In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1 (NIV)
My grandfather studied education at Central College in Pella and at Iowa State University. He was a school teacher and administrator for many years. When the school system told him he had to retire from teaching he took over the school lunch and bus program. When they told him he had to retire from the lunch and bus program he got a job as bailiff of the county courthouse. When he was in his nineties the judge called him into chambers and said, “Herman, I’m tired of having to wake you up to take the jury out. I think it’s time for you to retire.” It was just about that point in life that my grandfather was no longer able to manage on his own. When he moved into the nursing home, however, he promptly gave himself the job of welcoming new residents and giving them a tour of the facility.
My grandfather was fond of saying that “the day I retire will be the day I die.”
David was a warrior. David was a general. David was a natural-born leader. He was still in his prime, and yet now as King, he chose to stay in Jerusalem and send the army out to war without him.
It would prove to be a tragic choice.
Because he was not out with the army doing what he was gifted and called to do, David found himself on the roof of his palace peeping at another man’s wife. Worse yet, it was the wife of one of his own men who was an honorable soldier. David then made the tragic mistake of inviting the woman over for dinner and sleeping with her. She conceived. This led to the tragic mistake of covering up his actions and ultimately conspiring to commit murder. The consequences of this series of tragic and unnecessary mistakes would haunt David, his family, his monarchy, and his kingdom for the rest of his life and beyond.
We are not told why David chose to “retire” from leading the army. A few chapters ago we read that David wanted to build a temple and God clearly responded that building the temple was not what David was called to do. I get the feeling that having finally ascended to the throne, David was feeling a bit of a mid-life crisis. He’s tired of what he’s always been gifted at doing. Leading the army is what he’s done his entire life. Yes, he’s good at it, but it’s boring to him. David wants to retire from all that and build temples and do other things.
I’m quite certain that my grandfather, given the opportunity, would not have been able to help himself in telling David he should have stuck with what he was gifted and called to do. And, in the quiet this morning, I’m thinking that David should have taken my grandfather’s advice and just stuck with the job until “retirement” was forced upon him. Tragic things can happen if I choose to prematurely retire from the path to which God has called me and strike out on my own.
A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m take a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.
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2 thoughts on “Tragic Retirement”
Tom, thank you for sharing some of your grandfather’s journey. He blessed so many with his unselfish, caring approach to life.