Saturday, September 17, 2016

a heart in hard pursuit

"David" /  Michelangelo, 1504

The Word for today:
1 Chronicles 23, 24
mark this: 1 Chronicles 23:1 --
So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel.
The first day of school is always the same. Shelley insists on taking pictures as our sons board the big yellow bus. They are men now and in their eyes they are a little beyond all of that, but Moms don't see things from a purely rational perspective.
Just before the bus arrived and the pictures were taken, I gave them The Speech. It's a short speech, blunt and direct. It's meant to focus their attention on priorities.
The Speech has always been about priorities. Whether it was spoken by your dad or by my dad or by the dads we've now become, the essence of The Speech has ever been the same.
Shakespeare famously captured that essence in words spoken by Polonius to his son, Laertes, who is embarking for school in France:
Give thy thoughts no tongue
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. (1)
I have great respect for Shakespeare, but my sons would never stand still for Polonius' speech.  Not because of the words he spoke, but because Polonius himself was a fruitcake.
But they will listen to King David, because all men listen to David. Something there is about King David that commands the attention of every man.
He's old now. The young hero, the dashing soldier, the conquering king, the poet greater than Shakespeare to come -- all of that behind him now.
But he remains the man after God's own heart (2), as we can hear in The Speech to Solomon:
Now, my son, may the LORD be with you and give you success as you follow his instructions in building the Temple of the LORD your God. And may the LORD give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the law of the LORD your God as you rule over Israel. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart! The LORD your God is with you. Now seek the LORD your God with all your heart. (3)
Goliath, Saul, Abigail, Jonathan, Mephibosheth, Bathsheba, Uriah, Nathan, Absalom -- all behind him now. All distilled to a heart in hard pursuit of a heart.
(1) Hamlet, Act I, scene 3; (2) 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22 (3) see 1 Chronicles 22:11-19

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