Bible Geek: Does the Book of Chronicles Whitewash David’s Life?

bible-geek-logo

The book of Chronicles was known as “Events of Past Times” or “Acts of the Days” and was written around 520 or 530 BC, post exile by a Chronicler (perhaps Ezra or Nehemiah,) to remind the Israelites of the period of God’s favour and to encourage them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild a godly life. That is why the book can appear politically white washed, focussing less on sin, (except to warn of the deadly danger of idols and turning away from God again,) and focussing more on the good old days of David’ reign when everything was grand. It doesn’t dodge the issues of David’s sin, as these stories were already well known. Instead, the writer *gathers up “the threads of the old national life broken by the Captivity,” and shows the people that they can have their God and their nation back.

Major themes the book are centred around is Godly dominion over the people, righteous worship and obedience to the Covenant set out in the legal book of Deuteronomy. For that reason you will read a lot of detail about how the temple functioned and was set up. The books act as an instruction manual. Faith and hope and how the people of Isra’el belong to God (shown through the genealogies) are also main themes. The books were written using multiple historical documents and are considered accurate, solid historical Biblical canon without challenge, unlike the Song of Solomon, whose usefulness as Scripture has been hotly debated by both Judaism and Christianity throughout Church history.

Chronicles only talks about the the Kings of Judah as it is the Judean remnant that is being addressed. At this stage in history, the northern Kingdoms of Isra’el had long since been taken captive by the now overthrown Assyria, and there was a strong temptation for the people to retain their familiar lives in Babylon rather than step into the scary unknown. The land of milk and honey still waited for Israel to return, the people simply needed to be motivated to take it. [Ref: read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah for more on that period of Jewish history. It’s an amazing era which profoundly illustrates God’s undying mercy and love for His people, against the odds.]

A great deal of the book reiterates the content of 1 and 2 Kings, however there are chapters and verses which add to the picture we already see. It has a specific historical role and is loved by Bible scholars who like to focus on Godly leadership as it applies to our time. It has a lot to give, even without the books of Kings in the background to fill out the complete history.

I thoroughly recommend reading “Parallel Passages of the Historical Books” from the Companion Bible http://www.therain.org/appendixes/app56.html to help piece all the verses together. It takes in more than just Kings and Chronicles.

chronicles-whitewash white_spacer

From: *Easton Illustrated Dictionary:
The writer gathers up “the threads of the old national life broken by the Captivity.” The sources whence the chronicler compiled his work were public records, registers, and genealogical tables belonging to the Jews. These are referred to in the course of the book (1 Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27; 26:22; 32:32; 33:18, 19; 27:7; 35:25).

As compared with Samuel and Kings, the Book of Chronicles omits many particulars there recorded (2 Sam. 6:20-23; 9; 11; 14-19, etc.), and includes many things peculiar to itself (1 Chr. 12; 22; 23-26; 27; 28; 29, etc.). Twenty whole chapters, and twenty-four parts of chapters, are occupied with matter not found elsewhere. It also records many things in fuller detail, as (e.g.) the list of David’s heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the removal of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13; 15:2-24; 16:4-43; comp. 2 Sam. 6), Uzziah’s leprosy and its cause (2 Chr. 26:16-21; comp. 2 Kings 15:5), etc.

It has also been observed that another peculiarity of the book is that it substitutes modern and more common expressions for those that had then become unusual or obsolete. This is seen particularly in the substitution of modern names of places, such as were in use in the writer’s day, for the old names; thus Gezer (1 Chr. 20:4) is used instead of Gob (2 Sam. 21:18), etc. The Books of Chronicles are ranked among the khethubim or hagiographa. They are alluded to, though not directly quoted, in the New Testament (Heb. 5:4; Matt. 12:42; 23:35; Luke 1:5; 11:31, 51).

29200701_mr3x3xrrr

Further Helpful Reading


kdpcpyrght

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

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

Advertisements

Solomon’s Slide Into Sin, Part 2

This is part 2 of my series on Solomon. Part 1 was published last Monday, 9th June 2017. Read it here.

Other Reasons Why Solomon Fell

087-king_solomon_in_old_age1. Solomon was swaying away from God from very soon after David’s death. He was worshipping at the high places where those pagan gods were exalted, which indicates that his heart had never been fully YHWH’s. Under the law of Moses, the only place he should have worshipped should have been at the Tabernacle which was at Gibeon at the time. The ark was separated from the Tabernacle, but it was in David’s Palace at Jerusalem, right where Solomon was living, so he had no excuse for being in a High Place. Access to God doesn’t get much more convenient than down the hall.

2. His reign was never based on serving God. “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.” Ecclesiastes 2:9-10

Solomon would have done far better if he’d asked God for a relationship with Him that was like his father’s, but God wasn’t his desire. I have always felt that he asked for the wrong thing; however, his choice could have come from David’s influence. This can be found in Proverbs 4:4-9. Verse 5 sums it up: “Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words [David’s] or turn away from them.”

3. The wisdom (Proverbs) of Solomon are very works and justice based, not relationship based in tone. It shows that he was looking at God from a distance. As a result of his gift not being based on pleasing and seeking God, it turned against him. He had no means of dealing with the consequences of so much revelation. “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:18 David had a joy that Solomon never discovered, as he looked to the Lord, despite his suffering.

Solomon gloried in his gift and the recognition and riches it bought him without humbling himself before the Lord, and that poisoned it too. This is probably why his wisdom did not save him from spiritual destruction, it never became an act of worship. Wisdom gave him power, not salvation. “Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.” Ecclesiastes 7:19

sin4. The easy life left Solomon rudderless, and he became excessively ego-centric. Without suffering, Solomon focussed only on himself, discovering that a life without God is meaningless.

“I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless….So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labours. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”
Please read Proverbs 2:1-11 for the whole text.

“So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labours under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.” Ecclesiastes 2:20-21

I could write more about the evils of wealth and risks of absolute power, but it has all been said before and it easily leads to me becoming too easily unrighteously judgemental. I will close with David’s own wise words which are too apt: “Love the LORD, all you godly ones! For the LORD protects those who are loyal to Him, but He harshly punishes the arrogant.” Psalm 31:23
29200701_mr3x3xrrr

 

How King David Compares to King Solomon

david-vs-solomon-traits


kdpcpyrght

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

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

Solomon: The Real World Circumstances Behind His Slide Into Sin

This is the first part of a 2 part article on Solomon. The second part will come out next Friday, June 9th 2017.

087-king_solomon_in_old_ageWe tend to think of Solomon’s descent into abandoning God as a simple process. He had too many foreign wives who influenced him, and that finished him off. However, the more I have studied ancient history and gained an understanding of what was happening in the world surrounding Isra’el, the more I have come to understand that there is a complex set of political dynamics behind why Solomon married those women. Sin is never simple. Rarely are our actions black and white, and like Solomon, disaster can be borne out of common wisdom and accepting what our society tells us is right and harmless.

Many of the bad choices we make are based on fear, and Solomon appears to be no exception. Looking back we know he had a war-free reign, but did Solomon know that would happen? He lived in a terrifying time and acted to mitigate the risks as best he could.

From reading Proverbs, I can see that unlike David, Solomon’s knowledge of God was in the head, not the heart and he never developed the passion for, or dependence on God which would have led him away from making disastrous choices. His fears pulled him towards reliance on his wisdom to make strategic decisions, rather than his heart leading him to act with faith, and that is why he took the safe, well worn route of making political marriages which would protect the nation. It was what many generations of pagan kings had done before him, and in the same way he copied their style of *animalistic throne, he copied their other law-breaking customs as well. Sadly, his lack of faith led to his final downfall when he abandoned YHWH altogether and split the nation he was trying to hold together.

Here are the main features of the world Solomon was living in which would have affected his choices. Please see the links at the end for additional resources which will help this make sense.

  1. Egypt was bouncing back from the Bronze Age Collapse which had kept them quiet. They began to exact vengeance against the Philistines who had taken a great deal of their territory, and would have been a direct threat to Isra’el, as back in Abraham’s time, Canaan was under Egyptian control and they would have wanted that critical piece of land back. The greatest logic as to why Solomon took an Egyptian royal wife was that it was a rational decision to ally the nations and hold off Egypt from attacking them. Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, had an Ammonite mother; she was not the Egyptian princess, so Egypt lost little time in attacking Judah once Solomon was dead and there were no strings attached. [Refs. 1 Kings 9 and 1 Kings 14:25]

2. Egypt wasn’t the only threat to Isra’el’s security. Assyria was also steadily rising and became a terrifying menace which later enslaved the Northern Kingdom. They have the reputation of being the cruelest army to ever have existed on the Earth. Solomon would have watched this and been rightly concerned, plus we don’t know what other significant power struggles were occurring around him.

It is interesting to note the extensive resources Solomon invested in building and fortifying Isra’el. [2 Chronicles 8:5] This is why it seems logical to me that the other foreign wives may have been like the Egyptian Princess: marriages to stop wars and uprisings from places like Assyria and lands such as Moab, which were hit hard by David. They would have wanted to test the military mettle of a new King to see if they could gain control of Isra’el and her many natural resources, but marriage could stop that from occurring.

Solomon was very active in national security, as well as building a prosperous nation. He was making all the right moves. Solomon rebuilt both Megiddo and Gezer, which had been struck by Egypt. [Ref. 1 Kings 9:15] As I said above, Canaan which includes Megiddo, had been under Egyptian control pre-Philistine arrival, as it is an area of vital strategic importance. It has a mountain range which cuts through the middle of trade routes, allowing the control and taxation of the camel and donkey caravans who had little choice but to take that route. It is also a very important military position which has been mown to the ground by war many times. 1 Kings 10:26 tells us of the army Solomon was amassing, which was cutting edge for his day, and strictly against the commands of the Torah. [ Ref. Deuteronomy 17:16] If he had felt safe, he would not have done any of this.

3. Solomon’s world was heavily influenced by the cultural diffusion which had occurred between the Canaanites and Israelites. Diffusion occurs for practical reasons: it opens the way to jobs, better trade and if you can understand and speak to your neighbours, and have things in common, then there is less chance of raids and war. So people ‘sensibly’ intermarry and try to live in harmony, which leads to curiosity about life style and other gods…and then the unfaithful become persuaded to worship Ashtoreth, Molech and/or Chemosh. It’s a subtle, natural process and the reason why God ordered the elimination of those nations. The people were told as far back as the wilderness: ‘don’t even ask others about their gods!’ That is a dangerous conversation when gods lead to guilt-free carnal pleasures as worship. Abandoning YHWH wasn’t planned sin; the people slowly faded into compromise, just as Solomon did, which was their undoing too.

ancient-arabia-yemen-%d8%a8%d9%84%d9%82%d9%8a%d8%b3Even with all these risk factors in mind, Solomon had no excuse for not depending on God to keep Isra’el safe. The entire history if Isra’el proves God’s faithfulness in delivering His people, plus David had set a sterling example of how to lean on God in any situation.
In Proverbs 3, Solomon’s own words are:

5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6: Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
25: You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26: for the LORD is your security.
He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.”

Despite what he said, in practice, he relied on legalistic wisdom, solving the challenges that faced him using that one limited gift. As the commentator MacLaren says: “Proverbs 10:32, contains a collection of isolated maxims which may be described as the product of sanctified common sense. They are shrewd and homely, but not remarkably spiritual or elevated.” That sums up all of his work. God may have given Solomon wisdom, but Solomon didn’t use it for spiritual reasons or to increase his relationship with YHWH, he was too egocentric.

Look at the differences in how David and Solomon approach God. Ecclesiastes 2 uses these words: I made, I bought, I gathered… whereas in David’s song of praise in 2 Samuel 22, repeatedly, God is attributed with victory, well over and above anything David claims for himself. “The Lord is…” “He is…” He heard…” He opened…” “He shot…” “His lightning…”

Solomon lived for himself and his inward focus destroyed the very foundations of his character more than any accumulation of foreign wives could. He could be likened to a house built so poorly that any pressure on it, (fear of war and calamity,) pulled it down, because the foundations had no spiritual strength. Solomon is a terrible tragedy.
29200701_mr3x3xrrr

Notes:

To properly understand the time Solomon lived in, you will find these articles helpful. I cannot include all this information here as it’s too extensive and took months of study and research to uncover.
Things You Need to Know About Isra’el
Bronze Age Collapse
Sands and Sin

*Animalistic Throne: from as a far back as the pagan priest kings of Mesopotamia, stelae and orthostats show thrones surrounded by lions or with lion heads carved into the arms of the throne. It was a way of harnessing the power of those mighty animals, and a well understood pagan symbol of power and might: not faith in YHWH.


kdpcpyrght

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

The images in this post are Creative Commons and Public Domain Licenced.

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.

Succession, Sin and Subjugation: An Observation on the Eternal Consequences of Rejecting Theocratic Rule

From looking at the stories of various monarchs throughout history I have discovered that:

If you [the subjects,] repeatedly treat an ordinary person as a rock star, he will eventually begin to act with an inflated sense of entitlement.

If you repeatedly bow to someone with reverence, give them everything they ask for, fear challenging their will and esteem them on a much higher level than any person deserves or needs, you will produce a royal with an inflated ego, capable of abusing their position…

…and it will partially be your fault that they have done so.

ggIn the Netflix series “The Crown,” when Elisabeth’s father, King George VI dies, Elisabeth visits Buckingham Palace to *grieve her father and is confronted by the awful spectre of her mother and sister bowing to her as the new Monarch. She was utterly horrified, but forced to take it. It is one of the loneliest scenes I’ve ever watched in a drama and sadly, it is based on the truth. The British Royal family arrive, eat, and even open their Christmas presents – as a family – in a specific pecking order, with the Queen at the top. It is set etiquette which has been around for many generations and to us, it’s inhuman; but what must it be like for them? Would you like to live like that, with no freedom to reject etiquette and be yourself? The family pressure on Elisabeth to conform, let alone the political and cultural pressure, was not crushing, it was more like a slow, violent series of personality and independence-smashing shocks. I sincerely hope this dramatical portrayal of what she went through is wildly inaccurate, but it shows the institution of royalty from a perspective that is a strong contrast to the next monarch mentioned.

uguigiugKing David’s grandson, Rehoboam, is an example of the worst kind of monarch who was drunk with power rather than suffocated by it. He is everything that Samuel had warned the people about, and that generation of Israelites who demanded a king are directly responsible for this outcome which affected their great-grandchildren, (and technically responsible for later generations going into captivity, as they had set up a system which allowed godless kings to destroy Isra’el’s covenant with YHWH, their God. There is a big lesson there, in being careful what decisions you make.)

“Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counselled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”
The older counsellors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”
But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”
The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” 1 Kings 12

Making decisions that effect others is really easy when you live in privileged isolation, as you have no real idea of what you’ve done; you just feel the kick your ego gives you.

The distinction between a king and a commoner is massive and God never designed His Kingdom to be structured this way. The earlier Mesopotamian move towards placing kings in power condemned many generations of young men, in many cultures, to sinful, abnormal lives. They were given privileges that an egalitarian society would never permit, and paved the way to endless generations of men who perpetrates social injustices, as mankind’s psyche was not built to accommodate such excesses and certainly not without sufficient equals to balance the sanity equation. This is part of why I don’t believe Isra’el ever should have had kings.

Whenever you step outside of God’s plan for His people, you will generate massive sin. YHWH, “I AM,” the one true God of Isra’el, was the only One who was ever meant to be in a position of power over Isra’el, speaking through His prophets to the people and acting for the good of the community via His Levitical priesthood. When Isra’el rejected that system for worldly reasons, they opened themselves up to consequences which impacted every prince and king to come.

Gustave Doré - Doré's English Bible. Public Domain.

Solomon by Gustave Doré – Doré’s English Bible. Public Domain.

“Finally, all the elders of Isra’el met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the LORD for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

So Samuel passed on the LORD’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the LORD will not help you.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us [not God] and lead us into battle.” 1 Samuel 8:4-20

Society behaves very oddly towards monarchs. The image of the court, crown, castle, princesses, princes, chivalry, and wealth are romanticised and spoken of longingly in many, many fairy tales and works of fiction, while in reality, we hate the dictatorship and social inequality that being ruled brings. It is very easy to be a royal basher, but over time I have tried hard to find the humanity in people we don’t really see as human and understand their story, which was how I wound up watching The Crown. That series made me realise that behind the emotionless face of Queen Elisabeth is a woman who has been through an awful lot and for all the wealth and fame, she has so little freedom. It also makes me think about what David sacrificed to be King, and it causes me to wonder more about the generations that came after him and why so many were godless (aside from the obvious answer being greed.)

If we could go back in time and stop that first king in Mesopotamia from being crowned, we’d have to go to many places in many points in time, and stop the equivalent from happening. Mankind understandably wants security and good leadership, but the price that has been paid in power battles, wars, destroyed lives and peasant’s poverty is grossly appalling. If only we’d look only to the Lord as leader… life would be so much better and history would have been far more interesting.
29200701_mr3x3xrrr

Please also read, Did God Want a King for Isra’el? http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32570


kdpcpyrght

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

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

Judgement Versus Discernment: Reading the Bible Righteously

judging bathshebaIt is very rare that I ever hear a good word spoken about BathSheba, except by some Rabbis, who declare David and BathSheba’s association as the greatest love story in the Bible. That may be because King Solomon came from their union.

When pressed to answer what I think about her, the only response I have is, “I don’t know the lady. I have no idea what she was like, so I really don’t think it’s my place to judge her. She is someone’s wife and someone’s mother: so she was loved.” I honestly cannot say more than that. I try and relate to her as a fellow human, rather than a good or bad person.

David and BathSheba is the story of what happens when things get way out of hand… when you can no longer control the circumstances, then fall into shame and block out the need to repent. Both David and BathSheba could have lost their lives over their adultery. It’s a serious matter, but while I can learn a great deal from their mistakes, there is still no need for me to slide into any judgement of what they did. That’s only the Lord’s job. [See footnote about rape.]

There is a tendency to condemn and vilify those whose stories grace the pages of our Bibles. We have blurred the line between discerning a lesson and personal criticism, based on our own opinions. Jacob is another example of someone who is pulled to pieces. He is a controversial figure and we tend to remember the bad. We remember that Samson was strong… but weak when it came to women. Rahab is a heroine, despite that she was a prostitute, because she helped God’s chosen people. We look at small snapshots of long, complex lives, then we make a decision on whether that person was predominantly good or bad. As most of us fall prey to negativity biases, often the decision is damning.

Yet the Bible clearly labels Jacob and Samson as righteous and servants of the Lord. So why are we sticking the knife into their backs?

Another sobering question I was confronted by, when I was writing my Christian novels, was if I speak badly of these people or misrepresent them, when I get to heaven and actually meet them face to face, then what am I going to say? How am I going to feel when they stand there clean and forgiven, and I’ve previously assaulted them?

That issue made me think long and hard. If I behave in an insensitive and inhumane way towards BathSheba, what will I say to my beloved David when I see him, and hear how much he did love his wife; or that he wishes people had been willing to consider that perhaps the situation was much more complex and from this a brief account, we haven’t understood it?

What if I went up to him and said, “Absalom was such a rat! I don’t know how you put up with that kid, he must have driven you nuts!” Then I could be confronted with a father’s sadness over a lost son.

That would hurt. I never want to be in that situation.

img_1682Maybe we all need to reconsider the way we teach the Scriptures and talk about ‘dead’ people? As they are names on pages, we feel no connection to, or responsibility towards them. That is the exact same psychological phenomenon that drives bullying and trolls on the internet. We can’t see the faces of the real people, so what we do just doesn’t matter. Yet it does. The Bible says, don’t judge. It doesn’t make any distinction on whether or not that responsibility stops with someone’s death. Orthodox Jews call people who have died, “… of blessed memory.” The person, regardless of whether they are family or not, are treated with respect. That is excellent role modelling.

People who died in right relationship with the Lord are not with us, but it doesn’t mean they have been deleted from existence. It doesn’t mean we will never squirm when we realise how badly we treated them. It doesn’t mean the Lord won’t rebuke us for our unrighteousness, for wielding swords of justice which are only, rightfully His.

So I have striven to err on the side of mercy and fairness when studying and writing about David, and that is, at times, quite a challenge. I have no respect for Saul, Joab or Absalom, but I do not want to stand before the Lord and have to explain why I acted with such harshness when the Father has been so merciful and tender with me. So I try and state the facts about them without including my personal opinion, name calling, or other derogatory low blows.

I have found, that another benefit has sprung up from me being more aware of how I treat David and his family. Amending my attitude has led to a greater awareness of how I judge and speak about the people in my immediate, real life, vicinity. That involves my family, my problematic neighbours and the people I meet in every day life, some of who annoy me.

Learning not to judge is a life skill that is necessary. Scripture tells us directly not to do it. We know we should act with the fruit of the Spirit, we know the standards. Even if we see others pulling apart people, we must resist the impulse to do the same. Judging others in teaching been done through many generations, and it will take some serious work to change our habits. However, for the sake of our character, it’s worth doing.
29200701_mr3x3xrrr
Footnotes:
a) Scriptures on Judging: Luke 6:37Matthew 7:2Hebrews 10:30
b) Did David Rape BathSheba?
No, he didn’t. Why? Well, the Bible calls rape, rape and that is not what we see here. It is more likely that as he was a king, she was flattered or awed by him and he may have offered her an incentive such as wealth, land, a promotion for her husband: anything that would enable him to fulfil his desire. Who wouldn’t want to be more popular with the King and attain a higher position in life? Many people would take an opportunity like that and she may have seen it as an honour. [Ref. 2 Samuel 11-12]

Why do I think that?
1. As I said above, the Bible calls rape, rape. It pulls no punches about where David went wrong, so why would it here?
2. When David and BathSheba’s first child dies, David is able to comfort her. There is no indication of a fractured relationship, such as the one he had with Michal. A raped woman would be traumatised. David and BathSheba went on to have four other sons together and she became Queen, which we know as the succession of all her sons is listed.
3. David is such an overtly honest person, he would have confessed it in the Psalms.
4. David was so guilt-ridden over what he had done, had he raped her, it is possible he would have arranged for her to live, well cared for and safe somewhere.
5. It did not appear to be within David’s nature to be so violent outside of war. One example is the number of times the head of his army, Joab, wanted to assassinate a direct threat to his life and kingship. Each time, David said no, even though his refusal flew in the face of common sense. Violence was not his first choice. He looked to the Lord for deliverance. [Ref. 2 Samuel 2 Samuel 15-18]


kdpcpyrght

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Uncompromising obedience to the Lord;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


kdpcpyrght

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


kdpcpyrght

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

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