1811.) Psalm 51

April 11, 2016

Ps51 have mercy

Psalm 51 (NIV)

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

James Montgomery Boice noted that this Psalm has been long beloved by believers: “It was recited in full by Sir Thomas More and Lady Jane Grey when they were on the scaffold in the bloody days of Henry VIII and Queen Mary. William Carey, the great pioneer missionary to India, asked that it might be the text of his funeral sermon.”

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

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Music:

HERE is the beautiful “Miserere,” by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), 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. For a shorter excerpt by the King’s College Choir, click  HERE.

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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.

“We note, too, how the psalmist realises his personal responsibility. He reiterates ‘my’ — ‘my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin.’ He does not throw blame on circumstances, or talk about temperament or maxims of society or bodily organisation. All these had some share in impelling him to sin; but after all allowance made for them, the deed is the doer’s, and he must bear its burden.”

–Alexander Maclaren (British preacher, “the prince of expositors,” 1826-1910)

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,

In an objective sense this was not true. David had sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, their families, his family, his kingdom, and in a sense even against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). Yet all of that faded into the background as he considered the greatness of his sin against God. He rightly felt as if, against You, You only, have I sinned.

–David Guzik

so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

Romans 3:1-4 (CEV)

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.

From this and similar passages we gain the Biblical idea of original sin — the idea that all humans are born sinners, receiving a sinful nature as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. “This verse is both by Jewish and Christian, by ancient and later, interpreters, generally and most truly understood of original sin.”

–Matthew Poole (English nonconformist theologian, 1624-1679)

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.

Ps51 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.

“With the word Create he asks for nothing less than a miracle. It is a term for what God alone can do.”

–Derek Kidner (British Old Testament scholar, 1913-2008)

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.

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Music:

“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, My God”  is sung  HERE  by Sandra McCracken.

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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://previews.123rf.com/images/welcomia/welcomia1302/welcomia130200099/17880517-Winter-Scenery-Mountain-Forest-Covered-by-Snow-Right-After-Snowstorm-Beautiful-Winter-Forest-Backgro-Stock-Photo.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.    https://mightykingdomlight.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/bowingdown.jpg
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1810.) 1 Chronicles 20

April 8, 2016

1Chron20 promise

1 Chronicles 20 (New Living Translation)

David Captures Rabbah

1In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process he laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

And what happened when David stayed behind in Jerusalem?  Oh, baby.

In fact, the account in 2 Samuel 12:26-31 tells us that Joab himself did not win this battle over Rabbah. He fought the Ammonites to a stalemate and then called for David to help, after his sin with Bathsheba and subsequent repentance. Then, 2 Samuel 12:29 tells us, David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah. This was the final phase of David’s restoration. He went back to doing what he should have done all along — leading Israel out to battle, instead of remaining in Jerusalem. This means that David was in victory once again. His sin did not condemn him to a life of failure and defeat. There was chastisement for David’s sin, but it did not mean that his life was ruined. 

–David Guzik

2 When David arrived at Rabbah, he removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. 3 He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with saws, iron picks, and iron axes. That is how David dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns. Then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem.

Rabbah was the capital of the Ammonites and is the site of modern Amman in Jordan. It is a city of limestone set in a desert. I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Amman for five years; he worked for Boeing. Just a couple months before they returned home, I came for a visit. When I asked my aunt what she would miss most about Amman, she replied, “Beige.”

Battles against Philistine Giants

Often giants are not very cute and not too bright —

4After this, war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of the giants, and so the Philistines were subdued. 5 During another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of Lahmi’s spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam!

6 In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, they encountered a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also a descendant of the giants. 7 But when he defied and taunted Israel, he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea.

8 These Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but David and his warriors killed them.

1Chron20 forgiveness rainbow

The account of David’s wars in chapters 18-20 is drawn from various parts of 2 Samuel, chs. 8-21. The unity of theme that is thus achieved is a result of the omission of a large amount of material in 2 Samuel. There, the Ammonite war, for example (2 Sam. chs 10-11), is primarily a backcloth for the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and related murder of Uriah. Those actions in turn spark off a series of events which are far from glorifying to  the house of David (mainly Ammon’s rape of Tamar, ch. 13, and Absalom’s rebellion, chs. 15ff.). The omission of this block of material in the book of 1 Chronicles is as instructive as that which is included, for it shows that Chronicles is determined to develop the theme of David’s positive contribution to the establishment of God’s kingdom in Israel, a purpose which would not have been served by the inclusion of evidence of his deficiencies. All this is dramatic evidence of God’s willingness to use even the most inconstant of people in his service.

Christians often become obsessed by their failures. It is a measure of the grace of God that he is willing to put the best interpretation upon the most vacillating life of faith.

–J. G. McConville

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Music:

HERE  is Kari Jobe and “We Cry Out.” The same grace David received is there in God’s hand for us.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Isaiah 58:9.   http://trustychucks.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Isaiah-58.jpg
Susan Hayward in the 1951 movie “David and Bathsheba.”  Gregory Peck played David.   http://36.media.tumblr.com/da3d7657361a83fcf12cc6acfce58193/tumblr_mldkjqVit41r1ubx6o1_500.jpg
Amman.     http://www.expatify.com/files/2009/11/am1.jpg
giant.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/giant1.jpg
forgiveness rainbow.   http://selfhypnosisusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/forgiveness.jpg

1809.) 2 Samuel 12:15-31

April 7, 2016

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.”

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Music:

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

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The Ammonites Crushed

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

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

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

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

— St. Augustine

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

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

1808.) 2 Samuel 12:1-15

April 6, 2016

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

2 Samuel 12:1 – 15   (NRSV)

Nathan Condemns David

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

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

He came to him, and said to him,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–David Guzik

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

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

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

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

15Then Nathan went to his house.

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

GOD’S MANNER OF FORGIVENESS

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

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

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

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

Literature

  • 1874 The story of Bathsheba, David, and Uriah is echoed in the Thomas Hardy novel Far from the Madding Crowd.
  • 1893 The Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” uses the David/Bathsheba story as its main structure.

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Music:

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

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

HERE  is “Forgive Me” sung by Rebecca St. James. Lyrics follow.

For all the times I failed You, Lord
Forgive me
For all the ways I’ve fallen short
Lord, forgive me now
God, I’m so in need of grace
I fall upon my face, forgive me

You see the tears fall down my face
Forgive me
Take my fear, Lord, take my shame
Lord, forgive me now
Purify me, make me new
Like only You can do, forgive me now

Lord, we come to honor You
We are forgiven
We bring our love and thanks to You
We are forgiven now

God we praise You for Your grace
Before You we are raised, forgiven
God we praise You for Your grace
Before You we are raised
Forgiven, forgiven

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

Images courtesy of:
Massys.    http://www.lib-art.com/imgpainting/9/0/13409-david-and-bathsheba-jan-massys.jpg
lamb.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/61727_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://newhopeyakima.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/forgiven-11.jpg

1807.) 2 Samuel 11

April 5, 2016

 

“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

“In the whole of the Old Testament literature there is no chapter more tragic or full of solemn and searching warning than this.”

–G. Campbell Morgan (British evangelist and Bible scholar, 1863-1945)

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.

In that part of the world, wars were not normally fought during the winter months because rains and cold weather made travel and campaigning difficult. Fighting resumed in the spring.

David should have been out at the battle but he remained behind. In 2 Samuel 10 Joab and the army of the mighty men were preserved against the Syrians and the Ammonites, but they did not win a decisive victory. The decisive victory came when David led the battle at the end of 2 Samuel 10. Both through custom and experience God told David, “You need to be at the battle.” But David remained at Jerusalem.

–David Guzik

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.

She is the wife of one of David’s Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:8, 39). The Mighty Men are away at battle. Whoa, David thinks — this could work! 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.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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

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

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

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

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

 “David had expected and hoped that Uriah would prove to be like himself; instead he proved to be a man of integrity, whose first loyalty was to the king’s interests rather than to his own pleasure.”

–Joyce Baldwin, English evangelical biblical scholar, 1921-1995

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
a poem

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.

The first mention of God in the chapter.

“Bathsheba at her bath with King David’s letter” by Rembrandt, 1654 (The Louvre, Paris). The most famous painting of this subject.

from Peculiar Treasures
by Frederick Buechner

BATHSHEBA

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

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

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

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

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is 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://shop.estrellafineart.com/images/Tov%20Bathsheba%20and%20King%20DavidIIW.jpg
Griffiths.    http://www.barbaragriffiths.com/images/bod/griffiths_bod_14.jpg
cross and sins.    http://wordunplugged.com/wp-content/files/crosswsin.jpg
Rembrandt:  Uriah.   http://www.wga.hu/art/r/rembrand/15oldtes/25oldtes.jpg
empty boots and helmet.    http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/news_impact/2008/08/300-wall.jpg
Rembrandt:  Bathsheba.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Bathsheba_at_Her_Bath.jpg

1806.) Psalm 60

April 4, 2016

Psalm 60 (The Message)

A David Psalm,
When He Fought Against Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah,
and Joab Killed Twelve Thousand Edomites at the Valley of Salt

 1 Chronicles 18:11-13 give us David’s victories over Edom (and specifically in the Valley of Salt), Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek.

The victories described in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles do not mention the kind of setbacks lamented in this Psalm. It reminds us that the historical record often condenses events, and that the successes were real, yet not always immediate.

–David Guzik

1-2 God! you walked off and left us,
kicked our defenses to bits
And stalked off angry.
Come back. Oh please, come back!

You shook earth to the foundations,
ripped open huge crevasses.
Heal the breaks! Everything’s
coming apart at the seams.

3-5 You made your people look doom in the face,
then gave us cheap wine to drown our troubles.
Then you planted a flag to rally your people,
an unfurled flag to look to for courage.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Psalm 60:4 — Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.

God does not give us our banners to hide away out of sight, but to display. A banner is the sign of our allegiance; it shows what side we are on in a fight. It is like the colors we wear when we are playing in athletic games.

When the devil tries to get you to behave as a Christian should not, show your banner — show your colors. “I am Christ’s.  I can’t do that.”

The wonderful thing is, that the moment we show our colors the Captain is by our side, and from Him (not from us) the devil flees. James 4:7 says, Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, for he sees behind you the mighty Conqueror who won on Calvary.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “True Colors” by Phil Collins. I have liked this song from the first time I heard it. It always reminds me of my husband, David, a man whose true colors are kindness and integrity.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let it show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don’t be unhappy,
Can’t remember when
I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let it show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful.

_________________________

Now do something quickly, answer right now,
so the one you love best is saved.

6-8 That’s when God spoke in holy splendor,
“Bursting with joy,
I make a present of Shechem,
I hand out Succoth Valley as a gift.
Gilead’s in my pocket,
to say nothing of Manasseh.
Ephraim’s my hard hat,
Judah my hammer;
Moab’s a scrub bucket,
I mop the floor with Moab,
Spit on Edom,
rain fireworks all over Philistia.”

Speaking as an inspired prophet, David understood the words God Himself spoke. God Himself would rejoice in His Lordship over Israel and His victory over the nations.

–David Guzik

9-10 Who will take me to the thick of the fight?
Who’ll show me the road to Edom?
You aren’t giving up on us, are you, God?
refusing to go out with our troops?

Ps60 v12

11-12 Give us help for the hard task;
human help is worthless.
In God we’ll do our very best;
he’ll flatten the opposition for good.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

_________________________

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
The First Aid.     http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2783/4434594530_359b6bcd6c_z.jpg
Christian flag.    http://www.montney.com/flag/christianflag2a.jpg
verse 12.  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/19/8b/77/198b772153f40a71fc8ad28a9219f9e3.jpg

1805.) 1 Chronicles 19

April 1, 2016
Oh, not these ammonites? (an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals)

Oh, not these ammonites? (an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals)

1 Chronicles 19 (New Living Translation)

David Defeats the Ammonites

1 Some time after this, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun became king. 2David said, “I am going to show loyalty to Hanun because his father, Nahash, was always loyal to me.” So David sent messengers to express sympathy to Hanun about his father’s death.

A kindness, from one ruler to another . . .

But when David’s ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the land so they can come in and conquer it!” 4 So Hanun seized David’s ambassadors and shaved them, cut off their robes at the buttocks, and sent them back to David in shame.

Speaking of clothes that do not cover one’s rear end . . . what a crazy trend!

Free Hebrew men wore beards; slaves were clean shaven.  And the short robes exposed their nakedness.  This treatment was humiliation upon humiliation, and by doing it to David’s ambassadors, the Ammonites were in effect doing it to David.

5 When David heard what had happened to the men, he sent messengers to tell them, “Stay at Jericho until your beards grow out, and then come back.” For they felt deep shame because of their appearance.

6 When the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent 75,000 pounds of silver to hire chariots and charioteers from Aram-naharaim, Aram-maacah, and Zobah. 7 They also hired 32,000 chariots and secured the support of the king of Maacah and his army. These forces camped at Medeba, where they were joined by the Ammonite troops that Hanun had recruited from his own towns. 8 When David heard about this, he sent Joab and all his warriors to fight them. 9 The Ammonite troops came out and drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city, while the other kings positioned themselves to fight in the open fields.

Ammonites in front of them, Ammonites back of them — not a comfortable position for the Israelite general!

10 When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. 11 He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites.

Joab had only one strategy in battle — attack. Many generals would consider surrender when surrounded on both sides by the enemy, but not Joab. He called the army to courage and faith and told them to press on.

–David Guzik

12 “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will help you. 13 Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”

1Chron19 mirror

I think I need to put Joab’s speech on my mirror to read every morning!

“Be courageous!”  This is a choice we can make each day.  We can “be strong in the Lord and the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

“Fight bravely!”  Consider the things that are at stake:  nothing less than the Kingdom of God on earth and in heaven!

“May the Lord’s will be done!”  Trust God.  His love in Jesus Christ and his power in the Holy Spirit will accomplish his great purposes even through us!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is more good advice — “Be strong and take courage.”

_________________________

14 When Joab and his troops attacked, the Arameans began to run away. 15 And when the Ammonites saw the Arameans running, they also ran from Abishai and retreated into the city. Then Joab returned to Jerusalem.

It doesn’t even say that Joab engaged the Syrians in battle. This mercenary army fled before the army of the mighty men because God was with them. God promised this kind of blessing upon an obedient Israel (Deuteronomy 28:7).

16 The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel, so they sent messengers and summoned additional Aramean troops from the other side of the Euphrates River. These troops were under the command of Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer’s forces.

17 When David heard what was happening, he mobilized all Israel, crossed the Jordan River, and positioned his troops in battle formation. Then David engaged the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. 18 But again the Arameans fled from the Israelites. This time David’s forces killed 7,000 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers, including Shobach, the commander of their army. 19 When Hadadezer’s allies saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they surrendered to David and became his subjects. After that, the Arameans were no longer willing to help the Ammonites.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
ammonites.     http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Fossil-Pictures/Ammonites/Ammonite-5/Ammonite-5.jpg
baggy pants.    http://www.city-data.com/forum/attachments/charlotte/82752d1311528406-trend-saggin-pants-saggy-pants-guys-3.jpg
mirror.     http://www.xldzcn.com/bathroom-mirrors/bathroom-mirrors-bathroom-mirror-decor-ideas-tips-pictures-decoration-kingdom/