But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “ Lord , turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. David said to him, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice. – 2 Samuel 15:30-34
David’s fairy tale life has transmogrified into a tragic tale of family conflict and dysfunction, and David’s lies and deceit have borne a bitter and prickly fruit. Absalom, his son, has become the favored leader of the Israelites over David. David and his supporters have fled Jerusalem to the nearby Mount of Olives. They arrive at the summit, which is described as a place “where people used to worship God”. This is a telling detail. The Israelites have failed to remember God and all the ways He has cared for them. David has been leading them away from God rather than toward Him — he has failed the Meribah Test and is failing to lead while following God. David and his faithful followers are discouraged and weeping as they toil up the mountain.
I think their toil up the mountain is a metaphor for the way they perceive their lives at the moment. David’s rule seems at an end, people are chasing them, and they have little food or water. What David and the people fail to see is the God who sees them and wants to carry them up this mountain, and all the “mountains” in their lives. A God who desires to carry them like a son or daughter. God wants them to trust Him rather than their own plans and schemes; but rather than falling on his knees David chooses to send a spy, Ahithopel, into Absalom’s house to keep track of what he is doing.
Weeping and tears have come up before in the bible, but I do not remember ever focusing on them for a post. Since tears are mostly water I thought it would be worth some reflection. Tears as a moisturizer for our eyes make sense to me, but tears as a response to strong emotions are little more puzzling. Why tears? Why not sneezing or sweating? Apparently humans are one of the only animals that sheds tears in response to emotions.
When I think of people crying I think of injuries, funerals, weddings, and unhappy young children. Young children cry because they do not have the words to express their needs, both physical and emotional. It occurs to me that adults sometimes cry for basically the same reason. At a funeral our souls are struggling to make sense of the loss of someone we love and the crossing over that has occurred. Our souls come face to face with the “spilling out” that was the focus of yesterday’s post.
It has been said that eyes are the window to the soul. If that is true what meaning does that give to tears? Are they samples of the state of our soul? Tears often seem like an outward manifestation of a soul in turmoil. They let us know when people are “soul sick”. This idea that our souls can be sick is intriguing and worthy of some further reflection. When our physical bodies are sick it can be traced to the invasion of our bodies by a foreign entity like bacteria or viruses, a malfunction of some critical system like our heart or liver, or a lack of food and/or water. I think our souls get “sick” for similar reasons, but within the spiritual realm rather than the physical realm.
David and his followers are clearly “soul sick”, but they seem to be avoiding the one who can heal their soul sickness, God. I think that this can happen with us as Christians as well. We can become “soul sick” through: 1) the influences of foreign entities like television, movies, or other people; 2) malfunction or dysfunction of parts of the body of Christ; and 3) cutting ourselves off from spiritual nourishment and the living water that God provides.
Prayer: God when our souls are sick help us to identify the cause, and remember that you are the true cure for our soul sickness.