Archive for January 7th, 2019

Deliverance and Comic Relief

January 7th, 2019

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)

Does God have a sense of humour? Well, He must because He created us with one, and we are made in His image, so where else would we get a good clean sense of humour other than from God. In fact, faith enables us to laugh at those things we cannot control in life.

Psalm 34 is David’s celebratory psalm of faith for the deliverance of God, but the historical account is interesting, even humorous. It is the type of deliverance story that makes us laugh, because God showed His power in a surprising way in unusual circumstances.

Here’s the story (1 Sam 21:12-16):

David is on the run from Saul and in desperation went to the Philistine city of Gath, where Achish was king. In Psalm 34 his official title is used, Abimelech (Gen. 26:1), but 1 Samuel used the common name he was called, Achish. Achish had just a few recorded words in scripture but they reveal him as a man with a quick wit and a sense of humour.

So David comes into the City of Gath but some recognized him as their enemy, a king in the land, and one who had “slain his tens of thousands.” David, though, pretended to be completely out-of-his-mind crazy, scribbling on the city gates and drooling in his beard. They brought him before King Achish, and he said, in effect, “Did you think that we had some shortage of crazy people in our kingdom that you had to bring this guy into my house?”

Now, this is just me, but I can see Achish saying this and shaking his head, laughing to himself, and thinking: What a bunch of idiots I have running this kingdom of mine. If I wanted to see crazy people scribble on walls and drool in their beards we could find some local people to do that. And he could probably call out the names of some of the crazy people he had in his kingdom. But the ruse worked, and David survived and lived for several years in Philistine territory.

David’s perspective on this matter was very different, and he saw in all of this the protection of God. Psalm 34 was written in retrospect, thinking about the deliverance of God. I believe this incident and this Psalm 34 say something important to us: experiencing God’s deliverance and protection is not always dry and antiseptic. Sometimes God provides some colour and humour along the way.

Humour has been described as the human reaction to something that is quite beyond us to control or comprehend entirely. God’s deliverance is certainly one of these matters. That He will deliver is always the promise we rest upon, but how and when and by whom are different matters entirely. It is our faith that enables us to laugh. God may, in fact, choose to deliver us through death, so don’t fear it.

Many of the stories of Christ are humorous, even if we do not always notice, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The mugged and maimed Jew was not helped by the priest and the Levi, but then along comes a Samaritan… You cannot help but smile at the irony of it all, and that irony seems to surround us all the time.

Likewise, David, as the anointed future king of Israel should have expected that the then current king of Israel, Saul, would respect that and protect him and work with him. But, like the Parable of the Good Samaritan, here is this Philistine King of Gath, Achish, helping him out. G.K. Chesterton wrote:

Life is serious all the time, but living cannot be. You may have all the solemnity you wish in your neckties, but in anything important (such as sex, death, and religion), you must have mirth or you will have madness.

Someone once asked Pope John XXIII (1958-63), “How many people work in the Vatican?” He thought for a few seconds and then replied, “About half of them.”