1824.) 2 Samuel 22

April 28, 2016

2 Samuel 22   (NRSV)

David’s Song of Thanksgiving

David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.

With minor variations, this psalm is the same as Psalm 18.  But haven’t we all found that the same words can have vastly different meanings at various points in our lives?  (That’s why I read Jane Eyre every year!)

I remember hearing this sermon illustration when I was only a child:

A little girl was asked this question in her Sunday School classroom:  “What do you know about God?”  She answered, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

An elderly pastor was asked the same question on his deathbed:  “What do you know about God?”  And he gave the same answer.  “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

2He said: The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,

David experienced the Lord’s deliverance:

  • God delivered David from Goliath
  • God delivered David from Saul
  • God delivered David from backsliding
  • God delivered David from Israel’s enemies
  • God delivered David from Absalom
  • God delivered David from David’s own sinful passions

–David Guzik

3my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold and my refuge, my savior;
you save me from violence.
4I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

God is so big and so wonderful, it takes many words and titles to describe him! Let that be a lesson to me in my own prayers!

5For the waves of death encompassed me,
the torrents of perdition assailed me;
6the cords of Sheol entangled me,
the snares of death confronted me.
7In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry came to his ears.

8Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked,
because he was angry.

No matter the catastrophe, God is near to his children, be it an earthquake (here in Sumatra) . . .

9Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.

. . .  or volcanic eruption (all this smoke! — from an eruption in Chile) . . .

10He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
11
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
12
He made darkness around him a canopy,
thick clouds, a gathering of water.
13
Out of the brightness before him
coals of fire flamed forth.
14
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the Most High uttered his voice.
15
He sent out arrows, and scattered them—
lightning, and routed them.

. . . or thunderstorm . . .

16Then the channels of the sea were seen,
the foundations of the world were laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

17He reached from on high, he took me,
he drew me out of mighty waters.
18He delivered me from my strong enemy,
from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me.
19
They came upon me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my stay.
20
He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

21The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
22
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23For all his ordinances were before me,
and from his statutes I did not turn aside.
24I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from guilt.
25
Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight.

For years verses like these bothered me, for I knew that my hands were not clean before him, nor could the Lord count me blameless in his sight. I can’t keep myself from sin and guilt! It was while I was listening to a teaching from Joyce Meyer that I came to understand that I was reading these verses and relying on my feelings, rather than on God’s fact. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 tells us the truth that God wants all of his children to know:

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Now I can read and sing these verses with joy, for Christ’s death on the cross makes me clean! Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Watchman Nee, 20th century Chinese pastor and martyr, explains this further:

Outside of Christ, I am only a sinner, but in Christ, I am saved. Outside of Christ, I am empty; in Christ, I am full. Outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong. Outside of Christ, I cannot; in Christ, I am more than able. Outside of Christ, I have been defeated; in Christ, I am already victorious. How meaningful are the words, “in Christ.”

_________________________

Music:

“His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avails for me.”

HERE  is “O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” a great hymn by Charles Wesley.

_________________________

26With the loyal you show yourself loyal;
with the blameless you show yourself blameless;
27
with the pure you show yourself pure,
and with the crooked you show yourself perverse.
28You deliver a humble people,
but your eyes are upon the haughty to bring them down.
29Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord,
the Lord lightens my darkness.
30
By you I can crush a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.

31This God—his way is perfect;
the promise of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

from Edges of his Ways, by Amy Carmichael:

Psalm 18:30 — As for God, His way is perfect.

God is love, so we may change the word and say, As for Love, His way is perfect. This has been helping me.

One of the ways of Love is to prepare us beforehand for any hard thing that He knows is near. Perhaps this word will be His loving preparation to some heart for a disappointment, or for some trial of faith, something known to others, or some secret sorrow between the Father and His child. As for Love, His way is perfect.

32For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
33The God who has girded me with strength
has opened wide my path.
34
He made my feet like the feet of deer,
and set me secure on the heights.
35He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your help has made me great.
37You have made me stride freely,
and my feet do not slip.

38I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
and did not turn back until they were consumed.
39
I consumed them; I struck them down, so that they did not rise;
they fell under my feet.
40For you girded me with strength for the battle;
you made my assailants sink under me.
41
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
42
They looked, but there was no one to save them;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
43
I beat them fine like the dust of the earth,
I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.

44You delivered me from strife with the peoples;
you kept me as the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
45Foreigners came cringing to me;
as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.
46
Foreigners lost heart,
and came trembling out of their strongholds.

47The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock,
and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,
48the God who gave me vengeance
and brought down peoples under me,
49
who brought me out from my enemies;
you exalted me above my adversaries,
you delivered me from the violent.
50
For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing praises to your name.
51He is a tower of salvation for his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.

_________________________

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:
hands lifted in praise.     http://media.photobucket.com/image/2%20Samuel%2022/perdasil/2Samuel22.jpg
Jesus loves me, this I know.    http://littlekiddotees.com/200-417-thickbox/jesus-loves-me-this-i-know-shirt.jpg
earthquake.    http://www.nomad4ever.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/destroyed-houses-in-sumatra-after-powerful-earthquake.jpg
volcano.    http://thegeogblog.edublogs.org/files/2008/05/volcanic-eruption.JPG
thunderstorm.   http://mypages.iit.edu/~ahutches/images/thunderstorm.jpg
washing hands.    http://www.topnews.in/health/files/washinghands.jpg
God is love.    http://biblicism.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/god-love.jpg
The Lord lives (inkwell greetings).    http://www.prestoimages.net/graphics03/5592_pd73358full.jpg

1823.) 2 Samuel 21

April 27, 2016
David's life surely shows that God sends the power of his spirit to those who follow him.

David’s life surely shows that God sends the power of his spirit to those who follow him.

2 Samuel 21   (NRSV)

David Avenges the Gibeonites

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. The Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

This act of Saul is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible.

2So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had tried to wipe them out in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.)

The account of Israel promising not to harm the Gibeonites is found in Joshua 9. The nation was bound by that oath. As for Saul, good intentions do not excuse bad actions.

3David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make expiation, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?”

4The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put anyone to death in Israel.”

He said, “What do you say that I should do for you?”

5They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel— 6let seven of his sons (that is, male descendants) be handed over to us, and we will impale them before the Lord at Gibeon on the mountain of the Lord.”

The king said, “I will hand them over.”

David knew this was the right thing to do. Perhaps David knew that Saul’s descendants helped in or benefited directly from that massacre.

7But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the oath of the Lord that was between them, between David and Jonathan son of Saul.

But David protected Mephibosheth because of his own promise to him. David would not fulfill one oath at the expense of another.

8The king took the two sons of Rizpah daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they impaled them on the mountain before the Lord. The seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.

10Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it on a rock for herself, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell on them from the heavens (that is, all summer long); she did not allow the birds of the air to come on the bodies by day, or the wild animals by night.

11When David was told what Rizpah daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the people of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13He brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who had been impaled.

Rizpah, mother of two of the slain, holds a loving vigil over her sons. Her noble deed inspires David to his own act of charity.

14They buried the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of his father Kish; they did all that the king commanded. After that, God heeded supplications for the land.

Which is to say, God put an end to the famine.

Exploits of David’s Men

15The Philistines went to war again with Israel, and David went down together with his servants. They fought against the Philistines, and David grew weary.

David is getting old; he cannot fight the same way he once did.

16Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was fitted out with new weapons, said he would kill David. 17But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and attacked the Philistine and killed him.

When David’s strength failed, God protected him through the strength of others.

–David Guzik

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up . . . Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.

Then David’s men swore to him, “You shall not go out with us to battle any longer, so that you do not quench the lamp of Israel.”

18After this a battle took place with the Philistines, at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants.

19Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

20There was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great size, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he too was descended from the giants.

Polydactyly — having extra fingers or toes — occurs about once in every 500 live births. Pictured is the hand of Devender Harne of Nagpur, India.

21When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of David’s brother Shimei, killed him.

22These four were descended from the giants in Gath; they fell by the hands of David and his servants.

_________________________

Music:

I love the thought that we are God’s “mighty men” through the Lord Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit!  HERE  is The Maranatha! Singers and “I Am Persuaded (We Are More Than Conquerors)” by David J. Hadden.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

_________________________

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:
more than conquerors.    http://image.slidesharecdn.com/16-140215142114-phpapp02/95/jesus-the-son-of-god-16-638.jpg?cb=1392474279
Rizpah.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/rizpah1.png
Two are better than one.  http://www.doorposts.org/images/Old%20Test/Eccl%204.9-10.gif
Devender Harne.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/devender-harne.jpg?w=450

1822.) 2 Samuel 20

April 26, 2016

More battles, more rebellion, more conflict, more death . . .

2 Samuel 20   (NRSV)

The Rebellion of Sheba

Now a scoundrel named Sheba son of Bichri, a Benjaminite, (that is, from the same tribe as King Saul) happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and cried out, “We have no portion in David, no share in the son of Jesse! Everyone to your tents, O Israel!”

2So all the people of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba son of Bichri; but the people of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

Conflict continues — Israel breaks away from David and only Judah (David’s tribe) remains loyal.

3David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to look after the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.

Absalom had raped these ten concubines to show all the land that he was in rebellion against his father. Once David returned, he could not divorce the women, or marry them to someone else, or punish them, for they were innocent victims of Absalom’s (and David’s) sins. But neither could he be intimate with them again, since they were effectively defiled. Yet again we see the innocent suffering on account of the guilty.

4Then the king said to Amasa, “Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5So Amasa went to summon Judah; but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him.

6David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom; take your lord’s servants and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities for himself, and escape from us.”

David knows there is no time to waste. Amasa did not do what was needed in a timely manner, so David appointed Abashai to pick it up. Perhaps David did not choose Joab because of the fact that Joab had killed Absalom. And there is another fly in this ointment:   Joab and Abashai were brothers.

7Joab’s men went out after him, along with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the warriors; they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bichri.

8When they were at the large stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened at his waist; as he went forward it fell out.

9Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10But Amasa did not notice the sword in Joab’s hand; Joab struck him in the belly so that his entrails poured out on the ground, and he died. He did not strike a second blow. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bichri.

Joab killed Amasa in the same way he killed Abner in chapter 3 — a dagger in the belly. He may have defended his own treacherous behavior by calling it loyalty to David in ridding the king of a rival. But David never forgave Joab for these murders (see 1 Kings 2:5).

11And one of Joab’s men took his stand by Amasa, and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” 12Amasa lay wallowing in his blood on the highway, and the man saw that all the people were stopping. Since he saw that all who came by him were stopping, he carried Amasa from the highway into a field, and threw a garment over him. 13Once he was removed from the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bichri.

14Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah; and all the Bichrites assembled, and followed him inside. 15Joab’s forces came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah; they threw up a siege-ramp against the city, and it stood against the rampart. Joab’s forces were battering the wall to break it down. 16Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, I want to speak to you.’” 17He came near her; and the woman said, “Are you Joab?”

He answered, “I am.”

Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.”

He answered, “I am listening.”

18Then she said, “They used to say in the old days, ‘Let them inquire at Abel’; and so they would settle a matter. 19I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel; you seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel; why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?”

20Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21That is not the case! But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David; give him up alone, and I will withdraw from the city.”

The woman said to Joab, “His head shall be thrown over the wall to you.”

The next rebellion — illustration by Barbara Griffiths

22Then the woman went to all the people with her wise plan. And they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, and all went to their homes, while Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.

23Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; 24Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the recorder; 25Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26and Ira the Jairite was also David’s priest.

_________________________

Music:

Even now, as David is approaching the end of his reign of around 40 years, he is dealing with an almost constant stream of discord and conflict and murder.  How his soul must have longed for peace!  HERE  is the “Prayer of St Francis of Assisi” — composed by John Rutter  and sung by The Cambridge Singers.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me bring love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

_________________________

 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:
wars and battles.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/battle.jpg
Deja vu.   http://www.banklawyersblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c652b53ef0154331e4d84970c-800wi
Griffiths.    http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_20.jpg

1821.) 2 Samuel 19

April 25, 2016

How ought a king behave?  In this chapter we see some good actions from King David, corroborated by verses from Proverbs.

2 Samuel 19   (NRSV)

It was told Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the troops; for the troops heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. 4The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

David’s excessive sorrow cast a cloud over the victory. There is such a thing as excessive mourning — mourning that is basically rooted in unbelief and ungodly fear. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul warned Christians: I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. Some Christians sorrow at times in death or tragedy like those who have no hope in God; this does not honor God or help others.

5Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your officers who have saved your life today, and the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, 6for love of those who hate you and for hatred of those who love you. You have made it clear today that commanders and officers are nothing to you; for I perceive that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 7So go out at once and speak kindly to your servants; for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night; and this will be worse for you than any disaster that has come upon you from your youth until now.”

Someone had to tell David that he was acting as a slave to his feelings, that he was behaving as if under the circumstances. But God was, and always is, still in control. No matter the tragedy, we can find comfort and encouragement  in the wonderful truth that “Christ is still risen!”

8Then the king got up and took his seat in the gate. The troops were all told, “See, the king is sitting in the gate”; and all the troops came before the king.

As my mother would have said, “Do the next thing.”

Proverbs 16:10 (NIV)

The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth does not betray justice.

David Recalled to Jerusalem

Meanwhile, all the Israelites had fled to their homes. 9All the people were disputing throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies, and saved us from the hand of the Philistines; and now he has fled out of the land because of Absalom. 10But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”

11King David sent this message to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house? The talk of all Israel has come to the king. 12You are my kin, you are my bone and my flesh; why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? So may God do to me, and more, if you are not the commander of my army from now on, in place of Joab.’”

14Amasa swayed the hearts of all the people of Judah as one, and they sent word to the king, “Return, both you and all your servants.” 15So the king came back to the Jordan; and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring him over the Jordan.

16Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite, from Bahurim, hurried to come down with the people of Judah to meet King David; 17with him were a thousand people from Benjamin. And Ziba, the servant of the house of Saul, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, rushed down to the Jordan ahead of the king, 18while the crossing was taking place, to bring over the king’s household, and to do his pleasure.

David left Israel as a desperate fugitive, rejected by the nation and hunted by his son Absalom. He came back escorted by thousands of enthusiastic supporters.

Proverbs 14:28 (NIV)

A large population is a king’s glory,
but without subjects a prince is ruined.

David’s Mercy to Shimei

The critic apologizes — illustration by Barbara Griffiths

Shimei son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, 19and said to the king, “May my lord not hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem; may the king not bear it in mind. 20For your servant knows that I have sinned; therefore, see, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.”

21Abishai son of Zeruiah answered, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?”

22But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” 23The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.

Shimei had cursed him; David forgave him. Shimei deserved punishment; David showed him mercy. Shimei said — I was wrong; David said — That’s OK, I’ll let it go.

Proverbs 16:13 (NIV)

Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value the one who speaks what is right.

David and Mephibosheth Meet

24Mephibosheth grandson of Saul came down to meet the king; he had not taken care of his feet, or trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes, from the day the king left until the day he came back in safety. 25When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king said to him, “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?”

26He answered, “My lord, O king, my servant deceived me; for your servant said to him, ‘Saddle a donkey for me, so that I may ride on it and go with the king.’ For your servant is lame. 27He has slandered your servant to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. 28For all my father’s house were doomed to death before my lord the king; but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to appeal to the king?”

29The king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.”

According to the Talmud, David’s unjust decision will have repercussions in the future:  “When David said to Mephibosheth, you and Ziba shall divide the field, a heavenly voice was heard, saying, Rehoboam and Jeroboam will divide the kingdom.”

–Shimon Bar-Efrat

30Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take it all, since my lord the king has arrived home safely.”

Proverbs 22:11 (NIV)

One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
will have the king for a friend.

from Peculiar Treasures,
by Frederick Buechner

MEPHIBOSHETH

Mephibosheth was five years old when news came through that his father, Jonathan, and his grandfather, King Saul, had both been killed in battle.  Terrified of what might happen next, his nurse snatched him up in her arms and started to run off with him when she tripped and fell in her panic, and the boy was so badly crippled that he never walked right again.

The new king, David, might very well have decided to get rid of him.  It was standard procedure then to wipe out your predecessor’s entire family when you came to the throne just in case any of them happened to have political ambitions; but maybe because Mephibosheth was a cripple and thus not like to give him much trouble, or maybe because his father had been David’s best friend, or maybe just because he felt sorry for him or some combination of all these, David decided to be generous. It was the kind of crazy, magnificent gesture he like to make every once in a while, like the time some soldiers risked their necks breaking through the enemy lines to bring him a cup of cool water from Bethlehem, his home-town, and David won the hearts of everybody by saying, “Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” (2 Samuel 23:15-17), and poured it out on the ground.

In any case, he had Mephibosheth brought to him, and the poor child fell on his face in terror at what for all he knew was going to be the axe, but David told him not to be afraid.  He tole him that he was to have all the property that rightfully belonged to him and a man named Ziba to look after him, and he also promised him that from then on he was to take all his meals at the king’s table as if he was his own son.

Ziba was a sly one, as it turned out, and years later when there was a revolt against David, led by his own son, Absalom, Ziba told the king that Mephibosheth had defected to the other side.  What motivated this lie was the hope that David would grant him not only his favor but also all of Mephibosheth’s real estate, and David did.

After the revolt was successfully put down, however, Mephibosheth showed up and convinced David that Ziba had been lying and he had been on the right side all along, and David seemed to believe him.  But poor David—he was so shattered by everything that had happened, especially by the death of his beloved if treacherous Absalom, that he couldn’t give the matter his full attention and more or less brushed Mephibosheth off by telling him that he and Ziba could divide the real estate between them for all he cared and to stop pestering him.

It would be sad if the relationship ended on such an unsatisfactory note–the old king too broken-hearted to care much about anything anymore, and Mephibosheth limping home to work things out somehow with Ziba.  But that isn’t where it ended.

Before David had a chance to leave, Mephibosheth said that he was so overjoyed that David had driven the rascals out and come through the battle safe and sound that just to celebrate he was prepared to let Ziba take the whole damn place.  Whether or not he made good on the offer, or even intended to, hardly matters.  It was a crazy and magnificent gesture to make, and maybe David was not too lost in his own grief to realize, however dimly, at whose feet he had learned to make it.

David’s Kindness to Barzillai

31Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim; he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. 32Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. He had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33The king said to Barzillai, “Come over with me, and I will provide for you in Jerusalem at my side.”

Proverbs 14:35 (NIV)

A king delights in a wise servant,
but a shameful servant arouses his fury.

34But Barzillai said to the king, “How many years have I still to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35Today I am eighty years old; can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36Your servant will go a little way over the Jordan with the king. Why should the king recompense me with such a reward? 37Please let your servant return, so that I may die in my own town, near the graves of my father and my mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do for him whatever seems good to you.”

It is generally understood that this “servant” was Barzillai’s son.  In 1 Kings 2:7 we read that when David was dying, he said, “Show kindness to the sons of Barzillai.”  So David remembered his promise.

38The king answered, “Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do for him whatever seems good to you; and all that you desire of me I will do for you.”

39Then all the people crossed over the Jordan, and the king crossed over; the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own home.

40The king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him; all the people of Judah, and also half the people of Israel, brought the king on his way.

41Then all the people of Israel came to the king, and said to him, “Why have our kindred the people of Judah stolen you away, and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?”

42All the people of Judah answered the people of Israel, “Because the king is near of kin to us. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?”

43But the people of Israel answered the people of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?”

But the words of the people of Judah were fiercer than the words of the people of Israel.

The heart of the problem between the groups is this:  who has been the most loyal to David, and therefore deserves to honor him?  The break up of the tribes even here foreshadows the division that will come later.

_________________________

Music:

How ought a king behave?  This song reminds us of how Jesus behaved, in kindness and love towards us — oh, my, beyond words.

“You Are My King (Amazing Love)”  sung  HERE  by Phillips, Craig & Dean, three pastors who put themselves together as a musical group in 1991 to much success.

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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:
king.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/king.jpg
Griffiths.     http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_19.jpg
David and Mephibosheth.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/king_david27s_kindness_to_a_lame_man.jpg

1820.) 2 Samuel 18

April 22, 2016

“David and Absalom” by Marc Chagall, 1956.  Note that the artist presents both the reconciliation of father and son, and Absalom’s death.

2 Samuel 18   (NRSV)

The Defeat and Death of Absalom

Then David mustered the men who were with him, and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2And David divided the army into three groups: one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. The king said to the men, “I myself will also go out with you.”

David is a good military commander. He immediately organizes the soldiers into groups, and (unlike when he stayed home with Bathsheba) he declares he will fight with the army.

3But the men said, “You shall not go out. For if we flee, they will not care about us. If half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore it is better that you send us help from the city.”

The men, however, ask him to stay out of the battle. He is too valuable to the nation, and (although it is not stated) might they have realized it would be hard for David to fight against his own son?

4The king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.”

So the king stood at the side of the gate, while all the army marched out by hundreds and by thousands. 5The king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders concerning Absalom.

David wants his son brought back to him alive.

6So the army went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7The men of Israel were defeated there by the servants of David, and the slaughter there was great on that day, twenty thousand men. 8The battle spread over the face of all the country; and the forest claimed more victims that day than the sword.

The men of Israel, disloyal to David, were defeated by David. Casualties in fighting were high, and there were even more deaths in the forest, perhaps by wild beasts.

9Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.

His beautiful hair! — his pride is his undoing.

10A man saw it, and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.”

11Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”

12But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not raise my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying: For my sake protect the young man Absalom! 13On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”

14Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” He took three spears in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak.

Absalom is killed — illustrated by Barbara Griffiths

15And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.

16Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the troops. 17They took Absalom, threw him into a great pit in the forest, and raised over him a very great heap of stones. Meanwhile all the Israelites fled to their homes.

18Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance”; he called the pillar by his own name.

In 2 Samuel 14:27, Absalom has three sons listed; Jewish tradition says that all three predeceased their father.

It is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

Absalom’s Tomb, also known as Absalom’s Pillar, is a rock-cut tomb with a cone-shaped roof located in the Kidron Valley of Jerusalem. For centuries it was thought to be the actual tomb of King David’s rebellious son, and people who passed by would throw stones at it as a sign of disrespect. Modern scholars date the tomb to Roman times.

David Hears of Absalom’s Death

19Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me run, and carry tidings to the king that the Lord has delivered him from the power of his enemies.”

20Joab said to him, “You are not to carry tidings today; you may carry tidings another day, but today you shall not do so, because the king’s son is dead.”

21Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran.

22Then Ahimaaz son of Zadok said again to Joab, “Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.”

And Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, seeing that you have no reward for the tidings?”

23“Come what may,” he said, “I will run.”

So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the Plain, and outran the Cushite.

24Now David was sitting between the two gates.  The sentinel went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he looked up, he saw a man running alone. 25The sentinel shouted and told the king.

The king said, “If he is alone, there are tidings in his mouth.” He kept coming, and drew near.

26Then the sentinel saw another man running; and the sentinel called to the gatekeeper and said, “See, another man running alone!”

The king said, “He also is bringing tidings.”

27The sentinel said, “I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”

The king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good tidings.”

28Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “All is well!” He prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground, and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king.”

29The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?”

Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I do not know what it was.”

30The king said, “Turn aside, and stand here.” So he turned aside, and stood still.

31Then the Cushite came; and the Cushite said, “Good tidings for my lord the king! For the Lord has vindicated you this day, delivering you from the power of all who rose up against you.”

32The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?”

The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up to do you harm, be like that young man.”

David Mourns for Absalom

2Sam18 david-weeping-over-the-death-of-absalom

33The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Indeed Absalom was David’s son — David’s own sins, weaknesses, and rebellion were prominently displayed in his son.

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Music:

This is one of the most moving youtube pieces I have had the privilege of bringing to you, my readers. “When David Heard that Absalom Was Dead”  is a motet  written by Thomas Tompkins (1572-1656); it is performed  HERE  by the Cambridge Singers and directed by John Rutter. I dedicate this to all those, around the world, who have lost a loved one in a war or conflict — so much grief in our world! And Romans 12:15 instructs us to “weep with those who weep.”

The text is straight from Scripture:

“When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went up to his chamber and wept. And thus he said: Oh, my son! Absalom my son. Would God I had died for you.”

_________________________

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:
Chagall.   http://www.wikiart.org/en/marc-chagall/david-and-absalom-1956?utm_source=returned&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=referral
eyes of a fox.   http://www.permuted.org.uk/photography/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/fox_cub_eyes_0108072215_crop.jpg
Griffiths.  http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_18.jpg
Absalom’s Tomb.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Avtomb.JPG
broken heart.   http://www.healingdeliverance.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/broken-heart.png
David weeping.   https://davemcdowell.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/www-st-takla-org-20-david-weeping-over-the-death-of-absalom.jpg

 


1819.) Psalm 4

April 21, 2016

Ps4 evening prayer

Psalm 4   (NRSV)

Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies

In this psalm David pours out his complaint against slanderous enemies and finds peace and refuge in God. It is not so much his safety that is endangered as it is his reputation being threatened.

1Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me now, and hear my prayer.

Prayer tip from David #1:  Use past mercy as a ground for future help.

2How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah

3But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

Prayer tip from David #2:  Be confident that God will hear your prayers.

4When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah

Prayer tip from David #3:  Meditate by filling your heart and mind with God’s word.

5Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

6There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”

Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.

7You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.

Reflection:

“The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
–Romans 14:17

What feeds your heart?

8I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Prayer tip from David #4:  Once you have prayed, rest in the Lord.

Jesus said, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.”

— Matthew 11:28 (CEV)

4-baby-sleeping-bw_________________________

Music:

From the fairy tale opera Hansel and Gretel, by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921), the beautiful lullaby, “Evening Benediction,” from Act 2.  HERE  it is performed by Libera.

_________________________

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:
Psalm 4.   http://spreadjesus.org/26w/Psalm-4-An-Evening-Prayer-of-Confidence-from-The-book-of-Psalms-The-Holy-bible.jpg
Aaron’s benediction.     http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/bible/bible-43.jpg
baby sleeping.  http://www.babyphotospictures.com/thumb/baby-sleeping-black-and-white.jpg

1818.) Psalm 3

April 20, 2016

Psalm 3   (NRSV)

Trust in God under Adversity

This is the first Psalm with a title: “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.”  The events are recorded in 2 Samuel 15-18, but, as David Guzik says, “the heart is recorded in this Psalm.”

1O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;

2many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.” Selah

Shimei was an example of someone who said that God was against David and he was just getting what he deserved (2 Samuel 16:8).

“If all the trials which come from heaven, all the temptations which ascend from hell, and all the crosses which arise from the earth, could be mixed and pressed together, they would not make a trial so terrible as that which is contained in this verse. It is the most bitter of all afflictions to be led to fear that there is no help for us in God.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

3But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.

4I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah

5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.

Sleep is such a blessing.  When we are dead to the world, snoring away — our lungs are breathing, our livers are cleansing, our digestive tract is working, our brain is messaging, our blood is flowing:  it is the Lord sustaining us!

6I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Romans 8:31 (ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

7Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.

This vivid metaphor is also used in Psalm 58:6. It speaks of the total domination and defeat of the enemy. David looked for protection in this Psalm, but more than protection — he looked for victory. It wasn’t enough for David to survive the threat to the kingdom. He had to be victorious over the threat, and he would with the blessing of God.

–David Guzik

8Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people! Selah

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Music:

What an encouraging truth!  HERE  is “Mighty to Save,” by Hillsong.

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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:
trust stone.  http://khushi.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/trust.jpg

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