2017 · David's Life · Research · Scripture

The Political Threats to David’s Reign

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-4-41-29-pmKings are more frequently surrounded by those who want power or favours, than genuine friends; and it can hard to find genuine supporters who aren’t in your camp to reap some benefit. David was no exception.

CGP Grey sums up how precarious David’s position was in his video, *“The Rules for Rulers.” In order for any king to maintain power, he must have loyal supporters who he has adequately rewarded, (e.g. financially, in terms of status and by granting property,) otherwise anyone who can offer them a greater reward can amass enough support to overthrow them. This is why the unrighteous Joab, who had murdered Abner, was allowed to lead David’s army after securing Jerusalem for David. He was a key and had to be rewarded rather than discarded, no matter how unsuitable he was. [Ref. 1 Samuel 3 and 1 Chronicles 11] An underpaid and under-appreciated army general could easily look the other way in an organised revolt, if promised a better deal from someone else. In 1 Kings 1, Joab did jump ship when he thought David was near to death, in order to ingratiate himself to the expected new king, Adonijah, and keep his status safe. That proved how shallow his loyalty really was.

There is plenty of evidence of dirty politics going on around David’s palace, even though his court was made up mainly of members of his immediate and extended family in order to quell disputes. Aside from **Absalom’s rebellion, here are some of the key issues which David’s reign faced, which are reflected in the Psalms. (This is not an exhaustive list. There is the revolt of Sheba in 2 Samuel 20 which appears to have been prompted by his favouritism towards his own tribe, which is mentioned in 2 Samuel 19:41-43; hatred shown by Shimei in 2 Samuel 16:5-14 and the problems of a new king who didn’t trust David which led to a war in 2 Samuel 10.)
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Usurp Threats

The Psalms speak repeatedly of David being in danger as his position is coveted by others wanting power. This never stopped throughout his lifetime and had to be part of the reason why David held an illegal census in 2 Samuel 24. Being deeply fearful of being usurped and murdered was one of David’s greatest fears and it was one which always left him extremely stressed. While David was a very strong, capable man, everyone has their achilles heel and this seems to be David’s, which is understandable. If he’d been killed, the perpetrator would also have killed his entire family and many of his supporters, so there was a lot of responsibility on him.

From the time that Saul tried to arrest David in his home, to the time when David handed the throne of Isra’el over to Solomon, the danger never ended. That period covers over fifty years.

“And now, [Lord] in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.
For my enemies are whispering against me.
They are plotting together to kill me.
They say, “God has abandoned him.
Let’s go and get him,
for no one will help him now.” Psalm 71:9-11
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Bribery Attempts

“Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—
it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from You;
may Your eyes see what is right.
Though You probe my heart,
though You examine me at night and test me,
You will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.
Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what Your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to Your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.
I call on You, my God, for You will answer me;
turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of Your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.” Psalm 17:1-9

A king who rules under the law of the Lord will fall foul of ungodly men, and this would have been a constant challenge to David. Pulling them into line would put David’s life at risk again, as they would want him removed to save their position and increase their power. There are a number of verses which speak of corruption among Isra’el’s leaders.

“Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word?
Do you judge the people fairly?
No! You plot injustice in your hearts.
You spread violence throughout the land.” Psalm 58:1-2
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Image by mharrsch Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/44124324682@N01/2987188106/
Image by mharrsch Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/44124324682@N01/2987188106/

Theft Allegations

“Save me, O God,
for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can’t find a foothold.
I am in deep water,
and the floods overwhelm me.
I am exhausted from crying for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping,
waiting for my God to help me.
Those who hate me without cause
outnumber the hairs on my head.
Many enemies try to destroy me with lies,
demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal.” Psalm 69:1-4

I have no idea what incident this referred to, but David’s words speak clearly enough. If you want to  replace a king, create a scandal which will discredit him enough to lose his popularity with the people. Think about how much rumour and malice occurs in the short reign of a modern politician. How much more garbage can go down over a forty year reign? There must be far more to David’s story than has been recorded.
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David’s Reactions: The Census

All these factors could have contributed to why David ordered an illegal Census in 1 Chronicles 21, so he knew how many able bodied men could be called into service. The events leading up to the Census aren’t clear. 2 Samuel 24 talk about a drought, and before that, there was the revolt of Sheba which some scholars attribute David’s decision to take a census to. In 1 Chronicles 21 the preceding event is the war with the Ammonites which had been a very hard won victory, but which had appeared back in 2 Samuel 10. The cause may be something which just isn’t mentioned in our Bibles at all.

2 Samuel 24:1 says, “Once again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the LORD told him.” and 1 Chronicles 21:1 says, “Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.” It seems like God, Satan and David were all unhappy with Israel, but it was David’s choice to resist temptation and do the right thing. This was the only area where he acted like Saul and gave into fear and anger.
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David’s Reactions: The Psalms

As always David turns to his greatest weapon to deal with these problems: prayer and praise. Over time, he seemed to have worked out how to deal with these stresses better. In Psalm 39:1-5 he speaks of learning to hold his tongue and in Psalm 37 he encourages us by saying:

“Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and He will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for Him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.” Psalm 37:5-9

yhryhrHe also determined to deliberately stay away from bad influences. Psalm 101:2-7

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a *blameless heart.  (*integrity, perfect)
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.   (evil, wicked, base)
I hate what *faithless people do;  (*those who fall away or turn away  from God)
I will have no part in it. (won’t cleave to)
The *perverse of heart shall be far from me; (*devious, perverted, evil, fraudulent)
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
Whoever slanders their neighbour in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.
No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.”

David has the final word on how to handle the chaos in this Psalm:

“I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.”  Psalm 62:1-2 (Cross reference Psalm 131:2)
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Notes

*The Rules for Rulers https://youtu.be/rStL7niR7gs  Based on “The Dictators Handbook” by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita & Alastair Smith  “Why Bad Behaviour is Almost Always Good Politics.” The second video in the series Death and Dynasties is also helpful for understanding David’s position. https://youtu.be/ig_qpNfXHIU

**Absalom: 2 Samuel chapters 13-18 recount Absalom’s story. For an explanation of Absalom’s mental status (sociopathic), please read this article: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32723


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2017 · Bible Geek · Research · Video Resources

Bible Geek: Free Online Video Resources for Studying King David

 

bible-geek-logo

Months ago, I put together a Bibliography of many of the resources I have used to study David so far… that list may be helpful to you, but this one is far easier to work through. This post is a list of the best Youtube videos I’ve watched and found helpful.

Enjoy!
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The Oriental Institute: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCitjN1GDlEVcLz-fAy5VIpg
Including but not limited to:

  • Eric Cline | 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed
  • Irving Finkel | The Ark Before Noah: A Great Adventure
  • Aren Maeir | New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel
  • Felix Höflmayer | Chronologies of Collapse: Climate Change
  • Ancient Economies Miniseries – Prestige and the Ritual Economy of Chalcolithic Caanan
  • Ancient Economies Miniseries – The Archaeology of Farming and Herding – Gil Stein
  • Ancient Economies – Shopkeepers and the Bazaar Economy – Emmanuel Mayer
  • Death’s Dominion: Chalcolithic Religion and the Ritual Economy of the Southern Levant
  • Exploring the Roots of Mesopotamian Civilization: Excavations at Tell Zeidan, Syria
  • Ancient Economies – Persepolis and the Economy of Achemenid Persia – Matt Stolper

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Professor Corey Auen: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4NhiBRR6IaM6JfeDizolqw/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd

  • Trade and Travel
  • GB 102 Israel’s Western Neighbours: The Canaanites, Philistines and Phoenicians
  • GB 102 Israel’s Eastern Neighbours
  • Early Near Eastern Roots of Western Civilisation

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University of Cambridge: Translations and Literature in Ancient Mesopotamia – Martin Worthington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8es-Q6dE3E

Yale Lecture 2: The Dark Ages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDNTsdtbKy8

Whitman College: Bronze Age Collapse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cPGBeH8PbY
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University of Chicago: Health Care and Epidemics in Antiquity: The Example of Ancient Mesopotamia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw_4Cghic_w
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Primitive Technology Channel: The Sling and Forge Blower videos. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL3JXZSzSm8AlZyD3nQdBA
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TED Talks:

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Bruce Gore: https://www.youtube.com/user/GoreBruce/videos

  • Egypt and the Israelite Judges
  • Assyrian Empire
  • Hittites and the Era of the Judges

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Michael Levy: music videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ1X6F7lGMEadnNETSzTv8A

 


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2017 · Research

Issues I Had to Work Through to Understand David

22300078_sEarlier this year I began to novelise my journey of discovering David through the eyes of a fictional character who was grappling with clinical depression. I got 7000 words in, then life got in the way. ‘Chasing David’ is a project I may get back to at some stage, but just now, there are practical reasons why I have chosen to lay it aside. In the meantime (?), here are the big issues I have been through while studying David’s life. If you are learning about him, but are still scratching your head over some areas, you may find some clues here which will help you get unstuck!

  • The topic areas I have battled with the hardest include:
    Slavery
    Abuse of power: Bathsheba and Census
    Rape allegations
    Lies and escapes to Gath
    Diplomatic manipulation
    Ammonites eye for an eye
    Empire mentality / warrior traits
    Treatment of women: polygamy and equality
    End of life instructions to Solomon
    Favouritism with tribes
    Undisciplined sons
    Allowing Joab to retain power.

I know that is an awful lot of negative drama and when I first stood back and looked at all of that, I walked away from David twice, thinking he was a complete jerk. Yet the Holy Spirit kept pulling me back and sending me to the Psalms. Those reflect David’s heart and life in his own words and are a very different picture of him than the books of Samuel and Chronicles, which are others looking in and only telling us what they think should be remembered.

Within the books of Samuel, 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles, there are 46 positive events which denote David as a righteous man, and 20 negative life events, of which only 3 list catastrophic sins (Gath, Bathsheba and the census). So if you get stuck judging David on his behaviour with BathSheba, you are ignoring the 46 times David got life right. That is not a balanced way to judge. I had to learn all this the hard way, and the points below are how I got there.

 

  • To stop treating him as just a legend, or muddied sermon illustration. In short, I needed to learn to respect him as if he was alive now and be as fair to the dead, as the Word expects me to be to the living. That taught me that the Word of God has no bounds and that many of us act as Internet trolls do towards people in the Bible. Faceless judging is not righteous, mature behaviour.

 

  • To realise that he went through a maturing and ageing process which affected his attitudes. It turned out that there is a natural curve, with all the usual setbacks and failures we all commonly experience in life. This strengthened my faith that David was not a man-made figure, and increased my security in the validity and genuine spiritual origins of the Bible.

 

  • l had to research the use and abuse of power in relation to what the Torah taught and what David would have been expected to do as a God-fearing servant of the Lord. I was stunned to find that in relation to many areas where he infringed modern International Law and human rights, for his time, he was just, right and righteous.

 

  • I needed to search through the Old Testament and find the references to the love and character of God, so I could understand Him and where He was coming from through the nasty parts of the Old Testament. I succeeded and came out far richer and more spiritually secure than I was before.

 

  • It was necessary to try and step into the shoes of others, such as Michal, Absalom and Joab, and try and understand why they acted the way they did as people. To do that, I went through a lot of psychology lectures to get my head in the right frame of mind and find the words I wanted to describe their experience.

 

  • I had to learn to read Scripture s.l.o.w.l.y. to take in the masses of details and to never believe anyone’s opinion without double checking it. The world is full of misinformation, and I was shocked at how much of the work written about David was supposition which could be debunked by a proper understanding of history, David’s culture and by stopping to look at the Hebrew behind the verse. It takes a lot of time, but any investment in God’s Word is worth it!

 

  • I needed to get deep into the cultural history of Israel and pre-Israel to understand as much as I could about how that culture became who they were and why they did what they did. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, as I have always loved ancient history; but doing this gave my study a solid base, greater depth and many of the Levitical laws finally made sense! I found the answers to mysteries which I thought would become dead ends. Studying David requires theology, anthropology, psychology, political science, some economics and archaeology. Neither Israel or David can be treated as an island, because they were as affected by and immersed in their world as we are in ours. It is a dramatically divergent world from ours and that time invested bought forth gold. I am so glad I did it.

 

  • I had to come to grips with what humility really means and to not fan girl over anyone. David was a servant, not a superstar and I needed to treat him (and Moses) with respect, rather than bias and favouritism. I discovered just how kind, gentle and non-aggressive David was and that stunned me.

 

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My Personal Journey

  • Chasing David CoverI learned that I had to take breaks, especially when researching grief and abnormal psychology, (such as Absalom,) because confronting that level of suffering in real lives is emotionally draining. I have also found that balance enables me to come back refreshed. I am a creative person and to just study and write is frustrating. I need to be able to turn to other projects, and when I have, I come back to learning with a fresh joy and clearer perspective. I also learned to not set deadlines, but allow as much time as was needed and adopt a long-term, open-ended approach.

 

  • I had to learn to set aside writing and publicity approaches, attitudes and ideas that didn’t work (King David Tweets and Chasing David), or stall them for a better time. In any project, sometimes great article ideas don’t come together so well once you get into them, or you realise your limitations and have to stop or reschedule. I haven’t fully abandoned any ideas, as one day, a new approach to an old dead end may appear and be fruitful.

 

  • I had to learn to not lose my temper with secular theologians who critically molest the Word of God as an intellectual pursuit (etc.,) and with misinformed Christians who need patience and empathy. Mastering that will be a long-term struggle. I have had to learn to be careful who I listen to and again, double check every opinion no matter how highly qualified they are, how much I like them or how big their achievements are. I also have to be willing to be told I am wrong by someone who knows more than I do. (That last part I am OK with.)

 

  • Being patient with myself was essential as I have often have to go back and change things I have written after I’d discovered a new key piece of information further down the track. I had to take the stance that this is a learning process and it’s OK to say, “I’m wrong,” and be excited about finding something new out, rather than berating myself for not knowing everything instantly. I also had to give the Holy Spirit time to correct me before I published anything.

 

  • Because I have become very fond of David, I have had a personal need to delve into his areas of sin and properly understand why he did what he did, as the negatives irritate me. I prefer the perfect, squeaky clean hero, but a David like that would be impossible to relate to and would lose his value. I do call sin a sin, however, there is always room for empathy, and as I found with Bathsheba, a lot of room to realise I don’t know the whole story and should hold my tongue/pen/keyboard…

 

  • It was a conscious decision to focus on and write more about the more positive parts of David’s story, as there are plenty of others focussed on judging him. I get greater benefit from studying David’s life by focussing on the areas which build my faith, improve my personal habits and inspire me.

 


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2017 · David's Life · Encouragement · Food for Thought

“Work the Problem?” What King David and Astronauts Have in Common

work-problem-1“At some point everything is going to go south on you. Everything is going to go south and you’re going to say ‘This is it. This is how I end.’ Now you can either accept that or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math, you solve one problem. Then you solve the next one, and then the next and if you solve enough problems you get to come home.” This quote comes from the movie The Martian, where N.A.S.A. astronaut Mark Watney, must survive on Mars after he is stranded by his crew who presumed he was dead.

I read this quote and it made me wonder how close this is to what David did when he escaped *King Achish of Gath, was persecuted by Saul, had to rescue his family from the Amalekites, and then when he had to ensure that he wasn’t accused of King Ishbosheth’s death. In short, David had a lot of nasty scrapes to get out of, not including the dangers he faced in battle, and the challenges his reign later faced. He was a fast thinker, a diplomat and a problem solver and this saved him from an early death. David “worked the problem” and didn’t give up until he found an answer.

Or did he?

Mark Watney was modelled off the experience of real astronauts who like warrior kings, face deadly challenges in the course of a normal day. Commander Chris Hadfield is a former Canadian Space Agency astronaut. He is the first Canadian to walk in space, and the first to command the International Space Station. In his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris shares this:

work-problem-2“I’m not terrified, because I’ve been trained, for years, by multiple teams of experts who have helped me to think through how to handle just about every conceivable situation that could occur between launch and landing… In my experience, fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts… I’ve learned how to push past fear… People tend to think astronauts have the courage of a superhero – or maybe the emotional range of a robot. But in order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge.”

If there is one thing that David has taught me, it’s to disagree with that sentence.

David didn’t rely on his experience and problem solving skills alone, he bought a more powerful risk management party into the equation.

“Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” 1 Samuel 23:4

“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. Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”
And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!” 1 Samuel 30:6-8
“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 Samuel 2:1

“So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you…” 2 Samuel 5:19
“…And again David asked the Lord what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” the Lord replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees.”
2 Samuel 5:23

“There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it. And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.” 2 Samuel 21:1

David was smart enough not to rely on his own abilities, but to ask God for guidance and depend on Him as a partner in battle and life. From the history of Isra’el, David knew that God had delivered His people miraculously many times and David wasn’t a conceited high achiever who believed that he didn’t need that same help.

That was the making of David: more than his prowess in battle, his courage, his charisma or his quick wits. He loved God more than his own reputation and if we do the same, we’ll never be lost or hopelessly afraid again.

“The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted!
He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
He brings down the nations under me
and delivers me from my enemies.
You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;
You save me from violent opponents.
For this, O Lord, I will praise You among the nations;
I will sing praises to Your Name.
You give great victories to Your king;
You show unfailing love toYour anointed,
to David and all his descendants forever.” 2 Samuel 22:47-51

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Notes:

Achish: 1 Samuel 21, then again in chapters 27 and 29; Amalekites 1 Samuel 30, death of Ishbosheth 2 Samuel 4.


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2017 · Food for Thought

Succession, Sin and Subjugation: An Observation on the Eternal Consequences of Rejecting Theocratic Rule

From looking at the stories of various monarchs throughout history I have discovered that:

If you [the subjects,] repeatedly treat an ordinary person as a rock star, he will eventually begin to act with an inflated sense of entitlement.

If you repeatedly bow to someone with reverence, give them everything they ask for, fear challenging their will and esteem them on a much higher level than any person deserves or needs, you will produce a royal with an inflated ego, capable of abusing their position…

…and it will partially be your fault that they have done so.

ggIn the Netflix series “The Crown,” when Elisabeth’s father, King George VI dies, Elisabeth visits Buckingham Palace to *grieve her father and is confronted by the awful spectre of her mother and sister bowing to her as the new Monarch. She was utterly horrified, but forced to take it. It is one of the loneliest scenes I’ve ever watched in a drama and sadly, it is based on the truth. The British Royal family arrive, eat, and even open their Christmas presents – as a family – in a specific pecking order, with the Queen at the top. It is set etiquette which has been around for many generations and to us, it’s inhuman; but what must it be like for them? Would you like to live like that, with no freedom to reject etiquette and be yourself? The family pressure on Elisabeth to conform, let alone the political and cultural pressure, was not crushing, it was more like a slow, violent series of personality and independence-smashing shocks. I sincerely hope this dramatical portrayal of what she went through is wildly inaccurate, but it shows the institution of royalty from a perspective that is a strong contrast to the next monarch mentioned.

uguigiugKing David’s grandson, Rehoboam, is an example of the worst kind of monarch who was drunk with power rather than suffocated by it. He is everything that Samuel had warned the people about, and that generation of Israelites who demanded a king are directly responsible for this outcome which affected their great-grandchildren, (and technically responsible for later generations going into captivity, as they had set up a system which allowed godless kings to destroy Isra’el’s covenant with YHWH, their God. There is a big lesson there, in being careful what decisions you make.)

“Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counselled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”
The older counsellors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”
The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” 1 Kings 12

Making decisions that effect others is really easy when you live in privileged isolation, as you have no real idea of what you’ve done; you just feel the kick your ego gives you.

The distinction between a king and a commoner is massive and God never designed His Kingdom to be structured this way. The earlier Mesopotamian move towards placing kings in power condemned many generations of young men, in many cultures, to sinful, abnormal lives. They were given privileges that an egalitarian society would never permit, and paved the way to endless generations of men who perpetrates social injustices, as mankind’s psyche was not built to accommodate such excesses and certainly not without sufficient equals to balance the sanity equation. This is part of why I don’t believe Isra’el ever should have had kings.

Whenever you step outside of God’s plan for His people, you will generate massive sin. YHWH, “I AM,” the one true God of Isra’el, was the only One who was ever meant to be in a position of power over Isra’el, speaking through His prophets to the people and acting for the good of the community via His Levitical priesthood. When Isra’el rejected that system for worldly reasons, they opened themselves up to consequences which impacted every prince and king to come.

Gustave Doré - Doré's English Bible. Public Domain.
Solomon by Gustave Doré – Doré’s English Bible. Public Domain.

“Finally, all the elders of Isra’el met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the LORD for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

So Samuel passed on the LORD’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the LORD will not help you.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us [not God] and lead us into battle.” 1 Samuel 8:4-20

Society behaves very oddly towards monarchs. The image of the court, crown, castle, princesses, princes, chivalry, and wealth are romanticised and spoken of longingly in many, many fairy tales and works of fiction, while in reality, we hate the dictatorship and social inequality that being ruled brings. It is very easy to be a royal basher, but over time I have tried hard to find the humanity in people we don’t really see as human and understand their story, which was how I wound up watching The Crown. That series made me realise that behind the emotionless face of Queen Elisabeth is a woman who has been through an awful lot and for all the wealth and fame, she has so little freedom. It also makes me think about what David sacrificed to be King, and it causes me to wonder more about the generations that came after him and why so many were godless (aside from the obvious answer being greed.)

If we could go back in time and stop that first king in Mesopotamia from being crowned, we’d have to go to many places in many points in time, and stop the equivalent from happening. Mankind understandably wants security and good leadership, but the price that has been paid in power battles, wars, destroyed lives and peasant’s poverty is grossly appalling. If only we’d look only to the Lord as leader… life would be so much better and history would have been far more interesting.
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Please also read, Did God Want a King for Isra’el? http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32570


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2017 · David's Life · Food for Thought · Scripture

A Matter of Character and Trust: The Problem With Lies

42846561_sGoing through David’s life, there are some parts which bother me and one is his dance with the truth. David told three major lies to get out of trouble in his early life:

1. to the Priests at Nob; [Ref. 1 Samuel 21, Nob and point 2.]
2. when he first fled into Philistine territory and had to feign madness to escape, and
3. when he deceived the Philistine King Achish, whilst attempting to avoid Saul’s persistent persecution. [Ref. 1 Samuel chapters 27 and 29]

Despite the severity of the circumstances which led him to lie, they leave me with a really bad impression of his character. Was lying a nasty trait which followed him through life? As so much of David’s life was marked by outstanding faith and he was righteous, his lies stand out even more. They have had me questioning just how far he could be trusted, especially as some Middle Eastern cultures approve of habitual lying to “save face.” So I decided to delve into the matter further, to try and comprehend why he sinned that way.

Logically, I can understand why he lied those three times: *“if you can’t escape by fight or flight, you lie,” and any of us would be very hard pressed not to react the same way when backed into a corner with our life at stake. However, David is supposed to be a “type” of Jesus: a human who exhibits the character of God, teaching us what God is like and that we can trust Him. Repeated incidents of lying threaten to destroy that.

Looking at lying from a psychological angle, the size of the consequences of not telling the lie determine how serious the offence is. If a ‘protective lie’ saves you from death, it is easily forgivable, as it wasn’t casual deception which foretells deep moral character flaws. If David wasn’t lying for financial or power gains, or to bolster his ego, his lies can be considered as unwise without deeply tarnishing him. In 1 Samuel 24:5 we can see that David was well aware of what was right and wrong, and would self-correct, so I am led to continue to trust him.

But… whenever I read about David, I expect to see him react with faith, looking for God to help him as he did with Goliath, not legging it into enemy territory and lying to save his hide. He is to be the best David, flawless through and through to not disappoint me… but that expectation doesn’t take a key fact into account: this time in his life featured a hard growth curve on the path to spiritual maturity. He was growing up and messing up along the way, as he struggled to build his trusting, God-dependent spiritual nature. His later character traits which produced the Psalms were in the process of being forged ‘in the furnace of much affliction,’ and like all of us, he started out weak, then through hard lessons, became stronger.

I have no idea how bad he felt about his deceptions, though I am sure he must have deeply regretted the consequences of his flight to the priests at Nob, (Saul massacred them in revenge). Living in Philistine territory must have also been an arduous task that he gritted his teeth through and hated. No one chooses to live with the enemy unless they believe that this is the only option left. God hadn’t delivered him yet, and David had yet to learn to wait no matter what. The events of this long period, (from Nob to Gath was around seven years or so,) had to have awakened an awareness that he had to be totally dependent on the Lord for safety and deliverance; if not, he would only get himself, and others, into greater trouble. It would be an agonising experience to watch people die and suffer because of you, as you found your way through the maze of choices, striving to grow. I feel a deep compassion for him.

bestrong-trustgodinvertedblueThe bad parts of David’s story are as helpful to us as the good. This portion of Davids life reminds me that need I to be patient and encouraging with people while they are growing. They are going to make some big, serious mistakes; but blaming people and judging without understanding what they were feeling and where they were coming from is useless. Thinking about what David did, I can’t excuse his wrongs, but I can appreciate the stress he was under and where he was in his spiritual journey. I’m just glad that he came through safely to leave us with his testimony to the Lord’s great patience with us as we overcome our own failings, no matter how many times we fall apart as we’re learning.

“A psalm of David, the servant of the LORD. He sang this song to the LORD on the day the LORD rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:
I love You, LORD;
You are my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
I called on the LORD, Who is worthy of praise,
and He saved me from my enemies.
The ropes of death entangled me;
floods of destruction swept over me.
The grave wrapped its ropes around me;
death laid a trap in my path.
But in my distress I cried out to the LORD;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from His sanctuary…

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the LORD supported me.
He led me to a place of safety;
He rescued me because He delights in me.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right;
He restored me because of my innocence.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
I have followed all His regulations;
I have never abandoned His decrees.
I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right.
He has seen my innocence.
To the faithful You show Yourself faithful;
to those with integrity You show integrity.
To the pure You show Yourself pure,
but to the wicked You show Yourself hostile.
You rescue the humble,
but You humiliate the proud.
You light a lamp for me…
The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!…

For this, O LORD, I will praise You among the nations;
I will sing praises to Your Name.
You give great victories to Your king;
You show unfailing love to Your anointed,
to David and all his descendants forever.” Psalm 18:1-6, 16-28 and 49-50

*Sorry, but I can’t remember where this quote comes from.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.