Judgement Versus Discernment: Reading the Bible Righteously

judging bathshebaIt is very rare that I ever hear 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. [See footnote about rape.]

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.

img_1682Maybe 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 6:37Matthew 7:2Hebrews 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]


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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. 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.

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David’s Steleae: The Psalms as Public Memorials and Private Prayers

violin-and-psalm“I will tell of the marvellous things You have done.” Psalm 9:1b

“I will exalt You, Lord, because You have rescued me.” Psalm 30:1a

A stele is “an upright stone slab or pillar bearing an inscription or design and serving as a monument, marker, or the like.” [Source: Dictionary.com] They were widely used in the Near East millennia before David, and well after his time. It was standard practice for kings to have steles and statues of themselves made as positive propaganda to support their reign. However, David didn’t follow this practice. In line with the *ten commandments, he didn’t have himself pictured with a representation of YHWH behind him, neither did he carve his achievements in stone. Apart from the book of Samuel and 1 Chronicles, the only memorials we have to David are his Psalms, some of which could be likened to victory steles, and others which have an interesting function.

Roughly half of all the Psalms that are attributed to David were sent to the choir director and made public, and 50% of those Psalms were written when he was in great distress. We don’t know how the other Psalms were used, but it is possible that the ones which have not been specifically marked as “for the choir director” were in his personal collection, then organised into books after his death. His Psalms which are marked as prayers: 17, 86, and 142, were notably not sent to the choir director.

Some of the Psalms that were made public had national themes: Psalm 60 was written while David grappled with Israel’s failures in the battle in the Valley of Salt, and is noted as being useful for teaching; the wording of Psalm 67 is a mix of a prayer and a benediction; and Psalm 58 is an outspoken challenge to the people of Israel on justice [see the final chapter below for clarification]. David also sent Psalm 53 to the choir director, making a public statement of faith with “only fools deny God.”

Using my own classification of the Psalms (I get lost in the theological classifications, so I divided them further for my own use), these are the victory Psalms that David wanted sung before the Lord:

  • Psalm 9: I will tell of all the marvellous things You have done.
  • Psalm 18: When rescued from Saul and the enemies in that period of time.
  • Psalm 20: May the LORD answer all your prayers.
  • Psalm 21: How the king rejoices in Your strength, O LORD!
  • Psalm 30: Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

The Psalms of joy and wonder, plus David’s statements of faith that were sent to the choir director include Psalms 8, 11, 19, 62, 65, 66, 67, 53 and 58.

One thing which occurred to me when looking at which Psalms were attributed to specific events and could be considered memorials, is that there are no Psalms specifically linked to David’s most notable victories such as killing Goliath, bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, or his battle achievements. He didn’t mention God’s special covenant with Him, or his plans to build the temple; (neither did David ask for it to be named after him.) This is a testament to David’s humility, despite the moral dips which occurred with Bathsheba and the census.

The stone tablet with the code written on it. This was placed in a public space so that all could read it.

The stone tablet with the code written on it. This was placed in a public space so that all could read it.

God is always the focus of David’s songs, which is another significant difference between him and any other ruler. He never claims honour or victory for himself. For an example, read the **Code of Hammurabi which has massive chunks at the beginning and end, glorifying and justifying the rule of Hammurabi. For example: “Hammurabi, the prince… making riches and increase, enriching Nippur and Dur-ilu beyond compare… who conquered the four quarters of the world, made great the name of Babylon…who enriched Ur; the humble, the reverent, who brings wealth…”

David’s work shows that he was transparent in how he talked about his life in public and that he wasn’t hung up on appearances. He freely admitted his faults and struggles and the glory for his successes always went to the Lord. Psalm 51, which speaks of his correction by Nathan over Bathsheba, and how sin affected him, was made public. Whether that was to address his sin because it was public knowledge, or whether it was to be used as a teaching aid to strengthen the faith of the people and encourage righteousness, or both, I honestly don’t know.

Psalm 3, which was about when he fled from Absalom, Psalm 34 where he escaped from Philistine territory feigning madness and Psalm 52, where he was betrayed by Doeg to Saul, weren’t marked for use by the choir director either. Not using Psalm 52 appears odd, as all the other betrayal Psalms were publicly sung. Perhaps it wasn’t copied or notated correctly, or perhaps David had some private reason for not sending it on? I wish I knew.

These are the Psalms which have a definite event associated with them and could be considered a form of victory stele.

  • 7 – concerning Cush of the tribe of Benjamin
  • 18 – rescued from all enemies and Saul [PUBLIC]
  • 30 – dedication of the temple / house [PUBLIC]
  • 54 – betrayed by Ziphites [PUBLIC]
  • 56 – seized at Gath [PUBLIC]
  • 57 – when fled from Saul and went to the cave [PUBLIC]
  • 59 – soldiers watching his house [PUBLIC]

The last point of interest is David’s request that two Psalms which relate to persecution by Saul, (57 and 59,) be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy.” Knowing the old title attached to that melody would add a clear message to the Psalm, which would be noted by anyone knowing that piece of music. Other Psalmists also requested the same for their work.

“Do Not Destroy” is also the melody which was selected for Psalm 58: “Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word?” In Bible Hub’s interlinear Bible, “ruler” is elem, or congregation. [Strongs Number 482] It is a masculine word, which is culturally correct as the assembly of believers was all male in David’s time. Some Bibles say gods, some say sons of men. There is no correct consensus. It is a source of profound frustration to me that words such as this are so poorly translated in our Bibles, and a reminder to dig deeper to find the true meaning of the Word of God.
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Notes:

*“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6

**The Code of Hammurabi translated by L.W. King http://www.general-intelligence.com/library/hr.pdf  and the Louvre Museum’s page on it: http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/law-code-hammurabi-king-babylon


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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. 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.

How to be “Led in God’s Righteousness:” Spiritual Maturity

Lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes.” I was reading Charles Swindoll’s “Living the Psalms,” when that sentence bought me to a dead halt. I don’t know about you, but I don’t talk like that. I’d say, “Lord guide me;” or “please strengthen me so I don’t become want revenge;” but I’d never think to ask straight up for righteousness.

Righteousness was a good choice. David got straight to the heart of everything he needed by using that word. It’s another example of the exemplary spiritual maturity that he showed from a surprisingly young age. I am well over double the age David was when he dealt with Saul’s attacks in a wise way, and I can’t hold a candle to his example. I would be trying to fight my way out of that situation, rather than maintaining my innocence to stay clean before the Lord. It takes more self-control to do that, than I possess.

Spiritual maturity is hard to quantify: it’s not static. It is not something that is gained which stays at a minimum fixed level; rather it’s a process of becoming holy, balanced and responsible. It affects the totality of how you react, think and feel and you can lose it all, or parts of it. When David sinned with Bathsheba and killed Uriah for convenience, he ignored the moral part of his maturity for a time, even though he was still mature in other areas. That incident is a reminder that we all have to work hard to keep our heads on straight. We never arrive with no danger of backsliding.

Spiritual maturity (and growth) are not accumulatively achieved as a result of ageing. It comes through surviving tough life experiences and hard work. A working definition of spiritual maturity covers an extensive number of areas and behaviours in life, and I see many of them in David. (This definition list is by no means exhaustive.)

– Uncompromising obedience to the Lord;

– God alone becomes your primary resource of strength, wisdom and guidance;

– you act and serve other people in love, not out of obligation, or seeking reward;

– you bring peace rather than create strife or problems, and settle disputes wisely;

– your pride is well on the way to dead; plus you don’t focus on your achievements publicly;

– you respond to your failures and sins with repentance and a desire to please God, picking yourself up off the floor, determined to do better (teachable and humble);

– you desire God’s correction and are willing to make adjustments to your thinking and behaviour;

– regardless of what hits you in life, you push forwards with hope, praising God;

– your attitude and faith are a catalyst which strengthens other people’s faith;

– you don’t treat God as a needs-delivering vending machine, but instead respond to Him with joy, trust and the positive expectation that He is there for you, whether you can feel that or not;

– you build your relationship with the Lord daily, without prompting, or because you’re desperate;

– you have tamed your tongue and are not caught up in appearances;

– you do not act out of vengeance or judgement, but with the fruit of the Spirit;

– you give all credit to God, or other people as appropriate, never yourself;

– you care for the elderly, sick and disadvantaged in the community without doing so because you feel motivated by guilt or duty;

– you’re kind, generous, loyal and dependable;

– you can be trusted to be moderate in dangerous areas, such as in the use of power, alcohol and sex…

… or to put it very succinctly, you have learned that God is in charge, where you stand in Him and you continuously lose your selfishness in order to follow and obey Him.

The rewards of seeking spiritual maturity are greater joy, peace, hope and stability. You cope with the ups and downs of life better, find more fulfilment in the path the Lord is leading you down and have an enriching, dynamic relationship with Him, which will pull you through any havoc that life can throw at you. That makes the process of slowly killing off your selfishness to become mature worth it. It is a long learning curve which is never easy, but the benefits make every moment of sacrifice undeniably worthwhile.


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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.

When Kings Normally Go To War: Addressing A Potentially Unjustified Criticism of David

alba_bible_224v-sThis article used to be in included in Did King David Have Diabetes? It is a connected issue, but it has become sensible to split the topics, as my study is constantly leading me to enlarge on this area.

2 Samuel 11:1 says: ”In the spring of the year, a when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites.” This is typically taken as a criticism of David, and used as a means to warn us that idle hands make the Devil’s work. However, there is also a strong possibility that this verse is a time marker, rather than a criticism.

While we look back on life in David’s time as being far simpler, we know that the work of a King was as demanding as it is in modern times. 1000 BC was not the stone age. Kings didn’t only look after the security of their country, striding into war to fight heroic battles. Archaeology tells us that from at the very least, 1500 years before David, administration, record keeping, civil works and diplomatic activity was well established in David’s area of the world. He did not have the luxury of being an idle King, and if the records of the Kings of Judah were still in existence, there would be mountains of ‘paperwork’ to back that up.

It was not King David’s custom to attend to smaller battles and as a king, it was his right to choose not to at his discretion. Delegation is considered a wise leadership strategy and handing smaller military actions off to Joab, does not immediately make David’s actions erroneous. Unless he was needed for morale or strategy, his time may have been better used in Jerusalem; David may have been more derelict of duty to go to war than keep the country in order, depending on what was happening in Isra’el at that time.

ftufuygfuThere are also other possibilities. We do not have the full details of how his army was ordered. Was he waiting to be called in with a reinforcement division? Was he needed for security within the Jerusalem area? Or could David staying home have been because because he was ill and thus, too greater liability on the battlefield at that time? [Several years later, his men force him off the battlefield permanently, as he is weak and tired. Ref: 2 Samuel 21:15-17]

A realistic view of David’s involvements in battle is presented in the introduction to Psalm 60. At times, Joab and the army went out without David to begin or finish a battle, and this was normal and acceptable. “…and Joab returned and killed 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.” Again, in 2 Samuel 2:12-17, Joab takes the army of Judah (David’s forces) into battle against northern Isra’el without David. I have not found any Biblical criticism of these actions.

The battle which the text is focussed on, had started in 2 Samuel 10. Joab took command of the first part, then in 10:6,7 when the Ammonites called in more reinforcements, David left for battle with more of his men. Cleaning up the entire mess took some time.

From Albert Barne’s commentary: “The language in the title “when Joab returned,” would seem to imply that these conquests were achieved not by David in person, but by Joab – a circumstance not at all improbable, as he was the leader of the armies of David; 2 Samuel 20:23, “Now Joab was over all the host of Israel.” …in the title to the psalm where it is ascribed to Joab, for though the battle may have been fought by Joab, yet it was really one of the victories of David, as Joab acted under him and by his orders – as we speak of the conquests of Napoleon, attributing to him the conquests which were secured by the armies under his command.”

12988ebNelsons New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs: “Critics sometimes charge that David’s remaining in Jerusalem during the Ammonite war constituted a dereliction of duty. And he got into trouble with Bathsheba for shirking that duty. But that is not necessarily true. Kings did not always lead their forces into war… Moreover, the autocratic kings of the ancient Near East had so much administrative detail to attend to at home that they could not always handle both military and domestic affairs adequately.”

The biggest problem in understanding King David’s life is that there is so much detail and not enough detail! Explanations are housed in words which are easily missed in the text; plus as chapters sit end to end, timing is lost. The initial main purpose of writing this article was to encourage you to think outside the box on what circumstances and influences affected David. Human behaviour is complex, and from observing the events in our own life, we know that nothing is ever as cut and dried as it seems. One innocent incident can lead us into trouble, or we can cut a hard path to sin for ourselves by making poor choices. In the same way that we would want to be given the benefit of the doubt in regards to what led to our mistakes, David deserves the same open-minded treatment.

Notes:
– King David’s Health: Diabetes, VD and his Probable Cause of Death
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32037
– Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes, © 1834
– Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs, Dr Howard E Vos, © 1999


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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. 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.

Luke Skywalker and King David: The Secret of Winning Wars Against Evil

48113929_sI have been a Star Wars fan since the first movie came out in 1977. I recently bought The Force Awakens, and as nostalgia kicked in, I started to see similarities between Luke Skywalker and the young man, David. Both of their lives were taken up the battle of good against evil and looking deeper into the Star Wars culture, I found more parallels than are immediately obvious.

It’s simply not enough to be able to pick up a sword and fight a war. Conquering darkness occurs on so many levels and many of them live beneath the surface in emotions, memories and thoughts. Any winning fight is fuelled by positive emotions and empowered by higher spiritual beliefs.

Both Luke and David came from menial jobs in backwater towns, which had a poor reputation. While David had a more mature attitude and had been taught about his God since early childhood, both men were quickly propelled into positions of power, with the outcome affecting millions of people. In reading Wookipedia.com, I found this quote which places Luke and David on very similar footing.

“It has been said that anyone who knows the ways of the Force can set her, or himself up as a King on any world where only she or he knows the ways of the Force. Any Jedi could do this. But the Jedi, fools that they are, adhere to a religion in which the Force is used only in the service of others.”   Palpatine, in “The Weakness of Inferiors”

If you chose to, you could liken Goliath and the Philistine armies, to Darth Vader and the Empire; however, the similarity I saw between Luke and David was on a personal level. We see a lot of Star Wars’ plot focussing on Luke battling with his impatience, his anger, his fear, and his mixed feelings about his father. When you examine how he reacts to situations which arise and challenge his leadership, David battles the same anger and fear issues as Luke. [David’s journey is recorded in1 and 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, 1 Kings and the Psalms]

David’s anger is a character trait which is shown while he is on the run from Saul. He and his men have been providing security for a man named Nabal, and when the rich, arrogant Nabal makes no effort to pay them, David is ready to run him through with his sword. However, like Luke, he does listen, then heed the wise counsel given by Abigail. Both Luke and David show a willingness to learn in their youth, which is what will ultimately keep them on the right side of evil. [Ref. 1 Samuel 25]

Israel_Enters_the_Promised_LandThere are several other instances where David loses his temper. One occurred when the Ark of the Covenant is being bought into Jerusalem, and the cart it is being carried on slips. An innocent man is killed because he touched the Ark and David explodes. “David was angry because the Lord’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (“which means to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today. David was now afraid of the Lord…” 2 Samuel 6:8-9a (See footnote on the Ark.)

Patience and calm were pivotal traits that Luke and David had to learn. Without them, both men would have too much potential to do great harm. David did learn the lesson and encouraged others to learn it too.
“Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper:
it only leads to harm.”
Psalm 37:8

Whether you win or lose a battle depends very much on how you do things, both internally and externally. If you have a short fuse, the overflow of emotion will cloud your choices, as if did for Luke when he knew that Han and Leia were in danger on Bespin. If you rush in, like Luke, you lose the battle and you can lose more than that… like a hand.

Anger also directly affects men on the battle field. Fencers (sports), tell us that sword fights are nothing like the Hollywood portrayal of them. A real Jedi versus Sith, or Israelite versus Philistine fight would be over in seconds and who would win? The combatant who kept calm. The second a combatant loses their temper and allows emotion to take over, they stop effectively processing what is happening, and become easy to defeat. There is no glamour and glory in war. A man may be able to earn himself a reputation as a skilled warrior, but it’s an ugly business. Attacking out of fear and hate only make it more putrid, as the loss of a soul to the wrong source of power is the greatest loss any battle can generate.

Fear is the other emotional battle which both men had to strive to conquer. Fear is a natural, protective emotion which is not inherently bad. We need fear to make us question the wisdom of our actions and protect us from danger. The problems set in when, as occurred with Saul, fear makes us paranoid and we take unnecessary risks, become bitter and go to insane lengths to make ourselves safe.

In the first three Star Wars movies we see Luke battle with fear as he learns to be a Jedi. At the end of the seventh movie, as Rey begins to beg Luke for help, his fearful reluctance is obvious. You can never completely conquer fear, and if you were to do so, you would do yourself, and others, great harm.

David is plotted against many times during his life, you often see him write about fear in the Psalms.
“I have heard the many rumours about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life.
But I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
Psalm 31:13-15

There is nothing weak or unmanly in admitting fear. What matters in the end is how he chose to deal with it. David turned to the Lord for assistance and deliverance.

You could take the good versus evil fight further with David, and consider how his lust over Bathsheba took him to a dark place where evil gained control. If Luke Skywalker’s life is ever shown in more detail, he’s bound to have faced a similar challenge too.

David’s life story is about what happens when God gets hold of an ordinary life. Luke’s story is centred on the heroism of just one man. None of us can ever be Luke Skywalker, and while he is an interesting character, he has nothing but a fictional philosophy to offer us which will be forgotten long after David is still remembered; but we can all follow in the footsteps of David, and be spiritually victorious by developing a relationship with God that will change ourselves and other people. David’s success is accessible to all of us. Learning about his life points us directly to the Lord, the One who can truly help us overcome all our fears and win all our battles.

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Wookiepedia References:

Further Reading:

Footnote on the Ark of the Covenant:
Trying to find the correct manner in which to transport the Ark is not an easy task. It’s not that David didn’t do his homework. I have tried to find the same information and went around in circles for hours, as every other procedure for caring for the Ark was spelled out except that one! [Ref: Exodus chapters 25-31 and then chapters 35-40]


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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 of the photos in this post 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.

Why The Bible Doesn’t Work As A Mythological Tale: King David

By Majumwo CC4.0 Licence

By Majumwo CC4.0 Licence

David fits the image of a hero. He potentially makes the perfect epic poetry type hero and his life does fit a perfect story arc. Does that make his life likely to be a fictional tale, or embellishment on the actual life of a man named David who was a King? Where does Scripture not fit myth?

While we associate non-Christians as being the ones who are the most likely to label Biblical truth as a moral tale or embellished story, Christians can also be found doing the same, as they do not believe that the Bible is the literal truth, or because the thinking of the world has affected them. Some of the saddest and most judgemental teachings I have seen on David’s life have come through theologians who are not saved, but have studied critical theology as an intellectual interest and have published books which don’t show any dedication to the spiritual character of Christianity. Thus they feel able to tear Biblical figures apart without mercy, and assign interpretations to Biblical events which aren’t in line with either the message or the sanctity of the Word.

For example, “King David His Reign Revisited,” by David L Wright. His work is written from a limited, biased standpoint, which is not in line with either the Jewish or Hebrew faiths. Wright teaches at Emory University as Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible and has won awards for previous books. In his own words: “I enrolled in one of Reinhard Kratz’s seminars in which we analyzed the formation of the Sinai account in Exodus and its relation to Deuteronomy. In the very first session I realized how extraordinary biblical literature is and how fascinating it is to study it critically.”

“Most PhD students often have personal histories that prompted them to devote their lives to biblical studies. Nevertheless, these students usually know how to set aside, pragmatically, their personal religious convictions in order to create a space conducive to discussions with their colleagues who come from different backgrounds and have different commitments.” [Source: http://thetorah.com/ten-questions-jacob-wright/]

How sad it is that you can study the Word of God in such depth, and not let it touch your spirit.

In 2015 I wrote a blog post “Dames, Daggers and Dance: When History Forms It’s Own Perfect Story Arc” which looked at David’s life through the eyes of a story teller. I have been a writer since I was a child, and have always studied writing techniques. When studying David, I was surprised to see that the total accounts of his life form a story arc. It made me wonder, whether the concept of the story arc was built on literature or reality? However, it did not make me wonder whether David’s life was a fabricated legend and here’s why.

David’s life just doesn’t work as a story. Here is a short list as to why, based on the many frustrations I’ve gone through in studying David’s life.

  • Only the highlights and most necessary cautionary incidents, (useful for moral spiritual instruction,) have been told. It is like reading a biography retold in badly summarised dot points. There are far too many details missing which make parts hard to interpret and lead to heated debates. So much critical information about him is missing or unclear, I have nearly given up study in frustration several times. Trying to get a clear picture of key incidents is nearly impossible.
  • Pinpointing exactly when things happened, in what year and what age, is impossible, as is the correct order of events in 2 Samuel chapters 10-12 and 2 Samuel 23 to 24. Big events are written back to back, with no orientation as to how old David was, or how much time had passed. This is especially true of the Psalms.
  • You can only work out David’s motivations by going back to the Torah and carefully studying Leviticus and Deuteronomy in detail (preferably the whole Torah); then by going forward to the Psalms and fitting it all together in a cultural context… which also has to be researched outside of the Bible, to understand the history and culture. In a story, you are told what someone’s motivation is and why they act how they do.
  • The books of Samuel have multiple authors and David’s story is completed in 1 Kings (written by yet another author,) and reiterated as more of a political tale in 1 Chronicles by yet, another author. That fracturing blasts apart the possibility of it being written as an allegory.
  • It’s missing traditional narrative roles (such as ally and trickster), the people needed to push the tale forward into the next part,or give it more relatability. Also, God could fit many of the standard character roles, as David was close to Him, was helped by Him and powered by Him. That messes up the standard way deities are bought into legends.
  • David isn’t the hero of his life story, God is, which is not a normal format. Readers want the key figure to be either a hero, or an anti-hero. David hands all the glory to God and constantly points people to Him to meet all their needs. [2 Samuel 22-23]
  • If you use Joseph Campbell’s monomyth (The Hero With a Thousand Faces), it doesn’t fit good story telling structure for an epic tale. Campbell wrote his book based on the way legends have been recorded since the beginning of time, from every culture able to be studied. I have tried to fit David’s life into that structure, and it won’t mould in, in too many places. I couldn’t even take specific events and get them to form that iconic structure. For example, refusal of the call (David never did that); then the last seven stages don’t apply, as David never returns home with the prize, going back to normal life, and there is no clear point of single victory. It is also interesting to note that David is not mentioned in Campbell’s book as one of the studies legends. There is only an image of David and Goliath. I was sure he would be in there, but he’s not.

 

SPECIFIC EXAMPLES
a) The most complete chronicle in David’s life is “David and Goliath,” which has become an iconic symbol in both faith, and the secular world. It neatly unwinds and then wraps up, but few other anecdotes from David’s life do. David’s greatest achievements are making the nation of Isra’el safe from it’s enemies and the building of the first temple. The remaining details of Isra’el’s journey to national safety are slim. You cannot recreate complete, engaging battle scenes and pinpoint a proper timeline of who, when and where, in the manner in which movies like Star Wars are made. We know a little about David’s achievements as a warrior, and a little about Benaiah, and a little about Joab, and a little about many characters… but not enough to build one complete character who we can understand. The Bible is just not meant to read as a legendary epic set of tales. It’s an historical account with greatly limited information.

Bathsheba by Francesco Salviati CC04 Licenced

By Francesco Salviati CC04 Licenced

b) As for David’s actions in returning of the Ark of the Covenant to the midst of the nation and the plans for building Israel’s temple, this part of his life is impossible to understand without knowing the full history of Israel up until this point, and studying the way surrounding nations worshipped at that time… then to top that off, the long timeline of related events has a deeply unsatisfying ending.

In 2 Samuel 5-7 we can see how much David wants to build the temple and has it planned and prepared down to the last detail… then it doesn’t happen until he is dead. Why? Because he obeys God… and we don’t know what he is obeying unless we pick the account which starts in 2 Samuel 6 up in 1 Chronicles 22. Did you know that David gave his personal wealth over to help fund the temple? Probably not, because the complete set of details are scattered, and is hard work to put together and then correctly interpret. The story doesn’t story.

c) As a final illustration of why David doesn’t fit together as a work of fiction, we need to look at David and Bathsheba. Again it is hampered by a lack of information. Arguments rage as to whether she baited him, or he took advantage of an innocent young girl. To make that incident work as a proper tale, you need clearer and more content, plus, to make David and Bathsheba work as a single piece of fiction, you need more elements to make a proper story and cohesively pull all the summary into a readable work.

The prophet Nathan called David out his sin, but he’d need a far greater role as a mentor. And where is David or Bathsheba’s best friend / sidekick to help move the tale along? The ambiguities which lead to heated accusations of rape would not be there. Every detail, including a clearer picture of David’s thoughts and motivation would be included. Including literary devices such as Solomon’s style of poetry in the Song of Songs would help too, but that does not exist. What we do have is an incident from David’s life which teaches us consequences. It is not meant to be romanticised and to do so, is to disrespect the intention the Word of God has in telling us about Bathsheba.

David is real, raw, flawed, inspirational, conflicted and cohesive, or in other words, as complicated as any human, which is why we relate to him. If you looked at any of our life stories, they would be just as muddied, hard to follow and complex. From the point of view of a fiction writer and a Christian, David reinforces my belief that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, not a man-made collection of religious propaganda.

“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations,
And I will sing praises to Your name.
He is a tower of deliverance to His king,
And shows lovingkindness to His anointed,
To David and his descendants forever.” 2 Samuel 22:50-51


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.

King David as a Romantic Figure – Disempowering the Word of God

Hemingway's_writing_desk_in_Key_WestThe Old Testament is a tough book to study. There are details missing, we don’t always understand the culture and it’s hard to get the hang of what its all about. So sometimes it’s easier to turn to movies or books which explain the story in a way we relate to. One option is to read novels, and I have read a few on David which have concerned me. As both a fiction writer and a student of David’s life, I would like to share how novels can negatively influence our understanding of the Word of God.

We’re not specifically told in the Bible that novelising the Word of God is wrong, but it creates practical problems by the power of suggestion. When we read fiction, as we become engrossed in the story which is presented to us, it gets harder to identify what facts are real, and which are embellished. Studies have now shown that memories are altered each time we recall them and that adds to the problem. If we remember what we’ve learned about King David as we read a novel about him, those memories of what the Scriptures actually say can easily be changed by the text we’re been exposed to, and we may not realise it.

When an author works on a historical novel, they have to deal with masses of details being missing and unobtainable. To counter that problem, they devise character traits, motivations, scenes and most of the aspects needed to turn what, in David’s case, is a summary of selected facts, into a story which flows. This is where the main danger comes in. When you assign emotions, thoughts and motivations to someone, you can unintentionally, completely misrepresent them. If, like David, their story comes from the Old Testament, you are also grappling with a radically different moral and cultural mindset, which is extremely hard for a Westerner to understand, (even with extensive research.) This hampers the work, and can easily result in an incorrect analysis of why and how David acted, which can then affect the benefit his life gives us through the Bible, as we’re less willing to listen to his words.

I have seen book and movie authors try and make David a combined romantic figure and power crazed villain as they simply don’t understand his culture. We expect people in the Old Testament to think like us, hold exactly the same values and live much the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One series of books I read quoted the Psalms and make King David a God-fearing good guy, then added fictional circumstances and motivations to known facts, to create scenarios to move her storyline and it’s themes along. While the work is sold as fiction and should only be taken as such, the problem is that her own thoughts and biases against polygamy, plus her misunderstanding of the laws handed down through Moses, dominated her storyline and in the end, David came out looking evil in a manner which contradicts Scripture. (Please see my article on polygamy.)

“For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings 15:5 David wasn’t an angel and if he had been, few could relate to him. However, to villainise someone because issues such as polygamy, the role of an ancient Israeli King and the status of women aren’t well understood by our Western culture, isn’t to do the Word of God justice. David’s actions appeared as sin or made no sense. It extended to more than David. His wives were all treated as powerless victims, as life in David’s time was approached from a modern viewpoint, which has no relevance on a culture which existed nearly three thousand years ago. There were masses of negative comments online which reflected my own feelings about this author, and I approached the Publisher, defending God’s Word. Sadly, they did not want to listen.

1280px-Buchblätter_001For me, reading this series illustrated the pitfalls of embellishing a partial storyline, and thankfully, has made me very cautious about what I read, and especially, what I write, regardless of whether it’s fiction or not. Incidents such as David’s sin with Bathsheba are there to teach us the consequences of our actions. They are not meant to be romanticised and to do so, is to disrespect the intention the Word of God has in telling us about Bathsheba.

The book of Revelation gives a stern warning that anyone who adds to that book will be punished. Perhaps that should make us pause and consider how we handle all of God’s Word? “And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” Revelation 22:19 In Deuteronomy 4:2, Moses tells Isra’el: “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.”

The Word is the inspired truth, written by many authors, but compiled as God the Father has determined it should be. There are historical writings and Psalms that were never included in our Scriptures. Why not? They are not writings that the Lord wishes to include. We need to be careful about what we do. Paul tells us that teachers of the Word are subject to more severe judgement as they can lead so many astray. [Ref. James 3:1] If you novelise, whether it is intentional or not, you are teaching, as you are planting ideas in people’s heads. Caution has to be taken.

If you are going to read a novel based on the Bible or watch a movie, please approach it with your Bible open beside you, and take the time to ask the Lord if He wants you to read it (and wait for an answer.) I love novels, I love movies which make the Word of God come alive, but I don’t want to approach Bible study with an attitude which may shut out what the Lord wants to teach me.

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Additional Helpful Reading


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. The images in this post are CC4.0 from Wikimedia Commons.