|Matteo Rosselli, The triumphant David, (PD)|
Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”
The Lord answered him, “Go.”
Then David asked, “Where should I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.
-2 Samuel 2:1
After Saul had died and it was finally time for David to become Israel’s king, he went to live in Hebron. “The name Hebron comes from the root-verb (habar), meaning to join”, writes Arie Uittenbogaard. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, has it, that Hebron means association or league. David took a step up and into his kingship, but it would still be over 7 years before he began to reign from Jerusalem.
Even though David was “the man” God chose, and of whom Jesus, would be called, “the son of David”; he needed to join himself to allies, associates, and team up or bind himself to those who were “friendlies”. Jerusalem, and much of the people of God were not ready for him yet, but Hebron was.
Hebron became a place where David put down some roots, because he stayed there over 7 years. It turns out that David was king in Hebron for 7 years, then in Jerusalem for 33, totaling 40. David was anointed by Samuel at about the age of 10, when Saul had been king for 15 years. It took Saul 25 years to step aside, in death; which is what happened at the end of 2 Samuel, chapter 1.
Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s close friend, died in battle, with his father. David had been friends with Jonathan for about 20 years. During the past 10 years and the last 10 years of Saul’s life, he pursued David and wanted to kill him. So, for 15 years, David had a “grace period”, with Saul, where he grew and Saul deteriorated. (See William H. Gross, Chronology of David’s Life)
Instead of a gracious understanding and a “changing of the guard”, David was banished and then pursued, with a death sentence, for 10 years. Imagine being called, actually receiving a dramatic call, to full-time ministry. It does not get much more dramatic than the prophet Samuel giving you the word, in front of your family! Yet, it would be 25 years until 2 Samuel 2, when David would join himself to a place in Israel that would recognize the calling that God put on him.
What if David is the practical model for how it works? Called at age 10 or so, but it is not official until about age 35 and it is not completely official until age 42. What if David’s life shows us that it can take 25 years and then another 7, for your calling to come into fruition?
If you were born in 1980, got your dramatic prophetic call in 1990, as a child; then went through 25 years of life, good and bad, in the school-of-hard-knocks, then, you might be ready to step into your destiny today. I can think of some people that I knew in 1990 who are flying today in (“full time”) ministry: traveling, speaking, and publishing. They were far over the age of 10 in 1990, so their 25 years had already started then.
I also think of many more people who have crashed and recovered and been in the wilderness. Everyone is different and God does not do cookie cutter lives, but there is a principal here of prep. time.
The wilderness is an important metaphor for anyone who wants to serve the Lord in their life. You will go to the wilderness and you need to understand what God wants to do with you there. The wilderness times are very important. You will go there. All Christians go there.
God teaches you things like how to be a warrior and how to worship, in the desert. This seems paradoxical, but it is true. You learn to be, then do. In the promised land (speakin’ metaphorically), you do from who you are (who you “be”), who you have become (be-come) in the desert. It is a tragedy for Christians to try to “do”, when they have not done the “be”. They haven’t become and they don’t do from authentic being.
Back to my verse: At the strategic juncture of Saul & Jonathan’s deaths, David inquires of God, “Should I go up?”, or, “Shall I move?”, in the MSG & NLT Bibles. And God answers, “Yes”. There is a time to go or to move. We do have a geographic will of God sometimes. God might say, “Don’t go”, or where to go; or God might leave it open to you; or put a wall in your path, if you try to go someplace he has forbidden.
I am taking the position that names in the Bible are oftentimes meaningful. Hebron means something here. And what it means is “joining”. God has “alignments” or “alliances”, or people that he has for us to “team up with”. David already had cohorts, but his move to Hebron was a joining with “friendlies” who would accept or affirm him.
There comes a time, and now or very soon or coming soon, might be that time, when we join up, team up, and make alliances, in the Lord. God has people he wants us to join with, at strategic times. David stayed in Hebron for 7 years, then moved on and up to his final place, in Jerusalem. Hebron was in-between the wilderness and Jerusalem.
All of life is in-between, transitional, or a sojourn. There are liminal times, when we are profoundly in transition. There is a liminal time called transition, in the birth of a baby, that is critical. There is a liminal time, when boys transition to being men and girls transition to becoming women.
If we miss these transitions, we will be hampered, retarded, delayed, or immature. We get this picture with the children of Israel, that did not, then could not, and were barred by God, from entering in to the land of promise. The author of Hebrews teaches on this and applies it to the Christian’s life (Heb. 3).
There might be special, strategic, times when it matters who you join with and where you live. And in that special time, God might direct you, if you ask him. And God might tell you where to live or who to do life with, join with, ally with, and team up with. What is your assignment and who are you meant to be aligned with?
For more study on liminality:
Communitas (from liminality) – Alan Cross on Alan Hirsch
Faith of Leap – Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage, by Frost & Hirsch
Dis-orientation and renewal, by Len Hjalmarson (click on the liminality link)