Was King David a Megalomaniac or a Psychopathic Killer?

kdbArchaeologists 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 resemble the condition.

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, who pulled Isra’el away from the one true God and 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.

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, which is fair. However, this was three thousand years ago. He was under the Law, not the grace which was later 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.

Today, he would be considered a tyrant, but 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.

covenantIn 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 traits 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 build an extensive empire by conquering other nations such as Assyria, Babylon, the Philistines, or Egypt, which only a megalomaniac would seek to do.  He did not bestow multiple titles upon himself, indulge in building monuments to himself, he only had one palace, neither did he torture, arrest, curse or demean his fellow citizens, even when they directly rebelled against him. No one was threatened into silence or compliant behaviour and David even hated bribes. When he was in trouble, he sought the Lord for deliverance. [Ref: Shimei 2 Samuel 16:5-13]

If you would like to read more to further understand David’s actions as a ruler and the intricacies of power in the ancient world, you are welcome to read the articles below. Watch this video on dictators who were megalomaniacs to make an easy comparison between their behaviour and David’s.
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– How Gentle Kings Become Killers
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32773
– Does Absolute Power Absolutely Corrupt?
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32731
– Law and Disorder in the Life of King David
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32070

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


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Dancing with King David: A Reminder of How Much God Treasures Us

David Dancing before the Ark, painting by James Tissot New York City, Jewish Museum, circa 19th century

David Dancing before the Ark, painting by James Tissot New York City, Jewish Museum, circa 19th century

One of the most common reactions I’ve had to King David’s life has been, “should he have done that?” There are areas of diplomatic strategy that have made me wonder about his motivation, and there are other areas, such as when he wore a priest’s garment to serve the Lord, where I wondered if he had stepped way over the line. Was wearing an ephod an arrogant act by the man in power? Or did he have a God-given right to do that? What surprised me when I researched this topic, was how much it speaks of how much God loves us. David’s dance became a reminder of what a beautiful, high status we all have in the Lord’s eyes.

In our times, for a political leader to publicly put on an priest’s outfit is unthinkable. Priests are called by God and especially trained for ministry. It would be offensive, but David did it.”Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” 2 Samuel 6:12-15

Jewish society has always had a definite order which was well established and adhered to. Originally, the firstborn sons of the Hebrew families were to have been the priests set aside to serve God in the Tabernacle and lead His people. However, when the children of Isra’el built and worshipped the golden calf, (while Moses was being given the ten commandments), only the tribe of Levi did not betray God by joining in. Because of this, the Lord had Moses sanctify them as priests and “Thus shall you set apart the Levites from the midst of the children of Israel, and the Levites shall become Mine… For they are wholly given over to Me from among the children of Israel; instead of those that open the womb all the firstborn of Israel I have taken them for Myself.” [Ref. Numbers 8:14 and 16]

Within King David’s dynasty, he took an active interest in ensuring the spiritual needs of the nation were set in place. David established established rosters for the Levites in 1 Chronicles chapters 23-25, prepared for the building of the temple and made God a top priority for everyone. He didn’t leave all the religion stuff to the priests, as Saul and his successor did. As a Hebrew King, David acted as the spiritual head for the nation; and as we see with later Kings, his influence could lead his people away from, or towards the Lord. What confirms David’s status further, is that the prophet Samuel anointed David with the same oil that was used on the High Priest. [Refs. 1 Samuel 16:13 and Exodus 30:31]

According to Rabbi Leibel Schapiro, within Jewish tradition, the king had to bow down before the Lord (in the tabernacle, and later, the temple) for much longer than anyone else, not only to keep his ego in check, but also to wait on the Lord for instructions on how to lead God’s people. The Rabbi also believes that the kings were vehicles by which God’s kingship could be manifest in the lives of the nation. Thus, David could guide the path of the Levites and wear an ephod to serve the Lord when he chose to. His actions were right.

The good news is, that is not the end of it. David had the right to wear an ephod, not just because he was the king and had special privileges, but simply because he was one of God’s chosen people. Regardless of the date on the calendar, we have the same right. Whether Jewish or Christian, we are all called to minister to and worship the Lord, and this was God’s decision which He initiated very early in Jewish history.

Exodus 19:1-6: “On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

This status hasn’t become outdated since Jesus atoned for our sins. In 1 Peter, chapter 2, Peter says this “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

Reading about David wearing that ephod reminds me that I am special to God. I am not trained or ordained, I cannot lead a congregation, but there is nothing to stop me from worship and directly accessing my Father’s love and Will for me. He has never wanted there to be divisions which result in some followers having more, or less access and privilege. God’s heart is one of equal generosity to all.

Psalm26v3When you look into the commands that the Lord gave to Moses, concerning Isra’el, they are incredibly generous, and exalted God’s people to a status which was the complete opposite to that which they had, had as slaves. In Numbers 15:38, the Isra’elites were told to add tassels to their garments which were died a specific blue, which is called tekhelet; an incredibly expensive product which was so costly, it was only worn by royalty and the highest ranking noblemen. It comes from a sea creature called the chillazon, and it takes many of these creatures to produce enough dye to make one thread blue.

This command of the Lord reinforced the value that God’s people had in His eyes. They were to be a royal priesthood, that served and thrived under Him. Instead of living the arduous, miserable life of a slave, they were valued, provided for and adored and the exact same thing applies to us.

David’s story may be about a king, but it is one which constantly teaches me where I stand with the Lord, boosts my faith and brings me closer to God. That is why I have spent so much time studying his life and I encourage you to do the same.


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Obedience That Hurts ~ #Christianliving

IMG_2172I love the promise of Psalm 37:3-4
“Trust in the LORD and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the LORD,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.”

This is a beautiful verse which I have read and heard mentioned many, many times. It’s good news for any of us who have dreams, and are hoping for the will of God to prevail, so that we may achieve that thing which we want so dearly.

David had one great dream which he poured everything he had into: he wanted to build a temple to house the Presence of God and the Ark of the Covenant. 1 Chronicles 22:5 tells us that David said, “…the Temple to be built for the LORD must be a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world, I will begin making preparations for it now.” So David collected vast amounts of building materials before his death.”

He also sorted out the rosters and duties of the priests and temple musicians and in 1 Chronicles 29:3-5, David gives his personal wealth to his dream. “And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the LORD today?”

If you want something in life, you need to be prepared to give. You must sacrifice, stay true to your vision and invest your time and energy in hard work, regardless of what obstacles you face. Success is achieved by effort, faithful devotion to the Lord and consistently pressing forward. In the end, it’s worth it.

But what if you never get to see your dream fulfilled? What if you are not allowed to see your dream fulfilled and have to pass it onto someone else? This is what happened to David.

In 2 Samuel 7, God accepts David’s desire to build Him a house and establishes a covenant with David which will lead to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, who comes from David’s line. That is a massive promise, which overwhelmed David. He would not have understood the full implications, but he certainly understood how much God was honouring him. But despite how much he pleased the Lord, and no matter how great his desire was to have Yahweh worshipped in a manner befitting to his God, this happened: “But the LORD said to me, ‘You have killed many men in the battles you have fought. And since you have shed so much blood in My sight, you will not be the one to build a Temple to honor My Name.” 2 Chronicles 22:8 It must have crushed David.

The amount of time it took David to plan, design and put all the materials aside for the temple was extensive, and demonstrates his absolute dedication to his dream. He worked on the temple down the the last detail, as shown in 1 Chronicles 28:11-19.

“Then David gave Solomon the plans for the Temple and its surroundings, including the entry room, the storerooms, the upstairs rooms, the inner rooms, and the inner sanctuary—which was the place of atonement. David also gave Solomon all the plans he had in mind for the courtyards of the LORD’s Temple, the outside rooms, the treasuries, and the rooms for the gifts dedicated to the LORD. The king also gave Solomon the instructions concerning the work of the various divisions of priests and Levites in the Temple of the LORD. And he gave specifications for the items in the Temple that were to be used for worship.

David gave instructions regarding how much gold and silver should be used to make the items needed for service. He told Solomon the amount of gold needed for the gold lampstands and lamps, and the amount of silver for the silver lampstands and lamps, depending on how each would be used. He designated the amount of gold for the table on which the Bread of the Presence would be placed and the amount of silver for other tables.

David also designated the amount of gold for the solid gold meat hooks used to handle the sacrificial meat and for the basins, pitchers, and dishes, as well as the amount of silver for every dish. He designated the amount of refined gold for the altar of incense. Finally, he gave him a plan for the LORD’s “chariot”—the gold cherubim whose wings were stretched out over the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant. “Every part of this plan,” David told Solomon, “was given to me in writing from the hand of the LORD.”

Trésor_de_CésaréeThis is one of the events in David’s life which makes me stop and wonder how I would handle being in the same position. I would have a terrible time with it. I like to have a vision, but I like to see results. To be able to make preparations to that extent and not be able to even lay the foundation, would test my dedication to that vision to the maximum extent. David had bought the land at least a decade before he died. His offer to build the temple came a long time before that. It’s not as if this was an idea he had late in life, when he was rich enough to throw it all together and didn’t have to live with the restriction for long. This was a long-term disappointment, and perhaps a long term frustration.

When Nathan gives David God’s response to his desire to build a temple in 2 Samuel 7, there is no mention of David being told he couldn’t be the builder at that time. He must have found out afterwards, perhaps as he searched for land? Perhaps as he sought the Lord for guidance on what He desired? After rejoicing over God’s acceptance of his gift and the making of the Davidic covenant, “no, not you,” must have been a painful shock. We don’t know when this happened or how, but it certainly shows David’s great love for the Lord that he continued on. When the temple was built he wouldn’t be there to enjoy it, neither would he be there to gain any glory from it. (Though he was honoured by both God and man at that time. See 2 Chronicles chapters 5 to 7.)

What astounds me is that David obeyed, no matter how much it hurt. That is incredibly hard to do, especially for a King who is accustomed and entitled to be obeyed. He could have taken the egotistical route and done what he wanted, anyway; but David knew how to be humble. He accepted that no was no, and he stuck by the rules. That is not typical behaviour for many of us, let alone for a monarch.

This part of David’s life is a lesson in how to deal with disappointment and how to stay faithful, no matter what. However, the aspect which stands out clearer to me than anything else, is how much David communicated with the Lord to put all the plans for the temple together. He would have spent many hours in prayer and waiting on God for guidance and that time would have been incredibly precious. That is the real lesson in this example of David’s life: if you want to serve and honour God: invest everything you’ve got in the time you spend with Him.

 


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Jonathan: Valiant Role Model of Faith

David_and_JonathanIf you’ve heard a sermon on friendship, then undoubtably you’ve either learned about Ruth and Naomi, or David and Jonathan. Jonathan is a beautiful example of a true friend who doesn’t allow age difference, social status, wealth, tribal ties or a high risk of violent parental disapproval, hold him back from loving and supporting David without reserve.
It is easy to treat Jonathan as a satellite of David, but he is an valiant man and amazing spiritual role model in his own right. He is smarter than his father, King Saul, and is a self-determining man of action, who gets tough jobs done using his own initiative. I have a special place in my heart for Jonathan, because of his bravery and his outstanding faith.

1. A Lifestyle of Faith
Jonathan was not only a highly accomplished warrior, but also a man of strong faith and courage from before David’s time. He may very well have been one of David’s strongest role models. He obviously knew the Word of God (Torah) and his belief in God was far greater than anything that his father, Saul, possessed or was willing to develop.

“To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs… “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armour bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether He has many warriors or only a few!” 1 Samuel 14:4-6

Jonathan doesn’t have a quiet, personal faith either. He not only demonstrates his belief, but he uses it to build David up. He fully intends to serve the Lord alongside David, and his faith in God’s provision in David’s life never wavers.

In 1 Samuel 23:16-18 David is desperately seeking sanctuary from Saul’s zealous plans to have him dead: “One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the LORD. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.”

This is the kind of support we need to give to each other. In times of pain, fear and stress, it’s an invaluable gift and David must have been comforted by those words of assurance in the hard years to come. It is little wonder he grieved so heavily when Jonathan died. Close friends who lift you up are more valuable than all of a king’s wealth. Having a backbone of support from someone within the royal family, who was convinced of David’s future and fully supportive of it, (despite the sacrifice he’d personally have to make), must have played a strong part of David becoming the man of God he became. Jonathan would have given me great courage.

2. An Attitude of Submission and Obedience to God
As Crown Prince (heir to King Saul’s throne), Jonathan’s selflessness is particularly outstanding. He recognises that David is God’s choice for the King of Isra’el, and he is bravely willing to give David that place without hesitation, regardless of the rift it created between him and his father, Saul. His disobedience was no small thing. Saul had tried to kill Jonathan in the past for disobeying an oath he knew nothing about, so you can image how the following act of rebellion went over. [Ref. 1 Samuel 14]

“Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. “You stupid son of a *perverse and rebellious woman!” he swore at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!” 1 Samuel 20:30-31 Jonathan stuck up for his friend and God’s choice of King, no matter what.

It’s remarkable to me, that Jonathan made a clear decision about the quality of David’s character so early. He was a man who looked at life through discerning eyes of faith and ran on God’s priorities. There is no equivalent in history to match Jonathan’s willing submission to the Lord’s choice of king, especially as princes have a well-earned reputation for wealth and power seeking, spoiled behaviour. I studied historical abdications and no other royal has ever matched Jonathan’s determined heart. Kings stepped down because of illness, revolts against their reign, or because they were forced out. Nowhere was I able to find a reference to a king giving up his throne to someone who was not their son. Jonathan knew there was something special about David, from the moment he saw Goliath defeated.

“After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.” 1 Samuel 18:1-4 (Exchange of clothing was a part of sealing a pact, please don’t read anything else into it.)

We see little of it described, but Jonathan’s relationship with the Lord was one of depth, which enabled him to be the kind of friend that each of us needs in our corner. It is only by knowing the ways of God and communing with Him, that any of us achieve this kind of character. Jonathan’s actions are something that only the presence of the Lord in someone’s heart can achieve.

3. A Friend Who Inspires You to be the Best Version of Yourself
In a time when male friendship seems to be too often characterised by drinking together, pranks, competition, reckless behaviour and dirty jokes, the manner in which David and Jonathan interact is quite a contrast, and speaks volumes about the Godly character of both men.

“Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David. At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.” 1 Samuel 20:41-42

True friends inspire us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, and Jonathan had that affect on David. For someone you love and respect, you will go the extra mile to ensure you’ve done the right thing by them. David did this to fulfil his promise to Jonathan which was made in 1 Samuel 20:13b when Saul was trying to kill David.

“Jonathan said, “May the LORD be with you as He used to be with my father. And may you treat me with the faithful love of the LORD as long as I live. But if I die, treat my family with this faithful love, even when the LORD destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, saying, “May the LORD destroy all your enemies!” And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.” It hasn’t escaped me that Jonathan’s words included his father, Saul. Again, I wonder what Saul put Jonathan through as a father, and what, if any, respect and faith Jonathan had left in him.

2 Samuel 9:1-11 speaks of the fulfilment of that vow. “One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake? … His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.” Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.” “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!” … And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons.”

Even in 2 Samuel 19:24-30 when I am not entirely sure of Mephibosheth’s true loyalty to David, (David had to flee Jerusalem to save it from Absalom), David does not let the pact down. “Now Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, came down from Jerusalem to meet the king. He had not cared for his feet, trimmed his beard, or washed his clothes since the day the king left Jerusalem. “Why didn’t you come with me, Mephibosheth?” the king asked him. Mephibosheth replied, “My lord the king, my servant Ziba deceived me. I told him, ‘Saddle my donkey so I can go with the king.’ For as you know I am crippled. Ziba has slandered me by saying that I refused to come. But I know that my lord the king is like an angel of God, so do what you think is best. All my relatives and I could expect only death from you, my lord, but instead you have honoured me by allowing me to eat at your own table! What more can I ask?” “You’ve said enough,” David replied. “I’ve decided that you and Ziba will divide your land equally between you.” “Give him all of it,” Mephibosheth said. “I am content just to have you safely back again, my lord the king!”

4. A Note on the Depth of the Friendship
“Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead on the hills.
How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan!
Oh, how much I loved you!
And your love for me was deep,
deeper than the love of women!”

A question I see debated is whether or not David was bisexual or homosexual. Despite many opinions to the contrary, I am going to say, no. Why? Because of his cultural manner of communication and because both men are of outstanding God-fearing character. Thirdly, homosexual acts (not people) are openly stated as being an abomination in the Bible. God could not have allowed someone undertaking those acts to lead a nation, as the spiritual head of the nation, which the Jewish kings were. In addition, every one of David’s sins came with a penalty which involved life being lost. He did not get to build the temple, due to his earlier violent behaviour in life (no lives were lost here, this is the only exception). He was confronted and punished for his sin with BathSheba and their son died and he was confronted and punished for the census he never should have ordered and thousands of people died as a result. King-sized sins had king-sized repercussions which were harsh.

Homosexual acts incurred the death sentence, which he narrowly escaped because of BathSheba. Had David had an affair with Jonathan, he would have been severely dealt with, if not, dethroned and killed. The Davidic Covenant which led to the Messiah coming from his line could not have been established from David, under such circumstances. This is spiritual common sense. A covenant is a serious matter, especially one of such magnitude and the Lord would not have been able to slacken his discipline of David and compromise the law.

What I see here is David being too honest for our western ears. It is well worth noting the figurative and poetic language that David used in the Psalms was traditional to his culture and when reading verses such as these, Western society easily misinterprets the meaning based on our current norms. This part of the Song of the Bow sounds as though David is describing his relationship with Jonathan in a way which  indicates sexual intimacy. This is a cultural misunderstanding.

In **Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred H. Wight, Fred points out that “The Oriental frequently makes statements that to the Westerner sound like uncalled-for exaggeration…. (we) must remember the fondness of the Oriental for the hyperbole.” and “The Oriental considers it to be perfectly proper to talk about anything that is natural in the presence of men, women, and children. And this is done in refined circles. A respectable woman (or man) from the Holy Land cannot understand why some critics of the Bible have condemned the Scriptural mention of certain matters deemed wrong for Westerners to talk about.”  *** I have written before about how David never held back from expressing his emotions, which is in line with his culture. In his time, a friendship between men could be expressed with as much affection without raising eyebrows.

The Bible always calls out homosexual acts as wrong. Had David been in a physical relationship with Jonathan, by the precedents already set in David’s story, he would have been called out for it by a prophet and punished. God never let David’s most severe sins go unpunished.

As for the wording, “…your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women.” Like any husband, David would have felt let down and harassed at times, by the complications of his relationships with his wives; and like many men, he would have felt a strong bond with other men who tend to be less demanding and complicated. How many men do you know who go to a friend’s place to watch sport when the heat is on with the Mrs? Men, especially on the battlefield, bond very deeply. They rely on each other for survival and that can build connections which are equally as strong as those of husband and wife, if not more so. If you doubt this, research why veterans miss war and watch this video by Sebastian Junger on TED Talks. It is exceptionally helpful. https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_junger_why_veterans_miss_war?language=en Romans 5:7 says “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” In combat, men shield their comrades in this way. Don’t underestimate that bond’s power.

David was very normal for the type of life he lived. Close friends are more valuable than all of a king’s wealth and Jonathan was one of them.

To learn more about the consequences of David’s sexual sins and his time on the battlefield, please read this article: Was David Bisexual? It will also explain this issue further. http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32246

 

REFERENCES:

*This text is taken from the New Living Translation, but this wording is from the Hebrew translation of this passage.
**Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred H. Wight, Copyright 1953 Read it here: http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=qDQAYzDf0WM%3D
*** When You Just Lose It – Masculinity and Keeping it Real
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33034

FURTHER READING
– The Trouble With Saul: Mental Illness or Tormented by Fear?
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32943
– This is What Emotional Exhaustion Looks Like: Running Away from Problems and the Consequences http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32875
– How Gentle Kings Become Killers: David as a Warrior and Psalmist
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32773
– Does Absolute Power Corrupt Absolutely?
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32731


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.

Biblical Celebrity: the Hazard of Fame Based Thinking

celebrityA year ago, if you had asked me what I will say to King David when I meet him face to face, I would have had trouble finding an answer. I expected to be really nervous! It’s because he’s so famous. He’s a King and he’s… well, he’s David. I also have no idea what I am going to say to Jonathan, or Moses, or Esther, or Paul… and I kind of want to hide from the prophets, because I feel so inadequate beside them. Can you relate to that?

My instinctive reaction prods me into assessing about how much the worldly values of celebrity culture have crept into how I perceive Biblical heroes. The sad answer is, the secular image of fame has influenced my thinking far too much. Celebrity fills a spiritual void in the secular world. It gives lost people aspirational role models, regardless of whether they are saints or sinners. Who doesn’t want to be comfortably wealthy, good looking, healthy, happily married and successful? In moderation, I could take it.

For that matter, as Christians, who doesn’t want to be like David? Don’t we want to slay giants, rule nations and live a spiritually successful life? Of course we do! I own kosher salt with David’s name on it, and many secular and Christian movies and books have been written, using David as a symbol of success. God did promise David fame, but it has gotten way out of hand. [Ref. 2 Samuel 7:9] As with secular celebrities, we get caught up in all the glamour, excitement and intrigue of David’s life, and we can easily, unconsciously make the fleshly mistake of treating him like a famous person, not like the servant of the Lord that he is.

Fame has nasty connotations. We all know who Oprah Winfrey is, but as much as we may relate to her and want to be like her, we know that we cannot be her. That is the unconscious lesson we apply when we look at any celebrity. “If only we could… but we can’t.” David is of such a calibre that we look at him in awe. We see him as an impossible person to equal, let alone beat. This can stop us from trying to follow his lead in spiritual areas and that should never happen. David should motivate us to imitate him through prayer, praise, studying the Word, submission to God, obedience, fasting and adoring the Lord. That is the pivotal core of every area of David’s success; he didn’t win because he was brave and strong, it was because he daily practiced those things, thus the Lord was able to use him.

Please stop there and read those last seven words again: “the Lord was able to use him.” There is the real problem that Biblical celebrity causes: when we look at David and all he achieved, we stop looking at the simplest of facts: that GOD did it THROUGH David. As David submitted to God he became God’s channel and all the success he had, really was God’s… and David readily, publicly, often admitted that. (See The Anti-King: David and Humility link below.) But our culture teaches us to look at the man and not the boring, routine factors that shaped him, so we lose this humble perspective.

Ephesians 1:19-21 proves we can be like David: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead…” God’s power worked through David as it worked through Jesus and Paul and now, all of us. Think of how much more we could grow if we caught hold of that truth and stopped looking at the people in our Bible as elite celebrities that we cannot be like. We must focus on how they allowed God to work through them, as we CAN copy that successfully. If we imitate David’s spiritual habits, God can carry out His perfect Will through us, which is our ultimate goal. We need a God fixation, not a hero-seeking one. (Please also read The Habits That Built King David’s Faith, the link is below.)

David was a humble man. He would never want to be seen as a celebrity, as he delighted in placing his focus on the Lord. For our thinking to be swept away by the glory and glamour of kingship and success, is to to negate every precept that the Psalms teach us. David’s words through the Psalms always push us in the direction of the Lord as the answer, we need to go in that direction and stop being distracted by wanting to be a giant slayer, or a king ourselves. It makes me sad when I hear Christians say how much they want to rule and reign with Christ, over and above them telling me how much they love to pray or hear God’s voice. We’re aching for fame and big, visible success: the things that are most likely destroy us; and in wanting them, we ignore building our character and making ourselves usable by the Lord.

We need a reality check that pulls these worldly standards out of our heads! You have heard it before, Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (New Living Translation)

Anything the Lord does in your life won’t look like it did in David’s and it shouldn’t. God’s love for you is so great, He will give you what is going to fit, bless and build you and the people around you. You don’t need to battle Philistines, when you can conquer your own fears and hurts. You don’t need to liberate a nation, when you can bless people around you and move them towards Jesus. We’re not judged on not being like David, we’re judged on whether or not we did what the Lord asked US to do. So let’s get our heads out of the bright lights and go about our work with our eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s exactly what David would also advise you to do.

“Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for Him…” Psalm 37:3-7a

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
– The Habits That Built King David’s Faith
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33033
– The Anti-King: David and Humility
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33025
– How to Kill Giants: Searching for the Deep Secrets Behind King David’s Success
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33547


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.

How to Kill Giants: Searching for the Deep Secrets Behind King David’s Success

creation swap 23540_Rooted_-_Grow_Deep._Live_Tall.A friend sent me a link to a sermon on “how to kill giants” and as I watched the sermon on David and Goliath, I thought about how many times I have heard that story preached. We all love David as a hero and want to follow in his footsteps.

There are many aspects to David’s life, but the ones I find mentioned the least often, are those which involve suffering, or spiritual discipline; yet, this is what we need to hear about the most. It’s the hard times and good habits that hold the real secrets to David’s spiritual and earthly success. Unless we, like David, are willing to take the harder paths through life, we will not be able to slay the giants in our lives. There are no shortcuts.

David appears to be a paradoxical figure. He had all the power and wealth of a king, yet was a gentle, kind-hearted, humble man. He didn’t throw his weight around, slaughter every enemy, or put his own welfare as his greatest priority. He cared about the Lord and the people he led. I describe David as an anti-king, as he doesn’t fit our ideas of what royalty is like. He’s both Rambo and St Francis of Assisi combined: the warring hero who wants to be a channel of God’s peace.

It has taken me months to understand how these potentially opposing sides of his character work. I have found there are several threads which bind these two disparate parts together into a healthy, concrete whole.
1. His obedience to the Torah, (God’s laws as handed down through Moses) which explains his warrior motivation;
2. His submission to God through prayer and seeking the Lord’s will, which makes him more like St Francis; (and is is of course, followed by obedience, or he would have been just another failed king.)

David’s passionate devotion to the Lord was his greatest asset. It led him to not simply stick to the law and hope that everything would work out. [Ref. 1 Kings 15:5 and Psalm 40:8] He maintained a God-first, disciplined, active relationship with the Lord. David never tried to achieve the success of the kingdom himself… no matter how great his reputation was. He knew Who had trained him to lead men and Who had built his Kingdom and military success. David had the sense to stick close to his God, no matter how powerful he’d become, also ensuring that Yahweh was given the full glory due, for all of his victories and blessings.*

The only recorded instances of David not seeking God, are when he fled into Philistine territory when pursued by Saul; when he sinned with Bathsheba and should have sought mercy very quickly; and when he called for a census. Those bad decisions were all fuelled by fear. Every other time, he went to the Lord, or to a reliable prophet for advice first. Considering that David’s time as King spanned forty years, that is an impressive success record.

“In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.
The Lord said, “Go up.”
David asked, “Where shall I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.
So David went up there with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David also took the men who were with him, each with his family, and they settled in Hebron and its towns. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.” 2 Samuel 2:1-4

A number of Bible scholars have noted that absolute power is a dangerous thing. When a king doesn’t have to answer to anyone, they frequently become dangerous; but David chose to be readily answerable to the Lord. That saved him for sliding down the same path ego-driven, godless of Solomon and sadly, most of his successors.

“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

This is one of the key secrets to David’s success and a lesson to us all in humility, service and submission. Often we’re guilty of making plans and then expecting God to bless them. If someone with the status of a king sees fit to seek God first, we should certainly be doing the same. David is an outstanding role model in this area.

creation swap davidDavid’s obedience and humility meant that God could not only trust him to rule, but he could also be entrusted to minister to us. Thus we have the legacy of the Psalms to comfort and instruct us, and the legacy of his life to learn from. Aside from Jesus, more passages in the Bible are about David than anyone else. In 2 Samuel 7:9b the Lord told David, “…I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth!” Even in secular society, David is well known as an archetypal hero. Archaeology and three major religions recognise David as an inspiring and pivotal figure.

Please pause to consider this: if we adopt David’s habits of seeking the Lord’s will for our lives FIRST, what legacy can we leave behind? What can we be doing that positively changes our world and impacts future generations?

We sing about wanting to be history makers; submission and then obedience is how we achieve that. It is not an easy road. It requires sacrifice and selflessness; yet if we really want to walk closely with the Lord, knowing that we’ve done the very best that we can, then we need to be like David and put ourselves second. Our success will come when we get on our knees first and not take action until we know what God wants for us.

“I lift up my eyes to you,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he shows us his mercy.” Psalm 123:1-2

* Please see The Anti-King: David and Humility for more information http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33025 and visit the project web site to browse the section on the Psychology and Reality of Kingship. 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.

Returns for Our Faith: Examining What We Expect From God

vending machineIn 2000, I had the pleasure of talking to a Messianic Rabbi about where I felt the church was heading. At that time, my life and faith were both dramatically changing, and as a result, I was really frustrated in my church life. Everything was the same old, same old. Where I wanted to press in deeper to God, I felt held back. I was taking a fresh look at what I had taken for granted for many years, and what bothered me the most, was how we were treating the Lord.

I told the Rabbi that we were treating God like a vending machine. We inserted:
a) time in church, and/or
b) tithes and gifts, and/or
c) the expected praise and worship, and/or
d) the expected Bible study, and/or
e) the expected prayer…
… then we expected God to spit out blessings, healing and deliverance in return, as we’d done what the Word said to do.

But what about the times when prayers didn’t get answered, no matter how obedient we were? What then? What about when God seemed to be saying, “no.” But… but we’d done what was asked and expected, so where were our answers? I knew Christians that were confused by that, and in the past I had been too.

Let me take you back further to 1989, when after being offered life insurance, a Christian friend of mine said, “I don’t need insurance, I’ve got God!”

She was right, however, she was also wrong. Reliance on the Lord is the ultimate faith, however, she was in danger of turning the Lord into an insurance policy. It was again, taking faith and turning it into a contractual arrangement.

The Lord loves to give to His children. Jesus said: “keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Matthew 7:7-11

We can seek, yet a balance is needed. One day after school, I came home and found that my parents had been shopping. Often they’d bring me back some small thing, but this day, I asked outright what I had gotten and was told, it was nothing. My mother angrily informed me later, that she had gotten me a treat, but because I got greedy, she acted as any wise parent would, and held it back. Can we get so greedy with the Lord, that He sometimes finds it wise to do the same? This may be one of the many answers.

The strongest people in the Bible, are those who loved God unconditionally through sheer hell. I am referring to Moses, Job, John the Baptist, Paul and King David. All of them lived out their faith the hard way. They went through the most severe trials, not just discomfort, all because they were serving God. At times answers did not come, or were delayed.

Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.” Daniel 10:10-14

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Job 13:15a

Just because you are a Christian, don’t expect to get it easy, or to get everything you want. Being a child of God is about being faithful and devoted to your Heavenly Father, no matter what.

We don’t believe to receive, we believe because we know and love God.

In John 16:33 Jesus said plainly, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Because of the sin in the world, that applies to all of us, no exceptions.

hope-candle-blueSo if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19

“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.” Psalm 34:9

So despite the temptation to believe in any theology that gives us a promise of a guaranteed answer, whether that be prosperity, healing or any blessing, we have to bite the bullet and be prepared for life to be rough at times. It does not mean we haven’t pleased God, or that we aren’t overcomers; neither does it mean that the Lord has deserted us. There is nothing to be gained by blaming ourselves, or God, for falling short of impossible standards of quick victory. Moses had bad days, as did David. [Refs: Numbers 11:10-15 and Psalm 6:1-7] They were both honest with God and knew that in good time, answers would come. If you have read the full accounts of their lives, you’ll know that God did fulfil His promises and care for all their needs. They are our role models. The same principles apply equally to our lives.

The secret to success in not in any specific Bible verse or prayer, it is in our genuine love for the Lord, which motivates us to stay close to Him – no matter what.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honour come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5-8


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.