Tag Archives: King David

David: Medium Rare (The Wrap Up)

davidmediumrare

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of delivering the final message in a summer series of messages entitled David: Medium Rare about the life of King David. The series was intended to provide examples of how the ancient king of Israel (of David and Goliath fame) continued to honor and praise God even when things didn’t go his way.

In this message, I discuss the fact that David did not get his hearts desire to build the temple, as it was not God’s plan for his life. David’s response was one of humility and acceptance, and an example for all of us. If we are going to accomplish God’s desire, we have to choose into the gifts and callings God has given us and not pine after our own desires.

The message series was part of the Auditorium services at Third Church in Pella, Iowa. This recording is posted here by permission.

Great Stories; My Story

The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Absalom said, “Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so we can hear what he has to say as well.” 2 Samuel 17:5 (NIV)

It is said that one of the aspects of great stories are their timelessness. When I was in college studying theatre there were entire sections of study devoted to Greek tragedies like Antigone and Oedipus Rex and, of course, the complete works of William Shakespeare. It was the late 20th century and in many classes I spent more time studying plays that were hundreds and thousands of years old than contemporary works.

As I read ancient stories like the story of David we’re wading through now, I can’t help but hear echoes of other timeless stories and make connections between them. Power plays for the throne, human failures, and the intrigue of family rivalries are the stuff of which classic stories are made. Today as I was reading the chapter, I thought of The Godfather films and the saga of the Corleone family, which is a timeless classic in its own right. As they led their mafia family, Vito and Michael Corleone always tried to have a guy, loyal to the family, on the inside of a rival family or faction. Luca Brasi dies while trying to convince the Tataglias that he wants to betray Don Corleone. Michael sends his brother Fredo to Las Vegas which not only serves to get Fredo out of his sight but also plants his own brother inside of an operation he doesn’t trust.

A few days ago we read that the last thing that King David did before fleeing the palace was to plant his man, Hushai, inside of Absalom’s inner circle. It proved to be a cunning move. Absalom took the bait hook, line and sinker. In today’s chapter, David’s scheme comes to fruition and Hushai sets the hook which will be the undoing of Absalom. Absalom was a cunning young man and had planned his moves against his brothers and father well. In the end, however, he underestimated all the wisdom and experience his father had gathered while running for his life in enemy territory for many years. In addition, Absalom’s self-seeking motivation was about revenge, anger, hatred, and personal power. The repentant David may have been facing the tragic consequences of his own failings, but his heart was still humble before God.

In The Godfather III, Michael Corleone’s son confronts his father about the “bad memories” he has of his family and childhood. “Every family has bad memories,” Michael replies. And, so they do. Another appeal of great stories are the connections we make to our own lives and experiences. We are all part of the human experience. Even in my own family there are true tales of tragedy and intrigue. Times change, but people are people and our common human flaws source similar tales in our own lives and families. We each play our part in the story. The cool thing is that we get to choose our character and influence the story with our daily choices of word, relationships, and deeds.

How will I choose to influence my story, and the story of my family, today?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Blind Spots

Davids Family TreeWhen King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.
2 Samuel 13:21 (NSRV)

David was a great warrior, a great general, and a great leader of men. Evidence leads me to believe that he was not, however, a great husband or father. As we’ve read David’s story he has slowly been amassing wives like the spoils of war and the result was many children. But, an army of children do not an army make. A family system and the complex relationships between birth order and gender can be difficult enough for a monogamous, nuclear family. I can’t imagine the exponential complexities that emerge when you have eight wives, ten concubines and children with most all of them.

As I read through these chapters I’ve noticed that we never see David telling his children “no” nor do we see him discipline them for their behavior. David appears to have even had a reputation among his offspring of not refusing their requests. David’s daughter, Tamar, tells her half brother Amnon that if he simply asks Dad she’s sure he’ll let them get married. When Amnon rapes Tamar instead and then turns her away we hear of David’s anger, but he doesn’t do anything about disciplining his beloved first born son. When Tamar’s full brother Absalom plots to kill their half brother Amnon in revenge, Absalom goes to David and presses good ol’ dad until David relents and sends all the brothers on Absalom’s little fratricidal sheep-shearing retreat.

David has a blind spot. He can lead an army to endless victories but his record as leader of a family is a tragic string of failures and defeats.

I cannot point at David without three fingers pointing back at me. We all have our blind spots. Our greatest strengths have their corollary weaknesses. We cannot escape this reality, but we can escape being enslaved to it. What we can do is be honest about our blind spots. We can choose to shine a light of our time and attention to addressing them. We can surround ourselves with others who will graciously help us see them, work through them, and who will patiently love us as we do.

Today’s chapter seems perfectly timed as I’ve been made painfully aware of a blind spot in my life. If you’re reading this, and are a person who prays, please say a prayer for me as I address it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Of Robin Hood and Corrective Lenses

Douglas Fairbanks as Robin Hood; a screenshot ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him…. But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
1 Samuel 22:1-2;5 (NIV)

Most people know the childhood story of David and Goliath. Many people know the more adult story of David and Bathsheba. Many people know of King David the great. Few people really know that between the time Samuel anointed David as king and the time that David actually became king, there were over two decades in which David was an outlaw, a wanted man, and a man on the run.

This morning’s chapter is a description of the early days of David’s years as a successful outlaw. There are two observations I made this morning as I read:

  • David is a cunning warrior and a charismatic leader. Wanted by the king, he gathers around himself a rag-tag group of followers who were themselves outcasts. On the advice of the local friar, they take up residence in the forest. Think about that for a second. Does it sound like anyone familiar? Yep, David is the original Robin Hood.
  • The group of people who become David’s closest followers are described as in distress, in debt, and discontented. These are not the polished, educated and well-to-do members of society. These people who gather around David are the dregs of society, and in this David becomes a type of Jesus, who started his own career on the outskirts of Israel with a rag-tag group of disciples who were themselves outcasts and societal leftovers.

As a culture it is easy to become enamored with the best and the brightest, and yet God continually reminds us that His ways are not our ways. As we journey through God’s Message we find that, time and time again, God eschews the best and brightest and surrounds Himself with the dregs. This morning I am once again faced with the hard reality that I spend most of my life looking at things through the lens of contemporary culture and fail to perceive things with a Kingdom perspective.

God, forgive me my spiritual astigmatism. Heal my eyes, or at least give me corrective lenses, that I might see life, circumstance, and others with 20/20 vision of your Kingdom’s perspective.

Damage Control

I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
Psalm 101:2 (NLT)

Politics has always been a dirty business. Things have not changed in the nearly 3000 years since King David penned the lyric to this song. As I began to read the lyrics I was initially impressed. David is making several declaratory statements about who he is and what he stands for. Click on the link to the psalm above and count the number of times “I will” appears. At first I was intrigued and impressed at the statements, and then I get to the last line:

My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.

It was then that it struck me. Psalm 101 is a campaign commercial.

It’s morning in Jerusalem.
Hope. Change. Forward.

This psalm is a set of idyllic promises that only the Son of God could meet. Scholars muse that the song may have been written as David took over the tenuous united kingdom of Israel which, in middle-eastern style reminiscent of today’s headlines, had two major factions and several smaller tribal factions threatening his power. They think it might be David’s inaugural address, if you will. Everything is looking up. Everyone is excited. It’s a political honeymoon for the golden boy, the shepherd turned warrior, the national hero turned monarch. David steps into the spotlight and declares that his reign will be the ideal. He will be different than his maniacal predecessor. It fits. I get it.

Perhaps I’m cynical when it comes to politics, but as I read it over in light of the last verse I wondered if the psalm might have served a completely different purpose. Fast forward about twenty years after David’s idyllic inaugural. His life is falling apart. His own home is fractured. He is beset by multiple scandals in his personal life and administration. In almost Shakespearean fashion, David’s own son is leading a bloody coup against him. We are a far cry from the hope and glory of his early days.

It leads me to wonder. Could this psalm have been a way of publicizing his repentance and spinning his way out of the public scandals that threatened his reign. It’s damage control. You can almost hear the political consultants whispering in David’s ear:

“David. Your majesty. I know it looks bad but you’ve got to go back to what made you popular in the first place. Write a song. Get back onto the Billboard charts. People loved your rock star image. You’re not too old. Think Elvis in Vegas. The big comeback. You gotta make the people fall in love with you again.”

Today, I am thinking about my own cynicism. Whether you want to think of this song as an inaugural address or as damage control, it reminds me of the inescapable truth that we are a fallen people. All of us fall short. We want the ideal. We want to believe that the ideal is attainable in our leaders and in ourselves. We fall for the idyllic campaign promises only to be grossly disappointed. Then we start the cycle all over again.

But the truth is that my own life reads like David’s on a smaller, less public scale. I’m no different. I’ve made countless declarations to which I’ve fallen short. We all fail, disappoint, and fall short.

We don’t need a politician. We need a savior.

The Legacy of Family

Salmon - Boaz - Obed
Salmon – Boaz – Obed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:17 (NLT)

My grandparents came of age as the Great Depression hit America. Times were hard and both my maternal and paternal grandparents got married quickly in small ceremonies with nothing but the official who married them and a pair of witnesses. My Grandpa Vander Well told me that he and my grandmother got married the weekend he finished up his teaching certificate at Iowa State University. My grandmother had traveled to Ames to see him graduate.

When they returned home to northwest Iowa, they did not tell anyone they were married. My grandmother lived with her elderly father. He getting up there in years and her was an alcoholic. Family tradition says that he could be quite a handful. My grandmother lived with him to take care of him, and I can only surmise that there was some fear in telling him about the marriage and what it might mean to leave him and who then would become responsible.

After a couple of months being secretly married, Great-grandpa Bloem asked my grandmother, “When are you going to marry that Herman Vander Well?” My grandmother told her father, “I already did,” and proceeded to tell him about their marriage in Ames months before. His reply: “Well then, get the hell out of my house!”

I love old family stories. They give us a glimpse into the people and the systemic family dynamics that were the foundation for what we experienced as children. They provide context for our own lives.

In today’s chapter we learn that the story of Ruth and Boaz is the story of King David’s great-grandparents. This story is David’s family story that I’m sure he heard told as a child. Once David became king and the great monarch of a unified Israel, I’m sure that interest in his family and in the fascinating story of Ruth grew. It was eventually written down. We’ve seen in recent weeks how interest in the affairs of Royals capture the attention of the masses as Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandson was born.

Today, I’m thinking about Ruth and Boaz and their story. I’m thinking about my own life story. How might it resonate with and impact the generations that, God willing, might follow after me? I’m thinking about the fact that just as my Grandparents coming of age in the Depression helped shape my own life experience, how might my life and times shape the experience of my own grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

An Iowa Psalm

Iowa annual fainfall, in inches, created in ES...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 65

You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so.
Psalm 65:9 (NLT)

For the record, I’ve never been a farmer. Though I’ve lived all but four years of my life in the state of Iowa I’ve got the most rudimentary understanding of how farms operate. I was raised in the city and have rarely stepped foot on a farm. Nevertheless, I’ve come to understand that being from Iowa gives you an appreciation for the land and the symbiotic relationship we have with it. You can’t escape it. The land and the people woven together. There’s cadence to life here that begins with planting, leads to harvest, followed by subsequent thanksgiving and celebration of the holidays before it ends in deep winter and the hope of next year and doing it all over again.

I tend to think that this relationship and dependence on the land and the weather is what gives us a rather humble and simple faith. Those whose livelihoods are rooted in agriculture realize our dependence on so much that it completely out of our control. You live life constantly making adjustments to what the earth and sky throw at you and have faith that it’s all going to work out in the end. When harvest does come and the crop comes in, there’s a realization that a large part of your success had absolutely nothing to do with you.

The chapter this morning tapped in to all of those thoughts and emotions. This is an Iowa psalm; A farmer’s psalm. David’s lyrics are full of that humble understanding that God’s creation is immense. No matter how much we strive to tame it, it only takes one massive storm, flood, or drought to remind us how dependent we really are.

Today, capping off a holiday weekend of Thanksgiving, I’m saying Psalm 65 as an extra prayer of gratitude.