The Tale of the Barking Basset Hound at The Bartlett House
A Daily Devotional And Reading From The Psalms
To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.
1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God:
Defend me from them that rise up against me.
2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloody men.
3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul:
The mighty are gathered against me;
Not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord.
4 They run and prepare themselves without my fault:
Awake to help me, and behold.
5 Thou therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel,
Awake to visit all the heathen:
Be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.
6 They return at evening:
They make a noise like a dog,
And go round about the city.
7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth:
Swords are in their lips:
For who, say they, doth hear?
8 But thou, O Lord, shalt laugh at them;
Thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.
Have you ever been woken by a persistent pack of barking dogs? I sure have. I had an older dog named Bernie. He was part basset, part every other breed possible. He had this droopy face that made him ugly but irresistibly lovable. As Bernie got older and couldn’t see every sound spooked him. He would bark at the sound of a leaf floating to the earth and keep at it until the leaf went away. Dogs don’t like to bark alone, so all the neighbors dogs would join in a united chorus, speaking threats and curses against that leaf that had the audacity to fall. The Junebug and I would wake from our sleep and scream for him to stop. At some point we would realize that to him, we were only joining the canine chorus. Many a night I would reluctantly stagger to the door and command him to stop, he would turn and look my direction with that droopy face and obey. He would stay quiet the rest of the night or until I got comfortably back under the covers. Bernie is no longer with us. Don’t worry, I didn’t take him out. He just got old. We loved him. We miss him, just not at night.
The story of this Psalm, according to the introduction, can be found in 1 Sam 19 when Saul sent spies to watch David’s house so that he could kill him.
1 Samuel 19:11–16
11 Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain. 12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. 13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick. 15 And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him. 16 And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster.
David’s wife, Michal (the daughter of Saul), helped David escape assassination by pulling a Ferris Bueller, making it look like he was in the bed sick when he wasn’t, in order to give him time to get away. She let him down the window while Saul’s spies watched the sleeping dummy through the window. I imagine, before David fled, that those enemies of David talked among themselves about him. Thinking David was asleep, they said many things about him, perhaps they made untrue accusations, perhaps they boasted of how they were going to capture and kill him. They mocked him and laughed at their plans to harm him. A steady stream of messengers made their way from Saul and then back to report to him again as David compared them to a pack of barking dogs in the night. In this scenario, they were Bernie and his pack of friends and David was the leaf. The sounds from their mouths were more than just a bother, they were daggers to David’s soul. “David said, swords are in their lips” (Ps 59:7) Their words were more than threats, they caused pain, they made wounds in David’s soul. They thought nobody heard but David did and God heard them too! David had one comfort, that God, the righteous judge always has the last laugh.
So, what lessons do we learn from David’s pack of barking dogs?
First, words hurt. They may not break bones but they break spirits. We must learn to control the sword behind our lips. Responsible weapon ownership is very important. We must handle ours with care.
Second, the things we say are always heard, if not here then in Heaven.
Third, many laugh at the expense of God’s people today but we have confidence that our God will laugh last.
Do you have another thought? I would love to read it in the comments.