Tishah B’av: Fast for the Destruction of the Temples

One of the gates of the city of Jerusalem, pock marked by mortar shells.

One of the gates of the city of Jerusalem, pock marked by mortar shells.

Tishah B’av is a day of communal mourning for Isra’el as it commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, and may also include other events which have left the Jewish nation scarred. Tishah appears to have multiple spellings, depending on where you look. I have found three.

During the day, the book of Lamentations is read, accompanied by a traditional song only used on this day. “Traditional Jews do not eat meat, cut their hair, or wash their clothes unless they are to be worn again during the nine days. All these actions are considered signs of joy or luxury inappropriate for this time of mourning. Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews adopt a varied range of these practices.” Source link. They are also encouraged to visit cemeteries to heighten the mourning.

“The meal ending the fast traditionally omits meat and wine, in acknowledgment of the fact that the burning of the Temple continued until the next day. Finally, the sorrow that began on the 17th of Tammuz comes to a halt and the Shabbat immediately following Tishah B’Av is called Shabbat Nahamu (Shabbat of comfort) because the Haftarah begins with the words “nahamu nahamu ami” (“comfort, comfort my people”). This begins a period of consolation and comfort leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.” For more information, please read the page these quotes come from. The dating and practices around Tishah B’Av get complex. (Page link.)

Other related articles:

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How David Compares to Other Near Eastern Kings

Sumerian King List

Sumerian King List

God changes everything in people’s lives. He always has, He always will. Last year I began to dig back through ancient history to find out what the kings in David’s era and part of the world were like. I wanted to know where the corruption that comes with royalty stemmed from. The search took me back far further than I had anticipated and I was stunned to know so much of the culture was still relevant and active in David’s lifetime.

The roots of kingship go back to the first city states which sprung up in Mesopotamia, where people decided to group together and organise to make survival easier: and of course, someone grabbed power. We don’t know who the first “king” was. They could have been a reputed warrior, a respected priest or someone who was simply savvy enough to take the opportunity to be the guy in charge. You know the deal. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of years have gone past, (estimated to be six thousand by historians,) it’s still a man in a fancier hat with a better house, servants and loads more money than everyone else. Kingship has been synonymous with excess and abuses of power since the beginning not because people tend to be a little jealous, but because that is the way things really are.

When kings first came in society changed. The power stopped being in the hands of the people, or a democratic committee of people. Women started to be treated as lesser beings and the class system was “invented” where some had more and some had less, rather than everyone working towards survival. God gave His people a command from the beginning of time: “go forth and multiply.”[Ref. Genesis 9:7] We were never meant to be clustered together in unhealthy cities with a class and sexist divide which shoves God out of the picture. For the sake of an easier life, our ancestors gave that up and nothing has really changed. We are still suspicious of the number 13, we still exalt people into insane positions of wealth and power, and humanity leans away from the freedom that God wanted for us, creating social problems, mental illness and all manner of physical sickness.

By the time I got to David, three thousand years later, I was mortified to see the same system being maintained and concerned at the similarities between paganism and How Israel functioned. For example, the kings were always placed in power by their deity, the altars had horns, and the priests needs were catered for the same way. There were a lot of parallels where the base culture that had produced Abraham had stuck in people’s minds and had gone through very little modification; the gods were basically the same; no one had grown. The whole structure of society was essentially a corruption of what God had intended.

As I said above, God changes everything in people’s lives. He always has, He always will and He did that with David. Saul bought straight into the culturally accepted, corrupt mode of kingship, and David did follow that to a significant degree, but he was different. David had been bought up strong in the faith and he doggedly stayed on that path, despite being exiled from fellowship and access to Israel’s worship practices by Saul. [Ref. 1 Samuel 26:19-20] He followed the laws in the Torah which God had handed down through Moses, and this made him distinct from any other king. He was so distinct that it’s given historians a reason to doubt he ever existed, as he didn’t leave the usual marks of kingship behind for us to find.

The biggest thing a king did in the ancient Near East was build a temple. Now David did that, but not in the same way. Normally when a Near Eastern king came into power, they set up their own capital city regardless of what already existed (he did that); named it after them (he didn’t do that); then build yet another temple to their god to show what a devout, god-chosen leader they were. No temple existed in Israel until David decided that his living large while God dwelled in a tent was just not right. Why? Saul was not a man of religious fervour, to put it mildly. It is doubtful he would have weighed up the difference between his home and God’s and decided to put the situation right. God had asked Moses to build the tabernacle, which was a nice tent situation, so that would do. It takes a different heart to choose not to live in greater splendour than the One to whom you owe you life, your success and your future. David had that humble heart that cared about His creator.

David’s humility also kept him from following in some of the other time-worn customs of kings. Yes, he did accumulate wives like other kings, which was against the law and had consequences which he regretted deeply. He did grab the King of Rabbah’s elaborate crown for himself… but he did not sing his own praises from the palace roof. Yes, of course he would have succumbed to ego on occasion. When even your wives bow and scrape before you, the human brain is going to go places it should not venture, and you’ll have a tough time staying humble. But David was undeniably modest compared to a typical king. [Ref. Rabbah 2 Samuel 12:29-30]

Lion-men; orthostat relief from Herald's wall, Carchemish ; 850-750 BC; Late Hittite style under Aramaean influence. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey

Lion-men; orthostat relief from Herald’s wall, Carchemish ; 850-750 BC; Late Hittite style under Aramaean influence. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey

Other kings had elaborate stele (victory memorials), and/or commemorative orthostats (carved scenes on the walls) in their palace, telling everyone who visited how they had won wars, taken slaves and been the best of the best: a powerful man that you don’t mess with. David did none of this. Stele’s nearly always had their god carved into the picture in close proximity to the king to reinforce the idea that the king was chosen, blessed and victorious because of their god. It is the kind of idol imagery which is forbidden in the ten commandments and that may have been one reason why David didn’t do it. He recorded his life events through Psalms, some of which are like victory steles, others which are cries for help, but nothing else has been discovered. We have ancient Babylonian and Assyrian statues and orthostats which pre-date David, but nothing has been found of his as it appears, it just wasn’t his thing. Yes, it could have been destroyed when Jerusalem was sacked by Babylon; but there is no Biblical account of any such objects being made, even though we know which of his great-grandsons thought it would be fashionable to paint the palace walls red.

Read the Psalms: “I will tell of the marvellous things You have done.” Psalm 9:1b and “I will exalt You Lord, because You have rescued me.” Psalm 30 David never takes the glory for himself, he always gives it to God. It would be completely incongruent to his character to build memorials to himself for what God had done.

David was also humble in the empire department. When kings traditionally went on campaign each spring to expand their control, we find David staying at home in Jerusalem while Joab gets on with the security-related tasks. [Ref. 2 Samuel 11:1, Joab was dealing with the aftermath of 2 Samuel 10.] He dealt with the enemies of Israel, but he didn’t get ambitious beyond that. It was common for kings to start expanding their territory just because they could. David didn’t. It’s that simple. The Lord had said, “I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more.” 2 Samuel 12:8  It looks like David simply did not ask God for me. He was satisfied with a secure nation and the blessing he had. Psalm 34:14 …. says “seek peace and work to maintain it.” Taking this general attitude and his habit of not joining Joab on the battlefield unless it was absolutely necessary, it appears David was simply not a war-mongering conquerer.

He didn’t give himself a grandiose title or nickname either. King Lugal-zaggisi of Sumer claimed that he ruled the four quarters of the world, even though he was only the ruler of the neighbouring regions of Sumer and Akkad. Etana, King of Kish, called himself “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries.” En-me-barage-si, also of Kish, referred to himself as the one: “who made the land of Elam submit,” and Kubaba, the only female king, called herself: “the woman tavern-keeper, who made firm the foundations of Kish.” David once referred to himself as the “sweet singer of Israel,” but it was it.

I have often called David the anti-king because of his humility, but the glory doesn’t even go to him for achieving that. While it was his choice to be open to the leading and correction of the Holy Spirit, at the end of the day, it was God’s work in David which turned him into the awesome man he became. As many have said, David was the start of an era and the end of that era… and that era was planned and put into place by his God, YHWH, who did this not just for David, He did it for all of His people. God changes everything in people’s lives. He always has, He always will.


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Obedience That Hurts ~ #Christianliving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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.

5 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About King David ~ #Bible #psalm #Christian

5things

Interesting facts often lie in the out of the way places that you don’t often visit. Here are my 5 favourite facts about David, that I didn’t have a clue existed.

1. His mother was a role model for his spiritual walk.
There are two Psalms which refer to her:
~ “Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.” Psalm 116:16

~ “Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.” Psalm 86:16
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2. On the topic of parents… when David had to flee from Saul, fearing for his parent’s safety, he approached the King of Moab and ensured that his parents could live there for as long as it was necessary. Don’t forget that David is the grandchild of Ruth, as in the book of Ruth, so there is Moabite blood in the family.

1 Samuel 22:1 and 3 “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there… From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.”
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knowyourpeople3. 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. They key Scriptures are in the images above and below this point. (Please click here to read Psalm 59 to get the proper context, or that excerpt is misleading.)

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.
“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!” Psalm 22:6-8 and 22:22
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers.
I will praise you among your assembled people.”

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.

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.

Psalm40vs8to9
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4. David states in Psalm 119:54 (again, thought to be David’s) that the Word of the Lord has been the theme of his songs. If you read Leviticus and Deuteronomy, then turn straight to Psalm 1 to start reading, you will see how heavily the laws that God handed down through Moses, colour his work. Rabbis have been known to tell people that if you don’t want to study Torah, study the Psalms because you’ll still learn the laws of God.
“Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.” Psalm 119:54-56

Another favourite worth noting is Psalm 119:143: “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” (New Living Translation)
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5. Before he died, we are not sure just how long, he gave all his personal wealth to help fund the building of the temple. Find me another member of any royal family, from any point in history, who has ever done that. His passion for God and desire to see the temple built was that strong. Without the temple, David knew that people would continue to worship on the high places, where the pagan gods were also worshipped. God needed His own house.

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

For the full story see 1 Chronicles 22, then 29:1-9. In verses 29:6-9, we can see how David’s giving inspired others to give.

This is the menorah that the Romans seized from the second temple, when Jerusalem was destroyed. It now resides in the Vatican and should rightly be returned back to Isra'el where it belongs.

This is the menorah that the Romans seized from the second temple, when Jerusalem was destroyed. It now resides in the Vatican and should rightly be returned back to Isra’el where it belongs.


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