Monday, May 26, 2014

King David And The Madman

Shavuot is the anniversary of the passing of King David. The following is a famous story of King David from his youth
Before King David was anointed king, he was a shepherd and he spent his time tending his flocks in the hills, fields and forests of the land of Israel. His brilliant mind delved into all that he saw, and he tried to understand G-d's world. Many of G-d's creatures were beautiful, others were useful to man.
One day David saw a madman wandering through the fields. His clothing was torn, and the distracted look in his eyes bespoke a total loss of reason. David began to reflect on the man's condition. "G-d, you have created a world filled with beauty and perfection. Your creatures are wondrous to behold, but this I do not understand. Why did You create madness, which is good for nothing. Here I have seen a poor, destitute man who wanders completely bereft of reason. What purpose could insanity serve in Your world?"
G-d replied to David, saying, "David, do you really believe that I have created insanity in vain? One day you will see what it is for. One day you, yourself will be in need of madness and you will pray that I grant it to you."
When David was anointed by the prophet Samuel he was force to flee from King Saul who sought to kill him. David fled to the land of the Philistines, where King Achish gave him refuge. Achish didn't know that David was the new king, and he had hoped that David would help him defeat Saul.
Others in the king's court, namely the brothers of Goliath, whom David had slain, recognized him. They bided their time until they felt that the king would give David over to them, and said, "This is the very same man who killed our brother. Let us have our revenge on him."
But the king was unwilling to have his guest murdered. After all, it was likely that the young warrior would help in the war to defeat the Jewish king. He responded to them by denying their identification of young David. "It couldn't be David. He would never come to us for help. Besides, even if it was him, he killed your brother fairly, in battle."
The two brothers were angrier than ever and determined to get their revenge. They stirred up discontent among the other members of the king's royal guard, and taunted the king, saying, "Since one of the conditions of David's battle with my brother was that the winner would rule over the loser. Are you willing to become David's vassal?"
The king began to fear for his crown. He called David into his private chamber and cross-examined him about the death of Goliath. David saw that the king was no longer his ally, and he was frightened. He turned to G-d and prayed, "Please, Master of the Universe, help me now."
"What are you asking of Me; what kind of help do you require?" G-d responded.
"Let me become truly mad so that the king will not want to kill me."
"Do you remember when you asked Me why I created insanity? I told you that one day you would ask me to make you insane. Now, that has happened and you understand very well."
Immediately, David became obviously insane. The brothers of Goliath tried to bind him and bring him before the king, but he whirled and spun in circles. He spit and screamed and tore at his hair. He took a piece of charcoal and scribbled all over the palace doors, "Achish owes me a hundred times ten thousand pieces of silver. His wife, the queen, owes me fifty."
David ran through the palace from end to end. Achish had a daughter who was insane. She was kept in a locked room in the palace. When she heard David scream, she would scream back, and when she would scream, David would answer. The ruckus was unbearable to the king.
"Aren't I surrounded by enough insanity? Do I have to have this madman here as well? Get him out of here! It is obvious that this can't be David. David is a brilliant scholar and soldier; this man is completely insane."
Everyone at court agreed with him. Even Goliath's brothers saw that this was the wrong man. David was forcibly expelled from the palace. When he found himself free and no longer threatened his sanity returned to him. And he understood that everything that G-d does is good and has its purpose in the world.

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