Contentment

Don’t watch this video first.

So after last week’s post about David and Bathsheba, I couldn’t help but keep rolling that genius little parable over and over again in my mind. That’s the thing about Scripture, there are so many layers and levels to it, that each AHA moment is really only scratching the surface of what is there. For example…

After last week’s post, I was reading in 1st Samuel, there David is still a soldier. He’s not quite the King of Israel yet, but it’s just around the corner. King Saul’s dynasty is unraveling fast, and David has spent the last couple of years trying to hide out and wait for Saul to get all the crazy out of his system. But now David’s supplies are starting to run down, and he’s trying to make a living for he and the soldiers under him off the land.

Here’s how that worked back then. David would protect the flocks and harvest of the citizens who lived around there, he’d keep bandits and wild animals away from their herds and then he would hope for other people to be generous in return for his services. It’s kind of like a smaller version of when someone washes your windshield at a stoplight and then asks you for a dollar.

One of these people David helped was a wealthy man named Nabal. He owns a thousand goats (which is always a good way to measure wealth) and 3000 sheep, and when David asks for some payment for helping to keep his large flocks alive…Nabal (whose name means fool) gets really, really angry. He tells these soldiers that they will go no such help from him, and that his stuff is going to remain his stuff. 

Flash forward a dozen years and a just a few chapters and the tables have now turned.

David is now the King. And he’s got a lot more than just a few thousand livestock. He’s got everything his heart could desire…except for one naked, bathing, married woman.

After Nathan’s little Disney-like parable, God tells David:

“I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?”

And this is the heart of David’s sin, it didn’t start with murder, or even adultery…it all started with discontentment.

There is a multi-billion dollar industry right now that exists to convince you that you don’t have enough. One preacher I like, Shane Hipps, writes about his time before he became a preacher…he worked in advertising. And Shane Hipps noticed that the way that the marketing business was deeply problematic. They couldn’t just fairly represent the product that they were assigned to sell. Most of the time they would try to recreate an emotional experience that was common to growing up, or a significant moment in life, and then they would try to pitch their product to recreate these kinds of experience.

In other words, they weren’t just selling perfume, they were selling the hope for Mr. Right. They weren’t just selling body wash they were selling sex. They weren’t just selling picture frames or computers, they were selling sacred family moments from your childhood. At least that’s what they wanted to make us think.But the truth is they were actually just selling the products, and sometimes they were good products, but they could never satisfy the desires that they were trying to evoke.

And so Shane Hipps quit.

And that brings me to the video. It’s by the comedian C.K. Louis, and it’s one of the most profound bits of comedy that I’ve ever seen. Because we live in a world where everything is amazing, and no one is happy. If you were to go back to the 18th century and let them see your Iphone 4, (they would probably burn you at the stake as a witch), they would be amazed at the things that our technological advances have done. We can talk to people on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds. We can now make a trip in hours that used to take decades….but at what cost?

Because now we are always waiting on the next great thing, and when it gets here it only takes a few moments before we realize that it’s not able to fulfill the promises that it’s made. So we just keep looking and looking, and waiting and waiting.

I heard a statistic recently that helps shed some more light on this. Some researchers interviewed people who won the lottery and some people who had been rendered quadriplegics in accidents, both 6 months after the significant changes in their lives. And they discovered that the people who were quadriplegics had significantly more joy than the people who had won the large amounts of money. And here’s why:

Because while the quadriplegics had large parts of their lives and world stripped away, most of them still had the capacity to live in community. It even made them more dependent on others, friendships and family relationships would blossom, and things that didn’t matter had become impossible to pursue. But the lottery winners had the almost exact opposite discovery, they could no longer be for certain who their friends were. They could buy anything that they ever wanted, only to find that they already had it all along. And suddenly they were exposed to the truth that their desires were too small.

So may God grant you the contentment to realize how much you already have.

May we be people who lean against the myth that more is the solution to everything.

May we see that lie for what it is.

Because everything is amazing and no one is happy.

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

4 thoughts on “Contentment

  1. True!Those of us who knew what it is to live with little and what it is to have plenty have learn that is meaningless to focus on those things.Contentment is a state of being that cannot be affected by circumstances.It rises above those things.It sees the beauty of life all around and see every situation as a opportunity to love people.All people-broken,hurt,confused …because there is nothing more important than people.

    1. Joy, have you read Victor Frankyl? He was a Jewish Holocaust survivor, who made some great observations about exactly what you are saying. He says that the one thing that people cannot take away from a person is their ability to respond to the circumstance or action that you have performed toward or against them. It’s powerful stuff, and right on target with your comment. Thanks for weighing in Joy!

  2. i had never thought of David’s sin with Bathsheba in that way before. i think you are spot on Brother! 
    The problem with all of the ads on television is they are trying to make us think we are incomplete without this product. They are trying to make us discontented. May we be like the apostle Paul who said he had learned the secret to be content. It didn’t matter if he had a full tummy, or he was hungry, or somewhere in between. May we learn that secret also. Thank you Brother Jonathan for sharing this story and for your thoughts. God bless you, your family, and the work y’all are doing.

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