I had read Gene Edwards’, A Tale of Three Kings a few years ago and, while I remember loving it and feeling challenged by it, I couldn’t tell you what was so impactful about it at the time. And I’m so glad that it came back around to my library. I had given away my marked-up copy (as I am prone to do with all of my books) and forgotten about it until a free copy wound up in my lap. My work was giving away extra books they had and my boss wanted every employee to read it.
Then I let it sit and collect dust on my bookshelf (clearly, I’m immensely skilled at obeying instructions immediately).
In preparation for this series, I pulled every Christian book off of my bookshelf and laid them on my living room floor. I sat in the middle of them, looking them all over and deciding which ones I wanted to include, which ones made the cut for me to talk about this month. This book caught my eye as if calling out to me, “Sarah, read me again!”
And I’m so glad I did.
This is one of those books that I walked away from relating more to the villain than the hero, a fact which tore me up inside. This book tells the store of three kings—Saul, David, and Absalom—in a narrative format that I was able to immerse myself in (seriously, I read it in one sitting). The only problem I found with it was that I related a lot more to Absalom than to David.
Honestly, I don’t think that I’m very much like David, I’m a lot like Absalom.
You see, I have this ambition and competition inside of me that can be a strength but, oftentimes, I let it become a weakness. Though I am trying to submit these parts of me to the Holy Spirit, asking him to funnel these qualities appropriately, I don’t submit as often as I should. My pride gets in the way and tells me that I’m right and that I should be large and in charge. I’m getting better at not going the way of pride, but sometimes the voice is all too enticing.
“God has a university. It’s a small school. Few enroll; even fewer graduate. Very, very few indeed…. In God’s sacred school of submission and brokenness, why are there so few students? Because all students in this school must suffer much pain.” p. 15
What made David a great King was his utter and complete brokenness. Saul had broken him and, in that process, God built him back up again. During his time running from Saul, when his life was on the line, without a friend in the world, he was able to turn to the Lord. He learned God’s character and, as he learned that, he learned who he was. His heart was tested while he was running so that when he was King, he could lead well.
This book paints brokenness in a beautiful light, something that my natural inclinations and strong American perspectives struggle to embrace. It shows rebellion for what it is: something that shouldn’t exist in the Kingdom of God, but is glorified often my culture. And this tale exposes that submission to God is a precious commodity that so few possess today.
“God has this school because he does not have broken men and women. Instead, he has several other types of people. He has people who claim to have God’s authority… and don’t—people who claim to be broken… and aren’t. And people who do have God’s authority, but who are mad and unbroken. And he has regretfully, a great mixture of everything in between. All of these he has in abundance, but broken men and women, hardly at all.” p. 15
May we be those broken men and women, the contrite in heart, that God is looking for.
Have you read A Tale of Three Kings?
What do you think about brokenness?
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When I was a teen I never liked David. I couldn’t get past the fact that he was an adulterous murderer. After going through a situation when my mentor who I loved and trusted suddenly turned on me as Saul turn on David, I found myself completely enthralled with his story and the Psalms he wrote were the only comfort I found during that dark time. It was as if I had found someone who I could finally relate to. His road was a painful one, but it bore some pretty amazing fruit in his life. He was so human, but greatly loved by God. Thanks for sharing this, I’m definitely putting it on my “to read” list!
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It’s amazing how our thoughts and opinons change and grow over time! No matter the circumstance, there’s a character in the Bible that we can relate to.
I’m so glad that you were able to find comfort in the Psalms during such a difficult time. I’m constantly in awe of and grateful for God’s love for even the most flawed individuals!
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