Tag Archives: relatives

Joel 1

Ingrained Memory

I recall with some amusement how my aunt Lydie and uncle Jara would rinse, and hang to dry, used zip-lock bags and used paper towels. Their pantry was lined with neatly stacked and labeled coffee jars, re-purposed for holding anything from flour to peanuts. They kept their air-conditioner set at an uncomfortable 80 degrees or more Fahrenheit. And despite living solely off of Social Security in their retirement years they managed to pay all of their bills, send money to numerous charities, buy gifts for their relatives special occasions, and amass a sizable nest-egg in the bank. They were very frugal.

My wife’s mother, while not to the extremes of my aunt and uncle, would wash and reuse plastic ‘solo’ cups. She was careful about every penny that she spent.

Why did that generation live that way?

Because they remembered.

Hear this, you leaders of the people! Everyone listen! In all your history, has anything like this ever happened before? Tell your children about it in the years to come. Pass the awful story down from generation to generation. – Joel 1:2-3

They remembered what it was like to be in severe want. They lived through the world-wide great depression. Nothing like it had ever happened in their or their relatives memories. My aunt and uncle and my mother-in-law were just children when hunger and joblessness washed over the nations of the world like a flood. They knew what it was like to go to bed hungry. And they determined that with whatever power they had within them they would save and conserve for those days and times when they might be in need again. Interestingly, despite their thrifty ways, one thing that all of them shared was that anyone who came to their homes never left hungry.

Why do we know about their struggles? Because they did pass the awful story down from their generation to the next. They warned us. They showed us how they lived.

Sadly we did not listen well. It appears as though the world is slowly being swallowed up in another flood of hunger and joblessness. And we have not prepared for our rainy day as we should have, debt is at astonishing levels. Savings are abysmal. How bad does it have to get before we heed Joel’s warning?

Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring the leaders and all the people into the Temple of the LORD  your God, and cry out to him there. – Joel 1:14

He warned the people not to taunt them, but to show them the way out. God is not capricious, he truly desires the best for us. Even in the opening statement of Joel’s prophetic condemnation to the people there was hope. Or did you not notice that the people were told to “tell your children” and pass it down “from generation to generation”? If they were going to be wiped out by hunger, enemies and disease there would be no children or generations to which knowledge could be passed down.

Father, forgive us for our flagrant consumerism, our disregard for principles of saving and sharing which you clearly spell out in your word. Please heal our land, restore your hand of blessing once again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was I writing about? Jan

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2 Samuel 19

Epithet

We have a rather colorful derogatory expression in modern English that compares a person’s maternal lineage to that of a female canine.

“You son of a bi…”

In reading the book of second Samuel I notice King David using a certain phrase quite a bit. 

And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah – Joab and Abishai – are too strong for me to control. So may the LORD repay these wicked men for their wicked deeds.” – 2 Samuel 3:39

“No!” the king said. “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?” – 2 Samuel 16:10

“What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!” – 2 Samuel 19:22

It makes me wonder if David didn’t like his sister very much.

And Joab, the son of David’s sister Zeruiah, led the attack, so he became the commander of David’s armies. – 1 Chronicles 11:6

“Sons of Zeruiah” certainly sounds like an epithet to me. How about you?

Lord, may my name be one that is honored; not one that is used as a curse. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Make your name an epitome of righteousness. Jan

2 Samuel 16

Who am I…?

King David, on the run from his son Absalom, encounters a relative of the late King Saul named Shimei. This guy starts hurling insults and curses against David and his people.

As David and his party passed Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them. It was Shimei son of Gera, a member of Saul’s family. He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded them. “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David. “The LORD is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family. You stole his throne, and now the LORD has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, you murderer!” – 2 Samuel 16:5-8

However, David does something very unusual in response. He keeps his men from harming Shimei and then says the following.

“No!” the king said. “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?” Then David said to Abishai and the other officers, My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to do it. And perhaps the LORD will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses.” – 2 Samuel 16:10-12

Perhaps this is where Solomon first heard the following words of wisdom that he wrote down.

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble.  For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. – Proverbs 24:17-18

Paul further expounded on that concept and raised the bar even further.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else. – 1 Thesalonians 5:15

However, Jesus probably put it best.

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48

Eventually Shimei did pay for his crimes. But it was he himself that brought that calamity on his head. David did not do it. God judged him.

Father, please help me to remember that you are the judge. I need to leave things in your hands more often than not. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m not God. Jan

2 Samuel 15

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Ahithophel was the royal adviser. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. – 1 Chronicles 27:33

A few days ago I wrote a possible scenario regarding how Bathsheba came to live in Jerusalem. In that posting I wrote about her family lineage. In a list of King David’s “Thirty Mighty Men” Ahithophel, David’s royal adviser is mentioned.

Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah; Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh… – 2 Samuel 23:34

Ahithophel’s son, Eliam, one of the Mighty Men is Bathsheba’s father.

…She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam… – 2 Samuel 11:3

That means that King David’s trusted royal adviser was the grandfather of Bathsheba. Ahithophel was the king’s adviser, a member of the royal court, during the David’s episode in sin with Bathsheba. He knew what had happened.

The fact that Ahithophel had no qualms about supporting a coup against King David is proof that he had an axe to grind.

While he (Absalom) was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel, one of David’s counselors who lived in Giloh. Soon many others also joined Absalom, and the conspiracy gained momentum. – 2 Samuel 15:12

As further proof of his motive, look at his advice to David’s son Absalom upon reaching Jerusalem.

Ahithophel told him, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to keep the house. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted him beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will give you their support.” So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went into the tent to sleep with his father’s concubines. – 2 Samuel 16:21-22

Ahithophel had Absalom commit a crime against David that was nearly identical to the one David committed against his own son-in-law Uriah.

Ahithophel bided his time. He waited until the matter that had happened between David, Bathsheba, and Uriah was cold for several years. Then when he felt the time was right, when the object of his hate did not expect it, he exacted his revenge.

But there is more. A chapter later Ahithophel has more advice for Absalom.

Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up to him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only this man’s life that you seek. Then all the people will remain unharmed and peaceful.” – 2 Samuel 17:1-3

What I found particularly interesting was that Ahitophel wanted to be the one to do it. The “I” portions jump off the page. The proverbial “smoking gun” is the statement about, “as a bride returns to her husband”. This is a clear allusion to Bathsheba having been taken from Uriah. Ahitophel had been plotting this revenge against David for quite some time.

However, God is the judge. Not man.

I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’ – Deuteronomy 32:35

The Apostle Paul put it as follows.

Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19

Ahitophel’s revenge was fulfilled, but it cost him his position and his life in very short order.

Heavenly Father, may I leave room for your justice and mercy. If you forgive, may I not place myself above you and hold onto an offense. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t serve leftovers. Jan

2 Samuel 13

Unfavorable Light

There are many narratives in the Bible which prove by their very nature that it is a reliable account of ancient history. The story of Amnon and Tamar is one such tragic example. It invovled several persons taking matters into their own hands. And it ended badly for all parties involved.

The quick summary is; Amnon was hot for his half-sister Tamar. He tricked her, raped her, and then threw her out. Absalom, Tamar’s full-brother, learned about it and eventually murdered Amnon in revenge.

And David mourned many days for his son Amnon. Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. – 2 Samuel 13:37

If you were writing history about yourself and your family, would you include such an account in your journal? Perhaps you would, and perhaps you wouldn’t. But then, when some of your descendants are compiling a history of all that has gone before them, would they include this particular tale? I suspect not.

It is part of our nature to downplay the bad and to focus on the good. As someone once said, the writers of the Bible had no issue including “warts and all”. This is incontrovertible evidence that the authors of the Bible were much more concerned with accuracy than they were with being politically correct. They were willing to cast even heroes of the faith in an unfavorable light.

Father, thank you for not leaving things out of your word. You gave us examples of good to follow, and bad to avoid. May we learn from the lessons that others went through so that we don’t have to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Bible is fully trustworthy. Jan

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 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