My devotional time the past few weeks has been spent reading through 1st and 2nd Samuel along with the Psalms. Many of the stories found here are familiar ones: David slaying Goliath, Saul’s downward spiral into insanity, David committing adultery with Bathsheba, Nathan’s “You the Man!” speech, etc.
Lesser known, perhaps, are the names of people committed to King David such as Abner, Hushai, Ittai the Gittite, and others. This morning I read about Ittai in 2 Samuel 15. David and his people are in the midst of fleeing Jerusalem because his son, Absalom, is about to attack. They are heading out into the wilderness and David stands at the edge of the city, watching the people file by. Ittai is one of them and David stops him, telling him he need not come into the wilderness but can be free to go with his family wherever he wishes. The reason? Because Ittai, a foreigner, only just came to Jerusalem “yesterday” and is not expected to be so loyal to David. Ittai answered the king, saying,
As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.
What loyalty! Ittai had only just come under the king’s domain and yet he was willing to live or die with him. So sold out was he and his household that his own life and desires took a back seat.
Perhaps there is a corollary to be found here with Ittai’s inspired devotion the day after his arrival and our own impassioned love for Jesus the moment we first meet him. We don’t know much about Ittai’s faithfulness years down the road but we know something of our own, don’t we? What may have at first burned bright over time becomes like some of my white t-shirts, which one friend of mine described as “manilla.”
Jesus reveals through his Apostle John that many of us who claim allegiance to the king at first will wax cold. Many will “abandon their first love” (Rev. 2:4), we will “tolerate” the seductive spirit of this world (2:20), we will claim to be alive and well (3:1) and be satisfied in our prosperity and self-sufficiency (3:17).
Our once-white shirts have become stained with conflicting passions and allegiances.
Today is election day in America and I have seen a fitting picture making it’s way around the internet, perhaps you have seen this too:
I love the sentiment expressed here but I have to ask the question, to myself first:
Is Jesus my King?
While it might make a great bumper sticker, I worry that it stays only that. I know in my own life there was a time where I would say such lofty things but my personal life was wrought with things that served to please only myself rather than the one I called King of kings and Lord of lords. I was ‘exhibit A’ of what Jesus is condemning in Revelations 2 and 3 – people who made up the Church and probably said pithy things like “No matter who is Caesar, Jesus is King.”
And so it is that today I find myself asking: Is Jesus really my King? What does it mean to say that He is? How would my life have to change, what priorities would need to be altered, what desires surrendered and what allegiances severed for this to be really true? Who am I really serving?
Ittai the Gittite is a footnote in the biblical corpus as most of us are going to be footnotes (if that) in American history. Will people of tomorrow marvel at our allegiance to our King as I find myself marveling at Ittai’s allegiance to David?
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! (Rev. 5:12)