1781.) 1 Samuel 31

February 29, 2016

A “word cloud” is a mixture of technology and art; it gives greater prominence and size to the words which appear more frequently in the text.  This is a word cloud for the book of 1 Samuel.

1 Samuel 31   (NRSV)

The Death of Saul and His Sons

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been deposed; some slain in war;
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives; some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!

–William Shakespeare
Richard II, Act Three

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Music:

HERE  is “Dead March,” a funeral anthem for Saul and his son Jonathan, from Handel’s oratorio Saul. Arranged by Leopold Stokowski.

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Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and many fell on Mount Gilboa.

Mount Gilboa is about 20 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

Let’s review. The Philistines are well inside the land of Israel. Saul and the Israelite army are on Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4), and Saul is afraid; “terror filled his heart” (1 Samuel 28:5). Then he sneaked out to a witch to call up the prophet Samuel from the dead. Samuel told him that he and his sons would die in battle the next day. Meanwhile, David was all set to go with the Philistines against Saul (1 Samuel 29:2, 8). He was prevented by the Philistine commanders’ objection to a Hebrew (could he be trusted?) fighting with them; this was, of course, the Lord’s safe-keeping of David. This story could be quite the movie!

2The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul.

The old king and his heirs are now out of the way and will not trouble David as he takes the kingship.

3The battle pressed hard upon Saul; the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by them.

4Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and thrust me through, and make sport of me.”

But his armor-bearer was unwilling; for he was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.

“Death of Saul” by Marc Chagall, 1956.

5When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together on the same day.

7When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their towns and fled; and the Philistines came and occupied them.

How much of the Promised Land is now given up by the Israelites!

8The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9They cut off his head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to the houses of their idols and to the people. 10They put his armor in the temple of Astarte; and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.

Saul’s tragic death gave opportunity for the enemies of the Lord to disgrace His name. Saul’s death was used to glorify pagan gods and to mock the living God.

–David Guzik

1Sam31 Beth Shan

The city of Beth Shan is now under a tel, and the Roman ruins of the Decapolis city of Scythopolis are now exposed at the base.

11But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12all the valiant men set out, traveled all night long, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. They came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Jabesh-gilead — does that name sound familiar? In chapter 11, Saul rescued that very city from the Ammonites. Now they repay Saul by rescuing his body and those of his sons from the disgrace the Philistines had inflicted on them.

The End of 1 Samuel

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REVIEW:

HERE!  Let’s take a quick, fun look back over the book of  1 Samuel!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts now at the end of this book:

1)  How does DWELLING benefit you and your understanding of Scripture?

2)  What have you learned as you have been reading 1 Samuel?

_________________________

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:
word cloud.    http://identity33.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/1samuel2.gif
“Death comes even to kings.”    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/31-deathking.jpg
Mount Gilboa.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Gilboa_096.jpg/250px-Gilboa_096.jpg
Chagall.    http://www.artrev.com/art/imageprocess/detailview_v2/streamimage.asp?name=mc_death_of_saul_plate65.jpg
Beth Shan.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/959ca-bethshean-beitsheanfromtheatre5b2autocorrect5d.jpg
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1779.) 1 Samuel 30

February 25, 2016

Ziklag was a town assigned to the tribe of Simeon in the book of Joshua.  During the reign of Saul, it seems to have been controlled by the Philistines.  This picture is of Tel Sera, identified by many scholars as the site of ancient Ziklag.

1 Samuel 30   (NRSV)

David Avenges the Destruction of Ziklag

Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day,

They may have been disappointed, or relieved, not to have to fight with the Philistines.  But certainly they were looking forward to returning to their wives and children and a home-cooked meal!

the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negeb and on Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag, burned it down, 2and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great; they killed none of them, but carried them off, and went their way.

There is a touch of the Lord’s poetic justice in all this. David had brought this exact calamity on other cities. 1 Samuel 27:8-11 says during his time among the Philistines, David made his living as a bandit, robbing cities and whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive. The Amalekites were being more merciful than David had been!

–David Guzik

3When David and his men came to the city, they found it burned down, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep. 5David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6David was in great danger; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in spirit for their sons and daughters.

God is beginning to get David’s attention!

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

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Music:

HERE  is “You Never Let Go,” a hymn of praise from David Crowder to a faithful Lord!

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7David said to the priest Abiathar son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

This ephod may have been the garment of the High Priest, which had a pocket containing the Urim and Thummin.  Some scholars believe these were two stones, one light and one dark, meaning Yes and No.  The questions would be put to the priest, who would reach into the pocket and pull out the stone which indicated God’s answer.

8David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?”

He answered him, “Pursue; for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”

1Sam30 Rainbow

God gave David an answer, and a promise.  Oh, the kindness of our God!

9So David set out, he and the six hundred men who were with him.

They had talked of stoning David, but now they see him renewed in the Lord, and they follow him.

They came to the Wadi Besor, where those stayed who were left behind. 10But David went on with the pursuit, he and four hundred men; two hundred stayed behind, too exhausted to cross the Wadi Besor.

11In the open country they found an Egyptian, and brought him to David. They gave him bread and he ate, they gave him water to drink; 12they also gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins. When he had eaten, his spirit revived; for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.

David stopped to show kindness to a poor nobody — further proof he is back on track with God.

13Then David said to him, “To whom do you belong? Where are you from?”

Charles Spurgeon has a wonderful sermon on this verse, called “A Searching Question.” He says that the question “To whom belongest thou?” is a question of universal pertinence and of very practical character, which can be answered. This is a question with eternal consequences!  Spurgeon proposes five additional questions which help answer the first question:

1) Where were you born? — and of course, he means a new birth.

2) What company do you keep? — are you neglecting the fellowship of the Church?

3) What is your dialect?  — do your words show your faith?

4) What have you learned to do? — are you imitating Christ?

5) What do the angels see you do?  — when no else else sees you, are you thinking and behaving in a way that honors your Father who loves you?

Then we can truly answer the question by saying, “I belong to Christ.”

Click  HERE if you would like to read the sermon.

He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite. My master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14We had made a raid on the Negeb of the Cherethites and on that which belongs to Judah and on the Negeb of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag down.”

15David said to him, “Will you take me down to this raiding party?”

He said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me, or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

16When he had taken him down, they were spread out all over the ground, eating and drinking and dancing, because of the great amount of spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not one of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken; and David rescued his two wives. 19Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken; David brought back everything. 20David also captured all the flocks and herds, which were driven ahead of the other cattle; people said, “This is David’s spoil.”

21Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. They went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. When David drew near to the people he saluted them. 22Then all the corrupt and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may take his wife and children, and leave.”

23But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us; he has preserved us and handed over to us the raiding party that attacked us. 24Who would listen to you in this matter? For the share of the one who goes down into the battle shall be the same as the share of the one who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.” 25From that day forward he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel; it continues to the present day.

Any general will agree:  The supply lines are as important as the front lines.

26When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”; 27it was for those in Bethel, in Ramoth of the Negeb, in Jattir, 28in Aroer, in Siphmoth, in Eshtemoa, 29in Racal, in the towns of the Jerahmeelites, in the towns of the Kenites, 30in Hormah, in Bor-ashan, in Athach, 31in Hebron, all the places where David and his men had roamed.

GOD’S PURPOSE IN OUR TAKING SPOILS
–David Wilkerson

While David and his army were away, the Amalekites raided his village of Ziklag. These marauding invaders took all the women and children and burned down the whole town. When David returned, he “was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

Talk about spiritual warfare! This wasn’t just an attack against David. It was an all-out assault against God’s eternal purpose. Once again, the devil was after God’s seed.

This is the focus of all spiritual warfare: The enemy has always been determined to destroy the seed of Christ. And that fact hasn’t changed even 2000 years after the Cross. Satan is still out to destroy God’s seed, and he does this by attacking us, the seed of Christ. David felt threatened when he heard the grumbling of his men. But David encouraged himself in the Lord and immediately, this man of faith took off in pursuit of the Amalekites. Quickly he overtook them, rescuing every person and possession that had been taken (see 1 Samuel 30:19–20). David not only recovered what was taken from Ziklag but everything else the Amalekites had plundered.

What did David do with all these spoils of war? He used them to maintain the purposes of God. In addition, he sent gifts of the spoils to the elders of Judah and to the towns where he and his men had been hiding (see 1 Samuel 30:26 and 31). This is another example of God’s purpose in our spiritual warfare. We’re to take spoils from battle not just for ourselves, but for the body of Christ. The resources we gain are meant to bring blessing to others.

Are you beginning to understand the reason for your present battle? Those who put their trust in the Lord are promised glorious victory over all power of the enemy. God wants you to know, “Yes, you’ll come through victorious. But I am going to make you more than an overcomer. I’m working out an even greater purpose in you for my kingdom. You’ll come out of this battle with more spoils than you can handle.”

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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:
Ziklag.   http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Ziklag,_Tel_Sera,_from_east,_tb_n050701.jpg
Be strong in the Lord.    http://www.livingwordchristianart.com/files/2019469/uploaded/BOF59%20Be%20Strong.jpg
rainbow.   http://www.bffohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Rainbow-Background2.jpg
I belong to Jesus.    http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/shakeitup/images/8/89/I_BELONG_TO_JESUS_.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20110822131433
resurrection icon.    http://young.anabaptistradicals.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/resurrection_icon.jpg

1778.) 1 Samuel 29

February 24, 2016


1 Samuel 29   (NRSV)

The Philistines Reject David

Now the Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, while the Israelites were encamped by the fountain that is in Jezreel. 2As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish,

The battle lines were drawn in the previous chapter when the Philistines made a deep incursion into Israelite territory. The Philistines intend to deliver a death-blow to Israel and the two armies have squared off in anticipation of battle.

3the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”

Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of King Saul of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years? Since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.”

4But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him; and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, so that he may return to the place that you have assigned to him; he shall not go down with us to battle, or else he may become an adversary to us in the battle. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? 5Is this not David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,
‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

David has sworn his loyalty to the king of the Philistines, and is all set to go with him to war against the Israelites! It is only the good sense of the Philistine commanders which prevents David from taking part in the battle; they knew, better than he, who he really is!

6Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign; for I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me until today. Nevertheless the lords do not approve of you. 7So go back now; and go peaceably; do nothing to displease the lords of the Philistines.”

1Sam29 David rejected
8
David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I should not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Is this the same David who fought Goliath?! The same one who fought against the Philistines in the name of the God of Israel?

9Achish replied to David, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ 10Now then rise early in the morning, you and the servants of your lord who came with you, and go to the place that I appointed for you. As for the evil report, do not take it to heart, for you have done well before me. Start early in the morning, and leave as soon as you have light.”

11So David set out with his men early in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

What is David thinking as he and his men march back to Ziklag? Is he wondering where he belongs?

Lord, how long will you let your servant David be so blind? Do something dramatic to get his attention and bring him back to you!

And God will do just that, as David and his men return home to Ziklag . . . (cue ominous music)

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Music:

Sadly, we all know what it means to be blind to the truth of God and to the joy of following in his ways — like David, we choose our own paths.  This song, by one of my most favorite groups, is a coming-home song. How wonderful to know that the Father never says, “Go away,” but is always ready to welcome us back!   HERE  is “All of Me”  by Selah.

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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:
Go Away.    http://cache2.allpostersimages.com/LRG/37/3710/UGYAF00Z.jpg
Achish sends David away.    http://biblestudyoutlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/david0005.jpg

1777.) 1 Samuel 28

February 23, 2016

“Saul and the Witch of Endor” by William Sidney Mount, 1828 (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

1 Samuel 28   (NRSV)

Saul Consults a Medium

3Now Samuel had died,

Samuel’s death was originally reported in 1 Samuel 25:1. Here, the fact is mentioned again to emphasize the spiritual vacuum left by Samuel’s departure.

–David Guzik

and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. Saul had expelled the mediums and the wizards from the land.

As per God’s clear command.

Leviticus 20:6, 27 (NIV)

“I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.

“A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.”

4The Philistines assembled, and came and encamped at Shunem.

Shunem, in the Valley of Jezreel, was about twenty miles north of Aphek, the most northerly Philistine city. The fact that the Philistines had penetrated thus far gives an indication of their dominance over Saul’s kingdom, and of their intention to press further east to the Jordan.”

–Joyce G. Baldwin (1921-1995)

Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.

7Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her.”

His servants said to him, “There is a medium at Endor.”

This variety of bearded iris, ruffled black-crimson with a velvet finish, is called Witch of Endor.

8So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, “Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you.”

9The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?”

10But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”

Saul promises — in the name of the Lord, no less! — that she can do what is evil in the Lord’s sight!  We see how totally confused Saul is in his life right now.

11Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

He answered, “Bring up Samuel for me.”

Saul often did not listen to Samuel when he was alive, yet now he drags him up from the dead.

12When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice;

Perhaps she screamed because her contacts with the spirit world were always either her tricks or demonic.  To suddenly encounter a dead person who arrived with Holy Spirit power must have been a shock to her.  I think we can agree, too, that Samuel came not because he was called by the medium, but because God sent him.

and then the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?”

The woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the ground.”

14He said to her, “What is his appearance?”

She said, “An old man is coming up; he is wrapped in a robe.”

So Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.

“Saul and the Witch of Endor” by Benjamin West, 1777

15Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; so I have summoned you to tell me what I should do.”

“Saul is asking for guidance when his course of action is obvious: he has to fight the Philistines. What he really wants is reassurance that all will be well and that he will win the battle.”

–Joyce G. Baldwin

16Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17The Lord has done to you just as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. 18Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. 19Moreover the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

Bad news for Saul:  Not only will the Israelite army lose the battle, but Saul and his sons will die.

20Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

It wasn’t just that Samuel told Saul that he would die or fall in battle before the Philistines. Far worse to Saul was the knowledge that the Lord was his adversary. Not only were the Philistines set against him, so was the Lord God. Knowing this was more than Saul could bear.

–David Guzik

21The woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Your servant has listened to you; I have taken my life in my hand, and have listened to what you have said to me. 22Now therefore, you also listen to your servant; let me set a morsel of bread before you. Eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.”

23He refused, and said, “I will not eat.”

But his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he listened to their words. So he got up from the ground and sat on the bed.

24Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house. She quickly slaughtered it, and she took flour, kneaded it, and baked unleavened cakes. 25She put them before Saul and his servants, and they ate.

1Sam27 Mealmade

Saul’s last meal.  Now I would have asked for my son Sean to make me grilled salmon with fennel and romanesco (his food pictured above).  Then for dessert I would love my friend Linda’s cream puffs (which are sort of like unleavened bread!), filled with lemon cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. Delicious! What meal would you choose?

Then they rose and went away that night.

“The Witch of Endor” by Charles Brochart, 1873.

from Peculiar Treasures:  A Biblical Who’s Who
by Frederick Buechner

WITCH OF ENDOR

As soon as King Saul passed a law against witchcraft and drove all practitioners out of the land, the Witch of Endor traded in her broomstick on a bicycle, changed her pointed black hat for a summer straw, flushed a great many evil-smelling concoctions down the john, and tried to go straight.

But then Saul fell on evil times. He felt so sure David was after his throne that he grew paranoid on the subject. He was convinced his own son Jonathan had sided against him too. And the Philistines were gathering for a massive attack at Gilboa. He had to know how things were going to turn out, and since he and Yahweh were no longer on speaking terms as far as he was concerned, and the prophet Samuel was dead, he was forced to go elsewhere for his information.

He tried a dream-book, but none of his dreams were in it. He tried things like tea leaves and ouija boards, but they all malfunctioned. So he asked his servants whether they happened to know if anybody was still around who might be able to help, if they knew what he meant, and they told him about this old party in Endor who looked like something straight out of Charles Addams.

Saul disguised himself heavily for the visit, but as soon as he stepped through the door and said he wanted her to conjure up somebody who could foretell the future, she grew shrill and suspicious. What did he want to do, she said, get the cops after her?  And only when he swore by Yahweh that he wouldn’t breathe a word to a soul did she go so far as to ask him who exactly it was he’d like her to try to get hold of for him. As soon as he said Samuel, she knew there could be only one person in Israel who would dare face that fierce old ghost, and the cat was out of the bag.

“You are Saul,” she said, and by that time he was past denying it. The next thing she knew, he’d let out a yelp that not only was enough to awaken the dead but did. “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe,” she said, and Saul realized immediately he was the right old man and bowed so low his beard touched the carpet.

Except on the grounds of wanting to make himself even more miserable than he already was, it’s hard to explain why it was his old enemy he’d asked for. Even before Samuel opened his mouth, Saul knew what he was going to say, and sure enough he said it. Samuel told him that everybody was against him including Yahweh, and not only would the Philistines win at Gilboa but by that time the next day Saul and all his sons would be joining him in the grave. Saul crumpled in a heap to the floor.

The witch did all she could to get him back on his feet. She tried to make him eat something, but he refused. She told him that she’d done what he’d asked for and the least he could do in return was to take enough to get his strength back and go, but he didn’t even seem to hear what she was saying. Finally with the help of the servants she managed to get him to where he was sitting on the edge of the bed, and when she produced a little meat and some freshly baked bread, he stuffed a bit of it into his mouth and then left without saying a word.

Nobody knows what the witch did after they were gone. Probably she just sat there in a daze for a while, trying to pull herself together with the comforting smell of the bread she’d baked. Maybe she decided to get out of Endor for good in case Saul broke his word and squealed on her. But she needn’t have worried about that because Saul had no time left to squeal on anybody.

On the next day he was just as dead as Samuel had risen from the grave to tell him he’d be, and this side of Paradise or anywhere else, she’d never have to worry about seeing him again. Unless she got herself talked into having another seance, of course, but the odds against that seem overwhelming.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a whole different kind of bewitching — Barbra Streisand sang the show tune “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” on the Judy Garland Show in 1963.  She was 21.

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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:
Mount.    https://mydailyartdisplay.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/saul-and-the-witch-of-endor-by-william-s-mount-1828.jpg
psychic reader.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/palm%20reader/bcsmith46/w%2520cap%2520signage/palmpsychicreader.jpg
West.    http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/christian/images/BenjaminWest-Saul-and-the-Witch-of-Endor-1777.jpg
salmon with fennel.    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0972/6726/products/01_20_2016_Mealmade-033-Edit-FINAL_grande.jpg?v=1453527873
Brochart.   https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist257/thershir/witch_of_endor.jpg

1776.) 1 Samuel 27

February 22, 2016

1Sam27 slippery
1 Samuel 27   (NRSV)

David Serves King Achish of Gath

David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines; then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

David said, “There is nothing better for me . . .”

Once upon a time the devil decided to have a garage sale. He did it because he wanted to clear out some of his old tools to make room for new ones. After he set up his wares, a fellow dropped by to see what he had. Arrayed on a long table were all the tricks of his infernal trade. Each tool had a price tag. In one corner was a shiny implement labeled “Anger—$250.” Next to it was a curved tool labeled “Sloth—$380.” As the man searched, he found “Criticism—$500” and “Jealousy—$630.” Out of the corner of his eye, the man spotted a beaten-up tool with a price tag of $12,000. Curious, the man asked the devil why he would offer a worn-out piece of junk for such an exorbitant price. The devil said it was expensive because he used it so much. “What is it?” the man asked. The answer came back, “It is Discouragement. It always works when nothing else will.”

We all know the truth of this little story. Look at David. God had promised him that he would be the king of Israel. And David has just come off some good moments, some spiritual victories:  he spared Saul’s life in the cave at En Gedi (1 Samuel 24), he spared Nabal’s life thanks to Abigail’s intervention (1 Samuel 25), and he spared Saul’s life again when he let him sleep through the night at camp (1 Samuel 26). Even so, David chose to focus on what might happen in the future, and relied on his own feelings instead of on God’s promises.

David is discouraged, and he is about to make several wrong decisions.

2So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to King Achish son of Maoch of Gath. 3David stayed with Achish at Gath, he and his troops, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow.

What about LOYALTY?  David and his men and their families go to live with the enemy, the Philistines!

Previously (recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15), David briefly went over to Achish of the Philistines, believing there might be a place of refuge for him. God allowed that experience to quickly turn sour, and David pretended to be a madman so he could escape. Achish received David this time when he would not earlier for two reasons. First, it is clear now when it wasn’t clear before that David and Achish share the same enemy, Saul. Second, David now brings with him 600 fighting men, whom Achish can use as mercenaries.

–David Guzik

4When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought for him.

5Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your sight, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, so that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”

6So that day Achish gave him Ziklag; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7The length of time that David lived in the country of the Philistines was one year and four months.

Ziklag. Remember the name of this poor town. Having David come to live there is the kiss of death . . .

8Now David and his men went up and made raids on the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for these were the landed settlements from Telam on the way to Shur and on to the land of Egypt. 9David struck the land, leaving neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing, and came back to Achish.

What about MERCY? This is unnecessary cruelty. David kills them all to protect the lie he is living.

10When Achish asked, “Against whom have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” 11David left neither man nor woman alive to be brought back to Gath, thinking, “They might tell about us, and say, ‘David has done so and so.’” Such was his practice all the time he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself utterly abhorrent to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

What about TRUTHFULNESS? David says he has raided his own people — but really, he has not. King Achish took him at his word and believed David had really joined up with him. This is a dangerous game David is playing.

28) In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You know, of course, that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.”

2David said to Achish, “Very well, then you shall know what your servant can do.”

Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

David, don’t you think you’re in this a little too deep?

_________________________

Music:

Take your choice!  HERE  is Simon and Garfunkel (from 1981, Live in Central Park) and “Slip Slidin’ Away,” as we see David on a slippery slope . . . The verse “God only knows” could have been written with David in mind!

HERE  is “His eye is on the sparrow . . . and I know He watches me.” Thank God for his faithfulness, even when we are not on track! This favorite Gospel hymn was written in 1905 and has brought comfort and encouragement to thousands of listeners.  Sung here by Tanya Blout and Lauryn Hill.

_________________________

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:
slip sliding away.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/ebcee-12bsamuel2b272bslippery2bslide2bto2bthe2bphilistines.jpg
discouraged man.    https://bolstablog.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/line-drawing-discouraged-man-sitting.gif

1775.) 1 Samuel 26

February 19, 2016

“David refuses to kill sleeping Saul” by Count Feodor Tolstoy, 1806 (The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia)

1 Samuel 26   (NRSV)

David Spares Saul’s Life a Second Time

Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “David is in hiding on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon.”

These Ziphites! They had betrayed David to Saul in chapter 23, and now again here!

2So Saul rose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph. 3Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon beside the road. But David remained in the wilderness. When he learned that Saul came after him into the wilderness, 4David sent out spies, and learned that Saul had indeed arrived.

5Then David set out and came to the place where Saul had encamped; and David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.

6Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?”

Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”

Abishai will become, over the years, one of David’s most trusted, most valiant warriors.

7So David and Abishai went to the army by night; there Saul lay sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the army lay around him.

8Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand today; now therefore let me pin him to the ground with one stroke of the spear; I will not strike him twice.”

David has already been anointed to be the next king.  Saul is not doing his job very well.  David’s warrior friend offers to do the dirty work for him.  This is obviously a divinely granted opportunity to put things right! . . . don’t you agree?

9But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him down; or his day will come to die; or he will go down into battle and perish. 11The Lord forbid that I should raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now take the spear that is at his head, and the water jar, and let us go.”

illumination from a Bible c. 1430

( Don’t you love that the medieval artist put Saul on a mattress and box spring?! )

12So David took the spear that was at Saul’s head and the water jar, and they went away. No one saw it, or knew it, nor did anyone awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.

13Then David went over to the other side, and stood on top of a hill far away, with a great distance between them. 14David called to the army and to Abner son of Ner, saying, “Abner! Will you not answer?”

Then Abner replied, “Who are you that calls to the king?”

15David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. 16This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord’s anointed. See now, where is the king’s spear, or the water jar that was at his head?”

This dramatic evidence, like the evidence of the corner of Saul’s robe in 1 Samuel 24:11, was undeniable proof that David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but did not do it.

17Saul recognized David’s voice, and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?”

David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18And he added, “Why does my lord pursue his servant? For what have I done? What guilt is on my hands? 19Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering; but if it is mortals, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out today from my share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20Now therefore, do not let my blood fall to the ground, away from the presence of the Lord; for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea, like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21Then Saul said, “I have done wrong; come back, my son David, for I will never harm you again, because my life was precious in your sight today;

It seems, from Saul’s subsequent actions, that Saul isn’t truly repentant. Instead, he bitterly realizes that David got the better of him again. His words in 1 Samuel 26:25 express this thought also: You will do many things and will succeed in them.

I have been a fool, and have made a great mistake.”

“I have been a fool.”

A great title for Saul’s autobiography.

22David replied, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and get it. 23The Lord rewards everyone for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord gave you into my hand today, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed. 24As your life was precious today in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he rescue me from all tribulation.”

25Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.”

Hebrews 6:10 (CEV)

God is always fair. He will remember how you helped his people in the past and how you are still helping them. You belong to God, and he won’t forget the love you have shown his people.

So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

“Since now there is nothing more to be said, David and Saul part, never to see each other again.”

–Ronald F. Youngblood (1931-2014)

_________________________

Music:

Saul was grateful to still have his life.  David was right not to take Saul’s life.  And Jesus gave his life.

HERE  is “You Gave Your Life Away”  by Paul Baloche.

_________________________

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:
Tolstoy.     http://www.abcgallery.com/T/tolstoy/tolstoy6.html
Hello Opportunity.    http://www.upsidebdc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hello_mynameis.jpg
miniature illumination.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/26-miniature.jpg?w=450

1774.) 1 Samuel 25

February 18, 2016

“Abigail Offering Bread to David,”  by Louis de Boullogne, 1700 (The Louvre, Paris)

1 Samuel 25   (NRSV)

Death of Samuel

Now Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him. They buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David got up and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

Samuel’s heritage lived on in a remarkable way.
  • 1 Chronicles 9:22 suggests that Samuel laid the foundation for the organization of the Levites for the service of the sanctuary which was completed by David and Solomon.
  • 1 Chronicles 26:27-28 says that Samuel began to collect the treasures for the building of the temple in Solomon’s day.
  • 2 Chronicles 35:18 says that Samuel remembered the Passover, and kept Israel in remembrance of God’s great deliverance.
  • Psalm 99:6 and Jeremiah 15:1 commemorate Samuel as a man of great intercession.
  • Hebrews 11:33 puts Samuel in God’s “Hall of Faith.”
–David Guzik

David, Nabal, and Abigail

2There was a man in Maon, whose property was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3Now the name of the man was Nabal,

The name Nabal means fool. In ancient Israel names were often connected with a person’s character. We don’t know if Nabal was given this name or he earned it but he certainly lived up to it.

–David Guzik

and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. 4David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6Thus you shall salute him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.

7‘I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. 8Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your sight; for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

1Sam25 sheep

David is asking for a kind of payment since he and his men protected Nabal’s workers against Philistine raids. The reasonable request is worded politely. And this request is made during sheep-shearing time, when there was much celebration and feasting.

9When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David; and then they waited.

10But Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters. 11Shall I take my bread and my water and the meat that I have butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”

Insult upon insult!  Everyone knew who David was!  And David was a respectful servant (usually) to King Saul.  Furthermore, all the goods Nabal has (my bread and my water and the meat I have butchered) are gifts to him from God.  Nabal shows his character to be just as the writer has described:  surely and mean.

12So David’s young men turned away, and came back and told him all this. 13David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every one of them strapped on his sword; David also strapped on his sword; and about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.

Not that David didn’t have every right!  But he previously showed such gracious restraint with Saul.  David ought to be returning good for evil to Nabal, as well.

14But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he shouted insults at them. 15Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we were with them; 16they were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17Now therefore know this and consider what you should do; for evil has been decided against our master and against all his house; he is so ill-natured that no one can speak to him.”

Proverbs 17:12 (ISV)

It’s better to meet a mother bear who has lost her cubs

than a fool in his stupidity.

18Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys 19and said to her young men, “Go on ahead of me; I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

Abigail is doing what Nabal should have done.  And the fact that she is able to gather so much food so quickly gives an indication of how rich Nabal was.

20As she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, David and his men came down toward her; and she met them. 21Now David had said, “Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good. 22God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”

23When Abigail saw David, she hurried and alighted from the donkey, fell before David on her face, bowing to the ground.

“The Meeting of David and Abigail,” by Peter Paul Rubens, 1630 (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Can you picture this?  David and his men, feeling angry and insulted, swords at the ready, marching to Nabal’s place.  Then suddenly, a beautiful woman, at the head of a long procession of food and gifts, bows before them.  This is quite unexpected!

24She fell at his feet and said, “Upon me alone, my lord, be the guilt; please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25My lord, do not take seriously this ill-natured fellow, Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him; but I, your servant, did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.

26“Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, since the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from taking vengeance with your own hand, now let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be like Nabal. 27And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28Please forgive the trespass of your servant; for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord; and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live.

1Sam25 fight

from Whispers of His Power
by Amy Carmichael

My lord fighteth the battles of the Lord. — 1 Samuel 25:28

Reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.  –Romans 5:17

Don’t wait to be attacked.  Fight the Lord’s battles and He will fight yours.  What about that one you know who is being badly tempted?  What can you do to help him?  Find out a way.  Fight the devil who is attacking your brother.  Don’t slink off and do nothing to help.  Fight, fight hard.  “Fight the good fight with all thy might.”

When the wise Abigail saw David, who at that time was a long way from final victory, she was perfectly sure that he would win because he was fighting the battles of the Lord.  The strongest, happiest, most victorious people are those who forget all about themselves in trying to help others.  They are fighting the battles of the Lord and He fights for them and gives them the victory in their own private lives.  They reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.

29If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30When the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”

Abigail is thinking the way David should have thought.  And the fact that David listens to her and changes his plans shows her wisdom.

32David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from bloodguilt and from avenging myself by my own hand! 34For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

35Then David received from her hand what she had brought him; he said to her, “Go up to your house in peace; see, I have heeded your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

Abigail did not come to David empty-handed. One reason her appeal was effective was because she paid David what was owed to him. When David received it from Abigail he acknowledged that Nabal had paid the bill and there was nothing outstanding.

–David Guzik

36Abigail came to Nabal; he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him; he became like a stone. 38About ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

Luke 12:15-21 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

39When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has judged the case of Nabal’s insult to me, and has kept back his servant from evil; the Lord has returned the evil-doing of Nabal upon his own head.”

Then David sent and wooed Abigail, to make her his wife. 40When David’s servants came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.”

41She rose and bowed down, with her face to the ground, and said, “Your servant is a slave to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42Abigail got up hurriedly and rode away on a donkey; her five maids attended her. She went after the messengers of David and became his wife. 43David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel; both of them became his wives. 44Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Palti son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

Abigail is as “a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance.” In her, winsomeness and wisdom were wed. She had brains as well as beauty. Today, many women try to cultivate beauty and neglect their brains. A lovely face hides an empty mind. But with Abigail, loveliness and intelligence went hand in hand, with her intelligence emphasizing her physical attractiveness. A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind as she had is surely one of God’s masterpieces.

Added to her charm and wisdom was that of piety. She knew God, and although she lived in such an unhappy home, she remained a saint. Her own soul, like that of David, was “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord God.” Writing of Abigail as “A Woman of Tact” W. Mackintosh Mackay says that, “she possessed in harmonious combination these two qualities which are valuable to any one, but which are essential to one who has to manage men—the tact of a wise wife and the religious principle of a good woman.” Eugenia Price, who writes of Abigail as, A Woman With God’s Own Poise, says that, “only God can give a woman poise like Abigail possessed, and God can only do it when a woman is willing to cooperate as Abigail cooperated with Him on every point.” She experienced that in God her Father there was a source of joy enabling her to be independent of the adverse, trying circumstances of her miserable home life. She must have had implicit confidence in God to speak to David as she did about her divinely predestined future. In harmony with her many attractions was “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is more lustrous than the diamonds that decorate the delicate fingers of our betters, shone as an ornament of gold about her head, and chains about her neck.”

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Abigail

_________________________

Music:

Does this story have a country-western twang to it?  Yes, it does!  HERE  is David Wyper and “Abigail.”

_________________________

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:
Boullogne.    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/joconde/0011/m503604_95de8835_p.jpg
half-sheared sheep.    http://i.imgur.com/JiiHQFx.jpg
you go girl.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/fe2ab-you_go_girl.jpg
Rubens.    http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.99280.html?category=The%20Collection&category=Exhibitions&category=Visit&category=Education&category=Conservation&category=Research&category=Calendar&category=Audio%2FVideo&category=About&category=Support%20Us&category=Opportunities&category=Press&category=Notices&category=Contact%20Us&category=Online%20Features&tags=ngaweb%3Aartobjects%2F9%2F9%2F2%2F8%2F0%2FArtObject_99280&pageNumber=1&lastFacet=category
Fight the good fight.     https://flamestar5.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/il_fullxfull-145778003.jpg
the rich fool.   http://bibleencyclopedia.com/gs400px/stdas0163.jpg