I love anything spicy. I have actually been known to say to a waiter, “If it doesn’t make my forehead sweat, it’s not spicy enough.” I said this to a local seafood provider once when I ordered Spiced Steamed Shrimp. Billy’s is a local establishment that is located right on the water. If you peek behind the flat, one-story cinderblock building, you can see crabbing boats tied up at the dock. Crab pots are stacked all over the property, and the minute you open the door, the smell of fresh fish assaults your nose. An L-shaped table holds today’s catch nestled in ice. Tuna, grouper, flounder, crab packed in containers, scallops, oysters (but only in months that have the letter “r”), and three sizes of fresh shrimp are just some of the bounty that awaits you. I go to Billy’s for two things: Miss Judy’s Tunafish Salad (made daily with fresh catch) and their steamed shrimp, which they cook to order.
So I made my famous statement about spiciness as I requested “extra spicy,” and the fellow took it on as a challenge. He even drew a picture of a steaming cauldron with the words CAUTION! HOT! EXTRA HOT!! on the outside of the styrofoam container. As soon as I opened the lid, I saw what he had done. In addition to Old Bay and the usual blackening spices, he added a liberal dose of cayenne pepper. Suffice it to say that my forehead sweat a lot that night! When it comes to cayenne pepper, a little bit goes a long way.
I thought about that this morning as I read this account of the moment that David became the king. He had faithfully led the Israelites as a successful military commander, and they came to him to be their leader. As you read through the passage, see if you can spot the moment when a little bit of power goes a long way in David’s mind:
2 Samuel 5 (New International Version)
1 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”
3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
So far, so good. David responded to the request of his people as they reminded him that God had called him to shepherd and lead them. Then they made him king and he ruled over them.
4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years
But the next verse contains a hidden clue that things are about to take a turn in David’s heart. Can you spot it?
9 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.
Somehow in the course of events, David lost sight of his calling to be a shepherd. Now that he’s the king, he named an entire city after himself and built it up as a fortress from the terraces INWARD, where he was safely tucked inside. He became more and more powerful because God had anointed him to lead, but by the time the next wars began, he elected to stay home. As king, he now let other men lead while he relaxed in the palace with nothing to do. Then he noticed the beautiful Bathsheba bathing next door, and his lust for her resulted in adultery and murder. Gone is the faithful shepherd-leader as pride and arrogance grew larger in his heart. A little bit of power goes a long way. In the end, it ruined David.
Take a look at your life. Have you let a little bit go too far? Are there places in your heart where power, laziness, self-indulgence, anger, resentment, privilege, etc. have gone too far and taken over?
Remember who you are. You are called to walk humbly with God and give him the glory for the great things he has done. It is never too late to put things right with the Lord. Thanks be to God!