What does the truth even mean?
I just finished reading the book of 1st Samuel but since finishing, I keep circling back to one chapter, one concept. What’s the truth there? Which is it? It kind of reminds me of that old game you would play in grade school. Everyone sits in a circle, one person starts a sentence, whispers it to the next, and most times you get something entirely different than when it first started.
Oxford Languages says the truth is that which is true in accordance with fact or reality.
When I asked the kids what the truth was, they all had different answers too.
“It means don’t lie” -Gracie (age 6)
“It means if you tell the truth you won’t be in trouble.” -Griffin (age 5)
“God.” -Haisten (age 7)
I think the problem with the truth is… while most truths are absolutes, are facts, are, like the dictionary says, reality… we cannot find them because what we feel taints what we know.
In first Samuel 10, we see this guy named Saul anointed as Israel’s first king, chosen by God Himself. Scripture tells us that he received a new heart, but as time went on, circumstances began to pick and pull at him and he begins to pack some bad habits. In Chapter 13, the king that God put on the throne, He also removed. Saul had made a sacrifice outside of God’s will and it cost him, though not immediately. The story rocks on, and since God has stripped Saul of the throne, we see in chapter 16 Saul’s successor, a man named David. David is anointed also, but Saul, still making irreverent choices, is still king.
This sets the stage for the pieces of scripture that I’ve had to make myself contend with.
If we were playing the grade school game, I’d start us off with this:
David had just killed Goliath (1st Sam. 17) and he and Saul were coming home when some ladies showed up. “And the women sang to one another as they celebrated “Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands” And Saul was very angry , and this saying displeased him. He said they have ascribed to David ten thousands and to me they have ascribed thousands, what more can he have but the kingdom? And Saul eyes David from that day on” 1 Samuel 18: 7-9 ESV
Strictly making assumptions, after we’ve added feelings, time, and the misinterpretation of a few whispers I’d bet the opposing stories would go something like this:
Saul: “Look at this guy. I am king and he has come in and killed one guy and suddenly he is the hero. God told me I would not keep the throne. They are starting to praise him. He’s already won the people; my crown has to be next. Who does this guy think he is? I will not take my eyes off of him.”
David: “I cannot believe that just happened. One day I’m watching sheep and the next I’ve killed a giant with a rock. I hope this helps my king. He seems unsettled. I hope he is not mad. He shouldn’t be; I was just trying to help.
Here we’ve got a king turned villain, a hero turned hidden, and a couple of men on both sides to stir all of the sentiments, truth or otherwise.
and how many different ways can we decorate stories from our own lives?
They’ve always said there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.
But what, just what is the truth here?
As Saul’s anger grows, he begins to hunt David, and David? He runs.
There comes a time where the two are on a mountain together, Saul in pursuit and David in hiding and Saul knows he is close and says this, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars” 1st Sam 23: 7
Coincidence has it, that while both David was hiding and Saul was pursuing, Saul stepped into the very cave where David was to tee-tee and David’s friends knew this was it. “He is the day of which the Lord said to you, “behold, I will give your enemy into you hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.”
David gets up and cuts a corner of Saul’s robe and afterwards scripture says “and David’s heart struck him because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.”
Who’s side was God on exactly?
… and who’s side is He on now?
Saul thought he had won, the friends thought he had lost, and David’s heart hurt.
Didn’t Saul have God on his side if he was spared? and he was. Weren’t the friends right, that David had a chance? And what about David? having been anointed king by God Himself, didn’t that mean Saul would be overthrown?
They all seem to have their own points; so did the kids, but I think the thing to consider here is obedience.
Yes Saul thought God was on his side, but did Saul take a minute to consider whether or not he was on God’s?
Because David responded to the Holy Spirit, because he was obedient, Saul was spared.
But does that make sense? If God is a just God, why let Saul live? If David was to be king, why, God does the hardened heart get a pass, but the contritious one get conviction?
If you’d ask me what I thought the truth was, I’d probably have told you it is objective facts, what’s real, but maybe the truth is closer to the third little piggies answer. It’s not my side or theirs, but a covenant that shares a mutual interest in them both.
Considering Haisten’s answer my heart took me to 1st John 5. It says this:
“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is TRUE, and we are in him who is TRUE, In his son Jesus Christ, he is the true God and eternal life.”
What we feel is not what we know, what we do is not who we are, and even in chaos, in adversity, in uncertainty, there is One that is absolute.
and He wants to know you, to protect you, and to walk with you.
I think the truth is that Saul wasn’t wrong, God sought his safety and David wasn’t wrong either. When given the option to openly pursue our adversaries, I think God always hopes we will heed the convictions of our hearts gifted to us by the dwelling of the Holy Spirit.
and honestly, I think the biggest truth is that we should be thankful that they were both right.
We always want answers for this world’s unevenness until it’s our own… and then we just want grace.
Thank you for Your Word, for the truth it brings, and the example it sets. Thank you for a text that comes alive when we truly seek it with an open heart, for it’s guidance and also for it’s conviction. I’m so grateful that there is not condemnation for every false word, wrong assumption or selfish thought because truth is, we would all burn. Thank you for your patience- with us and with them- For a love that seeks to save us all, and not just the obedient ones. Help us to know what is worth pursing and what is not; help us to not be so small minded, help us see you, but God please forgive us when we don’t. God, thank you for the truth that you are our protector, our provider, and our eternity. Thank You, God, for You.