David: The Illustrated Novel by Michael Hicks Thompson

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.” —John 12:24

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Comfort and Care

Saul by Martheus WadeNow the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. 
—1 Samuel 16:14

And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.  
—1 Samuel 16:23

Saul’s situation is clear: the spirit of the Lord has left him. What is not so clear is what we are to make of the evil spirit from God that brings with it excruciating torment. From our modern-day perspective, are we to surmise that Saul is so distraught by his failed attempts to connect with God that he falls into deep melancholy? Or is Saul's despondency and his later erratic and malicious behavior the result of mental illness, which even today is sometimes misdiagnosed, misunderstood and ignored?

Whatever the underlying causes of Saul's distress, David’s music brings him some relief. Moreover, the presence of David is a balm for Saul, so much so that he asks Jesse that his son remain in the king's service.

Much can be made of the ironies and theological implications of this arrangement. Yet for us today, perhaps one of the most important aspects of this story is the pastoral. David cares for Saul through his music, relieving his suffering and becoming a companion to the ailing king. We too have opportunities to help relieve the suffering of others by using our gifts in unexpected and soothing ways. Unlikely alliances are forged through acts of compassion, and comfort comes from a helping hand offered to those who feel abandoned.

Living compassionately means to think and act without putting ourselves at the center of the universe, without believing that "It's all about me." To recognize that the whole of existence does not revolve around these little entities we call our selves is the beginning of wisdom. Thus wisdom and compassion arise together. As we become more compassionate, we gain wisdom; as we become wiser, our compassionate natures are more fully revealed. 

Mark Muesse
excerpted from What Does It Mean to Lead a Spiritual Life? 
A Buddhist Perspective

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.    —Colossians 3:12


Compassion is the emotion that links us to those outside ourselves. It is the capacity for outreach. It enables us, it drives us to go beyond ourselves to the beating pulse of the world. It is compassion then, which is the divinely dangerous glue of the human race.

—Joan Chittister, 
From “Hard-Wired for Compassion,” a 2009 30 Good Minutes broadcast


…often the difference between suffering which destroys us and suffering which transforms us begins with the presence of a caring, thoughtful other who is willing to acknowledge that brokenness with us. 

Ron Johnson
excerpted from Broken, We Heal


The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness. — Dalai Lama XIV


It may be the "dark night of the soul" that the mystics talk about—but in depression it is not so much that one becomes lost in the dark as that one becomes the dark. I have never been able to "do theology" when I am in that state; the best I've ever been able to do is to hang on. Only later, in the light of day, am I able to understand that God walked with me in that darkness even though I could not feel God's presence at the time.

—Parker Palmer
excerpted from How can God help me when I'm in the midst of depression?


The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. —Psalm 145:9


Gracious God, you have flooded my life with fullness as vast as a field of wheat stretching to the horizon. Because life comes at me fast, and sometimes with ferocity, it is easy for me to forget the blessings you give with such liberality. Then when I see someone else’s need, I am suddenly aware again of the abundance in my own life. When I have such a moment of recognition, O God, help me realize that I may be the blessing you have brought to that person’s life. Give me courage to respond to them with love. Amen.

—Prayer for a Spirit of Sharing
from Prayers for Living


If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. 

— Mother Teresa


Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy. 

— Dean Koontz