Saturday, April 25, 2009

Break Out in Song!



I like to sing.
In fact, I am singing a lot of the time. Sometimes I don't even know if the song is inside my head or out where others can hear it. Sometimes I am just humming.

A while ago a rather sensational study was published that said that many people found a more intense pleasure from music than even from sex!

Well, King David was musical. He played the harp. He composed music. He made up poems, and set them to music. Many of his prayers were songs. Maybe he prayed as he sang, or sang as he prayed. He was comfortable with praying, and worshipping and singing.

Don't remember reading anything at all about King Saul and worship. If you remember a few blogs ago, Saul kept his religion right to the end, but his religion was empty of any relationship with God. It was an empty shell of ritual for show...

David had relationship with God. So it is not a great surprise to read this...

David's Worship Leaders
31 -32 "These are the persons David appointed to lead the singing in the house of God after the Chest was placed there. They were the ministers of music in the place of worship, which was the Tent of Meeting until Solomon built The Temple of God in Jerusalem. As they carried out their work, they followed the instructions given to them.
33 -38 These are the persons, together with their sons, who served by preparing for and directing worship: from the family of the Kohathites was Heman the choirmaster, the son of Joel... the son of Levi, the son of Israel.
39 -43 Heman's associate Asaph stood at his right hand. Asaph was the son of Berekiah... the son of Levi.
44 -47 Of the sons of Merari, the associates who stood at his left hand, was Ethan the son of Kishi... the son of Levi.
48 The rest of the Levites were assigned to all the other work in the place of worship, the house of God." (IChronicles 6)

A former pastor said, "lift your arms to God, and your heart will follow..." I remember looking around, and seeing all these old guys like me (I was 40 at the time) raising their arms and worshipping God with all their heart. Tears were not uncommon. I was impressed.

So I raised my arms to God, and found my heart followed!
We are built to worship.

The one we are designed to worship - is God.

So follow David's lead and pour your heart out to God - in music, in song, in prayer, in worship.

Friday, April 24, 2009

All for Nothing

Our reading today is I Chronicles 3-5. You might expect with a name like that to read a report or a list. It does not dissappoint.

For example, we read that David had 7 wives and 19 sons plus a daughter Tamar mentioned by name. She comes up later. He also had concubines in addition to the wives and had an unnumbered amount of children with them.

Plus lots of other names and lists of families.

At the end of today's reading are two paragraphs. At first, this family group trusted God and cried out to God.
18 -22 "The families of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had 44,760 men trained for war—physically fit and skilled in handling shield, sword, and bow. They fought against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. God helped them as they fought. God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. God answered their prayers because they trusted him. They plundered the Hagrite herds and flocks: 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep, and 2,000 donkeys. They also captured 100,000 people. Many were killed, because the battle was God's. They lived in that country until the exile."
So they flourished.
But laterthat group was not faithful to God.

23 -26 "The half-tribe of Manasseh had a large population. They occupied the land from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir (Mount Hermon). The heads of their families were Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel—brave warriors, famous, and heads of their families. But they were not faithful to the God of their ancestors. They took up with the ungodly gods of the peoples of the land whom God had gotten rid of before they arrived. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria (Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria) to take the families of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into exile. He deported them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan. They've been there ever since."
All their work and effort was for nothing.

God allowed the Assyrians (modern day Iraq) to attack, conquer and deport the entire bunch of them as foreigners and slaves.

Like the old TV show Lost in Space says: "Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Testosterone Driven Prayer

David was a musician, a poet, an artist. So he had the sensitive side to his personality. He could feel things deeply, and express them articulately.

However, he was also a "tough guy." As a kid, he is out in front, all alone, confronting the giant. In battle, he is in front of the troops, in the place of greatest danger. When chased by Saul, he and one other guy go right into the middle of the enemy camp and cut a piece of Sual's robe off. Gutsy!!

So it is really fun to hear this guy pray.

I call it testoterone driven prayer. Listen...
23 -26 "Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?

Wake up! Don't you care what happens to us?

Why do you bury your face in the pillow?

Why pretend things are just fine with us?

And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,

held down with a boot on our necks.

Get up and come to our rescue.

If you love us so much, Help us!" (Psalm 44)

I picture Sylvestore Stallone praying like this. Or Dolph Longren. Or David the warrior...


8 -9 "God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:

O God of Jacob, open your ears—I'm praying!

Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,

our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.

10 -12 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,

beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.

I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God

than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.

All sunshine and sovereign is God,

generous in gifts and glory.

He doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions.

It's smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies." (Psalm 84)


4 -7 "Help us again, God of our help;

don't hold a grudge against us forever.

You aren't going to keep this up, are you?

scowling and angry, year after year?

Why not help us make a fresh start—a resurrection life?

Then your people will laugh and sing!

Show us how much you love us, God!

Give us the salvation we need!" (Psalm 85)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Majestic is Your Name!


David is now king of part of Israel. All during his adult life, he continued to journal, and write poems, and put his poetry to music.
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A collection of his writings are in the book called Psalms. Many of them were written during this time. Psalm 8 is one of my personal favorites, and a very well known worship song is based on it.
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It is S-O-O-O beautiful, and elegant, and worshipful, I have included it in its entirety...
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Psalm 8
For the director of music. According to gittith [a].
A psalm of David.

1 "O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise [b]
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [c]
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Assasinations, War and Consolidation of Political Power

Dirty politicians!

We all say this with a certain amount of glee. They are rotten to the core. The whole bunch of them.

Bill Clinton and Blogoyavich are the faces of lying and corruption, but they are all a bunch of crooks...

Today we read about the second king in Israel, David, a man after God's own heart.

In this reading he takes on four more wives. One he rips away from her loving husband.

He "kills the messenger."

His guys start a civil war, which lasts for 7 years.

There are political assasinations.

There is intrigue, and plotting, spying and killing.

Wow! And this is only the SECOND king in Israel. And HE is a GOOD GUY!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Transition


David does not know it yet, but his life is about to turn dramatically for the better.

The experience that he is living does not seem that good. He tried to become part of the Philistine army and was rejected. He and his men went back to thier little town and discovered it had been raided and all their families as well as their property had been taken. The town burned to the ground. And Saul was still chasing him to kill him. Not great circumstances.

BUT!

They chase the Amalekites, get not only their own families and possessions back, but also all the other vast booty that had been siezed. So they got from broke to wealthy in the space of a few days.

Three days later, they get word that Saul and his sons have been killed in battle.

David asks God if he should return to Israel. The answer is yes, and the town of Hebron crowns him king. Big change in a few short days...

Here are some of the things David blogs during this time in his life.

Psalm 130
A Pilgrim Song
1 -2 Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
Listen to my cries for mercy.

Psalm 121
A Pilgrim Song
1 -2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains...
7 -8 God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

Psalm 124
A Pilgrim Song of David
1 -5 If God hadn't been for us —all together now, Israel, sing out!—
If God hadn't been for us
when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive
by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives
in the wild, raging water.
6 Oh, blessed be God!
He didn't go off and leave us.
He didn't abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs...
8 God's strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.
He put his poems to music and had the whole country singing God's praises.
I especially like the phrase "—all together now, Israel, sing out!— "

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hypocrisy!

Today we read the tragic end of Saul's downhill slide.

It began with willful disobedience, hypocrisy and lying.

When confronted he did not repent, but made excuses.

The Lord left him, and sent him a tormenting spirit in His place. Saul never did repent, but he did continue to be religious right to the end.

So can you live without the Spirit of God, yet maintain a posture of religiosity and self righteous pomposity? HECK YEAH! Happens all the time.

Here is the story.

3 Samuel was now dead. All Israel had mourned his death and buried him in Ramah, his hometown. Saul had long since cleaned out all those who held séances with the dead."

So Saul had obeyed the command to have no witches or seers or necromancers in Israel.

Once again the Philistines are on the attack.

4 -5 "The Philistines had mustered their troops and camped at Shunem. Saul had assembled all Israel and camped at Gilboa. But when Saul saw the Philistine troops, he shook in his boots, scared to death.
6 Saul prayed to God, but God didn't answer—neither by dream nor by sign nor by prophet."

Saul is still religious. He wants and needs God's favor. At the very least, God's direction.

7 "So Saul ordered his officials, "Find me someone who can call up spirits so I may go and seek counsel from those spirits."
His servants said, "There's a witch at Endor."

Of course, his response should have been, "What? A witch? She needs to be killed. And how do YOU GUYS know she is there? Haven't I given orders that there be NO witches in the land, according to God's very specific instructions.?

That SHOULD HAVE BEEN his response. But it wasn't.

8 "Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes. Then, taking two men with him, he went under the cover of night to the woman and said, "I want you to consult a ghost for me. Call up the person I name."
9 The woman said, "Just hold on now! You know what Saul did, how he swept the country clean of mediums. Why are you trying to trap me and get me killed?"
10 Saul swore solemnly, "As God lives, you won't get in any trouble for this."
11 The woman said, "So whom do you want me to bring up?"
"Samuel. Bring me Samuel."

So Saul blatantly disobeyed God by doing this. I guess his justification would be "desperate times call for desperate measures..." As far as I know, this is the only time in the Bible that an ACTUAL dead person came up in response to a witch. Usually it is a demon who impersonates the dead person. It appears obvious the Samuel HIMSELF actually came up from the dead.
12 "When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out loudly to Saul, "Why did you lie to me? You're Saul!"
13 The king told her, "You have nothing to fear ...but what do you see?"
"I see a spirit ascending from the underground."
14 "And what does he look like?" Saul asked.
"An old man ascending, robed like a priest."
Saul knew it was Samuel. He fell down, face to the ground, and worshiped.
15 Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by calling me up?"
"Because I'm in deep trouble," said Saul. "The Philistines are making war against me and God has deserted me—he doesn't answer me any more, either by prophet or by dream. And so I'm calling on you to tell me what to do."

He is still religious. He is still unrepentant. Samuel lays into him...

16 -19 "Why ask me?" said Samuel. "God has turned away from you and is now on the side of your neighbor. God has done exactly what he told you through me—ripped the kingdom right out of your hands and given it to your neighbor. It's because you did not obey God, refused to carry out his seething judgment on Amalek, that God does to you what he is doing today. Worse yet, God is turning Israel, along with you, over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. And, yes, indeed, God is giving Israel's army up to the Philistines."
20 -22 Saul dropped to the ground, felled like a tree, terrified by Samuel's words. There wasn't an ounce of strength left in him—he'd eaten nothing all day and all night. The woman, realizing that he was in deep shock, said to him, "Listen to me. I did what you asked me to do, put my life in your hands in doing it, carried out your instructions to the letter. It's your turn to do what I tell you: Let me give you some food. Eat it. It will give you strength so you can get on your way." 23 -25 He refused. "I'm not eating anything."


Big battle. Army of Israel is slaughtered. Saul and his three sons are all killed.

End of Saul, his hypocrisy, his dynasty.