Updated: Jul 21, 2022
“Do you think I learned overnight? Skill takes practice. I wasn’t any good when I first started either.”
Asa’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah, well, you never threw the sling instead of the stone.”
David grinned. “Come on, let’s go find it.”
Asa followed, dragging his feet. “It couldn’t have gone far.”
The two walked up a grassy slope in the direction Asa flung the sling, their shadows stretching out behind them—David's long and lean, and Asa’s short and a little pudgy. David scanned the ground looking for the leather sling. His deep tan told of hours working in the afternoon sun. “I don’t see it.” He said, glancing back at his sheep. They hardly noticed the boys as they munched away at the new field of fresh grass.
As the youngest, it had fallen to David to watch the sheep. His father didn’t want to hire anyone to do it, and David didn’t mind anyway. He loved the afternoons sitting in the sunshine. It was refreshing to wade in the calm creek waters and the occasional excitement of chasing after Little Bit—the ornery lamb who liked to adventure away from the flock.
It wasn’t always easy. He pushed back the thick curls. One time a lion came into the field—barreling right towards Little Bit. David had grabbed his staff and ran out to it—without thinking—tearing at the beast with his bare hands. David shook his head--still shocked by the memory. He had screamed for God to give this lion over to him, to help him kill it, and then he wrenched the little lamb from the jaws of the lion and was astonished to find the lion dead in his hands. God had saved them.
David looked behind him and saw Asa struggling to climb the steep bank. It would be difficult in those fine clothes. “Here.” He stretched out his hand to Asa, who took it and scrambled up the bank sending a shower of dirt and pebbles behind him. Asa’s skin was untouched by the sun, and his deep brown eyes gave him a grave look.
“There it is,” said David, a little out of breath after helping Asa up the bank.
“Where?” Asa panted. He leaned on a nearby tree to catch his breath.
“There, by the cave.” David jogged over to it.
Asa followed and plopped down in the shady entrance. David tossed him the lost slingshot. "You can see the whole valley from here.”
“Yeah, I bring my sheep here a lot. They say it used to be a band of crooks hideout. I used to dig all around looking for treasure when I was a kid.’
“Ever find any?”
“Nothing but rocks,” David smirked. “But I’ve always loved this spot regardless.”
Asa nodded, taking in all the green scenery. He pushed himself up and meandered into the cave. “Nice and cool.” He called, strolling further inside. His footsteps echoed, and David’s followed after him.
“I can almost see the den of thieves,” Asa said smiling, “plotting their next raid or counting the spoils of the one they just finished.” He looked around the cave’s dark walls and noticed a deep cut line in the cave wall. He looked a little closer and saw more markings. “Hey, what’s this? I think I’ve found the crook’s confession.”
David let out a “ha!” that rang through the cave. “Hardly. That was me. Just something I wrote during a thunderstorm when me and the flock were stuck up here.”
“You? You wrote this?” Asa squinted at the wall and ran a finger over the carvings.
David shrugged. “It gets boring up here sometimes, so I bring my harp and write songs to pass the time.”
Asa nodded, still trying to make out the words in the dim light. “The Lord Reigns Forever.”
“To the tune of ‘Death of the Son,’” David said.
“Like this?” Asa cleared his throat and sang,
The Lord reigns forever,
He has established his throne for judgment.
He will judge the world with his righteousness.
He will govern the peoples with justice
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble
Those who know your name will trust in you.
For you, Lord, have never forsaken those who trust in you.
“You can sing!” David said, jovial.
“Thanks.” Asa ran his eyes over the words carved in the cave wall, then he looked back at David, his eyes still squinting. “Why did you write this?”
“What do you mean?”
“It sounds—I mean, you write as though you know it’s true.”
David scratched his head. “Don’t you know it’s true?”
“No.” Asa said, “No, I don’t.” He swung around and pointed to the carvings. “I mean, come on, you're writing about the ‘Lord’s righteousness” on the wall of an old robber’s lair. That doesn’t strike you as..” Asa paused, “I don’t know, sacrilegious?”
The boys were silent. Asa brushed the dirt off the words and shrugged. “You’re talking as if you know God.”
David looked out over the grassy scene outside the cave. “I feel like I do.”
“David! Don’t speak such blasphemy.” Asa was looking at him, eyes wide. “It is impossible to know God. You know this. We can only strive to please him. You know what is written: ‘Shall the Potter be esteemed as clay?’ Knowing God would be like a clay pot ‘knowing’ the potter—it's impossible.”
David nodded slowly, then raised his eyebrows. “You’re right.” He said at last—eyes focused on his flock.
Asa crossed his arms and nodded his head in a single quick motion.
“But, while it may be impossible for a pot to know the Potter, the Potter knows everything about the pot. He made it.” David pointed back to the words inscribed on the wall. “And God will make himself known if we seek him.”
Asa rolled his eyes. “I wouldn’t share that with anyone if I was you. The world is a lot different than when God created it.”
David pointed to the words again. “You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Asa sighed, “Yeah, well, in a few years these words will be gone forever—erased by time and weather.” He laughed, “And no matter how much seeking we do, we’ll always come up as empty as this cave.”