390.) 2 Samuel 16

October 29, 2010

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

2 Samuel 16   (NRSV)

David’s Adversaries

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

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

Beware of Ziba bearing gifts . . .

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

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

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

Shimei Curses David

Shimei curses David — illustration by Barbara Griffiths

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


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

–David Guzik


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

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

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


Hebrews 10:30-31 (English Standard Version)

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



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

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


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

The Counsel of Ahithophel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

389.) 2 Samuel 15

October 28, 2010

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

2 Samuel 15   (NRSV)

Absalom Usurps the Throne

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

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

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

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

–David Guzik


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

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

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

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

the rebellious prince

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

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

David Flees from Jerusalem

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

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

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


from Whispers of his Power,
by Amy Carmichael


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


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

The foreigners are supporting David —

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

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

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

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

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

The priests are loyal to David —

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

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

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


Psalm 61 (New International Version)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

Hushai Becomes David’s Spy

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

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

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


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

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

388.) 2 Samuel 14

October 27, 2010

“David Pardoning Absalom” by William Blake, 1803

2 Samuel 14   (NRSV)

Absalom Returns to Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


woman in traditional widow garb in Greece

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

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

–David Guzik

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

He said, “Speak.”

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Forgives Absalom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

387.) 2 Samuel 13

October 26, 2010

“Amnon and Tamar” by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini

2 Samuel 13   (NRSV)

Amnon and Tamar

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

Rated R for sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Absalom Avenges the Violation of His Sister

Rated R for violence.

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

34But Absalom fled.

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

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

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

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

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

David mourned for his son day after day.

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


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

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

386.) 2 Samuel 12:15 – 31

October 25, 2010

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

2 Samuel 12:15-31   (NRSV)

Bathsheba’s Child Dies

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

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

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

David earnestly sought the Lord’s mercy.

18On the seventh day the child died.

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

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

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

They said, “He is dead.”

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


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

Job 2:10 (Amplified Bible)

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


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

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

Solomon Is Born

24Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba,

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

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

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

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

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



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


The Ammonites Crushed

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

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

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


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

— St. Augustine


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

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

385.) Psalm 51

October 22, 2010

Psalm 51 (New International Version)

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Detail of “David’s Punishment” by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (German artist, 1794-1872), woodcut illustration



“Miserere,” by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), is a setting of Psalm 51 composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel as part of the Tenebrae service on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week.


1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.


Romans 3:1-4 (Contemporary English Version)

What good is it to be a Jew? What good is it to be circumcised? It is good in a lot of ways! First of all, God’s messages were spoken to the Jews. It is true that some of them did not believe the message. But does this mean that God cannot be trusted, just because they did not have faith? No, indeed! God tells the truth, even if everyone else is a liar. The Scriptures say about God,

“Your words

will be proven true,

and in court

you will win your case.”


5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

whiter than snow

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

Wait — but God had instructed the Israelites to bring him sacrifices and burnt offerings!  So if that type of offering no longer works, then what?  What can we bring to God as a sacrifice, which the Lord will deem acceptable and excellent?  What does God want from us?

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

God asks that I bring him a broken heart, broken by my sorrowful awareness of my own sins and the sins of the world.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.



“Have mercy on me, O God . . .”  David begins his confession.  In doing so, he teaches us how to confess our own sins to the Lord.  And the Lord has promised that our repentance will be met by his mercy.

“Thy Mercy”  sung here by Sandra McCracken.  Lyrics follow.

Thy mercy my God is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue.
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affection and bound my soul fast.
Without Thy sweet mercy, I could not live here.
Sin would reduce me to utter despair,
But through Thy free goodness, my spirit’s revived
And He that first made me still keeps me alive.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart.
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own
In the covenant love of Thy crucified Son.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine.
Well, Hallelujah
Hallelujah (Hallelujah)
Well, Hallelujah


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Have mercy tulips.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/havemercyonmeogodaccordingtoyoursteadfastlove.jpg
Carolsfeld.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/images/carolsfeld_davids_punishment420x376.gif
whiter than snow.    http://crystallewis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/img_0446.jpg
Create in me a clean heart.    http://bibledaily.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/psalm51c.jpg
Restore to me the joy and rainbow.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm51_12ljm.jpg
Man with a broken heart.    http://bayareabaptistchurch.info/dpw/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Brokenness.jpg

384.) 2 Samuel 12:1-15

October 21, 2010

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

2 Samuel 12:1 – 15   (NRSV)

Nathan Condemns David

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

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

He came to him, and said to him,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–David Guzik

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

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

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

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

15Then Nathan went to his house.


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


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.



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

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

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


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

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

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.”



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


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.



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.



“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?



“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