391.) 2 Samuel 17

November 1, 2010

2 Samuel 17 (NRSV)

The Counsel of Ahithophel

Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. 2 I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, 3 and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man,  and all the people will be at peace.” 4 The advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.

A smart plan.  A quick attack against David only, Ahithophel says, would be a bold move and prevent a protracted war between David’s men and Absalom’s men.

The Counsel of Hushai

5 Then Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear too what he has to say.” 6 When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “This is what Ahithophel has said; shall we do as he advises? If not, you tell us.”

7 Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” 8 Hushai continued, “You know that your father and his men are warriors, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of our troops  fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.’ 10 Then even the valiant warrior, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a warrior, and that those who are with him are valiant warriors.

11 “But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, like the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12 So we shall come upon him in whatever place he may be found, and we shall light on him as the dew falls on the ground; and he will not survive, nor will any of those with him. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.”

Hushai wants to counter Ahithophel’s good advice and buy time for David to rest and organize his defense.  He appeals to Absalom’s vanity by encouraging him to lead the army out to battle.

14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring ruin on Absalom.

David had earlier prayed that the advice of Ahithophel might be turned to foolishness, and here that prayer was answered — or at least, the ones who choose which advice to take are foolish!

Hushai Warns David to Escape

15 Then Hushai said to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so I have counseled. 16 Therefore send quickly and tell David, “Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over; otherwise the king and all the people who are with him will be swallowed up.’ “

David’s intelligence chain at work!

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel; a servant-girl used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a boy saw them, and told Absalom; so both of them went away quickly, and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard; and they went down into it. 19 The man’s wife took a covering, stretched it over the well’s mouth, and spread out grain on it; and nothing was known of it.

Let’s play hide and seek!

20 When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

The woman said to them, “They have crossed over the brook of water.” And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, “Go and cross the water quickly; for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you.” 22 So David and all the people who were with him set out and crossed the Jordan; by daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order, and hanged himself; he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.

Ahithophel committed suicide not because his feelings were hurt when his advice was discarded.  Rather, he knew that now Absalom was doomed, and he (Ahithophel) would be regarded as a traitor to David and killed.

_________________________

24 Then David came to Mahanaim, while Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Now Absalom had set Amasa over the army in the place of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite, who had married Abigal daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. 26 The Israelites and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, “The troops are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.”

_________________________

Psalm 62 (New International Version)

For the director of music.  A psalm of David.

(This psalm is thought to have been written by David during the time of Absalom’s rebellion.)

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Selah

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Selah

Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.

Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,

and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

_________________________

Music:

If ever you wondered how David was able to write such heartfelt and heart-rending psalms — don’t these chapters give you a pretty clear idea?!  “Find Rest”  is a song based on Psalm 62, by Jeffrey Peterson and James Jurado.

Find rest, oh my soul, in God alone
My hope it comes from him
He above all is loving and strong
A warrior as well as a friend
A rock for my feet, a roof for my head
A bulwark in life’s desperate hours
My salvation and my honor depend on God
Then why is my soul so downcast and anxious

I trust you at all times, pour out my heart
Bearing my soul here before you
Cause you aren’t like the ones I’ve trusted before
When I open up
You’re there all the more

Low born men are but a breath
The high born are but a lie
If placed on a scale before my God
They’d amount to a breath or a sigh
We worry ’bout our position in life
So others will think we’ve arrived
But you love the peasant as much as the prince
Despised of men as much as the honored

I trust you at all times, pour out my heart
Bearing my soul here before you
Cause you aren’t like the ones I’ve trusted before
When I open up
You’re there all the more

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
alphabet soup advice cartoon.    http://www.toonpool.com/user/997/files/bowl_alphabet_soup_advice_350575.jpg
a good idea.    http://www.agoodideasf.org/A_Good_Idea__Smaller_.jpg
hide and seek.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/64/214252279_f2fd003b95.jpg
the end.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ZsFF0X3x7Is/SnWNeNwE_cI/AAAAAAAAIWU/35NSnwDnvuI/s400/the+end.jpg
Psalm 62.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm62_7.jpg

390.) 2 Samuel 16

October 29, 2010

“David, fleeing from Jerusalem, is cursed by Shimei”  by William Brassey Hole (1846-1917)

2 Samuel 16   (NRSV)

David’s Adversaries

When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, carrying two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred bunches of raisins, one hundred of summer fruits, and one skin of wine. 2The king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?”

Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine is for those to drink who faint in the wilderness.”

Beware of Ziba bearing gifts . . .

3The king said, “And where is your master’s son?”

Ziba said to the king, “He remains in Jerusalem; for he said, ‘Today the house 4 of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.’”

Evil man!  Ziba had seen David’s generous heart in how the king had treated Ziba’s master, Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son and King Saul’s grandson).  Now Ziba lies to David, telling him that Mephibosheth has deserted him, in order to get some kind of reward for himself.  David, wounded by the thought that his kindness to Mephibosheth had been ill requited, erred in accepting Ziba’s claim without investigating it.

Shimei Curses David

Shimei curses David — illustration by Barbara Griffiths

5When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing. 6He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. 7Shimei shouted while he cursed, “Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! 8The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood.”

_________________________

  • Shimei was wrong because David actually treated Saul and his family with great love and graciousness.
  • Shimei was wrong because David was not a bloodthirsty man. It is true that he was a man of war, but not a bloodthirsty man.
  • Shimei was wrong because David did not bring Saul and his family to ruin – Saul himself brought the family to ruin.
  • Shimei was right that the Lord had brought this upon David, but not for any of the reasons Shimei thought.

–David Guzik

_________________________

9Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”

10But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

11David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. 12It may be that the Lord will look on my distress, and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”

_________________________

Hebrews 10:30-31 (English Standard Version)

For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

_________________________

Music:

Some days friends seem hard to come by.  But one Friend is always there for us.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” — jazz guitar by Walter Rodrigues, Jr.  Not your usual Sunday morning arrangement!

_________________________

13So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him. 14The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the Jordan; and there he refreshed himself.

The Counsel of Ahithophel

15Now Absalom and all the Israelites came to Jerusalem; Ahithophel was with him. 16When Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

17Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?”

18Hushai said to Absalom, “No; but the one whom the Lord and this people and all the Israelites have chosen, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19Moreover, whom should I serve? Should it not be his son? Just as I have served your father, so I will serve you.”

20Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, “Give us your counsel; what shall we do?”

21Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, the ones he has left to look after the house; and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” 22So they pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

Disgraceful.  Nathan had told David that this would happen (2 Samuel 12:11-12).  This is an act of violence against the women, treason against the true king, and immorality against the Lord.

23Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the oracle of God; so all the counsel of Ahithophel was esteemed, both by David and by Absalom.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Hole.   http://www.artchive.com/web_gallery/reproductions//237501-238000/237568/size1.jpg
Griffiths, Shimei.    http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/books-book.php#book-17

389.) 2 Samuel 15

October 28, 2010

The throne of Tsarina Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, 1742 (Kremlin Armoury, Moscow)

2 Samuel 15   (NRSV)

Absalom Usurps the Throne

After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. 2Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out and say, “From what city are you?” When the person said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” 3Absalom would say, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.” 4Absalom said moreover, “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.”

5Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. 6Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

He “stole their hearts,” Scripture says.  Absalom knew exactly how to do this.

  • He carefully cultivated an exciting, enticing image (chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him)
  • He worked hard (Absalom would rise early)
  • He knew where to position himself (beside the way to the gate)
  • He looked for troubled people (anyone who had a lawsuit)
  • He reached out to troubled people (Absalom would call to him)
  • He took a personal interest in the troubled person (What city are you from?)
  • He sympathized with the person (your case is good and right)
  • He never attacked David directly  (no deputy of the king to hear you)
  • He left the troubled person more troubled (no deputy of the king to hear you)
  • Without directly attacking David, Absalom promised to do better (Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice)

–David Guzik

_________________________

7At the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord. 8For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord in Hebron.”

9The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he got up, and went to Hebron.

David’s last words to Absalom are — how ironic! — “Go in peace.”  Then Absalom went out to overthrow his father.

10But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then shout: Absalom has become king at Hebron!”

the rebellious prince

11Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom; they were invited guests, and they went in their innocence, knowing nothing of the matter. 12While Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. The conspiracy grew in strength, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.

To make it look more like succession and less like treason, Absalom connived to have 200 men who were loyal to David there, as well as Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather.  Their presence with Absalom appeared to endorse him.

David Flees from Jerusalem

13A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.”

14Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, “Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.”

15The king’s officials said to the king, “Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king decides.”

_________________________

from Whispers of his Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Any-thing
Any-where
Any-how
Any-when.

Are we truly ready to serve our King like this today?

_________________________

16So the king left, followed by all his household, except ten concubines whom he left behind to look after the house. 17The king left, followed by all the people; and they stopped at the last house. 18All his officials passed by him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.

The foreigners are supporting David –

19Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. 20You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.”

21But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.”

22David said to Ittai, “Go then, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him.

23The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.

24Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city.

The priests are loyal to David —

25Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it stays. 26But if he says, ‘I take no pleasure in you,’ here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”

27The king also said to the priest Zadok, “Look, go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan son of Abiathar. 28See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.

30But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.

_________________________

Psalm 61 (New International Version)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David.

(This psalm is thought to have been written by David during the time of Absalom’s rebellion.)

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Selah

For you have heard my vows, O God;
you have given me the heritage
of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.

May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then will I ever sing praise to your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.

_________________________

Music:

Selah sings “Before the Throne of God Above.”  He reigns forever and ever, the rightful and perfect king!

_________________________

31David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, “O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

Hushai Becomes David’s Spy

32When David came to the summit, where God was worshiped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head. 33David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. 35The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. 36Their two sons are with them there, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan; and by them you shall report to me everything you hear.”

37So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

Absalom came into Jerusalem as a cunning, wicked rebel.
David came into Jerusalem as a brave, noble conqueror
(2 Samuel 5:6-7).
Jesus came into Jerusalem as a servant-king
(Matthew 21:4-10).
–David Guzik

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
throne.   http://www.tristarmedia.com/bestofrussia/images/throne2.jpg
I’m a thief . . .   http://rlv.zcache.com/pickup_lines_im_a_thief_im_here_to_steal_you_bumper_sticker-p128690426814561970trl0_400.jpg
the rebellious prince.    http://www.helltruth.com/Portals/2/RebelliousPrince/rp-1.jpg
Serve the Lord with gladness.    http://weeserve.com/images/quote_servethelord.gif
Psalm 61:3.    http://sagepinestudio.com/images/inspirations/SC-5004%20Ps612%20prv.jpg
spy.    http://dennynet.com/spy.jpg
Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/jesus_donkey.jpg

388.) 2 Samuel 14

October 27, 2010

“David Pardoning Absalom” by William Blake, 1803

2 Samuel 14   (NRSV)

Absalom Returns to Jerusalem

Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom.

“In the case of Absalom and the king, the relationship remained virtually deadlocked, neither side having the spiritual incentive to break it.”
–Joyce G. Baldwin

2Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. 3Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth.
Just as Nathan’s story brought home the truth to David about his affair with Bathsheba, so Joab hopes this widow’s story will help soften David’s heart towards Absalom.

4When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and did obeisance, and said, “Help, O king!”

5The king asked her, “What is your trouble?”

She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6Your servant had two sons, and they fought with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7Now the whole family has risen against your servant. They say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, so that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he murdered, even if we destroy the heir as well.’ Thus they would quench my one remaining ember, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.”

8Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.”

9The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father’s house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.”

10The king said, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again.”

11Then she said, “Please, may the king keep the Lord your God in mind, so that the avenger of blood may kill no more, and my son not be destroyed.”

He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

_________________________

woman in traditional widow garb in Greece

There were several factors that made this woman’s appeal successful.

  • She was a widow, which would invite sympathy
  • She lived at some distance from Jerusalem, which made it difficult to easily know or inquire of the facts of her case
  • She was old, which gave more dignity to her story
  • She wore the clothes of mourning to heighten the effect
  • She brought a case of family estrangement to David
  • She brought a case that was not too similar, lest it arouse David’s suspicions
But it was not right!  David ignores the cause of justice for the sake of family sympathy and loyalty. In personal relationship it is a good and glorious thing to be generous with forgiveness and mercy when we are wronged. But David had a responsibility as the king and chief judge of Israel, and he was being sorely tempted to forsake that responsibility.

–David Guzik
_________________________

12Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.”

He said, “Speak.”

13The woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again.

Here the woman confronts David about the heart of the matter: his sin of not initiating reconciliation with his son.  Absalom was estranged from his father and daily growing more bitter; this was a threat both to David himself and to the kingdom.

14We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up.  But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence.

She says there is an urgency to seeking reconciliation.  Once someone dies, the opportunity for making things right is gone.  God will help the one who is seeking reconciliation, even as He Himself did for all of us sinners when He had Jesus bear our sins on the cross.

_________________________

Music:

“My Song Is Love Unknown”  sung by the St. Martin’s Church Choir, with a lovely flute and oboe accompaniment.

_________________________

15Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid; your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16For the king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would cut both me and my son off from the heritage of God.’ 17Your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest’; for my lord the king is like the angel of God, discerning good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!”
.
18Then the king answered the woman, “Do not withhold from me anything I ask you.”
.
The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.”

19The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?”

The woman answered and said, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn right or left from anything that my lord the king has said. For it was your servant Joab who commanded me; it was he who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20In order to change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.”

21Then the king said to Joab, “Very well, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom.”

22Joab prostrated himself with his face to the ground and did obeisance, and blessed the king; and Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has granted the request of his servant.”

Joab thinks that a reconciliation between David and Absalom will prevent a rebellion.

23So Joab set off, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24The king said, “Let him go to his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom went to his own house, and did not come into the king’s presence.

David, who was too indulgent before, is too harsh now.

David Forgives Absalom

25Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26When he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight.

A yearly harvest of five and a half pounds of hair!! He could have donated it, like Amanda, above, to Locks of Love (an organization that collects hair to make hairpieces for kids with cancer).

27There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.

By naming his daughter Tamar, he honored his wronged sister of the same name.

28So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. 29Then Absalom sent for Joab to send him to the king; but Joab would not come to him. He sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

We see that in many ways, Absalom’s world revolves around himself, even to the casual way he harms the property of others.

31Then Joab rose and went to Absalom at his house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”

32Absalom answered Joab, “Look, I sent word to you: Come here, that I may send you to the king with the question, ‘Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.’ Now let me go into the king’s presence; if there is guilt in me, let him kill me!”

33Then Joab went to the king and told him; and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Absalom.

“The Reconciliation of David and Absalom,” by Rembrandt, 1642 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

_________________________

David offered Absalom forgiveness without any repentance or resolution of the wrong.  One commentator has written that David ought to have kicked Absalom, rather than wink at his sin.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake.    http://www.cecilhigginsartgallery.org/paintings/blakeb2.htm
widow in Greece.    http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/contests/?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=936097
Bisley.    http://simonbisleygallery.com/art/2525.jpg
Rembrandt.    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17215/17215-h/images/illus08.jpg
Calvin’s kick offer.    http://scienceblogs.com/isisthescientist/calvin%20kick%20ass.gif

387.) 2 Samuel 13

October 26, 2010

“Amnon and Tamar” by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini

2 Samuel 13   (NRSV)

Amnon and Tamar

Tamar’s rape is pictured as punishment for David, corresponding to his adultery:  a sexual offense, followed by murder.  Again we see the innocent suffering for the sins of the guilty, the long-reaching consequences of sin.

Rated R for sex

Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her.

Amnon was David’s first born son (2 Samuel 3:3), the crown prince.

2Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her.

3But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“My brother’s sister”  is clearly “my sister,” too.  But when we are intent on sinning, we can easily twist the facts.

5Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’”

Evil advice!  The plan is to separate Tamar from any help.  Jonadab does not need to say, “and then rape her” because Amnon is thinking along the same lines.

6So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.”

7Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.”

_________________________

Really, it is so childish.  “I can’t eat any food unless so-and-so brings it to me.”  And David, equally foolish,  indulges his son.

_________________________

8So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9Then she took the pan and set them out before him, but he refused to eat.

Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him.

10Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.”

12She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! 13As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.”

She offers clear, vigorous, and logical reasoning against this wrong action, hoping to deter him for both her and his own good.  He, however, is too blinded by his own desires to hear the truth.

14But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.

15Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, “Get out!”

Literally, “Get up, go” — the exact opposite of his earlier “Come, lie.”  So it was not love, after all!  Now he feels only guilt and shame, and since her very presence reminds him of his sin, he cannot stand her.

16But she said to him, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.”

But he would not listen to her. 17He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” 18(Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her.

What a terrible way to treat “this woman,” his sister, a princess of Israel!

“The Desolation of Tamar” by James Tissot, 1900 (Christian theological Seminary, Indianapolis)

19But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.

Tamar’s gestures are all expressions of grief.  The tearing of her tunic signifies that she is no longer a virgin.

20Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house.

21When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.

Now David indulges his son in his sin!  This could have been a teaching moment, to bring Amnon to confession and repentance, even as David himself had experienced with Bathsheba.

22But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.

Absalom Avenges the Violation of His Sister

Rated R for violence.

23After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24Absalom came to the king, and said, “Your servant has sheepshearers; will the king and his servants please go with your servant?”

25But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, or else we will be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing.

26Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.”

The king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Absalom made a feast like a king’s feast.

28Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Watch when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not be afraid; have I not myself commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.”

_________________________

Music:

Johnny Cash sings “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”

_________________________

29So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons rose, and each mounted his mule and fled.

30While they were on the way, the report came to David that Absalom had killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them was left. 31The king rose, tore his garments, and lay on the ground; and all his servants who were standing by tore their garments.

32But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king’s sons; Amnon alone is dead. This has been determined by Absalom from the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33Now therefore, do not let my lord the king take it to heart, as if all the king’s sons were dead; for Amnon alone is dead.”

David must realize that Absalom would never have killed Amnon had David himself properly handled the situation at the beginning.

34But Absalom fled.

When the young man who kept watch looked up, he saw many people coming from the Horonaim road by the side of the mountain.

35Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.”

36As soon as he had finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, and raised their voices and wept; and the king and all his servants also wept very bitterly.

37But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur.

We read in 2 Samuel 3:3 that Absalom’s mother’s father was the king of Geshur.

David mourned for his son day after day.

38Absalom, having fled to Geshur, stayed there three years. 39And the heart of the king went out, yearning for Absalom; for he was now consoled over the death of Amnon.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Cerrini.    http://www.artnet.com/Artists/LotDetailPage.aspx?lot_id=FCC9FFE40533007C016F09732AF4A2B2
hand holding a piece of cake.    http://www.fotobank.ru/img/FC01-8955.jpg?size=l
Tissot.    http://www.cts.edu/library/imagelibrary?func=detail&id=420
R rating.   http://nickshell1983.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/rated_r.jpg

386.) 2 Samuel 12:15 – 31

October 25, 2010

Ernest Hemingway once wrote a short story that was only six words long. “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”

2 Samuel 12:15-31   (NRSV)

Bathsheba’s Child Dies

The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became very ill.

It is sad but true, that many times the innocent suffer because of the sins of the guilty.  We can trust that God gave grace to the child during the illness.

16David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.

David earnestly sought the Lord’s mercy.

18On the seventh day the child died.

Fervent prayer and fasting are not guarantees that we can get what we want from God.  Rather, they are an expression to the Lord of our surrendering to his will for us.

And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.”

19But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?”

They said, “He is dead.”

20Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate.

_________________________

David had asked the Lord for healing and life for the child, but the Lord answered otherwise.  David took the outcome as from the hand of the Lord, and worshiped God even in his sorrow.

Job 2:10 (Amplified Bible)

But Job said to his wife, You speak as one of the impious and foolish women would speak. What? Shall we accept [only] good at the hand of God and shall we not accept [also] misfortune and what is of a bad nature? In [spite of] all this, Job did not sin with his lips.

_________________________

21Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.”

22He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ 23But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Solomon Is Born

24Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba,

Except for the giving of her name at the very beginning of this story, the biblical writer has always referred to her as “the wife of Uriah.”  Only now, after acknowledgment of sin, repentance of that sin, and chastisement for that sin, is Bathsheba referred to as David’s wife.

and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon.

Such tenderness and kindness from God!  The sin is forgiven, their hearts have been cleansed, and now the blessings flow.

The Lord loved him, 25and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

The name Jedidiah means (loosely translated), “God’s darling.”

_________________________

Music:

My son Devlin introduced me to the group Hillsong United, from Australia, and I think this is my favorite of their many, many wonderful praise and worship songs.  “Mighty to Save” won the Worship Song of the Year at the 2009 Dove Awards.


_________________________

The Ammonites Crushed

26Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites, and took the royal city. 27Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the water city. 28Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; or I myself will take the city, and it will be called by my name.”

Joab has been leading the army — the very place that David should have been!  And once the king returns, the Lord blesses him with victory.

29So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. 30He took the crown of Milcom from his head; the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. He also brought forth the spoil of the city, a very great amount. 31He brought out the people who were in it, and set them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, or sent them to the brickworks. Thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

_________________________

“David’s fall should put those who have not fallen on their guard, and save from despair those who have.”

– St. Augustine

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
baby shoes.    http://www.litkicks.com/FlashFiction
“Our Boy” tombstone.    http://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/ourboytombstone.jpg
father kissing infant son.  http://www.insure.com/images/articles/father-kissing-baby.jpg
the Grace of God.    http://www.alfredny.biz/images/aa_but_for_the_grace_of_God.jpg

384.) 2 Samuel 12:1-15

October 21, 2010

“David and Bathsheba”  by Jan Massys, 1562 (The Louvre, Paris)

2 Samuel 12:1 – 15   (NRSV)

Nathan Condemns David

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David.

Nathan had met with David before, in 1 Samuel 7, and given him a message of blessing.  So David might consider Nathan a friend, not a critic, and thus be disposed to listen to him.

He came to him, and said to him,

“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.

4“Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”

5Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

My mother used to say, “We tend to dislike in others our own weaknesses.”

7Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?

The core of David’s sin, the Lord says, is ingratitude.  David had received so much, and had only to ask for more — yet it was not enough, and he sought to get more through his sinning.

You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

“David demanded fourfold restitution for the man in Nathan’s parable.  God exacted fourfold restitution for Uriah from four of David’s sons:  Bathsheba’s child, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah.

–David Guzik

11“Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”

“Turn about is fair play,” they say.  God said the same to David.  The king had taken someone else’s wife, so some one else will take the king’s wives.  Of course, it will not be a pretty picture when that happens.

13David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.”

15Then Nathan went to his house.

_________________________

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

GOD’S MANNER OF FORGIVENESS

What is required for God to forgive sin?  Repentance.  But even repentance does not ensure the removal of the consequences of sin.  The consequences often remain as a reminder of the terrible, destructive nature of sin.

David was forgiven for his grievous sins of lust, adultery, robbery, and murder.  God forgave him absolutely and removed his sins from him completely.  God did not, however, remover the pain that David would endure as a result of his transgressions.  The child born of David’s adultery died.  David’s son Ammon raped David’s daughter Tamar.  David’s son Absalom murdered Ammon.  Absalom brought the kingdom into rebellion.  For the rest of David’s reign, violence filled his home and his kingdom.  Although David knew he was forgiven, he bore the painful consequences of his sin for the rest of his life.

It is presumptuous to assume that God removes every consequence the moment you repent of your sin.  Do not think that the instant you show remorse God will restore everything as it was.  He may not.  Some sins, such as adultery, come from a flawed character.  God forgives sin immediately upon repentance, but it takes longer to build character.  It is character, not forgiveness, that determines what God brings next to your life.

Because we know the devastating consequences of our disobedience, let us diligently avoid every sin.

_________________________

Music:

What I did was wrong.  I am sorry.  Please forgive me.

Such small words, and yet sometimes how hard they are to say!

“Forgive Me” sung by Rebecca St. James.  The video tells our story . . .

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Massys.    http://www.lib-art.com/imgpainting/9/0/13409-david-and-bathsheba-jan-massys.jpg
lamb.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_jTQNmLGBIFU/RwOxEKv3Y9I/AAAAAAAAArw/iEge5rKpAgA/s400/61727_doroffy_the_lamb.jpg
“You are the man!”    http://www.randolphcofc.org/Resources/davidnathan.jpg
4.   http://sueczech.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/number-4-shaped-pinata.jpg
forgiven.   http://inhisnet.com/fish/cw3/assets/product_full/lge-tattoo-forgiven.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 531 other followers