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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do Not Destroy” is also the melody which was selected for Psalm 58: “Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word?” In Bible Hub’s interlinear Bible, “ruler” is elem, or congregation. [Strongs Number 482] It is a masculine word, which is culturally correct as the assembly of believers was all male in David’s time. Some Bibles say gods, some say sons of men. There is no correct consensus. It is a source of profound frustration to me that words such as this are so poorly translated in our Bibles, and a reminder to dig deeper to find the true meaning of the Word of God.
29200701_mr3x3xrrr
Notes:

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

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


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

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

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A Matter of Character and Trust: The Problem With Lies

42846561_sGoing through David’s life, there are some parts which bother me and one is his dance with the truth. David told three major lies to get out of trouble in his early life:

1. to the Priests at Nob; [Ref. 1 Samuel 21, Nob and point 2.]
2. when he first fled into Philistine territory and had to feign madness to escape, and
3. when he deceived the Philistine King Achish, whilst attempting to avoid Saul’s persistent persecution. [Ref. 1 Samuel chapters 27 and 29]

Despite the severity of the circumstances which led him to lie, they leave me with a really bad impression of his character. Was lying a nasty trait which followed him through life? As so much of David’s life was marked by outstanding faith and he was righteous, his lies stand out even more. They have had me questioning just how far he could be trusted, especially as some Middle Eastern cultures approve of habitual lying to “save face.” So I decided to delve into the matter further, to try and comprehend why he sinned that way.

Logically, I can understand why he lied those three times: *“if you can’t escape by fight or flight, you lie,” and any of us would be very hard pressed not to react the same way when backed into a corner with our life at stake. However, David is supposed to be a “type” of Jesus: a human who exhibits the character of God, teaching us what God is like and that we can trust Him. Repeated incidents of lying threaten to destroy that.

Looking at lying from a psychological angle, the size of the consequences of not telling the lie determine how serious the offence is. If a ‘protective lie’ saves you from death, it is easily forgivable, as it wasn’t casual deception which foretells deep moral character flaws. If David wasn’t lying for financial or power gains, or to bolster his ego, his lies can be considered as unwise without deeply tarnishing him. In 1 Samuel 24:5 we can see that David was well aware of what was right and wrong, and would self-correct, so I am led to continue to trust him.

But… whenever I read about David, I expect to see him react with faith, looking for God to help him as he did with Goliath, not legging it into enemy territory and lying to save his hide. He is to be the best David, flawless through and through to not disappoint me… but that expectation doesn’t take a key fact into account: this time in his life featured a hard growth curve on the path to spiritual maturity. He was growing up and messing up along the way, as he struggled to build his trusting, God-dependent spiritual nature. His later character traits which produced the Psalms were in the process of being forged ‘in the furnace of much affliction,’ and like all of us, he started out weak, then through hard lessons, became stronger.

I have no idea how bad he felt about his deceptions, though I am sure he must have deeply regretted the consequences of his flight to the priests at Nob, (Saul massacred them in revenge). Living in Philistine territory must have also been an arduous task that he gritted his teeth through and hated. No one chooses to live with the enemy unless they believe that this is the only option left. God hadn’t delivered him yet, and David had yet to learn to wait no matter what. The events of this long period, (from Nob to Gath was around seven years or so,) had to have awakened an awareness that he had to be totally dependent on the Lord for safety and deliverance; if not, he would only get himself, and others, into greater trouble. It would be an agonising experience to watch people die and suffer because of you, as you found your way through the maze of choices, striving to grow. I feel a deep compassion for him.

bestrong-trustgodinvertedblueThe bad parts of David’s story are as helpful to us as the good. This portion of Davids life reminds me that need I to be patient and encouraging with people while they are growing. They are going to make some big, serious mistakes; but blaming people and judging without understanding what they were feeling and where they were coming from is useless. Thinking about what David did, I can’t excuse his wrongs, but I can appreciate the stress he was under and where he was in his spiritual journey. I’m just glad that he came through safely to leave us with his testimony to the Lord’s great patience with us as we overcome our own failings, no matter how many times we fall apart as we’re learning.

“A psalm of David, the servant of the LORD. He sang this song to the LORD on the day the LORD rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:
I love You, LORD;
You are my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
I called on the LORD, Who is worthy of praise,
and He saved me from my enemies.
The ropes of death entangled me;
floods of destruction swept over me.
The grave wrapped its ropes around me;
death laid a trap in my path.
But in my distress I cried out to the LORD;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from His sanctuary…

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the LORD supported me.
He led me to a place of safety;
He rescued me because He delights in me.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right;
He restored me because of my innocence.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
I have followed all His regulations;
I have never abandoned His decrees.
I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right.
He has seen my innocence.
To the faithful You show Yourself faithful;
to those with integrity You show integrity.
To the pure You show Yourself pure,
but to the wicked You show Yourself hostile.
You rescue the humble,
but You humiliate the proud.
You light a lamp for me…
The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!…

For this, O LORD, I will praise You among the nations;
I will sing praises to Your Name.
You give great victories to Your king;
You show unfailing love to Your anointed,
to David and all his descendants forever.” Psalm 18:1-6, 16-28 and 49-50

*Sorry, but I can’t remember where this quote comes from.


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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.

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.

This is What Emotional Exhaustion Looks Like

IMG_0505

Paran, as in the settlement mentioned in 1 Samuel 25. This is a Google maps image screenshot for Oct 1015 (Copyright belongs to Google, of course…)

This part of David’s story and the image above, brings this song to mind.

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert, you can remember your name,
‘Cause there aint no one for to give you no pain.   Dewey Bunnell, America

As King Saul’s unprovoked attempts to kill him wore David down, he moved further and further away from the centre of Isra’el, until in 1 Samuel 25 we see him and his supporters ekking out an existance guarding flocks in the centre of nowhere.

That is why I started with that map. Even now, Paran is in the middle of nowhere. It’s where you go when you’ve just had enough! The terrain screams desolation, hopelessness and misery.

Three thousand years ago, it was probably greener, but now it’s decimated by overgrazing. Paran is home to a small kibbutz and which the main industry appears to be selling solar generated power back to the grid. At least deserts are good for something… They are inhospitable places to hide, especially when you are isolated from your family, friends and community and are completely cut off from your centre of worship.

Many of us have felt the frustration and exhaustion that David was experiencing after years of running from Saul. We are all pursued by situations which dog us, whether we deserve them or not, and problems which simply will not go away. At times like that, it feels like the only path to peace is to get as far away from the maelstrom as possible.

But where does retreat get us?

David did receive a blessing in the form of taking Abigail as a wife, but that incident at Paran also almost led him to unrighteous murder. Then as the weariness he was feeling didn’t lift, the next step was to align himself with his hated enemy, the Philistines, in the hope Saul would finally ease off. Saul would never risk crossing a Philistine border.

David did need to pull his life back together again. I am not criticising him. He and his men had wives, children, livestock and a need for a secure living place and income. He was up against an enemy who wasn’t as easy to overthrow as Goliath, and his spiritual life would have been heavily strained. This was a testing period for him in terms of his ability to lead his men and live in a godly manner. Only by the grace and providence of God, he would have completely failed.

However, running led to sin. You never take shelter with the enemy and long term, this led to David losing his heart’s desire: the right to build the temple at Jerusalem. He paid a high price for this mistake, one he could never have foreseen at the time.

This period in David’s life is a reminder for us all to face our problems, rather than distance ourselves from them. We need to continue to believe in God’s ability to deliver us and not falter, no matter what uncertainties and pain we go through.

Think long and hard before you run. It may be far better to stand your ground and continue to sing God’s praises, no matter how tired you become.


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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.

Bible Geek: Feeling Limited by “Technology?”

bible-geek-logo

As far as I was concerned, technology wasn’t really around to make us feel inadequate until the early 1950s, or whenever computers came into being. Some say that Konrad Zuse started building computers in the 1930s, others argue that it was Charles Babbage in 1838… others point out that ancient computers were made as early as 205 BC, such as the Antikythera Mechanism which was found in a sunken ship. But that all depends on your definition of computers.

fragments_of_the_antikythera_mechanism

Fragments of the antikythera mechanism.

The word ‘technology,’ has a wider breadth of meaning than things you plug in, or that which tortures you via binary. Working my way through Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies video lectures on archaeology, I have been surprised at how often the word is mentioned. The simple definition of the word is “machinery and devices developed from scientific knowledge,” even if that knowledge is more practical wisdom than academic. In practical terms it means, anything your enemies have, that you don’t have, and fear will be used against you.

Around 1600 BC, (BCE is not a term I use) horses were first used in the Middle East as weapons of war, as the bridle and bit had been invented. Apparently, one of the new nation of Isra’el’s greatest concerns in settling in the Promised Land was these horses and the amazing abilities of the chariots they were hooked up to.

“But the mountain shall be yours, for it is a forest, and you shall cut it down. And the outer limits of it shall be yours. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have iron chariots and though they are strong.” Joshua 17:18

To us, this is ancient outdated technology in an age where we have drones, tanks and all manner of aircraft which would bomb a stone city to oblivion easily; but back then, such an innovation was a massive road block and a test of faith. When all you had was donkeys, time tested basic weapons and a lot of common sense, that could lead them to say, “we’ll never win this one.” But common sense can be the enemy of faith. All Isra’el had to do was look to the Lord for deliverance and chariots would not be a problem. God proved that with Jericho.

Joshua 6:2 “And Jehovah said to Joshua, See, I have given Jericho into your hand, and its king, and the mighty men of war.” And He did, spectacularly when the walls came down under divine power.

Horse and chariot, painting on dishes from Mycenae, Late Bronze Age, 14 to 13 century BC, National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Horse and chariot, painting on dishes from Mycenae, Late Bronze Age, 14 to 13 century BC, National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Saul was also up against superior technology when he was battling against the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 13:19 then 32 we see that the latest and greatest new weapons, were not available to the Isra’elites. “And there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel. For the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” “And it happened in the day of battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan. But with Saul and with his son Jonathan there was found sword and spear.”

Did that stop the Lord from delivering His people out of the hand of the Philistines? No. Even though the battle was considered lost and the people were deserting, God won through. “And Jehovah saved Israel that day, and the battle passed over to Beth-aven.” 2 Samuel 14:23

So regardless of what you do and don’t have in any area of your life, or how ill prepared and outclassed you feel, if you rely on the Lord, there is hope for deliverance and victory. He is the One who is supposed to be your provider and victor. Salvation will never come through a gadget.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wookiepedia References:

Further Reading:

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


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

Things You Need to Know About Isra’el in King David’s Time

Updated: November 2016 and January 2017.

It has taken me a few years to pull all this information together and a lot of it, I have never heard before. Over many years at church, I have heard a number of Bible Study leaders ask why such a small area of desert land has caused so much trouble throughout history? They have always answered with a spiritual warfare focus, but looking back in time, to when this area was central in the known, most inhabited part of the world, there are many reasons why Isra’el was a key area above and beyond the spiritual.

The facts below set the scene for David’s Kingdom and explain why Isra’el had so much trouble with neighbouring nations.

1. Isra’el was less impacted by desert in David’s time and lay in an ancient fertile crescent that circles the west and top of the Far and Middle East. The rainfall was excellent, and thus crops and cattle were able to thrive. It was indeed the land of milk and honey [Ref. Exodus 23:3] and worth fighting over by the surrounding nations. Unfortunately this screen shot isn’t clear, but the blue areas indicate good rainfall. [This map is not my work. The source is below.]

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Like Australia, Isra’els geography is misunderstood. If you look at Isra’el now, you will find that the entire country is not desert. There are snow fields in the mountains, the area around Galilee is stunning, and the west is bordered by the beauty of the Mediterranean. Don’t believe the Bible movies which like to film in the cheaper desert areas, misrepresenting Isra’el’s full natural beauty. Many areas of the Middle East which are now desert, were once thriving agricultural areas of beauty.

The encroachment of the desert comes from soil depletion,  land clearing and deliberate sabotage by later invading nations. [Please see Sand and Sin: More Research on the History of Jerusalem for more information on this.]

God told His people to let their fields rest one year in each seven, and they disobeyed; thus what we see now is a sad reminder of what happens when we misuse natural resources. Secular sources tell us that if land is not allowed to rest, salination from irrigation can set in within 15 years, making the field unusable permanently. The land has suffered accordingly from these poor farming practices, war and other calamities. A lot can change in a few thousand years.

2. With good food supply comes population growth. This places stress on the available land, food and water resources, and leads to raids and wars between neighbouring nations, as everyone needs the land to survive. In particular, God had always commanded His people to be fruitful and multiply (e.g. Genesis 48:4 and Leviticus 26:9 and many more), so they needed the full extent of the land which had been promised to them by God. [Ref. Numbers 34 gives the borders.]

This demand was also increased by the late Bronze age collapse. (To learn more, please see the article link below.)

3. Isra’el’s west, along the Mediterranean, had a major lucrative trade route running north to south, through it. Like the ancient city of Petra which was incredibly rich, if a nation can control a trade route, they can make a fortune in providing travellers with food, water, safe accommodation and safe escorts to their destination; and they can also choose to tax caravans travelling through. One thousand years or so after David, the Silk Road from modern Asia through to the Mediterranean, ran straight through Isra’el. It’s a key site.

4. The late Bronze Age Collapse resulted in a dark age in the region, which lasted several hundred years. As this is a complicated subject, it has been covered in a separate article which can be found here: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=34823

 

 

IMG_1595

 

Long after David’s time when people who were more settled and less at risk of starvation and political upheaval, they were now freer to invent, question how the cosmos and nature worked, and for the first time, begin to consider how man affects his own destiny, rather than every event being attributed to acts of the gods. This is shown in the graph above which shows how introspective language began to appear in literature. (This chart does not belong to me.)

We know that this societal change gave rise to the work of Plato, Aristotle, then later, Galileo, with the usurping of the flat earth theory. Mankind’s hunger for scientific knowledge grew and started to displace reliance on gods. In David’s time, the curiosity about the natural world would have been there, as is shown in the Psalms, but the ability to chase answers and formulate elaborate theories based on data collection, seemed to not exist. (Or evidence of this has been lost.) The theory is that people’s energy was caught up in the desperate need for survival, which collective affected all within the ancient world. Without the time to explore alternatives, people believed that their life was determined by their observance to their deity, who had to be appeased and who called the shots.

This is a completely different way of thinking which we cannot easily comprehend, as there are no Judaic, or Christian references to fully explain how it worked, in a manner we can grasp. Christianity was in the future of mankind and the Jewish Talmud (secular holy books interpreting the Old Testament and setting down laws which God did not give man), was not written until mankind had entered this philosophical and scientific age.

Understanding this conflicting world view has been a hard task for me and one I will continue to work on. I see God teaching His people the same values we now have since the earliest times, but to get to where we are now, was quite a process, and one that definitely reinforces how badly the world needed Jesus to set us on a better path. When studying David, I now take this difference in worldview into account.

Reference Sources: whilst there have been many, the information on rainfall comes from The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. You may benefit from their videos on the Near East and Ancient world. Please also visit this TED Talk on Your words may predict your future mental health by Mariano Sigman, which talks about a small part of the puzzle.


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.