Sermons

Summary: David, Pt. 13

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PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE (2 SAMUEL 18:1-17)

I love sports. I took to soccer, ping-pong and badminton in my younger days, and basketball and tennis in my 30s. There was no moving object I did not like. By the time I was 35, my knees couldn’t withstand the onslaught anymore. One morning my knees swelled up after a biking weekend and a Monday morning walk. After a day or two, the swelling went down but my knees lost its strength. I was reduced to walking; running was impossible.

Top orthopedic doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my knees and legs. One doctor told me I was bowlegged, one said my patella tendon was injured and another said I had osteoarthritis. For a few years I saw a Chinese doctor twice a week for $35 a visit. Massage reduced the pain and the stiffness but I still had no strength. It deteriorated so badly that I couldn’t climb the stairs or bend down and rise up without help. However, MRI revealed that my knees, the joints and structure were normal.

In the summer of 2003 I joined a fitness center. Five or six days a week I spent over an hour to rehab my knees. I remember the difficulty of using the leg press to push a 30 lb weight. After I vacated my seat, a high school girl pushed effortlessly against 150 lbs! I asked her what a normal high school girl could do. She assured me she was a soccer player.

After two years I have accomplished my goal of pushing 150 pounds. On top of that, I would skip, run, or jump in the gym’s swimming pool for a joint total of 1,000 times. My knees could hardly bend before, but now I am running (5.5 mph) or swimming (10 laps) 20 minutes a day.

It’s much harder to recover what one has lost than to work hard at retaining it. An African proverb says, “Two good days do not dawn in a row.” Good days do not last long or forever. David had to adjust his attitude and lifestyle due to the passing of youth, the loss of health and his fall from power. However, a lot of his problems – and ours, I might add, were due to his taking for granted what he had and doing nothing to improve his lot. He allowed things to get to a point where rescue and restoration were unlikely and recovery and rehab were barely possible. He would survive but things would not be the same.

Why is self-examination necessary and not optional? What are some things people take for granted? What do we need to work on before it’s too late?

Help is Not Help Without Health

1 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent the troops out-a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.” 3 But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.” 4 The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate while all the men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. (2 Sam 18:1-4)

An 80-old man’s golf game was hampered by poor eyesight. He could hit the ball well but he couldn’t see where it went. So his doctor teamed him up with a 90-year-old man who had perfect eyesight and was willing to go along to serve as a spotter.

The 80-year-old man hit the first ball and asked his companion if he saw where it landed. “Yep,” said the 90-year-old. “Where did it go?” the 80-year-old demanded. The 90-year old replied, “I don’t remember.”

The helpless figure of the aging and, more importantly, inactive David couldn’t be any sadder. The king was a pale resemblance of the young shepherd herding sheep, the fearless general in battle, and the powerful king of Israel. Now he could only pine for and dream of glory days, yesterday once more and those were the days. The muscles, the moves and the majesty were gone. The spirit and swagger were there, but the strength was long gone. The best he could do was to muster people, appoint them and dispatch them. Valor and voice were commendable, but pace and poise were missing.

David couldn’t stamp his authority or order people around anymore. When he was in his prime he could eat two hundred Philistines for lunch (1 Sam 18:27) without pausing or burping. Giants were like gnats to him then (1 Sam 17:4). Even if he wanted to, his men presently would not allow him to. In truth, he was a nuisance, a has-been on the decline, past his prime and in the way. No wonder citizens gravitated to his son Absalom.

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