Listen for the Marching Mulberries
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
My sister and I loved a mulberry tree in our backyard in Kansas where we grew up. We would climb in it and play all around that tree.
I remember finding a bird’s nest with eggs there and waiting patiently for them to hatch and watch the little birds grow up. When the mulberries were in season, we would eat them and get stains all over our hand and our clothes. Our mother really didn’t like the tree because we would invariably get stains on our feet and then track the stains into the house.
One day while we were gone, Dad and Mom decided that the tree had to go. We arrived home and the tree was gone. Cut flat against the ground. All that remained for us were the happy memories of the time spent in and around that tree. And yes — I remember the lessons I learned in the tree of how to climb, how to hide up in the tree, how to play all sorts of games with my sister and my friends.
When I read about mulberry trees in scripture, I am always taken back to those fond memories. There is a more important memory and lesson, though, that is found in the Bible when it speaks of mulberry trees.
The term is only used four times in the Bible and frankly it means a different kind of tree than the one we think of that produces fruit. It most likely meant Aspen trees, and in some places, it meant a Sycamore tree. But it is translated as mulberry, so it still gives me good memories and it still teaches us a great lesson for today.
Therefore David inquired again of God, and God said to him, 'You shall not go up after them; circle around them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall go out to battle.'
David was doing what we all need to do when it comes to dealing with the issues that face us: bring it to God.
David was facing the Philistines who wanted to destroy him and his people. They wanted to go to war. David wanted to talk with God first before he did anything. God gave him the strategy for how to deal with the Philistines. Circle around them, but then wait till you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees.
This is always a good reminder for me. There is a lot of human wisdom in the world. There are plenty of books on plenty of topics that tell you how to deal with all sorts of problems in the world. You can Google anything and find advice for what you should do.
Yet we can learn a lesson from this story of David that when faced with a problem, that certainly could have destroyed him, he went to God and said, “What do I do?” God told him what to do and then told him how to know when to do it.
We may not have the sounds of marching in the mulberry trees. We may not have handwriting in the sky. We may not have a voice that speaks directly to us. But in our spiritual growth and walk with God, we can still search the scriptures, pray, seek wise counsel and wait on God to show up. We can be careful to not go into action before we see God’s hand in our lives.