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Why did you decide to study King David?
I’ve always been interested in David and found him an intriguing person. When I discovered that I had Jewish blood way back in my maternal lineage, I started to study Judaism out of interest and was drawn to teachings about David’s life. I related strongly to David and the way he interacts with God. Then after writing my second novel for NaNoWriMo 2014, where I had set David as one of the supporting characters, I decided to set that manuscript aside and write about the real David. It’s been a wonderful journey and I haven’t regretted that decision for a second.
What was the most unexpected discovery you made when researching?
I finally found a loving, patient, merciful God throughout the entirety of the Old Testament, which really surprised me. Life and justice in the O.T. was rough, and the distinct differences between the Old and New Testaments had always baffled me before. It took studying the journey of Isra’el from Moses through to Jeremiah, and then David’s example of how people could interact with God, to teach me how gentle God has always been with His people. It was my view of God’s love and mercy that was limited, not how much the Lord was willing to give to Isra’el. His character has not changed. I wrote about it here.
What is the best study resource you have found?
Biblehub.com without a doubt. I bought commentaries, then found the best ones were available free from that site. Plus you can get to the base of the text in Hebrew, the cross references in the side pane are handy and many versions of the Bible are there for comparison. I use that site constantly.
What was the hardest area to understand?
Why no one can agree on anything! This includes words whose proper translation is lost which starts heated debates, and issues where the answer is spelled out c.l.e.a.r.l.y., yet everyone keeps arguing about the real meaning. It has driven me to screaming point many times. I am also frustrated about the details missing in the books of Samuel which would help so much, if we had them! I wish I knew more about ancient Jewish culture too, but there is no cause for fighting and not respecting others.
What was your favourite area to study?
I love reading David’s responses to God in the Psalms. They have encouraged me and built my faith so much. I have gone through that book a number of times, and still find more and more and more verses that I love. David is nothing like I expected him to be when I started study.
What other area/s of David’s life do you want to study in more depth?
The culture of ancient Isra’el, how economics and politics worked then; basically anything which helps me understand the dynamics David ruled under, and may shed light on what he went through and how he reacted to the situations he was confronted with.
I would also love a clear picture on why Egypt was not mentioned in David’s reign. It seemed a peaceful time between the two nations, but why? I know this information will not be able to be found, if we were lucky enough to have existing records, but I’d also love to know what the various public opinions of David were, through the stages of his reign.
Who are your favourite people from David’s life story (other than David)?
I have always had a soft spot for Jonathan as he was David’s friend, but now that I know his full story, I appreciate him as a spiritual role model in his own right, not just as an attachment to David. I also admire the bravery of Benaiah and Abigail. I would like to know more about David’s parents, as they obviously played a pivotal role in his spiritual development and were adversely affected when Saul wanted David dead. Their story must be amazing.
If you could go back and experience one event from David’s life as it happened, which one would it be?
Presuming I had the courage… as so much of David’s story is pretty high octane stuff! Of course I would love seeing the Ark of the Covenant being bought into Jerusalem (the second time.) However, I am more interested in seeing what David was like, just as David. I would love to be able to look over his shoulder as he was working on the plans for the temple and interacting with the Lord. I’d really like to know what was going on in his mind and where he was, when he wrote the Psalms.
Beside David, what other person in the Old Testament would you like to study in depth?
Moses! Because of his dynamic, ground-breaking relationship with the Lord; because he endured and overcame so much as a leader, and because if I had a better understanding of the laws that God set down through him, so much more of the Old Testament would make sense to me. I have the greatest admiration for what Moses achieved. Anyone else would have called themselves king, and then they’d be dead as a consequence. His humility is a valuable lesson for us all.
What have you gained spiritually from studying David’s life?
I have learned to survive adversity with a better attitude, and rely on the Lord much more. There is far more to it than that, but it’s too personal to share. All I will say is that David came along when I desperately needed him, and I am so grateful to the Lord for what He has done in my heart.
What ethical issues did you consider when writing about him?
My first concern was that the content be Messianic Jew friendly, and not offensive to the Orthodox Jewish population, should anyone stumble on the site. For this reason you will see Isra’el (Jewish: el means God and emphasises His involvement with His people,) and BathSheba spelled differently from how they appear in modern Bibles. Plus the statement of faith is Messianic. I have advertised to Isra’el and have a number of Jewish and Muslim followers on Facebook, who all love David. I would hate to alienate them.
Also, as I consider the long term consequences of my actions, such as what would David say about my representation of him when I get to Heaven, I have been very careful. I am even more concerned about what the Holy Spirit would and wouldn’t approve of, AND this is the Word of God I am interpreting, so the responsibility which lies on me to get it right, is correctly, massive.
Are there any areas of David’s life that you chose not to write about?
I have spent very little time writing about BathSheba, as people are so varied in their opinions about what occurred. I have my own private view on what happened, I know the word for rape was not used in 2 Samuel, but so much information is missing, sorting out what really went on is impossible. All we have is a statement of sins and a statement of consequences. It’s a sad, sordid story and I chose to spend my time on more positive areas which would strengthen people’s faith, rather than debating the negative.
What do you think the most important event in David’s life was?
Every decision he made to focus on God, rather than being seduced by power, wealth and reputation. Those decisions gave us the legacy we have today, especially in the Psalms. Looking back, it’s David’s words that have taught me how to worship God since I was saved as a teenager.
Did you have an outline, or plan, for researching and writing about David?
No, and often I am dashing around in a dozen directions at once, as I am interested in so many areas. It’s been a voyage of discovery which has been a joy. My only regret is publishing the book of the project way before I knew I’d ever be finished; but I knew that whatever the book timing was, it would work as an inconvenience, as I plan to study David for a long time to come, and that will create more content. The book was complete and contained the most important content, so it was ready to be published; but I itch to add to it and for practical reasons, I can’t! I may do a second edition at the end of 2016.
How did you choose the book cover?
The inspiration for the original book cover came from a sermon on David by Pastor David Pawson. He had used an image of Masada which captured my attention and had me searching for similar photos. It’s perfect as it captures water (life) and desert (suffering.) The blog name also came from that image.
How much research do you do?
Because my health is poor, I can’t do as much as I want, or work consistently, but in 2015 I worked on the project for around twenty hours a week, much of which was research. I still put in odd hours reading, pouring over the Psalms, watching videos and mulling over details of David’s life. As there is no set end to this project, that will continue for a long time.
I find taking weeks to think events and topics through, helps me to understand David’s life properly, rather than lazily digging the spiritual interpretation out of a commentary. (They often don’t take psychological or sociological dynamics into account.) I see David as a person, reacting as a flesh and blood human being; not as a warrior or royal stereotype. I have received lovely comments about how I portray David as a person, which were an enormous blessing and encouragement.
I restudied a lot of basic psychology when I started to study David’s life, (after High School I originally trained and worked as a social worker), so that I could understand how David thought and acted, plus the dynamics of influences such as power, fear and warfare had to be considered and factored in. It was exceptionally helpful and worth the time investment.
Why didn’t you sell the book on Amazon?
God has blessed me with the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit for free and it just didn’t feel right to not pass the blessing on. As I am not dependent on my sales as a writer, I could do this as a non-profit… which has thankfully, also released me from heavy marketing burdens which I hate.
What is the next step for the project?
I want to find new ways to share David’s life story and the lessons I have learned from it. I have started writing a dramatic novel about Melissa, a character, (not based on myself,) who benefits from David’s story, by learning how to handle a tragic life, but it’s completion will have to wait until I have concluded studying Old Testament theology (2016-2017.) The novel will discreetly bring in the issues I faced when researching him. “Chasing David” has been started, and I hope it will reach people that won’t read the articles that I have written. No publication deadlines have been set.
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