David of the Old Testament wrote music on the warpath. Think about that. During the time between his anointing and his inauguration as King of Israel, David spent a lot of time fleeing from a madman king and leading military campaigns against a neighboring nation. And writing music. Historians think David wrote as many as 18 psalms during this period of his life.
Picture the scene. (It’s in 1 Samuel 22-23 if you want to read more.) David is leading a nomadic army of more than 600 men. They camp in caves and forests every night, on the run from Saul’s army or on the chase against Philistines. And while all the other men are sharpening their swords or cleaning the day’s catch, David rolls out his parchments and unpacks his lyre and sits in the shade writing music.
That sounds irresponsible. Sounds like bad leadership. At the very least it sounds awkward. If I were leading that army, I would worry about the men grumbling under their breath about me carrying my weight instead of fiddling with my lute.
But not David. This is the guy who would dance half-naked in front of the ark. This is the guy would would write dozens of songs we still sing today. Worship was important to this guy. It was worth risking his reputation as a leader. It was worth lugging a zither into every cave he visited. It was worth looking weird.
David understood that worshipping when it’s convenient is worshipping convenience. (Tweet that.) But worship in the hurry and worry and dust-covered, mosquito-infested, fear-soaked, sword-clanging moments of our day-to-day campaigns is something different. It forms us and gives perspective. It prepares us to be kings and makes much of our King.
I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music...
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn...
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
David never would have sat on his throne if he hadn’t set in that cave. He would never have appreciated security if he hadn’t had to trust in times of fear. If you’re going to succeed as a follower of Jesus, you’re going to have to write music (though maybe not literally). You’re going to have to make time for worship.
John Eldredge says that there are two things we should let our hearts do every day — grieve and worship. Grieve the loss and brokenness of our world, and worship the God who will set it all right. Lament over our faults and wounds, and praise the God of forgiveness and healing. Drink in the dark of the cave and sing out the glory of God.
Even when there is cooking to do.
Even when it’s weird.
Even on the warpath.