Celebrating Purim 2019

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Judging Bathsheba: Reading the Bible Righteously

cibo00-Water-DoveI have never heard a good word spoken about BathSheba, except by some Rabbis, who declare David and BathSheba’s association as the greatest love story in the Bible. That may be because King Solomon came from their union.

When pressed to answer what I think about her, the only response I have is, “I don’t know the lady. I have no idea what she was like, so I really don’t think it’s my place to judge her. She is someone’s wife and someone’s mother: so she was loved.” I honestly cannot say more than that. I try and relate to her as a fellow human, rather than a good or bad person.

David and BathSheba is the story of what happens when things get way out of hand… when you can no longer control the circumstances, then fall into shame and block out the need to repent. Both David and BathSheba could have lost their lives over their adultery. It’s a serious matter, but while I can learn a great deal from their mistakes, there is still no need for me to slide into any judgement of what they did. That’s only the Lord’s job.

There is a tendency to condemn and vilify those whose stories grace the pages of our Bibles. We have blurred the line between discerning a lesson and personal criticism, based on our own opinions. Jacob is another example of someone who is pulled to pieces. He is a controversial figure and we tend to remember the bad. We remember that Samson was strong… but weak when it came to women. Rahab is a heroine, despite that she was a prostitute, because she helped God’s chosen people. We look at small snapshots of long, complex lives, then we make a decision on whether that person was predominantly good or bad. As most of us fall prey to negativity biases, often the decision is damning.

Yet the Bible clearly labels Jacob and Samson as righteous and servants of the Lord. So why are we sticking the knife into their backs?

Another sobering question I was confronted by, when I was writing my Christian novels, was if I speak badly of these people or misrepresent them, when I get to heaven and actually meet them face to face, then what am I going to say? How am I going to feel when they stand there clean and forgiven, and I’ve previously assaulted them?

That issue made me think long and hard. If I behave in an insensitive and inhumane way towards BathSheba, what will I say to my beloved David when I see him, and hear how much he did love his wife; or that he wishes people had been willing to consider that perhaps the situation was much more complex and from this a brief account, we haven’t understood it?

What if I went up to him and said, “Absalom was such a rat! I don’t know how you put up with that kid, he must have driven you nuts!” Then I could be confronted with a father’s sadness over a lost son.

That would hurt. I never want to be in that situation.

45594452_sMaybe we all need to reconsider the way we teach the Scriptures and talk about ‘dead’ people? As they are names on pages, we feel no connection to, or responsibility towards them. That is the exact same psychological phenomenon that drives bullying and trolls on the internet. We can’t see the faces of the real people, so what we do just doesn’t matter. Yet it does. The Bible says, don’t judge. It doesn’t make any distinction on whether or not that responsibility stops with someone’s death. Orthodox Jews call people who have died, “… of blessed memory.” The person, regardless of whether they are family or not, are treated with respect. That is excellent role modelling.
People who died in right relationship with the Lord are not with us, but it doesn’t mean they have been deleted from existence. It doesn’t mean we will never squirm when we realise how badly we treated them. It doesn’t mean the Lord won’t rebuke us for our unrighteousness, for wielding swords of justice which are only, rightfully His.

So I have striven to err on the side of mercy and fairness when studying and writing about David, and that is, at times, quite a challenge. I have no respect for Saul, Joab or Absalom, but I do not want to stand before the Lord and have to explain why I acted with such harshness when the Father has been so merciful and tender with me. So I try and state the facts about them without including my personal opinion, name calling, or other derogatory low blows.

I have found, that another benefit has sprung up from me being more aware of how I treat David and his family. Amending my attitude has led to a greater awareness of how I judge and speak about the people in my immediate, real life, vicinity. That involves my family, my problematic neighbours and the people I meet in every day life, some of who annoy me.

Learning not to judge is a life skill that is necessary. Scripture tells us directly not to do it. We know we should act with the fruit of the Spirit, we know the standards. Even if we see others pulling apart people, we must resist the impulse to do the same. Judging others in teaching been done through many generations, and it will take some serious work to change our habits. However, for the sake of our character, it’s worth doing.

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Footnotes:
a) Scriptures on Judging: Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:2, Hebrews 10:30
b) Did David Rape BathSheba?
No, he didn’t. Why? Well, the Bible calls rape, rape and that is not what we see here. It is more likely that as he was a king, she was flattered or awed by him and he may have offered her an incentive such as wealth, land, a promotion for her husband: anything that would enable him to fulfil his desire. Who wouldn’t want to be more popular with the King and attain a higher position in life? Many people would take an opportunity like that and she may have seen it as an honour. [Ref. 2 Samuel 11-12]

Why do I think that?
1. As I said above, the Bible calls rape, rape. It pulls no punches about where David went wrong, so why would it here?
2. When David and BathSheba’s first child dies, David is able to comfort her. There is no indication of a fractured relationship, such as the one he had with Michal. A raped woman would be traumatised. David and BathSheba went on to have four other sons together and she became Queen, which we know as the succession of all her sons is listed.
3. David is such an overtly honest person, he would have confessed it in the Psalms.
4. David was so guilt-ridden over what he had done, had he raped her, it is possible he would have arranged for her to live, well cared for and safe somewhere.
5. It did not appear to be within David’s nature to be so violent outside of war. One example is the number of times the head of his army, Joab, wanted to assassinate a direct threat to his life and kingship. Each time, David said no, even though his refusal flew in the face of common sense. Violence was not his first choice. He looked to the Lord for deliverance. [Ref. 2 Samuel 2 Samuel 15-18]


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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.

You Can Study The Bible With These 5 Easy and Effective Acronyms — The Crafty Afro

This is a really useful post. I have heard of the SOAP method of Bible Study, but I hadn’t heard of the others.

If you try some of these methods, please let me know what works best for you, I would be interested to find out.

Only 14% of adults in the US read their Bible daily. American Bible Society, March 2018 In a recent study performed by the American Bible Society, it was reported that only 14% of adults in the US read their Bible daily (March 2018). As a Christian I find this number to be quite alarming. It […]

via You Can Study The Bible With These 5 Easy and Effective Acronyms — The Crafty Afro

Beyond the Sparrow: The Depth of God’s Compassion

In verse 5 of Matthew 10, “Jesus sent out the twelve apostles
with these instructions…

But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29b-31

I am a frequent viewer of Safari Live on Youtube which is pure educational, conservation-based safari drives in Kenya and South Africa. – It has sad parts, but everywhere I look, I can see how the Lord has built many defences into animal biology so that animals can take care of themselves, even amidst savage competition for food. I can see His loving, providing Hand everywhere.

Screen shot of Silver Clusterleaf

Screen shot of Silver Cluster Leaf under a microscope, from Safari Live Youtube Channel.

It goes way deeper than the animals too; for example: in Africa they have a tree called a Silver Cluster Leaf, and all the leaves are covered with fine hairs. They way the leaves taste puts off a lot of insects that would like to chow down on the plant – so even the trees have defences!

The function of the hairs is to stop the leaves from losing moisture. The thought and detail The Lord has put into designing this gorgeous world is so beautiful. I see love everywhere. God cares for all the plants and animals just as He cares for us, because He adores all of His creation.

This new revelation has profoundly impacted me a few times over the last year, and has expanded my view of the depth and detail in God’s passion for His creation.  We frequently quote the Scripture above and sing, “His Eye is on the sparrow and His Hand it comforts me…,” but less often do we stop to mediate on how much love He has put into the design and care of these creatures: all creatures, all plants, even down to mosquitos and leeches.

God… loves… leeches…

Well, that proves beyond doubt that He loves the unlovable. My new view of God’s devotion and protection has been a valuable, faith-strengthening revelation for me. It is helpful to see that everything natural we are surrounded by is so full of His love and care, and nothing goes defenceless, even in the harshest environment. It’s a message of hope for us all.


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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. While some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many 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.If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com

Book Review: Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide

705424Jacket Blurb – don’t let the heavy wording put you off, see what I have to say about it below! : In an engaging style–characteristic of the author, Walter Brueggemann–this Essential Guide describes the leading motifs of ancient Israel’s worship traditions in the Old Testament. The author guides the reader through the themes, central texts, prayers, festivals, and practices of that worship. He sees throughout the Old Testament a central emphasis on worship as a covenantal gesture and utterance by the community in the presence of God. In addition to being an essential guide to this subject, this book is intended to be in the service of current theological and practical issues concerning worship of the church in its ecumenical character.

As this month contains a number of significant festivals in the Jewish calendar, (which I have blogged about), this book fits right in. The festivals were based around celebrating the provision and faithfulness of God towards Isra’el, and of course, that is done through worship.

I will start by saying that I learnt masses through this great little book. I picked it up to learn about David, then found myself spending more time thinking about how I worship. While not every reviewer has agreed with Professor Brueggemann, he inspired me to take a look at whether I fit in with the current church trend and praise God their way, or whether I worship genuinely, using my own initiative as my heart leads me. This is both a book to help you understand the past, and to make you take a good look at where you’re at with God now.

Professor Brueggemann’s chapter which spoke of the Israelites honest communication with God, was challenging and comforting to me, as I am pretty much a straight talker in the prayer department too. If I feel hard done by, the Lord knows about it and has a sore ear. David was the same, as were quite a few people I had never thought of. I was relieved to know that this is acceptable, as long as I am respectful of Who God is and don’t stoop to abuse or blame; (that last part was my reasoning, not Professor Brueggemann’s content.) A blog post on this topic will be coming out shortly, as it inspired me so much.

The way God’s relationship with Isra’el was interpreted in terms of His covenant with His people and their response, was absolutely correct and added a beautiful rich texture to the book. The focus on worship building a relationship, and adding constant new depth to it was just awesome.

loyaltyHonestly, I think David would really like this book and how he and his nation are represented. It’s not a theological tome on what people did, it’s a key hole view into how God built His nation, and how Isra’el was able to freely embrace and benefit from that in a loving way. Worship is the key response and still is. Some things have never changed.

The Psalms are mentioned in quite a few places and some of Professor Brueggemann’s breakdown of their structure was the least dry assessment I have read yet: and I have slogged through many cracked, mouldy dissections which bled the life out of David’s beautiful responses to God.

There is one problem, sadly… while the jacket blurb refers to an engaging style, the heavy theological language that this book started out with, was anything but engaging and easy to read. I had picked this book up a year ago, tried to read it and failed. This time, I knew I needed the content, so I hung in there, and thankfully, that perseverance paid off exceptionally well. If you cannot handle theological language, big words, or academic, formal writing styles, you won’t appreciate the book, which is a shame as it has so much to offer. My only other criticism is I wish I knew what Professor Brueggemann meant by “thick.” I can take a guess, but a definition would have been beneficial.

I do recommend this work. It doesn’t take too long to read, and has left me more aware of the depth of God’s love for me.

 

amazon-logo_transparentGet it on Amazon
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005 ISBN: 0-687-34336-4.(This post has been neither sponsored or requested.)

Read a second opinion / review from a theologian. ~


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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.

Postcards for Survivors: Reach Out & Give ~ #HMD2019

Holocaust Memorial Logo“Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Genocide in Cambodia.” It also remembers “the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The theme for HMD 2019: Torn from home encourages audiences to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. ‘Home’ usually means a place of safety, comfort and security. On HMD 2019 we will reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over.”

Please read more here or you can participate in the Postcard Project as an individual and write to Renee or Sokphal, who were forced to flee their homes in the Nazi genocide and the Cambodian genocide. The postcards are available to print yourself from this link. They will be posted back to the organisation which is in the United Kingdom.

About Renee image

About Sokphal image

 


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To communicate this initiative properly I have taken the text and images directly from the HMD.org website. All copyright and ownership of the text and images belongs to them. Check their website for social media links and please spread the word about the day.

The New Year for Trees and Their Significance: Tu B’shevat 2019

treeThroughout 2019, posts will come out that celebrate Jewish and Israeli special days. Today is “Tu B’Shevat, the day that marks the beginning of a “new year” for trees. This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep, and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

Trees play a significant role in the Jewish Bible / Old Testament. Pomegranates have always been related to God’s people multiplying, thriving and be successful and another strong example is the fig tree.

  • Micah 4:4 “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.”
  • Joel 1:12 “The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees–all the fruit trees–have dried up. And the people’s joy has dried up with them.”

Botannically, the fig tree is a keystone species and is eaten by over 1200 kinds of animals and is also thought to have been a critical food source for people. So as the fig tree flourishes, or dies back, so does the prosperity and safety of God’s people, Isra’el.

Another beautiful example of how in God’s Word, trees are symbols of peace with the Lord, times of rest and prosperity, comes from Isaiah:

“You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
Isaiah 55:12-13

eating watermelonHistorically, the “new year” for trees related to the various tithes (offerings or in some cases, taxes) that were separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. These tithes differed from year to year, in the seven-year shemittah cycle. The point at which a budding fruit is considered to belong to the next year of the cycle is the 15th of Shevat.

Jewish people mark the day of Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day people remember that “man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19), and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.”

Historical Information Source: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3264/jewish/Tu-BShevat.htm


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All copyright and ownership of the text and logo images for any quoted websites belong to them. However, while some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many 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. If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com