Barzillai May 1, 2018
Imagine with me a conversation between Barzillai and his wife Phoebe (fictional name) after the events of 2 Samuel 19 (specifically 2 Samuel 19:31-39).
“Well that’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life!” Phoebe was furious, mixing the bread dough with increasing intensity. “What do you mean you told the king you would stay here? You mean to tell me you sent Kinham? What were you thinking? Now Kinham gets to be with the king and enjoy all the accompanying benefits while you and I sit here and rot. I don’t mind saying it, Barzillai, but I am pretty disgusted right now. We have been waiting a long time for this…this season you just threw away.”
Phoebe threw her stirring stick in the bowl, walked outside and sat in the rocking chair on the front porch. Tears of sadness and anger welled up in her eyes. The faint noise of a huge crowd traveling toward the Jordan river could barely be heard. Barzillai followed her out, saying nothing, and carefully squatted down and sat on the first step leading up to the porch. She continued, “That should be us! That’s what we have wanted, isn’t it? This is what we hoped for and worked for and lived for, isn’t it?”
“I know, I know,” Barzillai finally muttered. “I am frustrated too. This was not part of the plan. This was not what I was anticipating either. Believe me. Over a decade ago when we provided the king a place to stay, I knew it was the Father’s will for us to serve alongside the king one day. I really believed He made us wealthy in order to help the king and his kingdom.”
“Then WHY, Barzillai? Why? Why did you tell the king you didn’t want to go with him and why did you send young Kinham? Why?”
After several long seconds, very calmly with tenderness in his voice, he responded. “Think about it, Phoebe. Isn’t the entire point of all this not what we expect or want or think should happen or should have happened – but what will best serve the king? Shouldn’t we be always asking, ‘How can my life – and the season I am in – best be used to make the king and his kingdom flourish?’ Phoebe, this wasn’t my plan either. This wasn’t what I was thinking, hoping, planning. But we must not fall into the trap of assuming it has to be what we thought it should be.”
Phoebe, a bit more relaxed but still frustrated said, “But couldn’t we just go and see if there is anything we can do? Why did you send Kinham? It’s like you didn’t even want to explore how we might best serve with King David. Why, Barzillai? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.”
“Honey,” he said gently, “I know. It’s not. But the goal was never for life to ultimately be about what we think it is supposed to be. The goal is how our lives fit into being most helpful and useful for the king.”
Barzillai stood up, slowly walked over to the other chair beside his wife, and sat down. He let the moment sit. The noise of the crowd was gone. The sun was beginning to set. All that could be heard were the slow creaks of the two chairs gently rocking. After carefully weighing his next comments in his mind, he said, “Phoebe, look at us. We would be no good to David and his army. We would be extra weight he would have to take care of, not added energy for the cause. This is why I spent so much time with Kinham. This is something I can do. I can prepare those who are young and energetic for the task. I can teach them and pour into them and equip them. Believe me, honey, I don’t like it either. But it can never ultimately be about what I want or what I think it should be. It must always be about how I, in this season and stage of my life, can best impact the king and his kingdom.”
What is going on in and around your life right now that is causing you “kingdom frustration”?
What about your church is happening that you wish were like you expected it to be, but isn’t?
What about the culture you are living in is different from what you grew up with?
What is it about the way discipleship and evangelism must happen now frightens you becuase it is not the way “it used to be,” or you expected it to be?
Who are you most like in this story: Barzillai or Phoebe?
Do you spend your time upset that things aren’t the way “they were supposed to be”? Or have you accepted the culture and season of life you are in?
Are you angry about shattered expectations? Or are you asking what you can do to make a kingdom impact?

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