Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How do YOU do "Grief Work"?

My degree is in psychology. One of the things they have discovered over the years is that we NEED to fully grieve the various losses we encounter in life. Stopping it up is not the way to health. "Stuffing it" ends up costing us dearly. Aggressive outbursts only provide temporary relief.

Psychology has set up a way to thoroughly work through your grief. It does not make it go away. But it does bring you back to emotional health.

David had his own way of doing "grief work." I imagine this psalm was written the night after this incident took place...

1 Samuel 30:1 "Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God."

I think that night, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning, David grabbed a fragment of parchment and wrote this down...

Psalm 6
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by an eight-stringed instrument.[a]

1 "O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your rage.
2 Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

4 Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
Save me because of your unfailing love.
5 For the dead do not remember you.
Who can praise you from the grave?[b]

6 I am worn out from sobbing.
All night I flood my bed with weeping,
drenching it with my tears.
7 My vision is blurred by grief;
my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.

8 Go away, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord will answer my prayer.
10 May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
May they suddenly turn back in shame."

How do YOU do grief work?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The week where everything turned for the better


Things had been getting worse for David for a long time.

First Saul tries to kill him with a spear.
Then Saul tries to turn his entire family into spies to kill David.
Then Saul turns the entire nation into a machine to kill David.
Finally the entire military aparatus is dedicated to killing David.

Meanwhile, David was on the run, and started attracting misfits, who joined him.
After a while, he had 600 men, with their wives and children under his care.

For the big spring battle between the Philistines and Saul, David had offered to join the Philistines, because he was living in their country. He was turned down.

6 "So Achish finally summoned David and said to him, “I swear by the Lord that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I’ve never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won’t hear of it. 7 Please don’t upset them, but go back quietly.”

8 “What have I done to deserve this treatment?” David demanded. “What have you ever found in your servant, that I can’t go and fight the enemies of my lord the king?”
9 But Achish insisted, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re as perfect as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders are afraid to have you with them in the battle. 10 Now get up early in the morning, and leave with your men as soon as it gets light.”
11 So David and his men headed back into the land of the Philistines, while the Philistine army went on to Jezreel."

He goes back to the town he has been given, and everything is gone! I guess his wife forgot to call him on the cell phone!

1 Samuel 30:1 "Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. 2 They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone.

3 When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, 4 they wept until they could weep no more. 5 David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. 6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God."

So he asks God what to do. God says "go", so he goes.

1. He gets fabulously wealthy.

16 "So he led David to them, and they found the Amalekites spread out across the fields, eating and drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken from the Philistines and the land of Judah. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels. 18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. 20 He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. “This plunder belongs to David!” they said.

2. His mortal enemy is killed.

1 Samuel 31:1 "Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. 3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.

4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day."

3. He is anointed King

2 Samuel 2:1 "After this, David asked the Lord, “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?”

“Yes,” the Lord replied.

Then David asked, “Which town should I go to?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.

2 David’s two wives were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. So David and his wives 3 and his men and their families all moved to Judah, and they settled in the villages near Hebron. 4 Then the men of Judah came to David and crowned him king over the people of Judah.

When David heard that the men of Jabesh-gilead had buried Saul, 5 he sent them this message: “May the Lord bless you for being so loyal to your master Saul and giving him a decent burial. 6 May the Lord be loyal to you in return and reward you with his unfailing love! And I, too, will reward you for what you have done. 7 Now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king.”

From destitute and on the run, to king of Judah.

It was quite a week!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saul Croaks

Saul Croaks

(Actually he gurgles, as he dies on his own sword)

1 Samuel 31:1 Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons—Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. 3 The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely.

4 Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.”

But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. 6 So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day.

7 When the Israelites on the other side of the Jezreel Valley and beyond the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines moved in and occupied their towns.

8 The next day, when the Philistines went out to strip the dead, they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death in their pagan temple and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. 10 They placed his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

11 But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days."

An inglorious end to a disobedient king!

A Dead Man Scares the Medium - His Message Scares the King

8 So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men.

“I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”

9 “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?”

10 But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.”

11 Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?”

“Call up Samuel,” Saul replied.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, “You’ve deceived me! You are Saul!”

13 “Don’t be afraid!” the king told her. “What do you see?”

“I see a god[b] coming up out of the earth,” she said.

14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked.

“He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.

15 “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul.

“Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.”

16 But Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. 18 The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

20 Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

21 When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. 22 Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.”

23 But Saul refused. The men who were with him also urged him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. 25 She brought the meal to Saul and his men, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night."

The second to last day of Saul's life was his most miserable moral failure to date.

He disobeys God, even while trying to find out what God's direction is for the battle.

Samuel comes up from the grave. (The only time in the Bible where this happens. I think it the exception not the rule) He gives Saul one last message.

1. God has left you.
2. God is your enemy.
3. God is ripping the kingdom away from you.
4. God is punishing you for disobeying His command regarding the Amalekites.
5. You and the entire army will be defeated in battle tomorrow.
6. You and your sons will be killed in battle. TOMORROW!

Conclusion:
It's better to trust and obey, the rebel and disobey.

Conclusion 2:
There is a reason God does not usually allow us to know the future. "Enough for today are the sorrows thereof" says King Solomon!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

no no no no no no NO!


Don't do that!
No!
NO!

That is what God has said to His people about witchcraft, mediums, witches, warlocks, necromancy, divination, black magic, spells, incantations, etc.

There was no ambivalence on this issue.

Deuteronomy 18:9 "When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [a] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so."

So here is the situation.

Saul sinned and didn't repent. He went further and further away from God. Now he is faced with a huge army of the fierce Philistines. As you know, the game was "winner take all." If you won, you got land, wealth, servants, herds, prestige, power and on and on.

If you lost, you lost all of that, plus your own life. The stakes could not have been higher.

I Samuel 28:4 "The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear. 6 He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots[a] or by the prophets."

Saul's credit with God is all used up. That store is empty!

Well, let's cross over to the dark side! That would be better than losing everything, right?

7 "Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.”His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.”

First of all, it did not seem to take Saul a New York minute to decide to consult a medium. Secondly, although God had strictly prohibited it, everyone seemed to know about this witch, and even where she lived. Interesting!

8 "So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men.

“I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”

9 “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?”

10 But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.”

So the only one objecting to all this is the medium herself!

And Saul promises her that no harm will come to her. And he takes an oath in the name of the Lord!!!

No Saul, no. Don't do it. No, Saul.

No...