Continuing through the bible chronologically and working through the Psalms aligned with I Chronicles and the assigned gatekeepers, the Sons of Korah....continue reading "Of The Sons of Korah (Psalm 46)"
As mentioned in previous posts, I am working my way through the Old Testament chronologically and am in I Chronicles. So, following chapter 26 on the organization of the Temple gatekeepers are Psalms by the Sons of Korah. Korah is one of two families assigned to the gatekeeper responsibilities. Below is a closer look at two of these Sons of Korah "gatekeeper: Psalms 42 and 43....continue reading "Of The Sons of Korah (Psalms 42-43)"
July 9, 2020
I'm trying to read through the Old Testament chronologically and I am in the book of I Chronicles. I had, what I consider, a substantial insight yesterday about David and his obsession with God's Temple; but ran out of time before I could explore it. It's been on my mind and I want to try and capture my thoughts, as they can be quite fleeting....continue reading "David Pursues the King of Glory"
God unified Israel under David. And David has been making inroads at repairing all the damage done during the time of the judges and Saul. He's made his first very poor attempt at moving the Ark of God and now we'll learn more about those early days of David's unified kingship....continue reading "I Chronicles 14"
The Song of David
Almost identical to Psalm 18, this is David's song after being delivered from his enemies and King Saul. I'm not clear if this is upon Saul's death, or after the grieving process in which he wrote a nice song about Saul?
He praises the character of God that could save him. And he points out that he asked and was saved.He points out how severe the situation was and how close to death. Then reiterates that he cried out for deliverance and the Lord heard and shook the earth....continue reading "II Samuel 22"
Ryrie describes the rest of II Samuel (Chapters 21-24) as "an nonchronological appendix" of events from David's reign.
21:1-2 Describes a three year famine and David seeking the Lord for the cause. The reason was when Saul was purging the inhabitants, he also slayed Gibeonites with whom Israel had a treaty. (Joshua 8:3-27)
So David reached out and asked what they wanted for atonement. They said not silver or gold, but seven of Saul's sons. David turned them over, except Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan. The Gibeonites hanged all seven together....continue reading "II Samuel 21"
Wiersbe points out that both Hushai and Ziba brought good things. Hushai was answer to prayer and Zibe brought things needed in the short term, but deceived David in a moment of weakness and caused problems in the long term. David knew Ziba was an opportunist and even questioned his motives; but then was probably braced to believe everyone would turn on him and believed it about Mephibosheth. Even though Mephiboseth was crippled and unlikely to lead an uprising; and had seemed genuinely moved to become part of David's household.
And why hadn't David accounted for Mophibosheth. He was supposed to be part of the family. David brought hundreds of servants, why not care for the crippled family member?
Between Satan's lies from Ziba and the continuous curses from Shimei, Saul's relative- David was being worn down. It sounds like the Shimei story is ongoing.
Here's what I was looking for.
"What did all this suffering accomplish for David? It made him more like Jesus Christ! He was rejected by his own people and betrayed by his own familiar friend. He gave up everything for the sake of his people... Like Jesus, David crossed the Kidron and went up Mount Olive. He was falsely accused and shamefully treated and yet submitted to the sovereign will of God. 'Who when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.' (I peter 2:23 NKJV)
By all human counts, Absalom had the advantages. But David had the Lord.
Because David fled, it was a bloodless coup. which is what David wanted- the people of Jerusalem protected.
Hushai's song and dance manged to thread the needle between truth and lies while still convincing Absalom of his "loyalty". He promises to serve who God chose. He says long live the king, without adding a specific name, etc.
Wiersbe points out that David would seek God's will. Either through his own prayers, A prophet like Nathan, or by using the Urim and Thummin. Absalom used a man, Ahithophel, who do not show signs of seeking God before offering wisdom, although the Bible says both David and Absalom treated his advice like the Word of God.
For me, that provides some insight into that final verse.
What a contrast in these two stories. David suffering and struggling while Absalom gets his wish with no effort. It seems unfair. It seems wrong. But that's only if you forget or never knew that there is a God in heaven, on His throne, sovereign, and whose will will be done. It's a contrast well worth remembering.
v 15b ..."Then the Lord struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick."
A couple of items to contemplate from this verse:
- It is specific that the Lord struck the child sick.
- The child was male.
- The author phrases it as Uriah's widow, not Bathsheba, keeping the cause of the issue in the forefront. She bore another man's child.
- And, the Lord struck the child sick, not dead.
Why sick and not dead? As always, I do not presume to speak for God; but the next verse is my clue:
v. 16 "Davis, therefore, inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground." For seven days, he denied himself to intercede for the child. Even when his elders were pressuring him to eat and take care of himself. To the point they thought he might harm himself when the baby actually died.
David got himself (and the baby and Bathsheba, and everyone else) into this when he refused to deny himself everything he wanted- even when what he wanted wasn't his to have.
And even more importantly, David still had hope for the child and went seeking God's face. Something else he wasn't doing before Nathan came to him.
In other words, David was genuinely repenting and his behavior (at cost to himself) was demonstrating that he really got the point. When we babysit our nieces and nephew and catch them doing something wrong, we correct them. And if we get a smirk or a grin in return, we try again to show them why what they did was wrong. We make an effort to explain it and we look for signs that they "got it". Otherwise, the second we left the room they would resume. We didn't want external pressure to be the only thing mitigating the behavior; but an internal understanding. A smirk does not denote internal understanding. So I used to joke that I wasn't done with the correction until I saw them cry. I did not want them to cry, but I was looking for a sign that they understood, in a real way, that what they had done was unsafe or mean, or whatever. Sometimes, it meant when they did get it, they would tear up.
That's what I perceive as happening with David. Suddenly, the life of his child was on the line and he understood that it was his choices that led to this. Personal responsibility before the Lord.
He also understood that the Lord was his only help. What his elders had to say was useless in light of the circumstances. God and God along could decide how the story would end.
And then this chapter of the story did end tragically. The baby died.
In response, David ended his vigil and went to worship the Lord. Only then did he end his fast and return to his normal life. This was very confusing to the elders, who understood the world, but not necessarily, the Lord. So they asked David about his surprising behavior. Here's his reply: (my paraphrase)
v. 22-23 While the baby was alive, I had hope that God would intervene by His graciousness and answer my prayer. But His answer was 'no', so now it is out of my control. God has decided and it is final.
I want to burn this scene into my mind. I think there are so many lessons for living.
- There are consequences for sin. Sometimes we pay them, sometimes we are forgiven of the sin and the consequence, and sometimes we are forgiven of the sin, but still bear the natural consequence.
- Genuine repentance bears witness through changed behavior. David didn't have his men fast, as Saul had done when he was trying to change outcomes. David fasted in a long and serious way.
- David took personal responsibility. There's no evidence that anyone fasted with David or shared in this scene.
- Faith is asking God for what you want and keep asking with confidence that He may say yes.
- However, when God clearly says no, and a door is closed, faith is also accepting the no and still remembering that God is good and perfect and there is a reason for the no that is beyond what we can comprehend. (In this case, the salvation of the world and blaspheme of God was on the line, so He said no and the whole world was a better place for denying David's request to avoid the consequences of his sin.
- Those around us may not understand the scene we are having with God. It may look mysterious, strange, or wrong to them; but if we're being led by the Holy Spirit and we're genuinely trying to love out our faith in the Lord, we keep on keeping on until we're on the other side and can better explain ourselves.
- A child died. That is the most horrible thing many of us can imagine. While it would be unwise to casually throw out this story to someone in a trying situation; it is worth pointing out that God is in the trials of life with us. This story has a lot to say to those suffering.
- Notice Nathan was gone at this point. God used Nathan to speak to David at first, but then it came down to God and David. When we try to minister to people, we should never forget that we only have a small part to play. The real change happens when that person gets alone with God.
Consequences of Sin
v10-12. You slayed by the sword; and now the sword will never leave your house. Consequences:
- Rise up evil from your own household
- Take your wives
- Companion will lie with them in broad daylight
- You did in secret, I will do before Israel and in the sunlight
v 13 Just when it seems the Lord's anger is building and the consequences are increasing, an amazing thing happens.
- First, David's response to Nathan's Word from God. He admits that he sinned, and specifically, sinned against God. This is good that he recognized and acknowledged his sin; but this isn't the amazing part.
- In the same verse, Nathan responds to David's confession with, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die."
- Sadly, this is followed by, "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
Then Nathan leaves.
There's a lot to unpack in these few verses.
Previously, God had reminded David of who God was and what He had done for David. Then He explained how David sinned against Him, the Lord. Then God recounts David's sin against Uriah. Now we come to the consequences.
It's not explicitly noted, but it seems like there are separate sins for the murder and then the adultery. And they seem to be a reflection of each sin itself. This is tragic and scary. However, we have often seen this in the Old Testament books. People sin. God delivers righteous judgement and consequences.
And David's response is within what we'd expect as well. Confession when faced with God's judgement. Even Saul did this (several times).
But then we immediately see God's mercy and grace in a moment.
He takes away David's sin, removing the well deserved death penalty.
The grace and mercy is not surprising. Every time Israel or one of her people sinned and God sent punishment, He always sent mercy and grace to allow them to go on. But it's never been so stark and immediate to me. This took my breath away. "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die."
Why would David receive such preferential treatment? I know. I know. He pays a HUGE price, beginning in the next sentence. And God doesn't free Him from the other natural consequences of his actions; just the legal requirement that he face death as punishment. So God didn't etch-a-sketch the whole thing away. But still, in the midst of His judgement, He also delivers immediate amnesty. It seems noteworthy. Shocking, really. So...why?
Of course, if God wanted us to know why, He would have added it to the text. So there might be a million reasons and they are all His own. We're not entitled to them (or anything else). But there is a substantial hint in the next verse, when David hears the bad news side of the commutation:
"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also born to you shall surely die."
He gave us the the "because", so He gave us the "why". Lots of people commit adultery; but never once, that I know of, did God note that the adultery could give God's enemy a weapon.
What made David's adultery different? In chapter 7, God established an individual covenant with David and it included promises such as God establishing a forever kingdom in God's name.
God spared David for God and God's name, in my opinion. To our human ear, maybe that sounds like I'm calling God selfish. But God's forever kingdom comes through Jesus. And if that baby is born in the sins of adultery and murder, God's plan, as we now know it, is stained and imperfect. Stained and imperfect cannot redeem humanity and gets us back to a right relationship with God.
God spared David for us. All of us. BUT...THROUGH HIS PLAN. And since we don't know His thoughts or His plans, all we can do is pray and have faith and be grateful that we know He is good and He is for us. A baby was born and then died for all of us. Seems to have some parallels to another story we hear much later in this book.
It's worth remembering, God has a plan and his plan will not be denied. And even if we fail our part of the plan, we can either be Peter, failing and being redeemed by Christ, or Judas, failing and paying with his life for eternity. We learn in upcoming verses that David fails and God's plan proceeds anyway; AND David is redeemed by His faith in God.
One final question I pondered from this short set of verses. When Nathan finished giving his original message from the Lord, the first words out of David's mouth was a confession that he had sinned against God. He got it. He wasn't apologizing for getting caught; or for the sins themselves. He was confessing that those sins had actually been against God. It was immediately after that confession, in the same verse, in the next sentence, Nathan spoke forgiveness to David from God.
So here's my pondering...what if David hadn't? What if, instead, he had blamed Bathsheba, or God himself, like Adam did? Or if he blamed his men, like Saul did? Or some other rationale or defense?
I think God would have found a way to move His plan forward, regardless. But I wonder what would have happened to David? Things get really bad as it is...I have to wonder what God would have done if David had acted like the other men who sinned before God in previous books? I don't have a theory, so I didn't explore it very far. But I suspect. The answer would be sobering.
It's worth remembering that, it seems, God takes it quite seriously when one confesses immediately, taking personal responsibility, and most importantly, recognizing that sin itself is less important than recognizing that the sin, any sin, is directly against God.
I've been dreading this chapter. David has been so great until now.
I learned in college that American Literature invented or greatly expanded the idea of a flawed hero. Previously, heroes, by definition, were "perfect" or ideal characters to whom we should admire and emulate. Greek and Roman adventures and warriors who showed us courage, wit, strength, and valor, even when they were losing, they were still winning.
Then along comes the settling of the American West and cowboys and Indians and bank robbers and somehow, America started to have a soft spot for characters who did some bad things but had the "hooker with a heart of gold" soft spot that, ultimately, led them to do the right thing and save the day.
Now that's how we like our heroes. Not perfect. Approachable. Maybe you would even enjoy getting a beer with one of them. Who wants to have a beer with a larger than life Greek hero. We're the country of throwing off the binds of the monarchy and manifest destiny...we don't abide snooty, perfect heroes.
I am particularly prone to this genre. I love Mitch Rapp, Jack Ryan's darker counterpart, John Clark/Kelly, The Grey Man. Orphan X. If they have a sad childhood story and shoot the bad guys...I'm in.
There is, however, a serious flaw with the flawed hero. I think we love these guys (and sometimes, but rarely women) because we want to believe there is a hero out there who, like the kryptonite-sensitive, love-sick, and vulnerable Superman, will fly in at save the day.
See the problem? We want to be...saved. We know in our hearts that there is evil in this world and that a lot of it is stronger than we are. There are bad men (and sometimes women) who are plotting and scheming to take things from us, to hurt or even kill us, to make us feel helpless. For kids it can be a vague fear of the bogey man; but then we grow up and some people fear the government, others fear big corporations, or certain types of people, some fear diseases, or money-related problems. Some know that all of the evil comes from the enemy of God.
And the truth is...they're all correct to be afraid to one degree or another. All of those things can be very real and very scary, bringing great pain, tragedy, and harm to our lives. So we were correct all along. We. Do. Need. A. Savior.
The problem is...the FLAWED hero is just as big of a myth as the classic. perfect hero. Our longing for a hero is real and should drive us to the only savior that can actual save us. Jesus Christ.
C.S. Lewis makes the point in several of his books that we can't long for anything that doesn't exist somewhere. And the longing for peace and safety and security and provision and health and happiness is a longing for paradise lost, as we live in this fallen world. Jesus is the way God designed to restore us to what was lost, but it has to be on His terms- through Faith in Him.
That's the real flaw in the flawed hero. The fallen actually cannot save the fallen. And that's what we want. The flawed hero IS approachable. We could buy him a beer after his next big adventure saving the world. But he actually cannot fight the bogey man, or pay the bills, or fight cancer, or any of our personal battles.
And that brings me to David. I kept stalling from starting the chapter and I didn't know why. It's because David has been such a fun hero to read about. A man after God's own heart, slaying his ten thousand, but refusing to slay the man trying to kill him in obedience to God. He's been flawed, but in, relatively minor ways. But now David is about to fall and fall hard taking with him the idolatry I have in my heart for men who can save us without having to kneel our (my) rebellious heart and cry out to the only one who can really save me. Jesus.
Jesus, I'm sorry I'm still on the trail looking for heroes to save me when you already have. You're all I need and all I want and I am so disappointed to find such a rebellious heart every time I turn a corner. I long for the day that my worship of you is incorruptible because of the work you have done for me by suffering and dying on the cross.
The good news is David is an archetype of Jesus in many ways. So I can keep looking for those and waiting for the day of Jesus, crying out to him alone to save me.
And...now I have to go do taxes, so I'm still only on verse one of the chapter. 🙂