Quiet Lives

The Apostle Paul once wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, strongly implying that we should live “peaceful and quiet lives.” I have to say, I’m all for that. Peaceful and quiet is right up my alley. The older I get, the more I enjoy that kind of life.

To put it in context, Paul told Timothy to pray for those in authority indicating that the by-product of such prayer would be peace and tranquility. We know he was speaking of governmental authority because he mentioned kings. His assumption, I suppose, was that, if it went well for the king, it would also go well for the king’s subjects.

Ga-Ga Over St. Paul

This seems to indicate that Paul had a somewhat positive view of kings and others in authority. He certainly believed that God put those governmental figures in place and that he did it for our own good (see Romans 13:1-5). This is one of the many reasons a lot of folks aren’t exactly ga-ga over the teachings of St. Paul. Remember—he’s also the one who told women not to wear gold or pearls and to shut up and have children. I’m probably overstating that a bit, but not by much. But, as they say, I digress.

So, we are to pray for those in authority that we might live peaceful and quiet lives. I wish he would have added something about voting for solid, godly authoritarians—people who had our best interests at heart. I will give him the benefit of the doubt on that point because there wasn’t a whole lot of voting going on in the time of Paul. It probably never even crossed his mind that the hoi polloi would be electing their own leaders one day. After all, history showed him that people weren’t particularly good at choosing leaders. Remember that his namesake (Saul) was chosen among his people to be the first King of Israel. That, of course, didn’t go so well. They were better off without him.

Heartburn

Unfortunately, we in the United States seem to be following in the footsteps of those early Israelites. We are constantly electing leaders that tend to give us heartburn. It doesn’t matter what party we opt to place in power (usually it’s a hodgepodge of parties), we end up with more chaos than quiet. So much for living peaceful lives.

I can only surmise that Paul never foresaw a time when we would choose our own Mayors, Senators, and Representatives, et. al. If God was placing these politicians into their respective offices, at least we could blame him. As it is, we can only blame ourselves. And if we could choose a king, I highly doubt as to whether we would do much of a better job than the Hebrews. They begged God for a king. They ended up with Saul who was tall, dark, and handsome (1 Samuel 9:1-2). These are criteria not unlike the ones we seem to use today. Oy vey!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Some of My Best Work

If you study the life of David (often considered the greatest king of Israel), one thing you come across is the fact that he wrote many of the Biblical Psalms (songs of worship). He is considered to have been a musical genius. One of the things he did with those songs was to calm the riled spirit of King Saul.

You may remember that the king was tormented by an evil spirit sent from God (1 Samuel 16:14). David was called upon to play his lyre (harp) to “soothe the savage breast” as it were. Apparently, David was good enough as a songwriter and instrumentalist to pull this off for a while. Eventually, Saul got worse and worse, and David had to flee from Saul’s wrathful violence.

Inspiration

One of the interesting parts of the story that is never actually stated in Scripture is where David got his material. What was his inspiration? Where did he write these masterpieces? How did he get so good?

If you remember your childhood Bible stories, you’ll recall that David started out as a shepherd boy. He spent much of his time out in the fields with the sheep. From what we can glean and assume, he learned to play the lyre as well as become efficient with the sling shot.

He probably sang his music to the sheep (as well as to the Lord) to calm them after he had killed a bear or lion that was attempting to obtain supper from among the flock. That’s just a guess, but it stands to reason. To be advanced at either the art of self-defense or music, one has to spend considerable time at it. He was proficient at both.

Magnum Opus

If we read his most famous piece (Psalm 23), we get a sense of why his stuff lasted so long. It’s been on the charts for centuries now. He probably wrote it while he was out in the field with the lambs, ewe, and rams. I guess a lot of artists have been inspired by the wonder of a pastoral setting. David probably wasn’t the first, either.

Then, of course, there was the cave. At least two of David’s Psalms were written while he was hiding in a fissure in the mountains (Psalm 57 & 142). Saul was again on the warpath, and David was the target of his wrath. The would-be-king concealed himself in the Cave of Adullam and wrote these magnus opuses. Apparently, fear was also a great stimulus for him and his music.

All of this made me think about where I do my best work. It’s definitely not in a cave and certainly not in a field. Being surrounded by sheep doesn’t cut it for me either. I guess there have been times when I feared I wasn’t going to make a deadline. So, it seems the one thing I have in common with David (aside from our first names) is fear. After all, “I am in the midst of lions.” (Psalm 57:4)

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]