Periodically I feel something that I assume most of us feel: discontent. Sparing the details, after particularly failure-laden days in the seminary classroom, i return home jaded by what seems to be (from the vantage point of my bad attitude) the endless repeating minutia of my life. I begin longing for variety and adventure (as if they exist or are even desirable) and to entertain wild thoughts like quitting my job and moving to British Columbia to snowboard and mountain bike full time.
Then I remembered I have appointments in an hour and I can’t move to Canada tonight and I need to get feeling better ASAP! So I turned to the scriptures, using the LDS tools app to search “discontent.” Does it surpise you to find this word only occurs in the scriptures once? It surprised me. 1 Samuel 22:2. And my shameful first impression? “There is going to be nothing in 1 Samuel 22 that’s going to help me.” I was wrong.
1 Samuel 22 is about David. After David slays Goliath, and before he commits adultery and murder, there was a spate of time where David is running and hiding from King Saul who wants to kill him. In chapter 22, he is hiding in a cave, and it says:
"And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them…"
And that was all it took. We are taught that the scriptures are full of allusions, symbols, and types of Christ. In this verse, David becomes a perfect type of Christ, and I knew that the solution to my discontent was to “gather myself unto him,” as my captain. So I took a moment to bolster my faith in Christ and my commitment to him and I lived to fight another day.
I will leave you with a poem: "the Soul's Captain," Orson F. Whitney's reply to William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus” that ends with the statement "I am the captain of my soul."
Art thou in truth? Then what of him
Who bought thee with his blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood?
Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but him could bear—
The God who dies that man might live,
And endless glory share?
Of what avail thy vaunted strength,
Apart from his vast might?
Pray that his Light may pierce the gloom,
That thou mayest see aright.
Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree.
Thou, captain of thy soul, forsooth!
Who gave that place to thee?
Free will is thine—free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto him
To whom all souls belong.
Bend to the dust that head “unbowed,”
Small part of life’s great whole!
And see in him, and him alone,
The Captain of thy soul.
(Improvement Era, May 1926, frontispiece.)