It is probably past time that I did a bit more to explain the title of this blog. “The Long War” probably seems like a strange name for a blog by a “pacifist.” But anyone who is familiar with Scripture knows that there are references to war which are not (merely) about armed force or physical violence.
Back in the mid-nineties, while I was at Multnomah Bible College, I ran across something in the Scriptures which got me thinking. (Actually, I had hundreds of such experiences, but this was a very special one.) And that thinking led me to investigation. And that investigation led me to have a great passion for this idea. And that great passion led me to want to write the book—or at least the best book I could—on the subject. And that desire has never abated. It is my plan, if the Lord ever allows, to write my Master’s thesis on the subject and, thereby, to have a great deal of the research accomplished for the book itself.
What’s so important about this book? The central concept, a biblical theology of HEROISM, has, for about fifteen years or so, been the centerpiece of my theology. Specifically, it has become the core of my Christology and my Anthropology. And it has become the best way for me to understand the story of my life.
And I believe the Lord would have me share it, with all the excellence I can muster, with His people. What has this to do with the words “The Long War”? Well, that is a longer story. But I will try to explain it in brief measure for now.
The Long War of Saul and David
In the book of Samuel, we find Israel demanding a king, so that they can be like all the other nations. YHWH God capitulates and gives them, not only a king, but exactly the king of their dreams—Saul of Gibeah. In fact, Saul’s name (pronounced “Shah-OOL”) literally means “one being asked for.” In other words, God gives them a king whose very name tells them, “You asked for it!” Saul is a handsome, strong, all-around impressive man. And he is an utter disaster for a nation whose life is supposed to be about worshiping the true God.
Later in the book of Samuel, Saul is replaced by the king whom God has in mind for His people—a humble shepherd from the little town of Bethlehem. The replacement is not handled in one fell swoop, however. It takes time and many twists and turns, as the power and presence of Saul fades from the narrative and David comes into his own as king over Israel.
So we read in II Samuel 3:1, “Now the war was long between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David was getting strong, but the house of Saul was getting weak.” (My own, rather literal translation.) It is of no little importance that at the point in the narrative in which the author gives us this little snapshot, Saul has already been dead for a while. Though he died at the end of the first scroll of Samuel, his house, his interests, continue to dog David so that his ascendancy to the throne does not come all at once.
Saul is the king we get, when we get what we want—what we think we need. David is the king we get when we get what God wants for us—what He knows we need. But seldom does it happen that the fleshly king is suddenly and completely replaced by the king after God’s own heart. My own life seems to be a story in which the reign of the old, fleshly king often seems it will never give up and go away. But I believe that, by the power of the Spirit of YHWH, that “David” is growing stronger and stronger, despite the seeming setbacks.
While I await the Lord’s go ahead to get started on the bigger project of thesis and book, I continue to pray and to study and to meditate on this as I offer my life to the Lord each day, week, month, year.
The purpose of this blog, “The Long War,” is to share with any who might be interested the ongoing journey of my life, hopefully, one in which Saul grows weaker and David grows stronger. Since there is more to my life and my thoughts and interests than just this theme of heroism and Saul and David, many other topics appear here on TLW. But in the end, I expect, they will all be seen as relating to and centering around the great theme of God’s kingdom in the Seed of David.
By the way, I do not own this or any other biblical theme. If anyone else finds it useful or meaningful to think of this image of Saul and David and the long war between their houses as a metaphor for life, I would encourage him or her to make great use of it.
Indeed, the image is not merely about my little life or any one individual’s story. It is about the great reign of David’s greater Son over the whole world.
…“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
“I, Jesus… am the Seed of David, the bright morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)
This is why I have the edited Superman pics in my header. The one on the left was from The Man of Steel #1, but I edited so as to put a gimel on his chest. That is the first letter of the Hebrew word gibbor, which means “mighty man” or “champion” or “hero.” The picture on the right was borrowed the same way from a comic cover apparently featuring the death of Superman. But in this case, I put in the Hebrew letter shin, which begins the name, “Saul.”