1817.) 2 Samuel 17

April 19, 2016

2 Samuel 17 (NRSV)

The Counsel of Ahithophel

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

2Sam17 good-idea

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

The Counsel of Hushai

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hushai Warns David to Escape

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

David’s intelligence chain at work!

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

Let’s play hide and seek!

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

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

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

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

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

He is not unlike Judas, betraying a close friend.

Psalm 41:9 (NIV)

Even my close friend,
    someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
    has turned against me.

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

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

psalm62_7

Psalm 62:1-8 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Music:

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
alphabet soup advice cartoon.    http://www.toonpool.com/user/997/files/bowl_alphabet_soup_advice_350575.jpg
great idea.    https://molnarg.github.io/cve-2014-0521/img/good-idea.jpeg
hide and seek.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/64/214252279_f2fd003b95.jpg
the end.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/theend.jpg
Psalm 62.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm62_7.jpg

1816.) 2 Samuel 16

April 18, 2016

“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.”

Gotta love Old Testament trash talk!

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 (ESV)

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

_________________________

Music:

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

HERE  is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” — by 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.

Ahithophel was one of David’s most valuable friends (he was the grandfather of Bathsheba), but at the time of Absalom’s revolt, he deserted David and joined the conspiracy against David.

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

1815.) Psalm 61

April 15, 2016

Ps61 v1

Psalm 61   (Good News Translation)

Some Bible scholars have suggested that this psalm of David might come from the time of Absalom’s rebellion.

1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer!
2 In despair and far from home I call to you! Take me to a safe refuge,

Ps61 rock higher

Psalm 61:2 (KJV)

When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Most of us know what it is to be overwhelmed in heart, emptied like when a man wipes a dish and turns it upside down, submerged and thrown on our beam-ends like a boat mastered by the storm. Discoveries of inward corruption will do this, if the Lord permits the depth of our depravity to become troubled and cast up mire and dirt. Disappointments and heartbreaks will do this when billow after billow rolls over us, and we are like a broken shell thrown to and fro by the surf.

Blessed be God, at such seasons we are not left without a sufficient solace: Our God is the harbor of weather-beaten sails, the hostel for forlorn pilgrims. He is higher than we are, His mercy higher than our sins, His love higher than our thoughts. It is pitiful to see men putting their trust in something lower than themselves; but our confidence is fixed on an exceedingly high and glorious Lord. He is a Rock since He doesn’t change, and a high Rock because the tempests that overwhelm us roll far beneath His feet; He is not disturbed by them but rules them at His will. If we get under the shelter of this lofty Rock, we may defy the hurricane; all is calm under the lee of that towering cliff. Sadly, the confusion in which the troubled mind is often cast is such that we need piloting to this divine shelter.

Hence the prayer of the text. O Lord, our God, by Your Holy Spirit, teach us the way of faith; lead us into Your rest. The wind blows us out to sea—the helm does not answer to our puny hand; You alone can steer us over the bar between the sunken rocks and safe into the fair haven. We are totally dependent upon You—we need You to bring us to You. To be wisely directed and steered into safety and peace is Your gift, and Yours alone. Tonight be pleased to deal kindly with Your servants.

–Charles Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg

3 for you are my protector, my strong defense against my enemies.

4 Let me live in your sanctuary all my life;

 “He saith not, I shall abide in my palace, but in thy tabernacle, which he more highly esteemed.”

–John Trapp, Puritan Bible scholar (1601-1669)

let me find safety under your wings.

_________________________

Ps61 under his wings

Music:

HERE  The Altar of Praise Chorale performs a traditional gospel hymn which draws from the metaphor of verse 4 — “Under His Wings.”

_________________________

5 You have heard my promises, O God, and you have given me what belongs to those who honor you.

6 Add many years to the king’s life; let him live on and on!
7 May he rule forever in your presence, O God; protect him with your constant love and faithfulness.
8 So I will always sing praises to you, as I offer you daily what I have promised.

David began the Psalm desperately crying out to God with a heart that was fainting and overwhelmed. The song ends with praise, honoring God forever.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Scripture taken from the Good News Translation – Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society.

Images courtesy of:
verse 1.   http://41.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m56gsqFR3S1r1o6z3o1_500.jpg
When my heart is overwhelmed . . .    http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/images/34832.jpg
under wings.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/1a5f9-underhiswings.jpg

1814.) 2 Samuel 15

April 14, 2016
The throne of Tsarina Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, 1742 (Kremlin Armoury, Moscow)

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.”

2Sam15 Serve the Lord

from Whispers of his Power,
by Amy Carmichael

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

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

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

The foreigners are supporting David —

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

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

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

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

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

The priests are loyal to David —

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

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

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

Psalm 61:5-8 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

_________________________

Music:

HERE  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://ih0.redbubble.net/image.14073074.5434/flat,550×550,075,f.u2.jpg
spy.    http://dennynet.com/spy.jpg
Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/jesus_donkey.jpg

1813.) 2 Samuel 14

April 13, 2016

“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 (English evangelical biblical scholar and theological educator, 1921-1995)
2Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. 3Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth.
Just as Nathan’s story brought home the truth to David about his affair with Bathsheba, so Joab hopes this widow’s story will help soften David’s heart towards Absalom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

woman in traditional widow garb in Greece

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

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

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

He said, “Speak.”

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

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

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

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

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “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.

2Sam14 hair

A yearly harvest of five and a half pounds of hair!! He could have donated it, like Hannah, 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.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/14-blake.jpg
widow in Greece.
Bisley.    http://simonbisleygallery.com/art/2525.jpg
Locks of Love.   http://victoria-miriamsmoments.blogspot.com/2011/05/locks-of-love.html
Rembrandt.    http://www.wga.hu/art/r/rembrand/15oldtes/14oldtes.jpg
Calvin’s kick offer.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/calvin-kick.gif

1812.) 2 Samuel 13

April 12, 2016
"Amnon and Tamar" by Cerrini

“Amnon and Tamar” by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini (1609-1681)

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

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.”

Steen

“Amnon and Tamar”  by Jan Steen, 1670. (Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany.

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!”

His meaning is “Get up, go out” — the exact opposite of his earlier “Come in, lie down.” 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.

Two years went by but Absalom did not stop plotting the revenge of Amnon’s sin against his sister Tamar.

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.

2Sam13 Tissot Amnon

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

_________________________

Music:

HERE  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.

God promised David that the sword shall never depart from your house (2 Samuel 12:10) in judgment of David’s sin. This is definitely a partial fulfillment of this promise.

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.”

Well, I guess it is almost “good” news that only one son is dead. Yet 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.

Three years was long enough for David to accept that all hope was gone for Amnon. But Absalom was out there, and David longed to be reunited with him.

_________________________

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.    https://claudemariottini.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/amon-and-tamar-by-giovanni-domenico-cerrini.jpeg
hand holding a piece of cake.    http://previews.123rf.com/images/stockfood/stockfood1409/stockfood140944703/31984365-Hand-holding-a-piece-of-chocolate-nut-cake-Italy–Stock-Photo.jpg
Steen.   http://www.wikiart.org/en/jan-steen/amnon-and-tamar-1670
Tissot, Tamar.    https://cshowers.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/tissot-desolation_of_tamar-full.jpg?w=470&h=712
R rating.   http://nickshell1983.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/rated_r.jpg
Tissot, Anmon.   http://www.keyway.ca/jpg/amnon.jpg

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

_________________________

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.

_________________________

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.

_________________________

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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