‘God has a university. It’s a small school. Few enroll, even fewer graduate. Very few indeed.God has this school because he does not have broken men. Instead He has several types of men. He has men who claim to be God’s authority…and aren’t; men who claim to be broken…and aren’t. And men who are God’s authority, but who are mad and unbroken. And he has regretfully, a spectroscopic mixture of everything in between. All of these He has in abundance; but broken men, hardly at all.
In God’s sacred school of submission and brokenness, why are there so few students? Because all who are in this school must suffer pain. And as you might guess, it is often the unbroken ruler (whom God sovereignly picks) who metes out the pain. David was once a student in this school, and Saul was God’s chosen way to crush David.
GENE EDWARDS, ‘A Tale of Three Kings.’
I followed a link from somewhere (maybe I heard Andy Stanley reference it?) and ended up downloading this amazing little book to my Kindle. It seems to be well known in the USA but perhaps less so here? It’s a gem. I read a lot of books this year but this one and Andrew Murray’s Absolute Surrender seem to have been the ones God really picked out for me.
If you’re a leader, or a follower – it’s a must read. If you’ve ever been hurt by people in church, especially by leaders, (people like me), read this – and pray for us, and do it better than us.
Written as a cautionary tale, the narrative style keeps on fooling one into recognising a bad guy- then seeing that it’s not him, or her, maybe it’s you!
The character studies of the ‘Three Kings’ are…
1) King David – the anointed and broken. He learned as the forgotten shepherd boy that he didn’t have to be top dog. God ‘went door to door in Israel’ looking for someone like that, who He could use, because he could trust him. But there was more breaking that needed to be done to him. He had to learn true submission. This took place through…
2) King Saul – the anointed unbroken. Gifted, charismatic, a ‘born leader.’ But he threw spears at people. As I read this I naturally thought of this leader and that I’d worked with. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of how many times I’ve tried to pin people to the wall! ‘Kings claim the right to throw spears…‘ We do so to protect ourselves/ our position/ the truth as we see it etc. Problem? It turns you into a mad king. One can be simultaneously anointed and a mad king!
David had the opportunity to learn humility and brokenness in the school of pain under that mad king. How? By not throwing the spears back.
If you throw spears back, you’ll prove…”You are courageous. You stand for the right…You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment. You are tough and can’t be pushed around. You are defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy…all these attributes combine to prove that you are also a candidate for kingship… the Lord’s anointed. After the order of King Saul.”
But if you choose to be like David you’ll learn to dodge the spears instead. He stuck it out as long as he could; not moving on till God moved him on. If he’d not done this, he would have ended up as King Saul II! But in doing so ‘God cut king Saul out of HIS heart.’
And notice when David did leave, he didn’t try to take anyone with him. He didn’t split the kingdom. He left alone.
I think of two good friends who have confided in me similar stories of taking a ministry he took on, only to find the predecessor who invited them to the post, then refused to leave – until he had lined his own nest and badmouthed the new ‘incumbent.’ What do you do? They didn’t pick up spears, they didn’t defend themselves, and as a result they did not become Sauls but Davids, men I’m privileged to call friends. They will look back at those painful times and see that they were in ‘God’s small school’ – and did not fail the test. Now they’re prepared for greater things in the Kingdom.
The difficulty is you can’t judge whether anyone else is a Saul or a David. You can just decide for yourself, “I shall not practice the ways that cause kings to grow mad. I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart.I will not avenge. I will not destroy the Lord’s anointed.”
Making that choice makes you a vessel God can use.
3) King Absalom.
So much to chew over in this particular character deserves a post all of its own – I’ll get back to you!