Saturday, April 24, 2010

The sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God.

The sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God.

This was written during the time he was hiding from Saul. Perhaps the very time when he was building up his army and raiding villages...

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

1 "O Lord, hear my plea for justice.
Listen to my cry for help.
Pay attention to my prayer,
for it comes from honest lips.
2 Declare me innocent,
for you see those who do right.

3 You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.
You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong.
I am determined not to sin in what I say.
4 I have followed your commands,
which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
5 My steps have stayed on your path;
I have not wavered from following you.

6 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
By your mighty power you rescue
those who seek refuge from their enemies.
8 Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.[a]
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.

9 Protect me from wicked people who attack me,
from murderous enemies who surround me.
10 They are without pity.
Listen to their boasting!
11 They track me down and surround me,
watching for the chance to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart—
like young lions hiding in ambush.

13 Arise, O Lord!
Stand against them, and bring them to their knees!
Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!
14 By the power of your hand, O Lord,
destroy those who look to this world for their reward.

But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones.
May their children have plenty,
leaving an inheritance for their descendants.
15 Because I am righteous, I will see you.
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied."

The sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God!

A Ruthless Ruler Rises

David is later called "A man after God's own heart."

But he clearly refined and perfected his craft.

In his case, his talent, his path to power, his ability to get on top and stay on top, was to win wars. If you want to put it more crassly, his job was to kill people. Lots of people...

1 Samuel 27:1 "But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”

2 So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. 3 David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him—Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. 4 Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him.

5 One day David said to Achish, “If it is all right with you, we would rather live in one of the country towns instead of here in the royal city.”

6 So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag (which still belongs to the kings of Judah to this day), 7 and they lived there among the Philistines for a year and four months.

8 David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. 9 David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish.

10 “Where did you make your raid today?” Achish would ask.

And David would reply, “Against the south of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, and the Kenites.”

11 No one was left alive to come to Gath and tell where he had really been. This happened again and again while he was living among the Philistines. 12 Achish believed David and thought to himself, “By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever!”

David got richer and richer during this time. And perfected the craft of "leave no prisoner" type warfare.

David would later be known as the "Warrior King"

He conquered all the cities, states and countries around Israel and made them pay heavy taxes. Financial slavery if you will.

How does all this square with the sensitive poet who wrote beautiful music and sang intimate prayers to God?

I'm not sure, really.

I guess life on this planet it a tad more complicated than the neat Sunday School stories we are told as children...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

She is fine - oh yeah, She is fine - oh yeah, She is mighty mighty mighty mighty fine...

Word reached David that the old man Nabal had croaked.

He was so sad.

SOOOO sad...

39 "When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise the Lord, who has avenged the insult I received from Nabal and has kept me from doing it myself. Nabal has received the punishment for his sin.”

OK. Maybe not!

After a long time of pondering and considering and consulting and praying about it...

"Then David sent messengers to Abigail to ask her to become his wife."

There is no pause in the text between these two events. Its like, "David - Nabal died." "Praise the Lord, go ask Abigail if she will marry me."

Just as surprising as his quick decision was her quick response.

40 "When the messengers arrived at Carmel, they told Abigail, “David has sent us to take you back to marry him.”

41 She bowed low to the ground and responded, “I, your servant, would be happy to marry David. I would even be willing to become a slave, washing the feet of his servants!” 42 Quickly getting ready, she took along five of her servant girls as attendants, mounted her donkey, and went with David’s messengers. And so she became his wife."

Wow! Can you spell c-h-e-m-i-s-t-r-y !!!

Now it wasn't all so romantic. She was David's second wife. Then he quickly picked up wife number three.

 43 "David also married Ahinoam from Jezreel, making both of them his wives."

Then he lost wife number one.

 44 "Saul, meanwhile, had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to a man from Gallim named Palti son of Laish."

She would later become one of 6 wives, and sharing him with at least 10 concubines. So the story has a definate hollywood pattern to it.

Sizzling attraction and hot romance to start with.

Not so great in the end...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Women are weak

Look at her there, down on her knees, begging for her life!

Back home, Nabal, her husband is a rugged he-man. No kowtowing for him! He is having a big harvest celebration, and he is "drinking like a man", feeling no pain, servants running to a fro, obeying his every command.

23 "When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests.[d] But I never even saw the young men you sent."

"I accept all the blame in this matter, my lord." How many thousands of times has a variation of this statement been made by the wife or child of the alchoholic? Abigail is grovelling, trying to patch things up. Trying to fix a problem she did not create.

A little praise and flattery couldn't hurt.

26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is."

How about some gifts?

 27 "And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men. 28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.

29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! 30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”

She looks down. A few tears fall. Her sensuous lower lip is quivering. David can see that her neck and cheeks are flushed.

32 "David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. 34 For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”

It works! Disaster is averted. She returns home to find her husband in high spirits...

36 "When Abigail arrived home, she found that Nabal was throwing a big party and was celebrating like a king. He was very drunk, so she didn’t tell him anything about her meeting with David until dawn the next day. 37 In the morning when Nabal was sober, his wife told him what had happened. As a result he had a stroke,[e] and he lay paralyzed on his bed like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck him, and he died."

Oops! Who is SO strong? SO brave? SO macho?

Nabal keels over dead.

And who is SO weak? Grovelling in the dust? Crying? Bringing gifts to an outlaw?

Abigail lives to see another day.

Dealing with Guerrillas

I was born and raised in Colombia, South America. The people are warm, and gentle and kind. However, two thirds of the country is jungle, and wild. Wild geographically, wild as far as the jungle growth goes, and wild in the political, military and economic sense.

"Guerrillas in Colombia have been formed by a body of fighters engaging in mobile asymmetric irregular warfare, also known as guerrilla warfare, usually in opposition to the Government of Colombia or any other established authority. The oldest and largest currently operational is the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias Colombiana)." Wiki

A long time ago the FARC had philosophical underpinnings in communism. Now it is just a large, organized gang of thugs.

"FARC receives most of its funding -which has been estimated to average some $300 million per year- from taxation of the illegal drug trade, ransom kidnappings, bank robberies, and extortion of large landholders, multinational corporations, and agribusiness. From taxation of illegal drugs alone, FARC has been estimated to receive approximately 60 to 100 million dollars per year.[33][99]" Wiki

In today's story David has become a guerrilla warrior. Because king Saul and all the army is after him, he has formed his own rag rag army of ruffians. Although he is a righteous man, his system is like all guerrilla warriors. "I saw you. You have money. We have lots of men and weapons. We didn't harm you, so pay us money. If you do not pay us money we will harm you. Big time..." Not a very righteous system!

1 Samuel 25:1 "Then David moved down to the wilderness of Maon.[a] 2 There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. He had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and it was sheep-shearing time. 3 This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings.

4 When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal: 6 “Peace and prosperity to you, your family, and everything you own! 7 I am told that it is sheep-shearing time. While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. 8 Ask your own men, and they will tell you this is true. So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us and with your friend David.” 9 David’s young men gave this message to Nabal in David’s name, and they waited for a reply.

10 “Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. 11 Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”

12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said. 13 “Get your swords!” was David’s reply as he strapped on his own. Then 400 men started off with David, and 200 remained behind to guard their equipment."

400 men. Fully armed. Coming to pillage and destroy because a rich man had not paid up! Scary!!

God had a bigger purpose in all this. He was training David to be the Warrior King who would establish the Kingdom of Israel in the midst of a violent and hostile territory.

But over in Nabal's household, there was at least one person who was scared to death!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What if we could see inside?

In the movie "What Women Want", Mel Gibson begins to be able to hear what women think. At first it annoys him, then it is a terrific advantage, then he loses the "gift". The movie wasn't as hilarious as the plot would lead you to believe, but the idea was certainly interesting.

With most Bible stories we get the facts, but we don't get to listen in to the characters inner thinking, and reactions and fears.

In the story today, we get a rare treat. David, the poet, the song writer, gives us a song - a prayer - that reveals what he was experiencing inside. Saul is king, and Saul has martialled the army to kill David.

David is on the run - for his very life!

Read what he experienced inside, in the most private thoughts and prayers of his life...

Psalm 27

A psalm of David.

1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

4 "The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.

7 "Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.

11 "Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

14 "Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."

How different from our prayers, of "make me rich", "make me comfortable", "make me well"!

The most astonishing prayers to me are when a group is going overseas on a mission trip. The prayers are often, "make the travel safe", "keep everyone healthy", "don't let there be any delays in the flights" "may everyone have a good time".

Really? That's the most important thing to pray for?

Read Psalm 27 again. It might change your prayer life...

Monday, April 19, 2010

How do you interpret circumstances?

How do you interpret things that happen to you?

1. One of the sales snippets that I learned recently is this one:
"I am an opportunity magnet"

It puts you in the mindset to recognize and act on the opportunity to help some one buy or sell.

However, if you call 100 people, the magnetism seems to increase significantly.

2. If you are praying for money, needing money, looking for money - and you see a $100 bill on the sidewalk - how do you interpret that?

Do you seize upon it joyfully and breathe a thanks to God, or do you do your due diligence to find the rightful owner and return the money?

3. What if someone has put you down, or even hurt you - lets say at work, and you have an unexpected opportunity to give them an informal review. Or better yet, you are involved in the project that is being questioned by the higher ups, and they are ASKING you for input about this very person?

Are you going to be fair and accurate, or is this a God given chance to tip the scales in your favor?

In yesterday's story it would be all but impossible to conclude that God had put your enemy into your very hands.

Saul had been ramping up his hunt for David and the intensity of his efforts to kill him. At this point he had abandoned all subtlety and had the entire country, the apparatus of the state, and even the entire military - all employed to kill David.

To add to the unusualness of the circumstances, David had already been anointed as king by God's messenger!

3 "At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!"
David and his men hide in a large cave. Saul and the army are chasing him. The entire army halts. Saul has to relieve himself. The army waits outside. Gaurds are posted outside. Inside, Saul squats - alone and defenseless.

David's men state the obvious -

4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’”

David creeps forward, sword in hand.

At the last minute, he decides it is not up to him to kill the king. He cuts off a piece of Sauls robe.

If he had spiritualized the opportunity, he could only have come to one conclusion. God did this. God sent David and his men into the cave. God sent the urge to Saul just at the right time. God put Saul into the cave where David was. God did all of this. David's prayers were answered!

But David did not kill Saul.

How do YOU interpret circumstances?