Monthly Archives: August 2009

2 Samuel 11

Bathsheba

Most everyone knows the story of David and Bathsheba.

He was home instead of with his troops where he was supposed to be. He saw a beautiful woman, lusted after her, and since he was the king he abused his authority and took what wasn’t his. Then he had her husband Uriah murdered. But who was this woman? Is there a back-story?

I noticed something about her that I’d not seen before. She was the daughter of Eliam.

He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” – 2 Samuel 11:3

Eliam, as I found out, is another name for Ammiel.

The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel, was the mother of these sons. – 1 Chronicles 3:5

If you look further you find that both Eliam and Uriah were among David’s thirty “mighty men”. (2 Samuel 23:24-39)

Bathsheba had at least one brother, his name was Makir.

“Where is he?” the king asked. “In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.” – 2 Samuel 9:4

Her grandfather, Ahithophel, was David’s chief counselor, and later supported David’s son Absalom in a revolt.

While not explicitly written in scripture, I think that by connecting the dots I can see how Bathsheba came to be in Jerusalem.

When Mephibosheth was just five years old his nurse fled with him to the city of Lo-debar. By the time David had established his kingdom and started his search for descendents of Jonathan, Mephibosheth was probably in his twenties or even thirties since he already had a son of his own named Micah. Mephibosheth was most likely raised in the home of Ammiel a.k.a. Eliam. If that is the case, then he would have been a long-time friend (almost like a relative) of both Makir and Bathsheba. When David had Mephibosheth and his family brought to Jerusalm to live in the palace, it is highly likely that Eliam, Makir and Bathsheba would have visited with their friend on occasion. And due to those visits and due to her father’s close association with him, Bathsheba likely encountered a young warrior named Uriah, a warrior who asked for and received her hand in marriage.

Father, thank you for the friends that I have in my life. May I not covet anything they have or positions they hold. Please give me the grace to be a true friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Interesting, Jan

2 Samuel 10

Doing

Many people that I know are of the opinion that if something is to happen, God will be the one to make it so. They take verses like the following and base their entire way of life around them.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 4:19

However, God also said things like,

Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: “Whoever does not work should not eat. – 2 Thessalonians 3:10

In reading today I noticed the following verse.

Be courageous! Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God. May the LORD’s will be done. – 2 Samuel 10:12

They clearly understood that the Lord’s will would be accomplished. Yet the people did all they could to prepare for victory. They amassed armies, they drew up battle strategies. They did something.

It is not faith to sit around and do nothing expecting God to save you while it is within your power to do something.

I’m reminded of the story of the lepers starving at the gate of the Samaritan capital city. In fact the entire region was slowly starving to death due to the Aramean siege. So the four lepers said:

We will starve if we stay here, and we will starve if we go back into the city. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway. – 2 Kings 7:4

They didn’t just sit around, they resolved to do something. And God rewarded their efforts.

So that evening they went out to the camp of the Arameans, but no one was there! – 2 Kings 7:5

All of the food and treasure was left behind, but the entire Aramean army was gone. Not only had the lepers’ situation radically changed due to their doing something, they saved all of Samaria from starvation too.

Father, please help me to see and to know when you want me to do something, and when I should simply wait. Please give me the wisdom I need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Are you doing something? Jan

2 Samuel 9

Small World

the_new_4park_name_pinNot so many years ago I was an addicted pin-collector. Addicted is definitely the right word.
 
I actually would drive to Disney World, stand in line at 3am, turn around after purchasing my coveted pin at 9am, and go to work. I once scheduled a vacation in California to attend an anniversary party for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land, just so I could purchase pins. It gets worse. In 2001 I decided to visit my relatives in Europe. I scheduled my vacation to to coincide with the opening day of official pin-trading at Disney Land Paris. But wait, there’s more!
 
While at Disney Land Paris, I actually ran into people that I had stood in pin-lines with in Disney Land California – half way around the globe! Apparently it really is a small world in every Disney park.
 
I had a small world experience in scripture today. King David wants to honor his promise to his deceased friend Jonathan to protect his household. So he finds someone who might know if there are any survivors, a guy named Ziba.

The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them in any way I can.” Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive, but he is crippled.”
 
“Where is he?” the king asked. “In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.” – 2 Samuel 9:3-4

I looked up this guy Makir, son of Ammiel. He shows up again when David is escaping from his son Absalom who is trying to usurp the throne.

When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash of Rabbah, an Ammonite, and by Makir son of Ammiel of Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim. – 2 Samuel 17:27

It would appear that this man Makir is definitely kind-hearted. But why does this guy help David? It was after-all with great peril to do so. He would incur the wrath of King Absalom.

He was helping a relative.

The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel, was the mother of these sons. – 1 Chronicles 3:5

Bathsheba and Makir have the same father – Ammiel, or Eliam as he is otherwise know. Makir was protecting his brother-in-law.

Father, thank you for interesting rabbit-trails of scripture. May I never get tired of following them. And thank you for delivering me of the pin-collecting addiction. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It really is a small world after all. Jan

2 Samuel 8

Royal Historian

I reference Flavius Josephus on occasion when I write. He was a Jewish historian who lived in the 1st century in Israel. In addition to chronicling events of his day and age, he wrote extensive commentaries about the past history of his people. His writings bring invaluable insight into what might otherwise be obscure words and references.

I noticed something today that brought new appreciation for those who preserve events of their time in written form.

David reigned over all Israel and was fair to everyone. Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. – 2 Samuel 8:15-16

Jehoshaphat, a man we know almost nothing about, was the royal historian to both King David and his son, King Solomon.

So Solomon was king over all Israel, and these were his high officials: Azariah son of Zadok was the priest. Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha, were court secretaries. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. – 1 Kings 4:1-3

It is due to the efforts of this man, and presumably those who worked for him, that we know anything about King David, King Solomon and the events of their time.

Father, thank you for creating and gifting Jehoshaphat as you did. Thank you for preserving your word and ways, at least in part, through him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Preserving my time, one bit at a time. Jan

2 Samuel 7

Getting to know you…

In 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a song for the Broadway musical The King and I entitled “Getting to know you”. In this song Anna sings about getting to know the king of Siam, whose children she is tutoring. In the process of getting to know him, he also gets to know her. 

Likewise there is someone that knows me. It is my King, Jesus. 

What more can I say? You know what I am really like, Sovereign LORD. – 2 Samuel 7:20 

He already knows everything about me. 

 I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. – Jeremiah 1:5a 

My job is to get to know him. 

Father, may I get to know you more and more. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

…all about you. Jan

2 Samuel 6

The Honor of a name

God takes his name and anything associated with seriously – deadly seriously. 

The ark of God, or the Ark of the Covenant, bore the name of Yahweh, the Leader of Heaven’s Armies. 

Then David mobilized thirty thousand special troops. He led them to Baalah of Judah to bring home the Ark of God, which bears the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. – 2 Samuel 6:1-2 

That is literally what the words from the verses above mean. To bear someone’s name meant that the honor and presence of that person, or item was physically embodied in it. 

To put it in more modern terms, an ambassador bears the name of the country he represents and carries within him the full authority and strength of that country. Any offense against an ambassador is an offense against his home country. The the ark was a physical representation of God on earth – an ambassador. 

There were certain rules of contact specified by God, things which he required to maintain his honor. 

But he gave none of the carts or oxen to the Kohathite division, since they were required to carry the sacred objects of the Tabernacle on their shoulders. – Numbers 7:9 

There was a certain branch of priests authorized to carry those items that bore the name, the honor and authority of God. They were specifically required to not use carts or beast of burden. 

God warned the people quite a few times that anyone not following his instructions in regards to the sacred objects, those things bearing his honor, would die. 

This is what you must do so they will live and not die when they approach the most sacred objects. Aaron and his sons must always go in with them and assign a specific duty or load to each person. Otherwise they must not approach the sanctuary and look at the sacred objects for even a moment, or they will die.” – Numbers 4:19-20 

Unfortunately King David did not follow these instructions and in doing so he unwittingly dishonored God’s name.

 They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the hillside home of Abinadab. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were guiding the cart with the Ark of God on it, with Ahio walking in front. – 2 Samuel 6:3-4 

A cart was never to be used, no matter how new. Disaster resulted. 

But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark of God. Then the LORD’s anger blazed out against Uzzah for doing this, and God struck him dead beside the Ark of God. – 2 Samuel 6:6-7 

This did not need to happen. Three months later, when he tired again, David got it right. But what a needless tragedy. The ends did not justify the means. Nor was a wrong thing done for the right reason excusable. God’s honor had been wronged, a response was required. 

How often have I done something my way out of expediency, cutting corners to get it done quickly? Am I honoring the ‘name’ of the person, place, or thing, that I’m supposed to be serving in doing so? 

Father, please forgive me for my continual corner-cutting. I need to do better, to plan ahead and budget sufficient time to do things right. Lord, please give me the desire, strength and ability to bring honor to all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Is your work honorable? Jan

2 Samuel 5

The Enemy of My Enemy…

There is a very old expression that states, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It is attributed to the Arabians, the Chinese, and several other ancient people groups. It is even found in the bible. 

I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. – Exodus 23:22b 

I see this principle being put into reality between King David and King Hiram. 

Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with carpenters and stonemasons to build him a palace. Hiram also sent many cedar logs for lumber. – 2 Samuel 5:11 

It was quickly evident to King Hiram that King David had a well trained and large active fighting force. From Judah alone he was able to muster a force of nearly 400,000. Once combined with the forces of the rest of the nation he had about 1.3 million fighting men. 

Since they shared a common border, and since both King Hiram and King David both had a common enemy – the Phillistines – Hiram wisely formed an alliance. 

A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

It is good to have friends. 

Father, please help me to be a good friend to those who count themselves as my friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Got any common enemies? Jan

2 Samuel 4

Fitting the Crime

For thousands of years Middle-Eastern society has had a very clear sense of justice or retribution for crimes. I think it was first codified in about 1790 B.C in the code of Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king. Many of Hammurabi’s 282 laws dealt with swift justice and having the punishment either in relation to the crime or immediate death. 

In reading about Recab and Baanah, the murderers of Isbosheth, I noticed David’s punishment of them. 

Now what reward should I give the wicked men who have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed? Should I not also demand your very lives?” So David ordered his young men to kill them, and they did. They cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies beside the pool in Hebron. – 2 Samuel 4:11-12 

But somehow this account seemed lacking to me. What was the reference to cutting off their hands and feet? So I did some digging and found that Flavius Josephus wrote about it in his Antiquities of the Jews in book 7. Upon being told of their action David said… 

 …you have slain a righteous man upon his bed, who never did evil to any body, and treated you with great good-will and respect? Wherefore you shall suffer the punishment due on his account, and the vengeance I ought to inflict upon you for killing Ishbosheth, and for supposing that I should take his death kindly at your hands; for you could not lay a greater blot on my honor, than by making such a supposal.” When David had said this, he tormented them with all sorts of torments, and then put them to death… 

David didn’t simply order his men to kill them, and then cut off their body parts. He first had them tortured for their crimes, then he had them executed and publicly displayed as a warning to others. He made their punishment fit the crime. 

Man am I glad that Jesus came to take my punishment. I could never have paid for my crimes against God and his righteousness. There aren’t enough body parts on me to cut off. 

Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus. May I never take it for granted. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

May my praise fit the mercy. Jan

2 Samuel 3

One A Day

上行下效

 

This Chinese proverb translates to; “Those below follow the example of those above.” It is pronounced (shàng xíng xià xiào). 

It sounds remotely familiar. 

 Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it. – Proverbs 22:6 

And I’m sure I could find other similar verses if I looked long enough. Truth tends to be universal, whether you are Shinto or Christian. Only one path will lead to salvation, but truths tend to be absolutes. 

After the Hebrews escaped the slavery of Egypt, God gave them many instructions. He even gave them instructions for how a future king was to conduct himself, even though a kings was not something in God’s plan for them. One instruction was brought to mind today. 

The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will lead him away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate vast amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself. – Deuteronomy 17:17 

I see that David did not follow these instructions. 

These were the sons who were born to David in Hebron:

The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel.

The second was Kileab, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.

The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith. The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.

The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was David’s wife Eglah.

These sons were all born to David in Hebron. – 2 Samuel 3:2-5 

That is six wives! But wait there’s more! 

When David was one of Saul’s trusted men, Saul gave David his daughter Michal as his first wife. Now when the former forces of Saul want to negotiate peace and crown David as king, he has one condition. 

“All right,” David replied, “but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come.” – 2 Samuel 3:13 

That makes seven! One wife for each day of the week – busy man. 

His wives were not his downfall; David apparently handled them well enough to prevent that. But the heartache of divided loyalties amongst David’s children, the product of those wives, caused tremendous heartache and damage. There was rape, incest, murder, hatred, lying, disobedience, and the list goes on. 

Later his son Solomon, a product of yet another wife, is eventually seduced to sin by his own many wives. Solomon had learned from his father that alliances with neighboring kingdoms are made by marrying the king’s and ruler’s daughters, something God commanded against. 

“Those below follow the example of those above.” 

But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors and refused to believe in the LORD their God. They rejected his laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the LORD’s command not to imitate them. – 2 Kings 17:14-15

Father, may I listen and learn by the example of others. However, not only to those above me, but to the one who is above all – you. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Who are you following? Jan

2 Samuel 2

Relatives

My mother has a sister-in-law who is also her aunt. No, she isn’t from the hills of West Virginia. 

Many years ago, my father’s oldest sister met a man on a train while on their way to a Christian youth camp. Eventually they married. Quite some time following that, my father married that man’s niece. Her uncle instantly also became her brother-in-law. 

Today while reading about David’s return to Israel I noticed a familial connection I’d never seen before. 

Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a deer, and he began chasing Abner. He was relentless and single-minded in his pursuit. – 2 Samuel 2:18-19 

Like most people, I tend to just trip past the weird names in the Bible. However, for some reason I kept coming back to this section of scripture. In doing so I discovered that Zeruiah is a female, the verse is listing their mother – something rarely done in the Bible. The reason for her inclusion is because Zeruiah is David’s sister! The three men mentioned are David’s nephews. David is their uncle. 

But Asahel would not give up, so Abner thrust the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there. – 2 Samuel 2:23 

I find that later Abishai and Joab eventually murder Abner in revenge. However, David, who also suffered this very personal tragedy at the hands of Abner responded very differently. 

Quite some time had passed and a meeting was called where Abner pledged allegiance to David, turning the rest of the kingdom over to him. Then Abner left. Joab discovered this and was furious. 

Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner. They found him at the pool of Sirah and brought him back with them.

But David knew nothing about it.

When Abner arrived at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he drew his dagger and killed Abner in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.

When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the LORD that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May his family in every generation be cursed with a man who has open sores or leprosy or who walks on crutches or who dies by the sword or who begs for food!”

So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.

Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth. Go into deep mourning for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. – 2 Samuel 3:26-32 

Where does vengeance end? David had it right. The Lord is the one who will rightly judge and repay. He was leaving justice in the hands of the supreme judge of all. 

Lord, may I leave in your hands those things that are not mine to handle. Please give me the wisdom to know what that is. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

We are all one family – God’s.
Jan

2 Samuel 1

Amalekites

Amazing what happens when we don’t listen to our parents. When I married my first wife it was with the grudging permission of my father. He knew that something was not right even though he couldn’t identify it. As it turned out, neither of us was mature enough and eventually after many years the marriage ended. I caused my parents much grief due to my choice. 

In this chapter I noticed that David and his men had just returned from defeating the Amalekites. First Samuel chapter thirty contains the account of that battle if you’d like to read it. 

However, what jumped out at me was that the young man in this chapter, the young man that killed Saul, is also an Amalekite. 

Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, “Where are you from?” And he replied, “I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land.” 

“Were you not afraid to kill the LORD’s anointed one?” David asked. Then David said to one of his men, “Kill him!” So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. “You die self-condemned,” David said, “for you yourself confessed that you killed the LORD’s anointed one.” – 2 Samuel 1:13-16 

In first Samuel chapter fifteen God had ordered Saul to eradicate all traces of Amalekites. Obviously this was not obeyed. In fact it was Saul’s handling of this particular encounter that was the cause of his loss of favor with God. 

So why did God want the Amalekites wiped out? 

Hundreds of years earlier, in Exodus seventeen, Israel is finally free from Egypt. They are camped at Rephidim when the Amalekites attacked them. The Israelites prevailed and beat them back. However, God pronounced an eternal curse against them. 

Then the LORD instructed Moses, “Write this down as a permanent record, and announce it to Joshua: I will blot out every trace of Amalek from under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14 

Yet, even this did not need to happen. Let’s travel a few hundred years further back into Israelite history. 

Isaac was commanded by his father Abraham to not marry any of the local women, to only marry those from his tribe. He obeyed his father’s wishes and married Rebekah. It is reasonable to deduce that a similar desire would have been passed on to his two sons, Jacob and Esau. 

The father of the nation of Israel was Jacob, he in fact bore the name Israel later in life. His twin brother was Esau. And it is from him that things went horribly wrong. 

At the age of forty, Esau married a young woman named Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite. He also married Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. But Esau’s wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. – Genesis 26:34-35 

I think it can be safely inferred from the verses above that these marriages were against his parents wishes. 

Here’s the kicker, Amalek was the grandson of Esau and his wife Adah, also known as Basemath. 

If Esau had listened to his parents, the Amalekites would never have existed! Who knows how the history of the nation of Israel would have turned out had one man listened to his parents. 

Who knows how my life would have turned out had I listened to my parents. 

But, God is a redemptive God. He can take our broken things and create something wonderful with them. 

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 

Now many years later I am remarried to a wonderful woman that both of my parents approved of and loved as if she was their own daughter. One of the last things my father did on this earth was to pay for my bride to attend a Christian retreat in Colorado. (My father passed away in March of 2008). 

I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the quote “obedience is better than sacrifice” comes out of Saul’s failure with the Amalekites in first Samuel fifteen. God wants us to obey him and those he has placed over us. 

Lord, may I remember to obey you in all things, whether I agree or understand them. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Listen. Jan