Friday, May 14, 2010

From now on, your family will live by the sword!

God sends to prophet to King David.

7 "Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the Lord[e] by doing this, your child will die.”

Sin has consequences...

The man was so honorable - I had to kill him!

David has done the nasty.
He is up on the roof of his palace, looking down on everybody.
A beautiful woman is taking a bath and he sees her. He has her summoned and has sex with her.

5 "Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

Oh oh! Now we have a problem. We need to call the husband in from the battle so he can have sex with his wife around the same time and cover the fact that the baby was fathered by king David.

6 "Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard."

What is wrong with this guy? He has a beautiful wife. Why doesn't he just have sex with her?

He is so honorable! I guess I have no choice now but to kill him!

14 "So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

David's glib answer is chilling. Just like the best phychopath out there.

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

The poor woman. She loved her husband. She did have to do what the king ordered. She basically got raped. Now her husband was dead!

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives."

So now she is part of the royal bevy of wives.

"Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done."

But the Lord was displeased...

How far down did David go?

The beauty of poetry and music is that it shows emotion.
So many of the stories told in the Bible are the facts of the case. Often a lifetime is told in a few verses. But in the Psalms we get to see inside... Feel the emotions... Listen in on the prayers of a breaking heart...

Here is one of those prayers.

Psalm 69:13
"But I keep praying to you, Lord,
hoping this time you will show me favor.
In your unfailing love, O God,
answer my prayer with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mud;
don’t let me sink any deeper!
Save me from those who hate me,
and pull me from these deep waters.
15 Don’t let the floods overwhelm me,
or the deep waters swallow me,
or the pit of death devour me.

16 Answer my prayers, O Lord,
for your unfailing love is wonderful.
Take care of me,
for your mercy is so plentiful.
17 Don’t hide from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!
18 Come and redeem me;
free me from my enemies.

19 You know of my shame, scorn, and disgrace.
You see all that my enemies are doing.
20 Their insults have broken my heart,
and I am in despair.
If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.
21 But instead, they give me poison[a] for food;
they offer me sour wine for my thirst."

How far down did David go?
Don't know, really.
How far down are you right now?
Maybe noone knows but you?
Take comfort in these words.

Home or House | by Lennar's Poetry Contest Winner: Mary Morgan

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The river of God has plenty of water



There is an approach to life that speaks of "the universe". For example, "the universe is full of abundance". That is, quite frankly, gobbledy goop. There either is a real God, or we are specks of dust on a barren ball.

Listen to the Bible's perspective of God and His goodness...

Psalm 65

8 "Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.

9 You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for you have ordered it so.
10 You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.
11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
13 The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!"

Verse 9 - The river of God has plenty of water...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shout Joyful Praises to God



Today's video is from India, where dance has long been part of the culture. Let the video play as you read this psalm of praise.

I think of verse 4 - everything on earth will worship you...
Or verse 8 - Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises...

Psalm 66
For the choir director: A song. A psalm.


1 Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
2 Sing about the glory of his name!
Tell the world how glorious he is.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
4 Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.”Interlude

5 Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
6 He made a dry path through the Red Sea,[a]
and his people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in him.
7 For by his great power he rules forever.
He watches every movement of the nations;
let no rebel rise in defiance.Interlude

8 Let the whole world bless our God
and loudly sing his praises.
9 Our lives are in his hands,
and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
10 You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver.
11 You captured us in your net
and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
12 Then you put a leader over us.[b]
We went through fire and flood,
but you brought us to a place of great abundance.

13 Now I come to your Temple with burnt offerings
to fulfill the vows I made to you—
14 yes, the sacred vows that I made
when I was in deep trouble.
15 That is why I am sacrificing burnt offerings to you—
the best of my rams as a pleasing aroma,
and a sacrifice of bulls and male goats.Interlude

16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
and I will tell you what he did for me.
17 For I cried out to him for help,
praising him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you...



When we were in Kenya a few years ago, I was moved to tears by the joyful, exhuberant worship.

Here is praise to God - in Swahili.
Enjoy. You'll be hearing a lot of this in heaven!!

Psalm 65
For the choir director: A song. A psalm of David.


1 What mighty praise, O God,
belongs to you in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to you,
2 for you answer our prayers.
All of us must come to you.
3 Though we are overwhelmed by our sins,
you forgive them all.
4 What joy for those you choose to bring near,
those who live in your holy courts.
What festivities await us
inside your holy Temple.

5 You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
6 You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty strength.
7 You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
8 Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.

9 You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for you have ordered it so.
10 You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.
11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
13 The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!

Diplomacy fail. Double cross. Big battle.

David was an honorable guy.
But his big talent at this point in his career was that he was a cunning and vicious warrior. His courage inspired greatness in his men. God's blessing inspired confidence. His generals were strategic and skilled.

Today's story starts with a funeral and ambassadors bringing condolences:

2 Samuel 10:1 "Some time after this, King Nahash[a] of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun became king. 2 David said, “I am going to show loyalty to Hanun just as his father, Nahash, was always loyal to me.” So David sent ambassadors to express sympathy to Hanun about his father’s death."

This diplomatic maneuver failed in the most spectacular way:

"But when David’s ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, their master, “Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the city so they can come in and conquer it!” 4 So Hanun seized David’s ambassadors and shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their robes at the buttocks, and sent them back to David in shame.

5 When David heard what had happened, he sent messengers to tell the men, “Stay at Jericho until your beards grow out, and then come back.” For they felt deep shame because of their appearance."

David was double crossed!
And he is furious!!

6 "When the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, they sent and hired 20,000 Aramean foot soldiers from the lands of Beth-rehob and Zobah, 1,000 from the king of Maacah, and 12,000 from the land of Tob. 7 When David heard about this, he sent Joab and all his warriors to fight them. 8 The Ammonite troops came out and drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city gate, while the Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the men from Tob and Maacah positioned themselves to fight in the open fields."

So now, there is a fight to the death going on. All the soldiers of Ammon plus 33,000 mercenaries are lined up to fight. Like every war, this was all or nothing. Win or lose. On top with your life and kingdom intact, or on the bottom with foreigners telling what to do and where to send your outrageously high taxes!

9 "When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. 10 He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. 11 “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you. 12 Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.”

13 When Joab and his troops attacked, the Arameans began to run away. 14 And when the Ammonites saw the Arameans running, they ran from Abishai and retreated into the city. After the battle was over, Joab returned to Jerusalem.

15 The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel. So when they regrouped, 16 they were joined by additional Aramean troops summoned by Hadadezer from the other side of the Euphrates River.[b] These troops arrived at Helam under the command of Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer’s forces.

17 When David heard what was happening, he mobilized all Israel, crossed the Jordan River, and led the army to Helam. The Arameans positioned themselves in battle formation and fought against David. 18 But again the Arameans fled from the Israelites. This time David’s forces killed 700 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers,[c] including Shobach, the commander of their army. 19 When all the kings allied with Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they surrendered to Israel and became their subjects. After that, the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites."

David won. More slaves. More big tax money flowing in to the capitol. His power was increasing. His reputation was increasing. His wealth and influence was increasing.

War is great!

(When you win...)