INSANE OR PROFOUNDLY RATIONAL
I Samuel 21:10-15, Psalm 34
August 1998, Rev.
10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, "Isn't this David, the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances: "'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'?"
12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
14 Achish said to his servants, "Look at the
man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that
you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of
me? Must this man come into my house?"
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.
Teodore Kacynski, whom most of us know as the Unabomber challenged most of America's definition of insanity. That a person could by means of mail bombing take life after life - that by all means looked insane. But when the 232 paragraphs of Kacynski's Manifesto were published - all 35,000 words, it very quickly became clear that the Unabomber was very intelligent and trying to warn society of the dangerous abuses of technology. North America, his audience was not receptive - his perception of our technological society, was to the average American mind, skewed. Most Americans would regard him on some level to be insane. And since we regarded him as insane, we discredited or disqualified everything he had to say. Who here has read his manifesto? I guess we didn't need to - its the work of a madman - we hardly gave him the time of day.
What the case of Theodore
Kacynski shows us though, is that insanity is a relative term - it is
relative to culture, to a society's expectations, to a definition of
rationality and responsibility. It could possibly be that in a
radically different culture - Kacynski would have gotten an audience,
respect, maybe even honor for his apparently intelligent words and
My soul will boast in the LORD.
If you were in an idols den, and the swords of your enemies were at your throat, enemies who have never heard of the concept of religious pluralism, it would be shear foolishness to boast about how wonderful your God is - unless you intend to look absolutely crazy. But David goes on, he invites his captors to join him in praising God...
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
Give up your religion -
join me in mine... that doesn't even go over well in a pluralistic
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
You know what guys - you may have your swords at my throat - but you can't do anything to me - look over there - you see the angels - they've set up camp because I'm here - you can't do anything to me...
And then David presumes to teach his captors
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD
A madman teaching the sane ones what they do not know - treating them like children
And in that context - David says what would have rightly infuriated any Philistine
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
To the Philistine, humans were around to serve the gods, keep the gods happy so that they might get some return in prosperity and fertility. Before the gods, human lives were nothing - sacrificeable just to keep the gods satisfied. But David says Taste and see that the LORD is good; - as if God is someone to be enjoyed, cherished, loved. As if God is like the best of wines, the choicest of foods, the most fulfilling of choices, the most rewarding relationship, a love that is better than life. God serving us - to the point that he watches us and waits for us to call to him.... The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;
Such irreverence would not be tolerated - except that it looked profoundly insane.
David caps off his song with some omens - we can see him threateningly squint as he looks into the eyes of his captors the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. in contrast to what the Lord will do for himself - A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
David, by all rational understandings of the situation was cooking his own goose - except that in the Philistine culture his radical faith in a foreign God looked delusional, insane, out of touch with reality. In this context - David's feigned insanity was the better defense. His captors discredited him - certainly he could not be the one of which it was said
"'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'?"
Even though insanity is the better defense - honesty is still the best policy. This Psalm is the honest truth - every one of its words are true to reality, a description of what really is for the child of God - David spoke the honest truth, the prophetic God given truth - to those idol worshiping Philistines it looked insane. David practiced the principle that Hosea many years later would write down
"Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac." (NIV)
" For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
I and maybe you, should be a little less concerned about how we look to
others - and a whole lot more concerned about how God looks to others
through us! Some may disqualify what we have to say for reason of our
insanity - it reflects the state of their perishing hearts - others
will hear in our words life - joy, peace with God - their deepest
hungers satisfied - for them our foolishness will give them life.
I Cor 2:14 The
man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot
understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (NIV)