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.”

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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
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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.

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Music:

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

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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)

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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Music:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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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.

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

– St. Augustine

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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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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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

383.) 2 Samuel 11

October 20, 2010

“Bathsheba and King David” by Lika Tov

2 Samuel 11   (NRSV)

The narrative of David’s adultery and murder is embedded in the account of the war with Ammon, because the events of the story occur against the background of that war.  Uriah’s absence from home, which paves the way for the adultery and also necessitates creating an explanation for Bathsheba’s pregnancy, is occasioned by the war, as is Uriah’s death.  The narrative does not try to conceal or mitigate David’s sins.  The outstanding loyalty of the non-Israelite soldier (Uriah) underscores the perfidy of the Israelite king.  It is highly unusual for ancient literature to criticize powerful and successful kings.  The way David’s behavior is depicted and condemned in the Bible shows the overriding importance it assigns to moral values.

–Shimon Bar-Efrat

David Commits Adultery with Bathsheba

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle (that is, because the weather is warmer and drier), David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah (that is, modern Amman, the capital of ancient Ammon). But David remained at Jerusalem.

One wonders why the commander-in-chief was not there with his men.

2It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.

David and Bathsheba, illustration by Barbara Griffiths

David looked at Bathsheba and said “beauty” but God saw this as ugly.  The pleasures of sin deceive us like the bait hides the hook.  We must call it what God calls it — sin.  We want to say “affair” but God says “adultery.”  We want to say “love” but God says “lust.”  We want to say “sexy” but God says “sin.”  We want to say, “romantic” but God says “ruin.”  We want to say “destiny” but God says “destruction.”

–David Guzik

3David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.

David is a thoroughly modern man, seeing sex simply as a pleasurable experience.  Perhaps with all those wives, David never really experienced the one-flesh bonding experience of sex that God intends.

(Now she was purifying herself after her period.)

So she wasn’t pregnant before coming to David’s house . . .

Then she returned to her house. 5The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

_________________________

“As soon as ever we are conscious of sin, the right thing is not to begin to reason with the sin, or to wait until we have brought ourselves into a proper state of heart about it, but to go at once and confess the transgression unto the Lord, there and then.”

–Spurgeon

_________________________

6So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 8Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.”

David hopes that Uriah will sleep with his wife and thus—unwittingly—cover up the adultery.

Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.

10When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?”

11Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.”

David assumed that Uriah would be a man like himself, pursuing his own pleasure.  Instead Uriah proved to be a man of integrity, concerned about the purposes of the kingdom.

12Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.”

“David and Uriah” by Rembrandt, 1665 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg)

Rembrandt:  David and Uriah

Uriah has risen from the table
At which they have been talking.
He is beginning to walk away.

His right hand is laid across his breast
The way a Diva might take a bow.
Or the President salute the flag
His left hand clasps his belt,
A soldier’s grip.

Like everything else in Rembrandt
It is the moving moment he conveys,
The motif of motion: happening action.
And this, the moment, is fissile.

‘I was this morning early at your door
While sleep still held you unawares…’

But now he knows his heart
Has been inundated, his dreams
Are couriers to nightmare.

The moment is turning hard,
And the moment slowly
Astonishes his heart,
Slowly, inexorably, as coral.

–David Broadbridge

So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, 13David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

Ah, David, what we are capable of stooping to, in order to conceal our own sin!

David Has Uriah Killed

14In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”

Now David is planning a new sin to cover an old sin.  And sending the instructions for it by the hand of the victim!

16As Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant warriors. 17The men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite was killed as well.

18Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting; 19and he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling the king all the news about the fighting, 20then, if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21Who killed Abimelech son of Jerubbaal? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead too.’”

Joab knows that the news of Uriah’s death will please the king and calm him after the losses of battle.

22So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us, and came out against us in the field; but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall; some of the king’s servants are dead; and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.”

25David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one and now another; press your attack on the city, and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”

26When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. 27When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.

How noble David appeared!  One of his mighty men falls in battle, and he tenderly takes in his widow!  How kind and generous he is!

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

_________________________

“Bathsheba at her bath with King David’s letter” by Rembrandt, 1654 (The Louvre, Paris)

from Peculiar Treasures
by Frederick Buechner

BATHSHEBA

Even when King David lay on his death-bed and she was there with the rest of them to nag him about the succession, he still remembered the first time he had ever seen her.  The latest round of warfare with the Syrians has just ended, and his victory had left him feeling let down.  He drank too much at lunch and went upstairs for a long nap afterwards.  It was almost twilight when he awoke.  The palace was unusually quiet, and he felt unusually solemn and quiet inside his own skin.  There were no servants around for some reason, nobody to remind him that he was anointed king, victorious general, all that.  He bathed, made himself a drink, and with just a towel wrapped around his waist, walked out onto the terrace on the roof where he looked down over the parapet in a kind of trance.

If the whole Syrian army had been drawn up in battle dress, he would have simply noted their presence and passed on.  There was a bay gelding tethered to a tree, sweeping the flies away with his tail.  In the servants’ court, the cistern had overflowed onto the cobbles leaving a puddle the shape of Asia.  Beyond a wall, a naked girl stood in a shallow pool dipping water over her shoulders with a shell.  In as detached a way as he was the girl, he saw both that he had to have her at any cost and that the cost would be exorbitant.  Her husband’s murder, the death of their first child — like actors awaiting their cues, the fatal consequences lurked just out of sight in the wings.

Years later, when the chill was in his bones and rattling with beads Bathsheba came to pester him about Solomon, he could hardly see her there at his bedside but saw her instead glimmering in the dusk like a peeled pear as he’d first gazed down at her from the roof with his glass in his hand all those years earlier.  Raising it first to eye level, he had drained it off in a single swallow like a toast, but it was only on his death-bed that he caught a glimpse of why.

It wasn’t just Bathsheba that he’d been toasting or the prospect of their life together, but a much more distant prospect still.  He had been drinking, he realized, to the child of their child of their child a thousand years thence, who he could only pray would find it in his heart to think kindly someday of the beautiful girl and the improvident king who had so recklessly and long ago been responsible for his birth in a stable and his death just outside the city walls.

_________________________

Music:

One of the most beautiful love songs of my lifetime, I believe — “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” — Celine Dion.

_________________________

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:
Tov.   http://www.estrellafineart.com/images/Tov%20Bathsheba%20and%20%20King%20David%20II.jpg
Griffiths.    http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_14.jpg
cross and sins.    http://wordunplugged.com/wp-content/files/crosswsin.jpg
empty boots and helmet.    http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/news_impact/2008/08/300-wall.jpg
Rembrandt.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Bathsheba_at_Her_Bath.jpg

382.) 2 Samuel 10

October 19, 2010

2 Samuel 10   (NRSV)

The Ammonites and Arameans Are Defeated

This chapter on the war with Ammon gives the reader background to the next story, which deals with David’s sin against Bathsheba and Uriah.

Some time afterward, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him. 2David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent envoys to console him concerning his father.

When David’s envoys came into the land of the Ammonites, 3the princes of the Ammonites said to their lord Hanun, “Do you really think that David is honoring your father just because he has sent messengers with condolences to you? Has not David sent his envoys to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?” 4So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half the beard of each, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away.

The insult of the half-beards and half-bottoms is avenged — illustration by Barbara Griffiths

Humiliating and insulting.  Particularly in the East in ancient times, a man’s beard was considered his finest ornament.  Slaves were clean shaven, but a free man pledged oaths by his beard.

5When David was told, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. The king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”

Jericho had remained almost empty since the time of Joshua.  It was not rebuilt until Ahab’s reign (1 Kings 16:34).  There the men can heal in privacy.

6When the Ammonites saw that they had become odious to David, the Ammonites sent and hired the Arameans of Beth-rehob and the Arameans of Zobah, twenty thousand foot soldiers, as well as the king of Maacah, one thousand men, and the men of Tob, twelve thousand men.

7When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army with the warriors. 8The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the gate; but the Arameans of Zobah and of Rehob, and the men of Tob and Maacah, were by themselves in the open country.

The Ammonites in front and the Arameans behind.  Doesn’t look good . . .

9When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the picked men of Israel, and arrayed them against the Arameans; 10the rest of his men he put in the charge of his brother Abishai, and he arrayed them against the Ammonites. 11He said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12Be strong, and let us be courageous for the sake of our people, and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”

Ephesians 6:10 (New International Version)

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

13So Joab and the people who were with him moved forward into battle against the Arameans; and they fled before him. 14When the Ammonites saw that the Arameans fled, they likewise fled before Abishai, and entered the city. Then Joab returned from fighting against the Ammonites, and came to Jerusalem.

15But when the Arameans saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together. 16Hadadezer sent and brought out the Arameans who were beyond the Euphrates; and they came to Helam, with Shobach the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head.

17When it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, and crossed the Jordan, and came to Helam. The Arameans arrayed themselves against David and fought with him. 18The Arameans fled before Israel; and David killed of the Arameans seven hundred chariot teams, and forty thousand horsemen, and wounded Shobach the commander of their army, so that he died there. 19When all the kings who were servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel, and became subject to them.

When King David fights with his mighty men, God blesses them with victory.  This should encourage David to be with the army of Israel at the battle sites (not lolling around in Jerusalem . . .).

So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites any more.

_________________________

Music:

“Our God Is Greater”  by Chris Tomlin.

_________________________

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:
God vs. enemies.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_vqNk7GKylGg/TG026YvcGTI/AAAAAAAAAz8/LJOLrrIrVRw/s1600/untitled.bmp
Griffiths.    http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_12.jpg
weight lifting man.    http://exercisemenu.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/weightlifting-svg-hi.png

381.) 2 Samuel 9

October 18, 2010

“The Invitation” by Morgan Weistling

2 Samuel 9   (NRSV)

David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

David asked, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I may show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

In 1 Samuel 7 David asked, “What can I do for God?” and he proposed to build a temple for the Lord. Now David asks another question we should each ask: “What can I do for others?”
–David Guzik

2Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and he was summoned to David. The king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

And he said, “At your service!”

3The king said, “Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?”

To whom can I show “the kindness of God” today?

_________________________

Music:

“If We Are the Body”  by Casting Crowns puts the question even more directly.

_________________________

Ziba said to the king, “There remains a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”

The day that King Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, the nurse picked up Mephibosheth and ran with him, since the usual practice for new kings was to kill the family members of the former king.  In her haste, the nurse tripped and dropped the child.  (See 2 Samuel 4:4.)

4The king said to him, “Where is he?”

Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”

We will see Machir son of Ammiel become a strong supporter of King David.

5Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 6Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, and fell on his face and did obeisance. David said, “Mephibosheth!”

He answered, “I am your servant.”

7David said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan;

Ephesians 4:32 (King James Version)

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

_________________________

I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul, and you yourself shall eat at my table always.”

8He did obeisance and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?”

9Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. 10You and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him, and shall bring in the produce, so that your master’s grandson may have food to eat; but your master’s grandson Mephibosheth shall always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so your servant will do.”

Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. 12Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. And all who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. 13Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he always ate at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

_________________________

Luke 14:15 (New Living Translation)

Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”

_________________________

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:
Weistling.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_rIbHCN6SZHY/SwmTX6cXlII/AAAAAAAAAhM/nbyh-SXxGBo/s1600/the-invitation-zoom.jpg
David assures Mephibosheth.    http://lh5.ggpht.com/_4c4oIkGB8K0/ScGBkrQp58I/AAAAAAAACPU/sLT6BTK73bI/ShababChristian+The+United+Kingdom-14.jpg
banquet.    http://www.evangile-et-peinture.org/static/dossiers/img_jour/2004-08/20040822_s.jpg

380.) 2 Samuel 8

October 15, 2010

map of nations defeated by King David

2 Samuel 8   (NRSV)

David’s Wars

Some time afterward, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; David took Metheg-ammah (that is, Gath, Goliath’s hometown) out of the hand of the Philistines.

2He also defeated the Moabites and, making them lie down on the ground, measured them off with a cord; he measured two lengths of cord for those who were to be put to death, and one length for those who were to be spared. And the Moabites became servants to David and brought tribute.

David’s conquests are laid end to end — illustration by Barbara Griffiths

To explain David’s cruel act, Jewish tradition asserts that the king of Moab had killed David’s parents, who had been entrusted to his care (1 Samuel 22:4).

3David also struck down King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah, as he went to restore his monument at the river Euphrates. 4David took from him one thousand seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. David hamstrung all the chariot horses, but left enough for a hundred chariots.

5When theArameans of Damascus came to help King Hadadezer of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand men of the Arameans. 6Then David put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus; and the Arameans became servants to David and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.

7David took the gold shields that were carried by the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. 8From Betah and from Berothai, towns of Hadadezer, King David took a great amount of bronze.

9When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had defeated the whole army of Hadadezer, 10Toi sent his son Joram to King David, to greet him and to congratulate him because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him. Now Hadadezer had often been at war with Toi. Joram brought with him articles of silver, gold, and bronze; 11these also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued, 12from Edom, Moab, the Ammonites, the Philistines, Amalek, and from the spoil of King Hadadezer son of Rehob of Zobah.

13David won a name for himself. When he returned, he killed eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 14He put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.

David now rules over a vast territory, from the Euphrates in the northeast to the Egyptian border in the southwest.  The honor for this success is given to God.

David’s Officers

 

teamwork!

15So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and equity to all his people. 16Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.

_________________________

Music:

All these battles and wars!  How grateful I am that we serve a King who is victorious!

“Lead On, O King Eternal” — arrangement by Diane Bish;  Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (FL) Chancel Choir, with Bish on the organ.

_________________________

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:
map.    http://www.bible-history.com/maps/Map-of-Nations-Defeated-byDavid.gif
Griffiths.    http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_11.jpg
teamwork.    http://www.salajka.com/johnny/TeamworkProject/teamwork-games.jpg

379.) 2 Samuel 7

October 14, 2010

This chapter contains the first mention of a permanent temple for God.

2 Samuel 7   (NRSV)

God’s Covenant with David

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”

A house of cedar for David! Quite a change from tents and caves!

3Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

So the two men agreed that it was a great idea.  But no one thought to ask God for His opinion!

4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies.

Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

The Lord refuses David’s offer, and instead says that one of David’s sons will build the temple for the Lord.  We learn the reason for God’s decision in 1 Chronicles 22:8-10:

But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.  But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon,  and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

“Madonna and Child” by Jason Jenicke

Isaiah 9:6-7 (New International Version)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

17In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

David’s Prayer

18Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God!

20“And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it.

22“Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them, by driving out before his people nations and their gods? 24And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever; and you, O Lord, became their God.

25“And now, O Lord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. 26Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and the house of your servant David will be established before you.

27“For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true,

and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 29now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

_________________________

David boldly prays that the Lord will do just what he has promised.  As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 138:8 –

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.
_________________________

Music:

And indeed God honored David’s prayer, and established the house of his servant forever, in the person of Jesus Christ.  We praise Him now and forever.
“Holy Is the Lord”  by Chris Tomlin.
_________________________

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:
cedar log house.    http://www.vared.com/cedar-log-home-7.html
Jenicke.  http://aboutreligiousart.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/yhst-37939424361191_2027_161446281.jpg
John 17:17.    http://www.christian-comments.com/comments/john-17-17.jpg

378.) 2 Samuel 6

October 13, 2010

“David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem” by Darlene Slavujac, 1993.

2 Samuel 6   (NRSV)

David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem

FIRST ATTEMPT

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim.

The Ark of the Covenant had been built, according to God’s directions, for the tabernacle when the people of Israel were at Mount Sinai with Moses.  It was a box about 4 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet (-ish), made of wood and covered with gold.  The top of the ark had two angels of beaten gold, their wings uplifted.  Inside the ark were Israel’s treasures:  the tablets of the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s rod which had budded, and a container of manna.

3They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.

God had given clear instructions on how the ark should be transported.  It was to be carried by four priests, Levites of the family of Kohath (Numbers 4:15), who touched the poles and not the ark, as in the picture above.  Carrying the ark on a cart, as the Philistines had done, was disobedience to the Lord.

Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

“Ark Carried to Jerusalem” by Marc Chagall, 1956

6When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.

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Numbers 4:15 (New International Version)

But they must not touch the holy things or they will die.

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from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

The judgment of God on what seemed a trivial fault was a flashing forth of His thought about all unspiritual service.  For that is what the service of Uzzah was; and not his only, but David’s too, and that of all who set the ark oaf God upon a cart.  God had said that the ark was not to be put on a cart, but it was to be carried on men’s shoulders.

The cart was a Philistine expedient (1 Samuel 6:7-8).  It has been truly said that the Church is full of Philistine ways of doing service to Christ.  But those ways are not acceptable to God.  The Uzzah story tells us so.

Let us follow His wishes in every smallest detail, unconfused by the voices and customs around us.

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8David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day.

9David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?” 10So David was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

In 1 Chronicles 26:4 we learn that Obed-edom was a Levite of the family of Korah.  David has evidently done his research and is now in obedience with God’s instructions.

SECOND ATTEMPT

12It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; 13and when those who bore the ark of the Lord

No word of a cart!

had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.

Was he dancing in his underwear?!  Probably not.  An ephod was a linen garment worn by the priests.  It could be that David removed his royal robes to praise and celebrate more freely.

15So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

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Music:

The Oslo Gospel Choir and “Bless the Lord.”  David would sing and dance right along with them!

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16As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

“Michal Despises David” by J. James Tissot, 1900 (Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN)

17They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. 18When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, 19and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

20David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!”

21David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. 22I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.”

23And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

David had plenty of other wives and concubines for his royal bed.

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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:
Slavujac.    http://www.biblicalartist.net/originaloils.html
Ark of the Covenant.   http://www.artsales.com/ARTistory/images/ark200500.jpg
Chagall.    http://www.franklinbowlesgallery.com/NY/Artists/Chagall/Pages/Etchings/bible/CHAG0784P_Plate_68.htm
small details.     http://www.geeshing.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/small-details1.jpg
Fruit of the Loom.    http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/replicate/EXID31244/images/fruit-of-the-loom-logo.jpg
Tissot.    http://www.cts.edu/library/imagelibrary?func=detail&id=416

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