The Deep Ancient Roots the Psalms Sprang From

tltnpmRegardless of what age or nationality you are, the culture around you will affect how you worship. Old Western hymns were set to popular tunes of the day so that people would relate to them, and edifying Christian hip hop and rap music is popular with Christian youth in our current time.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Jesus communicated His message in a form which people understood and could relate to. It makes perfect sense. However, when studying the ancient history of the Near East (pre-Abraham), I was surprised at how much some of the cultic hymns sounded like David’s Psalms.

Compare these two:

“Mighty, majestic, and radiant,
You shine brilliantly in the evening,
You brighten the day at dawn,
You stand in the heavens like the sun and the moon,
Your wonders are known both above and below…”

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.”

Who wrote what? The first one is a Sumerian hymn about Inanna (Ishtar,) the pagan ‘Queen of Heaven;’ the second is part of David’s Psalm 65. Did that leave you with an awful feeling in the pit of your stomach? I was startled, then realised that this point of time is so far back, both David and the writer of the hymn had the same roots: they both originally came from the one God, YHWH. Psalms by the Sons of Korah and Ethan the Ezrahite (Psalm 89) have the same features. It’s simply a cultural way of song writing.

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, source link below.]

There is a major difference between the way that David approaches his God and the way the worshippers of the pagan god, Inanna worshipped: David has confidence!

“Be merciful to me, O Lord; for I cry to You daily.
Give joy to the soul of Your servant; for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive, and rich in mercy to all those who call on You.
Give ear, O Jehovah, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my prayers.
In the day of my trouble I will call on You; for You will answer me.” Psalm 86:3-7

You don’t find that kind of confidence in hymns for the pagan gods. From the ones I read, some of them don’t even make any kind of sense, but David had two things in his favour: the indwelling Spirit of God which gave him a direct link to the one true God, and a righteous boldness. He knew that God was with him and that YHWH was his source of comfort, deliverance, healing, joy and salvation. David was welcome to “boldly approach the throne of grace,” long before those words appeared in our New Testament. [Ref. Hebrews 4:16 and Ephesians 3:12]

“The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.” Exodus 34:6-7a

Inanna had to be appeased, tip toed around. The pagan gods were the scapegoats that man made to explain the mysteries of why bad things happen and how the natural elements of the world functioned. They created jealous, angry gods with human frailties, who you bribed into happiness so nothing went wrong.

2016-12-11_15-55-07_01Looking at hymns which came from a different part of the Near East, Scott Aniol goes on to say: “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”… Biblical history and pagan myth have very different purposes, functions, and literary forms and therefore must not be interpreted in the same manner.”

The same applies to cultic observations about a flood and a baby sent down a river in a basket who was rescued by a princess and bought up in a royal court. The events were written about long after they happened, with the then current pagan interpretations added.

So if you ever come across strange similarities between paganism and the Bible, don’t take them as evidence that your faith isn’t based on a faithful, genuine God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5
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Notes:

https://answersingenesis.org/presuppositions/bias-and-origin-of-hebrew-worship/ This is a great article, please take the time to read it.

“Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star. The discontinuous movements of Venus relate to both mythology as well as Inanna’s dual nature. Inanna is related like Venus to the principle of connectedness, but this has a dual nature and could seem unpredictable. Yet as both the goddess of love and war, with both masculine and feminine qualities, Inanna is poised to respond, and occasionally to respond with outbursts of temper. Mesopotamian literature takes this one step further, explaining Inanna’s physical movements in mythology as corresponding to the astronomical movements of Venus in the sky.” There are hymns to Inanna as her astral manifestation.”  [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inanna]


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

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

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Kintsugi and Kings: Using the Blessing You’ve Been Given

kintugi

Image by Haragayato, Wikimedia Commons

The greatest contrast between King David and King Saul, is the way they responded to the Presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It’s not simply that David had more faith in God, or was more obedient; David strode out in front because when given access to God’s Spirit, he grabbed that blessing with both hands, hung onto the Holy Spirit for dear life and made the most of the blessing he’d been given.

Only a handful of people in the Old Testament were granted the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Knowing this has had me scratching my head wondering what was up with Saul? We all invest in our relationship with God differently, however, if the Presence of God was so rare in Saul and David’s time, why didn’t Saul grab hold of His empowerment, as David did, and run with it? Why didn’t he bother to develop his relationship with God in such a desperate time?

Many men have resisted the prompting of the Lord with devout stubbornness beyond logical reasoning. Saul was known for acting out of fear and desperation, from the earliest accounts of him hiding behind the baggage carts, wanting to avoid being made King. I believe that fear was the main reason why he didn’t build and benefit from his link to the Lord. Later, the pride that came with the position of Kingship and the successes could have added to that problem. Saul was willing to fall into despair rather than overcome. He didn’t reach out to the Lord for what He needed, so God was never allowed to help and guide him. He became a cracked, broken pot which had to be discarded, rather than lovingly repaired.

There is a Japanese method for repairing broken pottery called kintsugi. One blogger aptly called it, “the art of embracing damage.” This is pretty much what David did, instead of crumbling when he felt broken, then recoiling in fear, David surveyed the damage and allowed God’s Spirit to beautifully repair him. He didn’t give up as the challenges that faced him were too hard, and the dangers too great: he prayed, praised and fasted his way through. David allowed the Lord to pick up the pieces, and he never stopped doing this.

A short, simple definition of kintsugi can be found on Wikipedia:
“Kintsugi (金継ぎ?, きんつぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い?, きんつくろい, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise… As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.”

Pottery from the excavation directed by Montagu Brownlow Parker at Mount Ophel, Jerusalem

Pottery from the excavation directed by Montagu Brownlow Parker at Mount Ophel, Jerusalem.

When allowed, God is the greatest kingsugi Master. He will repair even hairline cracks with the most beautiful materials and intricate craftsmanship; and unless we deliberately chip away at His repair, it will hold. He did this with David so many times and we can still see and are encouraged by the delicate streams of gold which run through David’s life.

Whenever trouble overwhelmed David, he went to God for the answer and built more strength into his relationship with God each time he did this. When God didn’t answer immediately, David never stopped hammering on His door until he got the response he needed, no matter what. He did not resort to killing to make himself feel secure. He did not go against his moral or spiritual beliefs to deal with his enemies: he knew he had the Spirit of the Lord and he actively built that relationship and because that link became strong, it was able to hold him up, even when he was so sick he should have died.

There is a very simple lesson in this: when God gives you an opportunity to rely on His Spirit, use it! Build on that relationship, use His power and guidance and give it everything you’ve got!


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

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

Coping When You’re Persecuted for Your Faith

The album cover's copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

The album cover’s copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

When I was a teenager, David Meece had a popular song titled “Count the Cost.” The chorus lyrics are:

“You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to know that the price
Is the one you can afford.
You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to go all the way
If you really love the Lord…”

I believe that King David would have related to that song very strongly!

One of the things that surprised me when going through the Psalms, was the number of times that King David spoke about being persecuted for his faith. In the midst of the Psalms which speak of persecution by Saul, problems with his children and the threats of other kings, were verses that I had never noticed before.

David didn’t just give the people the gift of the Psalms and how to worship God in holiness, he also taught them the Torah (Word of God) and was persecuted for it. Spiritual leadership is considered to be one of the functions of an Israeli King, which is why kings were so powerful in leading people spiritually astray. David had a huge heart for his people’s spiritual walk, and put up with a lot of fierce payback, for speaking out about God.

Many of the Psalms in which David pleads for God to deal with his enemies justly, don’t only refer to David’s need to keep his throne and be safe. For David, as he was God’s anointed king, for him to be deposed would be for God’s will to be thwarted. For David to lose his throne early, would be for him not to have completed the Lord’s full purpose for his life. Thus it is acceptable that he should call down God’s judgement. An example of this is Psalm 17, a prayer of David.

Psalm 22:6 describes the ridicule David experienced because of his faith:
“But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him!
If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!” “

Later the Psalm goes on to say:
“O LORD, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!”

Being a king is a perilous business. Everyone wants your land, your people as slaves, your livestock, your property and any other wealth you possess. Being a king who has open faith and acts as a spiritual leader, is an even harder task, but David was willing to do it.
“Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.” Psalm 9:14

This is perhaps why, despite his sins, many of us stand up publicly as supporters of King David. We relate to his pain, as in many ways, it describes our own and we are encouraged out of our mess by his words; but we can also see the odds he was up against. The Psalms are full of David crying out to God, needing help which never seemed to come when he felt it was so sorely needed.

People like to cheer on the underdog and David, is often considered to be one. For all his military prowess, he lived a life which was appallingly hard: he dealt with many dangers from enemies, plus his own family; steered the people through famine… and then to have his own people, of his own faith, mock him when he relied on God for assistance? It’s heart breaking. Especially with his testimonies of how many times the Lord had delivered him out of trouble. Any of us in the same position would be left feeling abandoned, misunderstood and deeply hurt.

Yet with David, one thing never changed. He always expected the Lord to deliver him and the Lord did. David died aged seventy from disease. Two years earlier, he’d had the joy of seeing his son, Solomon, take the throne. Despite the odds, He Who has the Greatest Might saved his beloved son from all harm and honoured him as king. That honour continues, even today and into the future. From what other heart could the Messiah come, than from that of such a faithful servant?

Note: Scriptures which include David’s encouragement for others to praise God are many, but include Psalms 29:1-2, 32:11 and 66:1-4, which is considered to be David’s because of the style.


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

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

Finding Genuine Worship ~ #praisebetogod #TrustinGod #GodisGood

37015643_sI have heard it said many times, that when we worship God, it does more for us, than it does for Him. Worship reminds us of the goodness and provision of the Lord. It fosters gratitude, and importantly it makes us feel good. Don’t you notice that? After you’ve sung to the Lord with all your heart, you feel great.

I heard this from so many sources, of course, I thought it was true. Then when I started to study the Psalms, I kept seeing how David poured his heart out before the Lord and I got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. While worship makes us feel good, worshipping to make us feel better is most probably offensive to the Lord and is not an act of worship at all.

I can feel good singing along with the songs on the radio that have a positive message, and an upbeat tune. The human mind and body respond well to music. It is used in therapy, for relaxation, to rally and motivate: it has many benefits. I had been intending to do research on the power of music, then relate it to David’s life. I wanted to nail how it helped him cope through the darkest times. Then the Holy Spirit said, “I don’t want that.”

I stopped, surprised. I couldn’t pinpoint why the Lord had said no. Then I realised the answer: to pull worship apart and attribute positive, healing properties to it, would cheapen David’s expression of his love of the Lord.

Around 2001, a song came out which is obviously a response to the Lord challenging us on how we use worship. Were we worshipping to get a happiness boost? Were we using it to create atmosphere in church? Or were we singing to pour our hearts out to the Lord, as David did? Whatever the intention of writing the song at the time, it reaffirms what I am learning about worship now.

When the music fades,
All is stripped away,
And I simply come.
Longing just to bring,
Something that’s of worth,
That will bless Your heart.

That is what worship has to be: a gift of love and gratitude to the Lord. If that is tainted by anything else, it’s not genuine worship; it’s strange fire and the Lord shouldn’t be expected to accept it.

Leviticus 10:1-3 “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the LORD by burning before Him the wrong kind of fire, (or strange fire), different than He had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the LORD.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when He said,
‘I will display My Holiness
through those who come near Me.
I will display My Glory
before all the people.’”
And Aaron was silent.”

I feel awful for Aaron when I read that story. The shock and sense of injustice he felt at the loss of his sons, must have been horrific. However, a point was made which still stands today. We know how to worship God. It must come from our hearts, from a living, dynamic relationship with Him. To offer God anything else, whether it be via duty, performance, or going through the motions because we’re at the singing part of a church service, is not to worship. It is unrighteous, strange fire, that shows that we did not go near the Lord.

Listen to what motivated David to sing:

“Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.” Psalm 5:7

“But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD
because He is good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6

“Praise the LORD!
For He has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and shield.
I trust Him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:6-7

“I will be glad and rejoice in Your unfailing love,
for You have seen my troubles,
and You care about the anguish of my soul.” Psalm 31:7

David sang out of a living, thriving relationship with the Lord. It came out of love. You can see the intimacy he had with the Father, come through. “My heart has heard You say, “Come and talk with Me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8

There are also other aspects to David’s praise, which point the way to how we are to worship.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gutenberg Bible, Creative Commons 4.0

1. In many Psalms, David proclaims an intention to praise the Lord, especially when life was tough. Regardless of how he felt, he didn’t slack off in his devotion to bless the Lord.

Examples of this are found in Psalm 5:7, Psalm 7:17, Psalm 13:5-6, Psalm 18:49-50, Psalm 22:22-25, Psalm 26:12, Psalm 28:6-6, Psalm 31:7, Psalm 35:9-10 and again in verse 28, Psalm 42:8, Psalm 54:6, Psalm 52:9, Psalm 57:7-8, Psalm 59:16, Psalm 61:8, Psalm 63:11, Psalm 69:30-31, Psalm 71:14-16, Psalm 71:22-24, Psalm 86:12-13, and Psalm 109:30-31.

There is a reason why I listed them all. David’s intention is a long-term, deliberate habit.

2. Many Psalms are also prayers. I chuckle when I see theologians try and dissect the Psalms and place them into one specific category. As David pours out his heart, he bounces around many areas. His beautiful works are natural, which is why we relate to and value them. They are not contrived.

A small selection of Psalms where David spontaneously bursts into exclamations of praise include: Psalm 28:6, Psalm 21:1-2, Psalm 24:8, Psalm 35:10, Psalm 57:7-11, Psalm 63:2-8, Psalm 31:19-21 and Psalm 30:11-12. Again, I am listing more than a key example or two, to demonstrate his worship habits.

3. This final area sets an example for us. David frequently encourages others to shout for joy and praise the Lord. He wants to be an example, or as we say, a witness, and he wants to infect others with the same gratitude and desire for communion with the Lord that he has. We need to do the same. Some of these Psalms were written as a means of teaching people about the Lord.

A few examples of these exhortations are found in Psalm 32:10-11, Psalm 33:1-5, Psalm 29:1-2 and I will leave you with this one in closing, Psalm 66:1-4.

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of His name!
Tell the world how glorious He is.
Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before Your mighty power.
Everything on earth will worship You;
they will sing Your praises,
shouting Your Name in glorious songs.”


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.

The Habits That Built King David’s Faith

I love the positive feedback I receive through the King David Project. Hearing how David has blessed other people’s lives, blesses me! One comment which comes up quite often is “I wish I was like David!” I understand, as I feel that way too.

David was one of the few people in the Old Testament to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, so we are actually able to be like David, in all matters of faith. It’s good news and I reply to people with: “you can do it; it will take time, as David’s own faith took a long time to build, but it can be done, if you are willing to invest your time in a deep relationship with the Lord.”

If you look at the details in between the most often quoted verses in the Psalms, you find references to David’s mother being a strong role model and you’ll also find that David worshipped and obeyed the Lord, from the earliest age a child is able (Psalm 71:5). The Psalms constantly reflect the values and teachings of the Laws which were set down by God through Moses, and David is an observant Jew (Hebrew to be precise. References to David’s mother are Psalms 116:16 and 86:16 and his righteousness is stated in 1 Kings 15:5.)

As they appear in the Scriptures, in the order of frequency, here are the habits that made David a strong man of God:

 

New habits2

Most of these are self-explanatory, but what do I mean by awe and wonder? This, aside from prayer, is my personal favourite, as it’s a characteristic I share with David. Awe and wonder is when you see what the Lord is doing in your life, in the people around you and through nature, and you are captivated. It’s when everything speaks of the majesty and love of the Lord, and it builds you.

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour
and your wonderful miracles.” Psalm 145:5

We are commanded by God to remember His deeds to keep our faith level high, as David knew from the Torah (which is the first five books of the Old Testament.) Deuteronomy 4:9 says: “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”

David does this in Psalm 66, which speaks of the Lord’s deliverance and care of Isra’el. In verse 6 he makes a direct reference to the nation’s history, as it was recorded in the Torah. (See also Psalm 103 as another example.)

“Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.” Interlude
Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
He made a dry path through the Red Sea,
and his people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in him.” Psalm 66:3-6

A beautiful example of awe and wonder as acts of faith and worship is seen in the popular Psalm 8.
“O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
and all who oppose you.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers
the moon and the stars you set in place
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned theme with glory and honour.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
putting all things under their authority
the flocks and the herds
and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.
O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!”

Similar Psalms include number 29, 33, 65, 66, 103, 139 145 and 2 Samuel 22 and 23:1-7.

Another aspect of David’s success, came from his repeated requests to have God judge him, in order that he would stay on the right path. It’s a beneficial habit for all of us to adopt and one that, to my own detriment, I neglect.

46580920_s“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

As David diligently sought God’s judgement and was very rarely judged, he was able to declare his righteousness before the Lord in defence, when he was threatened and persecuted. He often states his position when grappling with his (and Israel’s) need for deliverance. (e.g. Psalm 41:12 “You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.” See also Psalm 139.)

I encourage you to follow David’s example. Meditate on what God has done for you; the wonders you see in creation and the testimonies of others that give you hope. Tell someone else, tell your children and enjoy living in awe and wonder.

“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour
and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” Psalm 145:4-7


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.

A Christian Perspective on Mindfulness

45007819_sPsychology goes through all kinds of phases, and over the last few decades, they have become more positive, and inclined towards steps you can take to improve your quality of life and heal. One techniques which is popular now, is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is intentionally, becoming completely aware of everything going on around you and inside you now, in this moment, without judgement and “with openness, interest and receptiveness.” It may surprise some Christians to know that this is an “ancient practice found in a wide range of Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga.”

That it’s roots are not Christian doesn’t bother me, as much as the manner in which I have seen mindfulness taught. As a chronic pain patient, I have been told many times that mindfulness is a wonderful method of improving pain management, so I bought a book on the topic. As a social worker, the book worried me, a lot.

Mindfulness is very effective in making people aware of what additional stresses can be adding to your pain. You know how you’re feeling and may be able to pull all the pieces of the life puzzle together, rather than just reacting and feeling lost. The issue was, that was where that particular book stopped. It told me how to do tune in, and then left me in pain, depressed and totally miserable (at the time), with all this baggage and absolutely not a clue on what to do with it all.

If someone is overwhelmed or depressed, that is level of knowledge is potentially bad. Very bad. Mindfulness, without any additional steps to aid in coping with the volume of information, can lead to deeper feelings of hopelessness, failure, shame, guilt, rejection and can result in suicide.

So do we abandon mindfulness? I did. I chose to lean on the Lord for help, and the Psalms for comfort. David was very mindful. The Psalms are full of completely honest and aware reactions to his life, so he encourages me to let all my feelings, fears and hopes out before the Lord and deal with my circumstances in the same manner he did: prayer, praise, fasting and waiting on the Lord for deliverance.

My decision to abandon my book on mindfulness was a personal choice. It may have been that the book was simply a bad teaching of the practice, however, had I known that mindfulness came from eastern philosophy I would have never bought the book.

If you’d like a Christianised adaption of mindfulness, may I suggest a few ideas?

1. Don’t go into any techniques without researching them and ensuring they are godly. You may be dabbling in a religious ritual without knowing it.

2. Make sure you have solid friends, a counsellor, pastor or family to talk to – in a hurry if needed – about the issues bought up. Without that, you’re alone with your hurts. Don’t let that happen. You’re worth more than that.

3. Pray through everything. Hand it to the Lord and let Him be your buddy system.

4. If you use a mindfulness technique, cap it off with a session of praise to the Lord. That will encourage you and help balance any negativity by focussing on gratitude. It worked for David, it will surely work for us!

5. Use what gets bought to your attention as a means to repent, build your character up to the next level, then get closer to the Lord.

Nothing beats the healing, forgiving and loving power of the Lord. Remember that. Mindfulness may be a fad that comes and then goes… but the faithfulness of the Lord is eternal.

Vago DR and Silbersweig DA Mindfulness
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Vago DR and Silbersweig DA Mindfulness

Footnotes:
*The last part of my definition and the philosophies where mindfulness are found, comes from The Happiness Trap http://www.thehappinesstrap.com/mindfulness


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.