So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep (I Samuel 30:4).
Near a tee on an obscure golf course in northern Wisconsin, there is a plaque that says, “Ike wept here.”
The reason for the famous general’s crying is not listed. It’s simply noteworthy enough for history to know that it happened.
When we see pictures of Eisenhower chatting with the troops he was sending off to storm the beaches of Normandy, it’s hard to imagine him weeping. Somber? Yes. Determined? Absolutely! He knew many of these people would not survive the landing. But he was a Soldier. He understood the cost of victory. Since he was not weak, we might not expect him to weep.
But he did. So did warrior David. Neither of them whimpered over body-wounds. Wounds within the heart were something else.
The pain of others losing their lives can exceed even the pain of losing our own limbs The pain of knowing others are suffering—even though still alive—is enough to make the safe one suffer. Enough to make one weep.
David and his band of warriors had been operating in Philistine territory since Saul was hunting for him in Israel. They sheltered their families at a place called Ziklag while they hunted for their enemies. They returned from one mission to find that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag, burned it, and taken the wives and children as captives. It was enough to make hardened warriors weep. And they did. Yet, these were not tears of despair. The captives were still alive. They would soon be rescued.
The account ends with these words, “Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back” (I Samuel 30:19). These were tears of love. The pain was in the heart. Years later, David would weep again saying, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18:33)
It reminds us of the shortest verse in the English Bible: “Jesus wept.”
As with David, these were not tears of despair. Though others were weeping over the death of Lazarus, Jesus knew his friend would walk out of that grave alive in just a few minutes.
These were tears of love. It pained Jesus to know what Lazarus had gone through. This was not what the Creator intended for the crown of his creation. Life was to be lived in joy, not pain.
Not with death.
It was enough to make the Son of God weep. And he did.
It was a sign that he would take on the enemies of those he loved and make things right. And he did.
Eisenhower had reason to cry. So did David. So did Jesus. At times, so do we. A warrior wounded in body during battle is given a Purple Heart. It’s a medal that can be displayed with a degree of pride.
Wounds within the heart earn no medal. They often are hidden, as if in shame. But those who respect a General Eisenhower, and understand a King David, and worship a Lord Jesus—they know shame is not in such tears. For them, the plaque can say of their tour of duty on earth: “Because they loved here, they wept here.”
We pray: Lord Jesus, we remember how you lived on this earth. We remember how your love for us pained you. We remember how you took the battle to our Enemy to overcome our greatest cause of pain. We thank you for your tears. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain, and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, MN
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military