area follow him there. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.1 David became a default leader to this rabble, and Psalm 34 is said to have been written/recited at this time, almost as a lesson in good citizenship.
Interestingly, David had recently persuaded the priests of Nob to let him eat the sacred shew bread, essentially forbidden fruit, laying him open to accusations of dishonour, even defilement. With the psalm urging his soldiers to Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile David is aligned with Jesus's later advice, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.2 Other spiritual traditions also emphasise the importance of the words we use; for instance the Toltics speak of being 'impeccable with your word' as one of the four essential agreements for leading a virtuous, balanced and generous life.3
In a time of war and rivalry, David also advised his men to seek peace, and pursue it. That he strived to live that way himself is evident from the witness of Saul himself whose life David may have taken on more than one occasion, but opted not to. Certainly at this time of his life David practised what he preached to others. We can consider David a good citizen, leading by example, and teaching others the values of citizenship.
1 1 Samuel 22:2
2 Matthew 15:11
2 From The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, 1997