Between a rock and a hard place
And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord…but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
2 Samuel 24:14 (NKJV)
Are you familiar with the expression ‘between a rock and a hard place’? The expression was possibly birthed in the State of Arizona around 1917, when copper miners were faced with the difficult choice between keeping their poorly paid jobs or losing them as a result of strike action.1
This expression reminds me of the account in 2 Samuel 24, where King David sinned against God by numbering the potential fighting men of Israel and Judah. Instead of putting his trust in God to fight his nation’s battles, he chose, at this particular juncture, to place his confidence in the ‘might’ of his physical army. As a result of his lapse of faith and good judgment, God gave him the difficult choice of one of three punishments:
1. Seven years of famine to hit the land
2. Flee from his enemies for three months
3. Three days of plague in the land. (v.13)
David was indeed ‘between a rock and a hard place’ at this stage, as he knew that any one of these choices could cost the lives of many of his subjects! After agonising over his decision, he said to the prophet Gad: ‘…“I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.’ (vv. 14-15). Although David’s repentance towards God for his great blunder was genuine and he received God’s forgiveness, I imagine the great loss of life that resulted weighed heavily on his conscience for years to come!
However, the good news is, ‘There is…now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8:1 ESV). So when we encounter trials or difficult decisions in our lives, instead of being stuck between ‘a rock and a hard place’, let us, rather, look to the ‘Rock’ of scripture – our ‘elder brother’, Jesus Christ – for the guidance and support we need.
The writer of Hebrews summed it up well when he wrote, ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:15-16 NKJV).
Thank you Father for lifting our burdens when we feel like we are stuck ‘between a rock and a hard place’. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Study by John Magowan
About the writer:
John Magowan attends the Lisburn congregation of Grace Communion International Northern Ireland.
Lisburn Grace Communion
Ballymacbrennan School House
129A Saintfield Road
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