“Stand your ground.” “Don’t back down.” “Hit him back.” “Teach him a lesson.” “Don’t cry.” “Be a man.”
To many boys, “being a man” is summed up in the rough and tough descriptions above. Consequently, any sign of “softness” seems incompatible with manhood. But just when we think we have “manhood” all figured out, we read this:
“Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel…” (2 Samuel 23:1).
Did you see that? Don’t miss it. David was described as the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” Well, that’s no way to describe a “real man,” is it? Maybe our view of what a “real man” is needs a bit of tweaking.
Oh, there’s no doubt about it; David was a real man! He killed a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36). He defeated the giant, Goliath (1 Samuel 17:50). He engaged in hand-to-hand combat in time of war (2 Samuel 21:15). But coupled with all this strength and courage is the “sweet psalmist of Israel.”
Friends, we need more “sweet psalmists of Israel today.” We need a kinder and gentler brotherhood. We need men who can do more than “fight,” “stand their ground,” and “push and shove.” We need men who are “sweet.” Who can speak words of kindness and grace. Who can show compassion. Who will give ground. Who will step aside. Who will speak and write words of encouragement and edification. And who will “hold a punch.”
Oh, but I can hear objections already, “Are you saying we should just stand down and let evil and error prevail?” “What about Jude’s command to ‘earnestly contend for the faith?'” “Have you never read what Jesus said to the Pharisees?” “Have you forgotten that Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple?” etc.
Friends, I’m not telling anyone to lay down their sword, what I am saying is to embrace balance. There’s a time for “war” and a time for “peace” (Ecc. 3:8). We can be “defenders of the faith” while at the same time be “sweet psalmists of Israel.”
Balance is what we need, and listen carefully… there is no counter-balance of “sweetness” to sinful behavior and speech. While we need balance, no amount of “sweetness” provides balance…
- for unkind, unloving words.
- for gossip and half-truths.
- for taking public what should remain private.
- for enjoying conflict and arguments.
- for impatience and lack of forbearance.
- for being quarrelsome.
- for indiscriminate denunciations of brethren.
- for endless wranglings, tit-for-tat, and drive-by insults.
- for treating brethren as though they are a willful enemy.
Don’t you think David would have been pleased with this description: “David – the son of Jesse, a man raised up on high, the anointed of God, and the sweet psalmist of Israel?” Friends, we’ll always remember David for his strength,bravery, and manliness, but don’t ever forget that he was also the “sweet psalmist of Israel.”
Personally, I long for such balance in my life. When I come to the end of my journey here on earth, I want my epitaph to read, “A faithful soldier of the cross, and one who possessed a sweet spirit.”