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.

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How YHWH is Unique: Differences Between Him and Mesopotamian Gods

high_priest_offering_incense_on_the_altarOver the last few months I have been studying the ancient history of the Near East to get a handle on how the surrounding nations impacted King David’s life. This is impossible to do without running into dozens and dozens and dozens of pagan deities, who went on to become the gods of Canaan, Babylon and Assyria. One thing that has struck me time and time again, is how radically different our God, YHWH, is compared to the other gods. Moses agrees with me: “For what great nation has a god as near to them as the LORD our God is near to us whenever we call on Him? And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?” Deuteronomy 4:7-8

Studying ancient history has shown me similarities between Biblical stories (*the flood) and how YHWH was worshipped, so how do I know that YHWH is the one true god? Because He is so distinctively unique.

Firstly, how do I account for the similarities in worship between Mesopotamia and Israel, which include blood sacrifice, the system for supporting priests; incense, music used in worship, the altars having horns, and the similarities in spiritual language? Scott Aniol from Answers in Genesis sums up what I was thinking beautifully: “All nations had a common ancestry in Adam, and God’s self-revelation was part of their heritage, thus accounting for any similarities in worship practice that exist.” Worship stemmed from one God and one original system which was corrupted for man-made divinities. This form of corrupted worship in the Mesopotamian world remained in vogue for over four thousand years, and some practices (such as the fear of the number 13) still affect many world cultures today.

“When comparing the psalms of Israel with those of Ugarit people, important distinctions emerge as well. According to Walton, “the category of declarative praise is unique to Israel”. Oswalt argues that although Psalm 29 may resemble Ugarit references to Baal as god of thunderstorms, “nowhere in the psalm is Yahweh identified with the thunderstorm. . . . Yahweh sits above the flood” (Oswalt 2009, 105–06. Emphasis original). Likewise, Currid observes that even “the style of writing of the cosmological texts from the ancient Near East is best described as ‘mythic narrative,’” while the biblical record “bears all the markings of Hebrew historical narrative.” (Currid 2013, 43)… Biblical history and pagan myth have very different purposes, functions, and literary forms and therefore must not be interpreted in the same manner.

The key elements of worship that appear in most religions are instituted in the first few chapters of Genesis. God places Adam and Eve in his sanctuary as priests who serve him and commune with him. After they disobey him, God institutes the idea of substitutionary sacrifice and atonement, establishing a covenant with them. Each of these elements characterises the worship of all religions since they are part of the religious heritage of all children of Adam. As Rodríguez notes, “those religious expressions belong to the common human experience of God” (Rodríguez 2001, 47). Romans 1:19–20 testifies to this when it says that God has revealed himself to all people through “the things that have been made.” 
[Source: Worldview Bias and the Origin of Hebrew Worship by Scott Aniol https://answersingenesis.org/presuppositions/bias-and-origin-of-hebrew-worship/]

What is also interesting, is how the Laws that God gave through Moses seem to be put in place to stop the Israelites from copying many of the pagan practices of other religions. For example, the Israelites were told: “A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 22:5 In some Mesopotamian ritual processions, the participants dressed half as men, half as women to worship their god. The more I study, the more I realise how much cultural information is lost to us, which sheds an entirely new light on Biblical precepts.
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foster_bible_pictures_0073-1_offering_up_a_burnt_sacrifice_to_godI could write a book on everything I have learned, but the main point I want to leave you with is how YHWH is a distinctive deity:

1. The Israelites could only have one religious relic/artefact, which was the Ark of the Covenant which had the manifest Presence of God upon it. Unlike polytheism, where there are many statues of a god made for every temple and need, there was no limit to the number. YHWH specifically banned the making of such images to represent Him. [Ref. Exodus 34:17]
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2. YHWH is way above the average intelligence of other gods
Some Mesopotamians created statues of themselves praying that they could place in their temples to make theirs gods think they were being prayed to all the time, and the gods knew no difference. According to the Jewish Virtual Library: “An idol, in the pagan mind, was a living and feeling being… The god’s spirit dwelt within the idol and was identified with it. The god was not confined to a single idol or a single shape; rather his spirit dwelt within many idols of varied shapes. The god perceived and sensed whatever happened to its idol…  The argument offered by the Psalmist (Ps. 106:36; 115:9), “they have eyes but they do not see” should be taken literally… The Biblical description of idolatry as “sacrifices to the dead,” (Ps. 106:28) and of idols as “wood and stone,” (Deut. 28:36, 64), and similar descriptions, challenge the pagan claim that the images they worshiped were in fact “living idols.”” 
[Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0009_0_09475.html]
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3. YHWH has exceptional moral character
“And Jehovah (YHWH) came down in the cloud. And he placed himself there with Him, and he called on the name of Jehovah. And Jehovah passed by before his face and called out: Jehovah! Jehovah God! Merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and great in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and not leaving entirely unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on sons, and on sons of sons, to the third and to the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:5-7

God’s were prone to the human traits of bitterness, revenge, theft, deception and basically, behaviour which is “fleshly.” [Ref. Galatians 5:16-25] Pagan gods are recorded as viciously punishing their followers over hurt feelings, regardless of who was responsible. This was a way to account for the tragedies and baffling ups and downs of life.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, King Gilgamesh refuses to marry the goddess Ishtar and reminds her of how she has abused the affection of her past lovers. In vengeance, she complains to her father, who at first says, “serves you right,” but then: “Ishtar opened her mouth and said again, ‘My father, give me the Bull of Heaven to destroy Gilgamesh. Fill Gilgamesh, I say, with arrogance to his destruction; but if you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of dead will outnumber the living.’ Anusa said to great Ishtar, ‘If I do what you desire there will be seven years of drought throughout Uruk when corn will be seedless husks. Have you saved grain enough for the people and grass for the cattle? Ishtar replied. ‘I have saved grain for the people, grass for the cattle; for seven years of seedless husks, there is grain and there is grass enough.’ “ 

“She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.” [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inanna]

YHWH is not prone to such human faults and appalling acts of retribution. As we read in Exodus 34:5-7, He is open to reconciliation rather than murder. His people have to completely turn their back on Him before they are cursed.
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4. YHWH is not dependent upon us to provide any of His needs According to Mesopotamian mythology, human beings were created so the gods would have servants. “Man shall be charged with the service of the gods, that they might be at ease.” Babylonian Creation myth.

While the Hebrews (later Israel,) served YHWH, it was by obedience and through worship, they didn’t provide for His physical needs or were used and abused for His pleasure. To please Anu, you had to do the following (plus meet all the other requirements): “Several times a day in an elaborate ritual the god was served a sumptuous meal. The courses were set out before the statue of the god or goddess, music was played, and incense was sprinkled. Here is a daily menu for the god Anu at Uruk: 12 vessels of wine 2 vessels of milk, 108 vessels of beer, 243 loaves of bread, 29 bushels of dates, 21 rams, 2 bulls, 1 bullock, 8 lambs, 60 birds, 3 cranes, 7 ducks, 4 wild boars, 3 ostrich eggs, 3 duck eggs.”
[Source: http://www.dl.ket.org/humanities/connections/class/ancient/mesopreligion.htm]

Instead, He meets ours! “And He will love you, and bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your oxen and the wealth of your flock, in the land which He has sworn to your fathers, to give it to you. You shall be blessed above all people; there shall not be a barren man or a barren woman among you, nor among your livestock. And Jehovah shall turn aside every sickness from you; and He will not put on you any of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you have known, but He will put them on all who hate you.” Deuteronomy 7:13-15 Literal Translation of the Holy Bible
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557px-the_ark_of_the_covenant5. YHWH is accessible to all of His followers, not just the elite or the priests. “The higher-echelon did all the preparation, and private individuals only came into contact with the gods when statues of deities were brought out of the temple and carried through the streets.” [Source: http://www.dl.ket.org/humanities/connections/class/ancient/mesopreligion.htm]
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6. YHWH cannot be controlled by man
Since the god fully identified with its idol, whoever controlled the idol also controlled the god. When the king of Elam saw that he was about to be defeated by Sennacherib, he took his idols and fled in order that they [the idols] should not fall captive… The custom of taking captive the idols of the vanquished was ancient and widespread… Rab-Shakeh wanted to impress upon the people of Judah the fact that the gods of the neighbouring nations failed to protect them from the armies of Sennacherib .(Isa. 36:18–20; 37:10–12) [Source:
https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0009_0_09475.html]

It was believed that once you had the idol, you controlled the god who would do your bidding if you appeased them. From there, any success would be possible. YHWH is completely resistant to manipulation. This is shown in Numbers 22 with Balaam who was ordered by the Moabite King, Balak, to curse the Israelites. “But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the LORD [YHWH] my God.”
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7. YHWH is not a God who has to retreat
When in enemies’ hands, the power of the idol vanished. The vanquished kings would come and beg for the return of the idols; to return an idol to his temple was considered an act of mercy. Because of his fear of the enemy, the god would leave the idol “and fly to the heavens” Jeremiah 50:1–3 makes reference to this belief). [Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0009_0_09475.html]

Our God rules over all and has no need of retreat, and no fear of man as He showed when He delivered His people from Pharaoh in Exodus, which David acknowledged when he said: “O LORD, there is no one like You. We have never even heard of another God like You! What other nation on earth is like Your people Israel? What other nation, O God, have You redeemed from slavery to be Your own people? You made a great name for Yourself when You redeemed Your people from Egypt. You performed awesome miracles and drove out the nations that stood in their way. You chose Israel to be Your very own people forever, and You, O LORD, became their God.” 1 Chronicles 17:20-22

Conclusion: “For who in all of heaven can compare with the LORD? What mightiest angel is anything like the LORD?” Psalm 89:6 How blessed we are.

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Notes:
*Flood stories were recorded well after the event, so pagan cultures associated what occurred with their cultural beliefs at the time.


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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).
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By Heart or By Sword? Dealing with Spiritual Enemies

8986723_sThe first time I would have come across David’s story, would have been as a child learning about David and Goliath. From then on, I always saw David as the perfect warrior: always ready to fight; and as necessary, he would kill. Then as I started this project and began to study him properly, I got quite a shock. David didn’t always kill. He knew when to act and when not to act and he based those decisions on Biblical laws and sought the Lord for guidance.

I am not the only one who considered that kind of attitude to be uncharacteristic for a warrior. His General and nephew, Joab, lived by the sword, which led to him being demoted by David and having his family cursed for killing outside of the battlefield. [Ref: 2 Samuel 3:1-30] “So may the Lord replay these evil men for their evil deeds.” [v 39b]

Several times, Joab wanted to assassinate a direct threat to David’s life and kingship. Each time, David said no, for righteous reasons, even though his refusal flew in the face of military common sense. (In saying that, the time his son Absalom attempted to overthrow his father may be the exception. What father could readily assassinate his child; especially considering the guilt he felt towards Absalom?)

During each of these threats, David looked to the Lord for protection. Then what happened? The General Joab, who could only see one way forward, that of the sword, killed when he shouldn’t have. Each time David was furious and bereaved. It illustrates the battle between faith and flesh, peace and violence. David wasn’t just a warrior; he was a man of worship and he appeared to hate losing any lives unnecessarily. [Ref: 2 Samuel 3:32-35 and 4:1-12]

David’s attitude when threatened, is outlined in his own words below from Psalm 11.
“I trust in the LORD for protection.
So why do you say to me,
“Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
The wicked are stringing their bows
and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
at those whose hearts are right.
The foundations of law and order have collapsed.
What can the righteous do?”
But the LORD is in his holy Temple;
the LORD still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
examining every person on earth.
The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked.
He hates those who love violence.
He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulphur on the wicked,
punishing them with scorching winds.
For the righteous LORD loves justice.
The virtuous will see his face.”

When I think about this aspect of David’s life, I stop and consider our modern attitude to spiritual warfare. There are those of us who believe that demons are behind every form of trouble in the world and who instantaneously pull out the Word to attack and defend themselves; then those who wait of the Lord to determine what course of action He wants them to take and then act in peace and obedience and find the Lord’s deliverance, rather than the stress of worrying about what malice lurks in every corner.

The Word of God, through David’ story, makes the action that we should take clear. We should not harm other people, we shouldn’t jump to battle without seeking the Lord and the basis of deliverance is always trust. There are times when the Lord may have us take a warfare approach to the enemy, but to advance towards enemy lines without stopping and seeking his Will first will always be a mistake.

Don’t become a Joab. Don’t be seen as uncontrollable and bring more trouble upon yourself and your family. Trust in the Lord for protection and you will be safe.


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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.

How to Control King-Sized Egos: The Examples of David and Moses

egosquashDespite his heroic feats, David is the opposite of a Hollywood action hero. He is more the anti-hero; the guy who doesn’t rely solely on his own power to be the victor, and walks away humble. If anything, the Lord was his stunt man, director, producer and all the credit went to Him.

David never made the mistake of many kings in that he didn’t turn arrogant or cocky for long. The simple truth is, God never allowed him to. Throughout his entire life, David went through life-threatening trial after trial after trial, and suffered in the face of poorly, if not completely undisguised opposition.

  • Saul wanting him dead out of jealousy, and because he realised David would be the next king. 1 Samuel 18:5-8
  • The guilt of the death of the priests of Nob being on his head, as he’d gone to them when on the run from Saul, then lied. 1 Samuel 22
  • Illness which hit him mid-life bought humiliation. 2 Samuel 21:15 (Probably diabetes.)
  • The challenge of others, such as his son, Absalom, sabotaging his authority and wanting his throne. 2 Samuel 15-18 and Psalms such as Psalm 38:12-15
  • Problems with Isra’el being weary of war and wanting a better deal economically. Psalm 4:6
  • Guilt over his sin with Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah and resulting death of his baby son. 2 Samuel 12
  • Conflicts between his tribe, Judah, and the other northern tribes, who felt he’d favoured Judah, and thus attempted to overthrow him. 2 Samuel 20
  • Gut wrenching mistakes such as the Census, which cost many lives. 2 Samuel 24

That is enough to crush many people and it is guaranteed to produce deep humility. You can win many battles and take many wives to prove your status, but when your life is under threat and you’re dependent on God for deliverance, it’s really hard to get a big head. David never dug himself out of danger. He relied on God, not his ability as a warrior, then he gave the full glory to God.

“I will praise You, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvellous things You have done.
I will be filled with joy because of You.
I will sing praises to Your Name, O Most High.
My enemies retreated;
they staggered and died when You appeared.” Psalm 9:1-3

David’s humility is also seen in repeated requests to have God judge him, in order that he would stay on the right path.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14

Another point to consider is that kings are used to people obeying them. It is easy to become accustomed to bowing and obedience and make the mistake of treating God in the same way: “I ask for help, You give it when I want it.” It is possible that some of the “how long” times which David experienced, were God letting David know that He would not be at the beck and call of a king. God is sovereign and above the reign of mankind. Making David wait would reinforce the correct order and again, keep a royal ego under control.

Moses has a similar story. Despite the status he was given in order to lead Isra’el out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, he was very well grounded. Numbers 12:3 tells us: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Twice, God offered to wipe out Isra’el’s rebellious tribes, and give the covenant promise to Moses and his descendants. Twice Moses refused, to honour God’s reputation before the whole earth, and to save the nation he loved. [Ref. Exodus 32:9-10 and Numbers 14:11-12]

submissive-faithIn contrast to movies such as The Prince of Egypt, which portray his story, Moses life in Pharaoh’s court appears to me, not to have been easy. He knew he was a Hebrew and was so angered by the treatment of his people, he killed an Egyptian that was mistreating a Hebrew slave and had to flee. Pharaoh didn’t save his precious boy, Moses. He had nowhere to run for preferential treatment.

It is debatable as to whether Moses ever fit into the royal household, or whether he always felt like an outsider. Unless his speech impediment had a physical cause, that kind of insecurity and turmoil could have caused his stuttering; (which oddly, is never mentioned after the Israelites leave Egypt.) He was hesitant to approach Pharaoh to ask for the release of the Hebrew slaves, which also indicates that he knew he would not be treated like a long-lost adopted son. Tough lives develop character and few had it as abundantly as Moses did. Thank God both Moses and David did stay humble. Many millennia later, we are still benefitting from their achievements and example.

So next time life gets you down and appears to be falling apart, take heart. Maybe God is allowing your pain to keep you humble and gentle as well. Neither David or Moses were likely candidates to become the leader of a nation. You never know where the Lord will take you.

“My heart is confident in You, O God;
no wonder I can sing Your praises with all my heart!” Psalm 108:1


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.

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]


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 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.

What Was King David Like?

canstockphoto14506465In a world of social media, we get to know high profile people in considerable detail. I am sure you can Google your favourite actor’s favourite colour, place of residence, what jokes they liked, find a few family photos and things of that nature, at the very least. Even though this information is often distorted by the media, it does give you an idea of what their personality is like. Interviews build on that information, and the degree to which you can relate to that person is significantly increased.

Just reading David’s story, or hearing about him in books and sermons, can make him feel less like a person and more like a legend; a larger than life character who is very difficult to understand and grasp. The passage of time is not obvious when you read through the books named after Samuel. You don’t get the sense of someone who is like any of us: growing, developing and changing as he ages and life events have an impact on him.

However, using common sense, relying on your own experience of the world and pulling together Biblical clues, we can get a sense of what David was like.

1 Samuel has some clues: “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skilful musician, a mighty man of valour, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.” [1 Samuel 16:18]

David was also very popular. In later events in his life, you can see where he would have had to employ the skills of a consummate diplomat, and he did that successfully. He was not stuffy or aloof at any stage, in the manner which we see modern royalty act and he found favour with the people from an early age. “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” [1 Samuel 18:5] All throughout his story we see his willingness to listen to others without any air of superiority or excessive formality. [2 Samuel  15:19-23 and 18:1-4]

He goes on to lead strong bands of men from an early age, which cannot be accomplished by anyone who is not a strong, fair leader with the ability to motivate, encourage and lead well. You don’t push warriors around. in 1 Samuel 27 he stops his men from killing Saul, their enemy. He had to be respected, able to think fast and a more than competent negotiator, to stop warriors who were living in hiding from killing their main enemy.

Had he been too heavy handed and self-centred, David’s followers would have abandoned him. Instead they followed him into enemy territory and took huge risks to serve him. In 1 Samuel 23, he liberates Keilah from the Philistines as they needed help, even though that should have been Saul’s job.

David’s heart was often bound to people. When Saul began to hunt him down, David got his parents to safety in a neighbouring country. He wasn’t simply worried about his own skin. [1 Samuel 22:3-4] The story of his friendship with Jonathan, Saul’s heir is famous and he is faithful to the vow he makes to Jonathan in how he treats Mephibosheth. [2 Samuel 9]

Does he sound like someone you’d like to get to know? From reading 1 and 2 Samuel, other traits you will pick up include fairness, humility, generosity, empathy, kindness and justice. Only with BathSheba and the Census did he ever misuse his position of power. “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]

Please understand that while I am listing his positive character traits here, like us all, he has his sinful side which included a nasty temper, which went hand in hand with his passionate nature. David was guilty of lust, murder, being an ineffective parent with his earlier children, plus pride and disobedience (read about the Census disaster in 2 Samuel 24 and cross reference that to Deuteronomy 8:6-20 to see where he went wrong.) However, his redeeming trait was a willingness to be corrected and his grief over his sin. His heart was one hundred percent devoted to God, and that is what allowed him to achieve as much as he did.

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The David in the Psalms

4006076_sIn researching David’s life, I found the Psalms were commonly referred to as being almost bipolar in nature. There are huge swings between the joys and griefs of his life and this has led some commentators to question David’s mental health. Was the King bipolar?

Most probably not. I have qualifications in the mental health field and I also teach memoir writing and creativity. I spend a lot of time with writers and creative people and David fits in with the crowd as being normal.

Before the advent of social media where the crazy, small detail of every day life was shared, most of what you heard from writers, (whether they were song writers, poets or memoirists,) was pretty typical of what David produced: they wrote about the highs and lows of life. Many of us still do. Why? Because the every day mundane is totally boring, not worth noting and you know what? We’re busy. So was David.

David spent forty years on the thrones of Judah and Isra’el. He was head of a large family, King over a growing, massive geographical area (think about the transport and communication problems), was devoted to his faith (the practices within Judaism are time consuming) and in addition, he was also cramming in everything else that the average person does in that day. There would not have been much time to write, let alone, cover every detail of every facet of his life.

I am blessed that he managed to get the most important Psalms recorded. David’s experience with the Lord in many ways reflects mine and I feel less alone with David’s work around to comfort and encourage me. That is why I am so fond of him.

Other aspects of the Psalms which I found fascinating, were that he wrote some as acrostics. These are Psalms where each new stanza starts with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. As a writer I can tell you first hand, that is a lot of work! These are Psalms 9 10, 25, 34, 37 and 119. David comes across as a highly intelligent man with an interest in nature and history. That also comes through in his work.

I have also noticed that as David aged, his writing style changed. “Adonai is my shepherd,” gives way to Psalms with historical content and the songs of ascent, which were written for pilgrims to sing, as they visited the planned temple which Solomon would build in Jerusalem. My work has changed over the years too, so again, I can relate to David.

The Psalms also act as a personal diary of David’s life. As he poured his heart out to his God, we can see how he felt. Many times when I have struggled bewteen the image of a powerful king and a devoted servant of the Lord, the Holy Spirit has prompted me to go back and read the Psalms as they are where David’s heart is truly shown. I see some boasting among his humility and honesty; I see great faith, I see struggles and I see raw grief. In that beautiful gift he has left us, I see a vibrant, motivated, intelligent man of integrity (though it definitely wavers at times as he goes off track); I really like him.

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David the Ruler

IMG_0585Archaeologists have found tablets in the area where Moab was, which pretty much describe King David as a hated enemy. Even some Biblical scholars consider him to be a megalomaniac who slew nations, took territory and stopped at nothing to make Isra’el a powerful force to be reckoned with. Yes, he did those things, but in many instances those actions were in obedience to the instructions left by Moses in Deuteronomy 7. Also if you look at the diagnostic criteria for megalomania, and compare David to known leaders with that problem, David’s actions and behaviour doesn’t even begin to comply with them.

Enemy nations were a threat to God’s chosen people, Isra’el for two reasons:
1. There was always a danger of being taken as slaves again.
2. The influence of surrounding pagan nations, easily pulled Isra’el away from the one true God and who worshipped their gods using ritual prostitution, child sacrifice, self-mutilation and other atrocities. That influence had to be stopped for everyone’s safety. Religious tolerance would be grossly inappropriate.

So David dealt with them to stop the danger to the nation of Isra’el.

In this day and age, it is only acceptable, under the United Nations, to go to war if the country you are fighting has already assaulted you. King David’s behaviour now would be considered excessively aggressive, intolerant and reprehensible. He wouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. However, remember this was three thousand years ago. He was under the Law, not grace won by his great grandson, Jesus Christ. It was a totally different world, which I would hate to step back into. It would be alien to me and very hard to cope with.

While by our standards he could be considered a tyrant, by the Biblical standards of the time he did the right thing. He made the nation of Isra’el safe from foreign rule and foreign gods and he fulfilled his obligations as a king, to the letter. “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteousness for all his people.” [2 Samuel 8:15]

From Acts 13: “He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ “ 1 Kings 11:34 “‘But I will not take the entire kingdom from Solomon at this time. For the sake of my servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees…” That is the final word of the Lord of all. Biblically, David’s name is cleared of wrong doing.

In terms of mental health, if you compare King David to known megalomaniacs such as Joseph Stalin, Colonel Muammar Gadalfi, Idi Amin Dada and Adolf Hitler, his behaviour is actually a stark contrast to them. The accounts of David in the Bible show a humble man, with compassion for people, a solid adherence to Biblical laws, fair actions and a healthy respect for human life and suffering. These are not the actions of a megalomaniac.

Technically, megalomania is Narcissistic Personality Disorder and is characterised by extreme excesses in the areas of violence, controlling behaviours, flouting wealth, extolling accomplishments to an irrational level and being an unstoppable negative force in every way possible.

David made the kingdom of Isra’el safe, then the wars stopped. He did not try to conquer Assyria, Philistia or Egypt. He did not bestow multiple titles upon himself, indulge in building monuments to himself, he only had one palace, neither did he torture his fellow citizens, or threaten them into compliant behaviour in any way. David even hated bribes,

David does not display the traits known to be associated with megalomania. When he was in trouble, he didn’t quell the problem with violence, anger or humiliation, he sought the Lord for deliverance.

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Psychological Resources of Megalomania / Narcissistic Personality Disorder
– DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria for the Personality Disorders http://www.psi.uba.ar/academica/carrerasdegrado/psicologia/sitios_catedras/practicas_profesionales/820_clinica_tr_personalidad_psicosis/material/dsm.pdf
– Narcissistic Personality Disorder In-Depth | Psych Central http://psychcentral.com/lib/narcissistic-personality-disorder-in-depth//
– Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms | Psych Central http://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder-symptoms/
– Mental Health.com Narcissistic Personality Disorder http://www.mentalhealth.com/home/dx/narcissisticpersonality.html


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.

When the Prayer of Jabez Hasn’t Worked for You

2016-01-14_13-59-30_01When I get to Heaven, I want to meet Jabez and see what he is like, because he sounds like an exceptionally special man, with a beautiful character.

“There was a man named Jabez who was more honourable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that You would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Years ago, friends came to me and said, “you HAVE to read this book! This prayer of Jabez will change your life.” I had stopped reading Christian books earlier, as I found I was depending on them more than on the Word of God, but I did look up the prayer and thought, “wow. I can see why this book is popular.” To be kept from all trouble and pain, know God and be blessed materially, who wouldn’t want that? Then I noticed that a lot of posters and gift items with the prayer of Jabez were appearing in our local Christian book shop. I had to decide, was this prayer a fad, or a really good idea?

For Jabez, this prayer is the best idea he ever had and his prayer inspires me. However, I never prayed the prayer, as it’s not my prayer. It demonstrates a way of praying that could be beneficial… however, and this is where it all falls apart in our lives, as I don’t have the character of Jabez, God could not produce the same results in my life without me becoming a spoiled brat. I know I would lose touch much of my motivation to seek the Lord, because I was so blessed, I didn’t need Him as much. Plus how many critical lessons do we learn from pain, like it or not? An easy life didn’t sound wise to me.

God is a pro-level Father. He would never, ever, give a gift to any of His children that would harm them, or pull them away from Him to any degree. Neither will He do anything that stops us from making our own decisions and often, subsequent mistakes. I am a master of the art of getting myself into trouble and because of free will, there is a limit to what God can halt in my life. Even if God was answering my prayer in the same way He blessed Jabez, my own life choice bloopers could effectively erode away what God was trying to give me.

So what can we learn from Jabez? To be honourable. What does that mean? According to several dictionaries, it means to have high standards, be deserving, be consistently righteous so that you are worthy of praise and it won’t go to your head. It means being a person who is fair, courteous, respectful, lawful, unselfish, actively resisting corruption and sin, and to have integrity. Honour is built on submission to God, obeying the Word of God and showing the fruit of the Spirit to everyone, regardless of whether they are deserving or not. It’s a hard thing to achieve.

So be comforted. The Lord has heard your prayers and done what is best for you. He will be working in the background to bring about His perfect, loving will for your life and if you submit to Him, you’ll thrive. What comes may not look like what Jabez had, but it doesn’t have to. It will be specially, carefully, tailor made FOR YOU by the Father who knows you so well. That is a greater act of love than simply making your life easy.

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For more encouragement, have a look at these articles on the life of King David:

“How Long?” When Answers to Prayer Don’t Seem to Arrive
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33409

When You Can’t Be An Overcomer: Coping With Spiritual Failures
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33052

The Habits That Built King David’s Faith
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33033

The Power of Praying the Psalms
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32076

“But I Will Trust in You…” King David and the Art of Bouncing Back
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32732

Yesterday’s Hero: Ancient Politics or, How to Keep a King Humble (on suffering)
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33449

For all articles, please visit From Despair to Deliverance, the King David Project: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject


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.