"And David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he prospered and behaved himself wisely; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was satisfactory both to the people and to Saul's servants."
I Samuel 18: 5, Amplified Bible
"Prudence is right reason in action."
Did anyone ever call you prudish in your life?
What do you think it means to live a prudent life?
"Prudence must precede all our actions."
"The richest endowments of the mind are temperance, prudence, and fortitude. Prudence is a universal virtue, which enters into the composition of all the rest; and where she is not, fortitude loses its name and nature."
There is a painting which hangs in the National Gallery in London by Titian that is called, "An Allegory of Prudence." Prudence has three heads: a youth's which looks toward the future, a man's which looks at the present, and an old man's which looks back on the past with the wisdom of experience. Over the three heads is written, "From the (example of) the past, the man of the present acts prudently so as not to imperil the future."
After David's successful experience with the Philistine giant, Goliath, Saul decided he could use someone with David's expertise. So he kept David at his palace and gave him the assignment of Secretary of War. We might call David the Secretary of Defense in our society today. The placement of David in this key position not only helped Saul, but it also pleased the Israelites who admired the likeable David. This handsome young man, we are told, acted "wisely."
In the Hebrew, the word that is in this text means David acted, "prudently." To be quite frank, every time I've heard the word "prudence" used, it was not in the most positive manner. I'll never forget one of my friends in high school looking at me and retorting, "Dorothy, don't be such a prude." I can assure you, this comment wasn't meant as a compliment. Prudes were viewed as up-tight, no-fun, prune-faces who with their presence could throw cold-water on everyone else's fun. The English writer, Samuel Johnson, echoed this sentiment when he observed, "Prudence is an attitude that keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy."
I would counter his perspective with the reminder of the painting by Titian which takes into account the fact that past experience, combined with present activity, sculpt the future for each of us. It is critical for this lesson to be imprinted on our minds as we think about the young David behaving "wisely" or "prudently" for it was this particular behavior which became the basis for God calling him a man after His heart. And it's also the reason the people of Israel admired David so much.
How sad that in our modern world we couldn't learn the lesson taught by David's life. A lesson that points to prudent behavior being a reflection of heavenly wisdom played out in earthly actions.
David's young life, lived wisely, set him on course for a mature life of leadership followed by the end of his life being a time of shared wisdom. Unfortunately, David's "mid-life" crisis set in motion a series of circumstances which tarnished his legacy and nearly destroyed his family.
The famous author, Louisa May Alcott penned the words to a poem entitled, "My Kingdom." The thoughts she shares perfectly convey the wise way we can choose to prudently live our lives each day:
"A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well…
I do not ask for any crown
But that which all may win;
Nor try to conquer any world
Except the one within."
Louisa May Alcott
"I Surrender All"
"All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now."
Judson W. Van De Venter
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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