King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (23)

Uriah_killedKing David and Bathsheba (3)

Foul Murder: 2 Samuel 11:14-21

The Biblical text gives no hint that David was uncertain of or reluctant to take the next step.  His instructions to Joab are direct and explicit — see to it that Uriah dies in combat.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

This is nothing other than murder most foul.  There are no extenuating circumstances.  King David is using his power to kill the man whom he has wronged, for the express purpose of covering up that wrong.

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

Joab follows David’s orders to the letter.  As a direct consequence, Uriah falls.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’

Note that Joab’s primary concern is King David’s reaction to the colleratial damage caused by use of this corrupt plan of battle.  That is, because Joab had to include other warriors in the plan in order to obscure the true purpose, they too died unnecessarily.  King David apparently cared about Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth, who was caught up in this evil scenario.

If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

Joab knows that all will be forgiven if David is informed that Uriah is dead.  The depth of corruption is terrible to observe.  David has over a few weeks thrown away all honor and morality as a consequence of indulging his lust for a married woman.  He may have imagined that this massive set of sins had been covered up.  Was there any sorrow, any bad conscience at work in him?

sinJohn Calvin, in his commentary on Psalm 51:5, succinctly sums up David’s (and our) true situation.

We have no adequate idea of the dominion of sin, unless we conceive of it as extending to every part of the soul, and acknowledge that both the mind and heart of man have become utterly corrupt.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (22)

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David and Uriah – Rembrandt

King David and Bathsheba (2)

The Attempted Coverup: 2 Samuel 11:6-13

David’s initial attempt to coverup his sin seeks the least destructive path.  However, he has started down a dark, dangerous road that, if followed, will lead to ever greater levels of sin.

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going.

Note that the scope of David’s sin went far beyond adultery.  As the King he was the “commander in chief” of the army.  Thus, while Uriah was in the field of battle David had used this absence to enable his elicit liaison with Bathsheba.  Thus, David had utterly corrupted his military and political authority as well.

Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

Note that it is Uriah’s honor that defeats David’s coverup.

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

dangerous-pathDavid has done everything in his power to deceive Uriah into sleeping with his wife.  But, since he must exercise this power in the shadows there are powerful limitations on what he can say and do.  David’s sin has thus led him down a road of degradation and powerlessness.  He is now in a terrible, dark place; lost within the shame and lies of the situation that he has created for himself.

This is his last chance to turn back before he has done something utterly irrevocable from the perspective of worldly consequences.

 

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (21)

tissot-david-sees-bathheba-bathing-640x459King David and Bathsheba (1)

The Adultery: 2 Samuel 11:1-5

In chapters 8-10 King David consolidates his position internally through wise policies and externally through military victories.  He thus, perhaps for the first time in his adulthood, has room to enjoy life’s pleasures.  Sin’s ingenuity within us is terrifyingly exposed in what follows.  For, it leverages what is at the very beginning an “innocent” desire into a vile, hellish experience that appears to shake the very foundation of God’s eternal decree concerning David and his family.

John Calvin placed the monumental issue that this event raises in it’s proper context.

To have a clear apprehension of their meaning, it is necessary that we reflect upon the covenant which God had made with David. The salvation of the whole world having been in a certain sense deposited with him by this covenant, the enemies of religion might take occasion to exclaim upon his fall, “Here is the pillar of the Church gone, and what is now to become of the miserable remnant whose hopes rested upon his holiness? Once nothing could be more conspicuous than the glory by which he was distinguished, but mark the depth of disgrace to which he has been reduced! Who, after so gross a fall, would look for salvation from his seed?”

John Calvin’s Commentary on Psalms – Volume 2; Psalm 51:4

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

This is where the moral disaster began.  David’s flesh desired far more than rest from battle, it sought reward for the years of violence and terror that he had experienced.  But, at the beginning, he likely thought of this dereliction as a minor but well deserved and innocent respite.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba,the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

Had David only looked away!  But, as frail flesh and blood he experienced what we all have when we purposefully choose to lie, gossip, lust, covet, hate and blaspheme, among so many others sins.  Is there a Biblical statement with more empirical evidence in support than the Apostle Paul’s from Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

consequencesKing David used his power to act on his sinful desires.  Here he made the mistake so common to those who wield power in this world: yes, he could turn a desire into a concrete act, but he could not control the consequences of that very same act.  Those consequences only began with Bathsheba’s illicit pregnancy.  They would not end until David’s kingship, family and nation had been torn into bloody shreds.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (20)


john 16-33God’s Promise to David (4)

David’s Prayer: 2 Samuel 7:25-29

Following is how King David concludes his prayer in response to the LORD God’s promise.

25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

In the above first paragraph, in which David pleas for God’s keeping of the promise, he makes no appeal based upon his or his family’s future performance.  He rather bases his plea in the only possible place for a human addressing God; that being God’s own sovereign choice.  It is only because God’s sovereign character is to keep His promises that King David can hope for continuance.

In the concluding paragraph of this mighty prayer we find all of the preceding themes summarized and finalized.  In humility, thankfulness and confidence in God alone this elect human being concludes a prayer which is a foundation stone for our Christian faith and all of the goodness that has flowed therefrom.


theroadwarrior

More like this …

I must return to the question raised in the previous post.

a-river-runs-through-it-brad-pitt-poster-002

…than like this?!

That being, how is it that (for many contemporary people), with David’s life story more closely resembling the character Max from “The Road Warrior” than Rev. Maclean from “A River Runs Through It,” he could have prayed such a humble, profound prayer?

Although I’ve already rejected this cultural context, I yet understand how those far more immersed in Hollywood than in God’s Word could find themselves utterly bewildered by this turn of events.  To them, it’s as if Max, at the end of the movie had received God’s eternal blessing and had bowed down to say such a prayer in response.  And, yes, if this is your frame of reference then the two thoughts are indeed seemingly irreconcilable.

The first response is to point out that, even in the not too distant past, there was not necessarily a contradiction between the doing of violence and the having of virtue.  For example, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill waged bloody, brutal total war on the Axis Powers in World War II with the understanding that their doing so fell well within the bounds of Christian virtue.  The same could be said of Abraham Lincoln and

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General George Washington at prayer.

George Washington, among many, many others.  Even in the very recent past, President Obama, a professing Christian, waged lethal drone warfare on Islamic terrorists (my phrase, not his) and maintained a significant military presence in Afghanistan.  My point is that we are wading in a shallow moral pool indeed by pretending that violence and virtue are necessarily opposites (though in civilized circumstances they usually are).

But there is another far more fundamental factor at play than any past, present or future cultural context.  That factor is the LORD God Himself entering into David’s life with sanctifying power.  Just as He did with Abraham, Moses, Peter and Paul (among so many others) — all of whom were frail, fallen flesh — God yet used them for his sovereign purposes as they engaged with this fallen world, which sometimes led to great and small acts of violence.

For a godless man, participation in violence creates arrogance, pride and the lust for more of the same.  However, for a man saved through Christ by the Holy Spirit, the tragic necessity for violence is intended to create conditions in which wicked people will not oppress them anymore (2 Samuel 7:10).

Sam-with-family

Sam Gamgee returns home after defeating evil.

This tragic necessity of warfare to open up the potential for peaceful, virtuous life is beautifully explained in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Sam Gamgee, a Hobbit who has experienced war, terrors, ultimate evil and, finally, victory returns home to his beloved family.

“But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.
He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said”

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It is absolutely clear that this peaceful purpose is what all of the terrible sacrifice had been ultimately about.  It’s frustrating to see so many people in the United States who live in the peace purchased by past and current sacrifice showing no understanding of or thankfulness for this blessing.

So, the redeemed man David, after he had for years, fled, hid, fought and killed, learned the humility, thankfulness and trust in God that enabled such a prayer to be said.  He learned that, apart from God, he could do nothing.  Although David, by his wits and prowess overcame all of his enemies, under the Holy Spirit’s tutelage he came to that Reformed realization that banishes pride and arrogance; cowardice and passivity.

I am the heart, He is the heartbeat
I am the eyes, He is the sight
And I see clearly, I am just a body
He is the life
I move my feet, I go through the motions
But He gives purpose to chance
I am the dancer
He is the Lord of the dance
Steven Curtis Chapman – Lord Of The Dance Lyrics | MetroLyrics


Does the preceding discussion answer all questions and solve all problems associated with violence in the Bible?  Certainly not.  However, I do hope that it begins to open up paths of inquiry that will allow us to properly integrate these troubling passages into a coherent, comprehensive understanding of God’s Word.

 

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (19)

praying-israeliteGod’s Promise to David (3)

David’s Prayer: 2 Samuel 7:18-24

What will be King David’s response to this gracious, eternal promise from the LORD God?  Could there be a more clear case for self-congratulation and boasting than had David at this point in time?  After all, the LORD God had purposefully chosen him to be king, and had shown His favor across the years of struggle necessary to reach this point.  And David himself had, through his wisdom and prowess, overcome all his enemies, both internal and external to the nation.

David had participated in banditry and bloody combat, with easily thousands of human deaths either directly or indirectly caused by his actions.  At this point might not a person with this on his conscience be overwhelmingly tempted to respond in self-justification?  That is, to turn God’s blessing to his own purposes, to absolve himself of guilt.

And yet, this is how King David actually did begin his prayerful response.

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!

20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.


I must ask, in this current time of Facebook/Twitter/Instagram (et al.) self-promotion, self-congratulation, self-absorption; can there be anything more foreign than this beginning of King David’s prayer?  No.  For this elect soul, this victor over all adversity and adversaries, this bloodied warrior points always and only away from himself and towards the LORD God.

However, there’s a deeper problem that prevents many contemporary people from giving David an open-minded hearing.  That being David is the exact opposite of everything that they believe to comprise morality.  In the view of many David is a far closer to (if not actually being) a war criminal than to a man after God’s own heart.  Thus, the fact that Holy Scripture lifts up this particular man can actually undermine their confidence.  In the next post I will directly address this difficult issue.

For today let’s, as Christians, be clear on the fundamental point.  Regardless of our own feelings, knowledge and opinions, David’s story is in the Word of God.  We do not judge it, nor does our personal sense of morality supersede it.  God has placed it in His Word for our benefit.  Yes, we should first seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in prayer and then use all of our God-given gifts to properly interpret and apply it to our life and times.  But, we Christians must stand with David, a God-chosen pillar of our faith in saying.

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

Humility, thankfulness, and submission to an external, eternal sovereign LORD God…

30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 

(1 Corinthians 1:30,31, NIV)

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (18)

God’s Promise to David (2)

2 Samuel 7:11b-17

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”

17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

Significant ambiguity occurs in this passage due to the mixing of the temporal and eternal perspectives.  On the eternal side, in verse 16 God appears to be speaking about the Messianic kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ taught that He was the eternal temple of God in Mark 14:58 and John 2:19.  On the temporal side, God speaks about His relationship with David’s offspring, who are certain to sin.

I do not presume to be able to untangle the temporal and eternal aspects of this prophecy.  Rather, my intention is to focus on King David’s response to it, which will be taken up in the next post.

 

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (17)

Gerard_van_Honthorst_-_King_David_Playing_the_Harp_-_Google_Art_Project

Gerard van Honthorst – King David Playing the Harp

God’s Promise to David (1)

We here turn from David the warrior to David the poet.  However, note well that in the following passage, in which God’s purposes for David and his house are made clear, it is God’s support of David the warrior that has opened the opportunity for David the poet to prosper.

2 Samuel 7:1-11a

After terrible struggle, terrors and heartache, David is now the King.

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”

Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”

King David feels a sense of guilt because his home is far more impressive than that provided for the ark of God.  Nathan’s reply is based on a general principle which appears to be certainly established by events.

But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

The Lord God corrects Nathan’s error.  Note that His point is that David’s intention is based upon his own thoughts rather than on God’s Word to him.

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.

God is not here speaking in ephemeral metaphors.  The “cutting off” of David’s enemies including King Saul, opposing Israelites and foreign foes has occurred by bloody, deadly conflict.  David and his followers dealt out death and destruction by their own hands.  At some points God intervened to cause death.

Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

Far from finding fault in David, God begins to explain His purposes for David’s life and reign.  God intends to make David’s name “great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.”  That is, David and his reign as king over Israel will be known far into the future as a sign and symbol of God’s purposes through the Israelis.

Through the decisive victories in open warfare here on this fallen earth, God has created the space for Israel and its king to be planted with deep roots of religious, and cultural tradition.  For a time they will be free from oppression by the external forces of wickedness.

This is a precious gift.  In these ancient times peoples generally lived deep in the shadow of imminent death and destruction.  Thus, their time and energy was almost completely consumed by the requirements for physical survival.  Here God is allowing the nation of Israel rest from those terrible challenges.  Thus, space has been made for King David the poet to, by the Spirit’s leading, to create the Psalms that will guide and encourage God’s people throughout all succeeding history.

Decoding Progressivism (6)

The science is settled…we just can’t make up our minds about the nature of the global crisis that only we, your Progressive betters, can prevent.Believe-Anything-Climate

Al Gore, Global Warming Con-Man (see middle pane in above figure)

This is only one of the absurd things that Al Gore said when confronted by Chris Wallace about his now falsified predictions of planetary disaster (all, of course, based on the infallible source of scientific “consensus”).

I went down to Miami and saw fish from the ocean swimming in the streets on a sunny day. The same thing was true in Honolulu just two days ago, just from high tides because of the sea level rise now.

However, as reported by a non-anti-science source.

The problem is caused by a naturally occurring event known as a king tide, a rare event when the sun and moon align on the same side of the Earth during a high tide, and the extra gravitational pull produces tides much higher than normal.

The mind boggles at the sight of this supposed super-intellect blathering about a rare tidal event caused by gravitational effects as an example of rising ocean levels due to “global warming” (wait, I’ve been told that “global warming is a dangerous misnomer” by ex-President Obama’s Science Advisor, I’m so confused).  The fact that this was all Mr. Gore had when challenged testifies to the inherent vacuousness of his position.  Yet, he pretends to be a man of super wisdom, knowledge and integrity, a bringer of light to the oh so deplorable masses.

Or, as pithily stated by Peggy Noonan:

we are patronized by our inferiors.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (16)

Accepting My Own Limitations

David’s story consumes half of 1 Samuel, all of 2 Samuel and the opening of 1 Kings.  Given that just the first three chapters of David’s story have consumed fifteen posts, I estimate that complete coverage would consume between 150 and 200 additional posts.  I’m doubtful that I could continue to deliver commentary that doesn’t become boring (or, perhaps more honestly, more boring) and repetitive.

So, by accepting my own limitations in this effort, my plan is to cover only the following Scriptural passages.  My emphasis is on King David the poet, though there will be one important excursion into King David the sinner.  Following is my plan of coverage:

  • 2 Samuel 7 – God’s Promise to David and David’s Prayer
  • 2 Samuel 11 – David and Bathsheba
  • 2 Samuel 12 – Nathan Rebukes David
  • 2 Samuel 22 – David’s Song of Praise
  • 2 Samuel 23:1-7 – The Last Words of David

As you can see, I’m jumping from 1 Samuel 18 to 2 Samuel 7, which amounts to 20 chapters!  A tremendous and wonderful narrative concerning David’s pursuit by King Saul, rise to Kinghood and early reign is thus being skipped over.

However, it is my hope that the above selected passages will enable David’s story to be roughed out and God’s purposes explored.

Decoding Progressivism (5)

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own angry feelings, accuses another of harbouring hostile thoughts.

What should we call it when the individual in question appears to be perfectly comfortable with their “angry feelings?”  I think that current events create the need to define a more depraved stage of this psychological state.

Assassinate-Porn