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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Keep Your Friends Close and Death by Greed

1 Kings 2-3

David’s final instructions to Solomon seem odd. Why didn’t David kill Joab if he was so upset that Joab killed his two commanders? Why didn’t David go back and kill Shimei? He certainly had the power and the men (Benaiah the assassin was one of David’s men before he was leader of Solomon’s army). I think David knew that he had the upper hand on Joab because he was known as God’s anointed and he had the support of the people. I think Joab spent most of his life waiting for David to make a mistake to stage a coup. He certainly desired power.

Solomon, however, did not have near the political or royal pedigree that David had. Solomon wasn’t the oldest

King Solomon

son. He didn’t lead the army on great conquests. He was not chosen by a prophet like David. His mom used to be married to a Hittite. It would have been easy for David’s enemies to overthrow Solomon if he didn’t secure his thrown quickly. Solomon need to solidify his grip on the thrown.

When Adonijah requested to marry Abishag, it was a powerplay. Abishag had laid with David to keep him warm in his old age (although he did not have sexual relations with her). That means that as a wife, she would have all of the political benefits of being close to David, without having lost her virginity. Many in Israel would assume that the one who married her would also be heir to the throne. Solomon sees right through this plot and has Benaiah kill Adonijah. On a side note, some scholars thing Abishag could be the female protagonist in Song of Solomon, but there’s not really any way to know.

Solomon goes on to remove any other threats to his reign and solidifies the kingdom once his enemies are dead. Since he isn’t the warrior his father was, he forms an alliance with Egypt to make sure they have the military backing of one of the strongest nations in the world.

Acts 5

This passage is only loosely about money. Barnabas has just been given the nickname “Son of Encouragement” in a passage that references his generosity. Suddenly another couple wants to gain notoriety with their generosity. The only problem is, they aren’t generous. They want their money. They decide to seek all of the glory for half the price. This deception results in their deaths. That, in turn, terrifies many people who were involved in the church.

There’s a lot going on here. They are too worried about wealth and image. They lie to God and to the church.

Actually, he (and she) who dies with the most stuff...still dies.

They still lie after questioned, so they even failed at their second chance. I think that Christianity is also becoming so popular and trendy that the cool kids want the benefit of being “in” without have to be committed. My personal opinion is that the deaths of Annanias and Sapphira had as much to do with getting people to count the cost as it had to do with money and honesty. I think God wanted people to quit jumping on the bandwagon and actually evaluate if they were willing to give what it takes to be one of these new Christians.

I think it’s a problem we have today as well. It’s too often too easy, even beneficial at times, to be a Christian. In fact, Christianity is so popular where I live, we often talk about people “church shopping” to find the church that best meets their needs. With Annanias and Sapphira, it was never about what they were putting in, but what they could get out of Christianity, and that’s a really dangerous place to be.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

It’s Embarrassing to Have to Move Seats – What They Say, What We Say, and What Happens When

1 Kings 1:1-53

David is now rather old and in need of a heating blanket…since those won’t be invented for a few thousand years they call in a sub. This is really to point out where David is in his health. He is at his end and an heir to the throne needs to be put in place. Adonijah didn’t learn much from his brother Absalom and just declares that he is king. If you’re going to declare yourself king you’re going to have to surround yourself with some good support, which he does. Joab, the baddest warrior in the land, and Abiathar the priest, give him their support. Bathsheba gets word of what is going on and goes to make sure David is going to keep his oath to her and Solomon.

Jesus, in Luke 14, looks at everyone at a great banquet jockeying for position to sit at the best seats and then proceeds to tell them how embarrassing it would be for the host of the party to come in, seeing you sitting there, and asks you to get up because you’re in someone’s seat who is more important than you are. Insert that story here…David announces that Solomon will be king and sends him off to claim the throne. Meanwhile, Adonijah and his buddies are having a wee party to celebrate being the new king, but there is a pesky trumpet interrupting the party. While Adonijah sits wondering what all the commotion is about, Jonathan walks in and tells him that he is currently sitting in the wrong seat. How embarrassing!

Acts 4:1-37

How often do people say this about us…“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

How often have we said this…“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

What will it take to have prayers like this…”After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

In the last part of the passage I want to point out that the testimony they were preaching was the resurrection of Jesus. I think it is really important to tell people about the forgiveness of sins and how Jesus gets them out of hell, but I think it is incredibly important that we are sharing with them the testimony that Jesus was resurrected and our hope is found in that same resurrection. We’re not running from something. We’re running to something!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

More Mighty Men and Lame Legs Leap

2 Samuel 23-24

Two of the most interesting mighty men to me are Benaiah and Uriah the Hittite. I love Benaiah because he chased a lion into a valley on a snowy day and killed it. I think this is great because it’s just insanely courageous, or bravely insane…I am not sure. First, you don’t chase lions, you let them get away. Second, you don’t back them into corners or valleys. Third, large cats are better at running on snow than humans are. Fourth, Benaiah is a mighty man. It’s also hard to preach about him because his name is oddly difficult to pronounce.

You might recognize the mighty man, Uriah the Hittite. He was leading David’s army into battle once when they

Uriah by Rembrandt

got dangerously close to the city walls. As he bravely marched into the enemies lines, the rest of the army suddenly fell back at the command of it’s officers to abandon Uriah. You see, the king had recently gotten Uriah’s wife pregnant and had to cover it up, so he sacrificed the life of one of his thirty mighty men. This means that David didn’t sleep with some stranger’s wife. When a servant told David, that’s the wife of Uriah, David knew exactly who’s wife he was about to sleep with. It was a man who had fought with David for years, one who had worked his way all the way into the thirty mighty men. David betrayed one of his most faithful soldiers. That’s also why a Hittite (Canaanite) was able to have a nice home right next to the palace of Israel’s king, because of the relationship he had earned with King David and the army.

David takes a census. Two things you need to know about taking a census in the Old Testament. One, if God wants you to count people something really great is about to happen. Two, if you want to count people without God’s commissioning, something really bad is going to happen. It’s all about who you trust and who is in charge.

Acts 3

I remember when I was in elementary school and a good friend of mine had on a cast for 8 weeks or something

From Lame to Leaping

like that. When it was taken off, it was white and smelled bad, but most importantly, it was significantly thinner and weaker than his other arm. And that was after only 8 weeks. Can you imagine how weak and shrivelled the legs of a crippled man would be after years and years of not being used. They would have been skin on bones. Suddenly, Peter takes his hand and his legs were healed AND STRENGTHENED! He jumps, skips, runs, and hops all over the place. We aren’t talking about lameness wearing off. We aren’t talking about physical therapy. He didn’t have to learn to walk. He didn’t have to build muscle. This man’s leg muscles grew on the spot. These weren’t timid first steps. This guy was ready to win footraces. It was all done in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth so that he would be glorified.

When God provides healing for our spirits today, he isn’t looking to get us up off the ground. He isn’t looking to get us good enough to stumble around or take our first steps. God is taking us from lame to leaping. God calls us to leave our old crippled ways behind and start running around so that the world can say, “Is that the one who used to be…? It can’t be…look how different he is. What could have happened?” Because when people see God changing lives by the power of Jesus Christ, it provides an opportunity for them to hear the Gospel, just like Peter found in Acts 3.

So quit limping around and jump for Jesus! The world will notice and their ears will be opened.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

Mighty Song and Mighty Men – Acts of the Holy Spirit and Baptism

2 Samuel 22:1-23:23  

At the end of every important person’s life in the OT there seems to be a song. The song recounts how God has delivered them and has been with them. David has both a song and some last words. His final words point to the everlasting covenant that God has established with his house. Being Christians, we look back on the Old Testament through the lens of the Cross and find joy in this covenant God has made with David.

After David’s final words, some of his mighty men step over and sign his yearbook. These are some really heroic men. These men are broken up into the top three and the other thirty. Frankly, I’d take any of them into a dark alley with me (if Samson has just had a haircut – that joke isn’t old yet is it?). You have a guy who killed 800 men with a spear, another guy who fought for so long and so hard that his hand wouldn’t let go of the sword, a guy who walks out with just a staff…snatched his spear away from him and killed him with it!

I love the loyalty of these men to David. They are fierce warriors, not mere servants. But when David says he is thirsty for water behind the Philistine lines…three men took off with swords in hand to hunt down a cup of water. Apparently David should be careful about what he says because these guys want to please him. As much as I appreciate David’s sentiments about not wanting to drink the water because of the blood of the men who got it for him….but I’d be a little annoyed that I did risk my blood and he didn’t drink it.

Yearbook Photo

Acts 2:1-47  

The Book of Acts has often been called “The Acts of the Apostles” and on the surface that seems very accurate. The more I’ve read Acts the more I have moved in the direction of calling it “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” In chapter 1, the Apostles ask Jesus when he’s going to restore the kingdom. He basically tells them not to worry about it but they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to them. He also told them that they will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

At the very beginning of our reading today the Apostles, the Twelve, receive the Holy Spirit and immediately begin speaking in tongues. The people, hearing their own languages being spoken clearly ask the derogatory question of “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?” They are basically saying…these are uneducated (insert the location of your choice of uneducated people), they wouldn’t know other languages! Like in most situations where something bizarre is taking place, people assume alcohol is involved.

Peter then stands up to address the crowd. We are very familiar with where he goes with this speech…but I want to make sure we look at it from the beginning. The first things Peter says is that God will pour out His Spirit on all people. The message that Peter brings is a message that God wants to dwell with and in the people whom He has created. God is not distant! He is intimate!

It is at this point that he begins to talk about Jesus. It is important to point out that Peter is very specific about the miracles, wonders, and signs that God did through Jesus…Jesus didn’t do them himself. God raised Jesus from the dead, not Jesus raising himself. It is this resurrection that Peter preaches, this conquering of death that is the hope of all mankind. Peter then returns to the pouring out of the Spirit.

When the people become convicted and cut to the heart, they ask what they should do. We now come to the verse that we know so well, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” That is how I thought the verse was for the majority of my life. The next sentence was hardly ever mentioned, “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

God dwelling in us through the Spirit is what God has desired since the fall of man. He has longed to be with us since we had to be separated from Him in the garden. Calling on the Lord, being baptized, is not about running from Hell but about running to God. The desire is not about getting away from the fire but about being in right relationship with God.

Verses 42-47 paints the picture of what the community of believers look like when they have the Holy Spirit leading them. They devote themselves to learning/growing, being together as equals, communion (the very center of who we are), and prayer. These are the key elements to what it takes to be the community of God. The response to these elements is having everything in common because Christ, and God’s Spirit within us, are the elements that brings us all together.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

Double Post: Psalm 121 and David Quote

I am not sure this has happened before, but after posting earlier I felt the need to follow up with two additional items.

1. Ryan talked about the good and bad sides of David yesterday. Our Sunday Bible class curriculum includes this quote that I think puts it perfectly, “There is a clear line in the Bible connecting David on one end to Jesus on the other. David is all that Christ asks us to be; Christ is all that David could not be.”

2. Psalm 121 was one of my dad’s favorite Psalms. It’s such a powerful Psalm that pilgrims would have sung every year on their long journey to Jerusalem for any number of business or religious reasons. As they traveled with dangers and discomforts, they could sing this psalm and remember that God provides help. He never takes a break from watching over us and protecting us. When we are in the valley, we can look to the hills and know our God will come in our hour of need. It’s true now, and it will be true forever. For me, its a reminder that even in my worst days, God was always there for me and will always be there for me. Hopefully this can be a blessing to you as well.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

Sheba and The Coming of the Kingdom

2 Samuel 20-21

So while returning to his throne, a man named Sheba, from Israel declares that David is only a good king to

Modern Abel Beth Maacah

Judah and that Israel should revolt. He gathers some troops and heads to a town that Joab promptly lays siege to. Then there is an interesting narrative where one of the women of the town speaks to Joab and asks what it would take for them to leave the city alone. The story tells us that the town is famous for it’s wisdom. It’s a woman who is negotiating with Joab. When she finds out they must throw out Sheba’s head and be spared, she develops a plan. The first thing she does is get all of the women in town on board. Suddenly, everybody in town agrees with her. Imagine that…when the women of a famously wise town want something done it is simply and quickly done.

Acts 1

Luke is beginning his sequel to Theophilus. If the Gospel of Luke is “The Coming of the King” then the book of Acts is “The Coming of the Kingdom.” The book starts just a little bit before where we left off in Luke, with a retelling of the ascension story. With echoes of the story of Elijah, Jesus is taken up to heaven and you can’t help but wonder if the disciples were wondering if they would receive a double portion of his spirit, as Elisha did. After all, Jesus kept going on and on about the Holy Spirit there would soon receive. So finally some angels arrive and tell them to quit waiting and get to work.

Matthias is then chosen to be the new twelfth Apostle. Anytime somebody says, “Jesus included everybody. He never would have left somebody out,” I refer them to this story. Matthias (and the other guy who lost and whose name nobody knows now, Justus/Josheph/Barsabbas) wanted to be an Apostle and had been following Jesus from the beginning of his ministry. Both of these men seem qualified for the position and yet Jesus did not elevate them to the status of the twelve. Jesus instead had a pattern of disciple making that meant he spent the most time with Peter, James and John (his best friends), and then slightly less with the rest of the 12, and then continually decreasing degrees of time and resources into the 72, 120, and 500. There is a book called The Master Plan of Evangelism that talks about how this was Jesus’s plan for him that we should model today.

Why twelve? A combination of numerology and history would have created an expectation in Israel that any new kingdom or government would be ruled by twelve. The number represented perfect order and also the twelve tribes of Israel. The need for a twelfth shows that the Apostles are aware that they are preparing to usher in a new kingdom and that they need to be prepared when the time comes.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

Crossing the Jordan…Again – Follow Me

2 Samuel 19:11-20:13

David stands on the other side of the Jordan waiting to return as king. Before fording the river, David invites his people to come out and meet him. Having the people cross back over the Jordan with him is steeped in symbolism of conquering the Promise Land. This is also an opportunity for people who have wronged David to go and seek forgiveness.

Shimei really stood out to me in this section of our reading. He begs for David to completely forget everything he has done but Abash wants him to be killed. David’s response is unlike that of any other king in this situation. Most kings would put their opposition to death and punish those severely to make an example of them so that no one else will rebel. I feel like I’ve gotten to blog on all of the days where David is showing incredible grace to people and making good decisions, and Kent has gotten to blog on the days where David seems a bit off and leaves us confused as to how he was a man after God’s heart. I’m glad I’m not as messed up as David…but I sure wish I was as good!

Before reading back through the OT again…I always remembered the kingdom being united from the beginning up through the reign of Solomon. It is quite obvious that there is a tension between Judah and Israel from the beginning and their relationship is constantly a struggle. Frankly, the bickering between the two is so annoying that the writer of 2 Samuel decided not to finish the argument by ending it with, “But the men of Judah responded even more harshly than the men of Israel.”

Because the men of Judah responded so harshly, Israel took their ball and went home…

As we remember from earlier in the story, Absalom slept with all of David’s concubines in view of all the people. David, not wanting to be defiled by his son, locks the concubines away and does not sleep with them. I’m not sure why they were kept in confinement but at least David provided for them.

I’ve made it a point not to consult scholarly work and commentaries for our daily blogging but to just read the text with my eyes and ears open. That being said, I’d like to quote one of my favorite lay-scholars in regards to the last part of our reading today, “All I am saying is that if Samson just got a haircut, then Joab is the Old Testament guy that I want going with me into a dark alley. That’s all I am saying.”

 

 

 

 

John 21:1-25

153...Count 'em

As Kent point out yesterday, the book seems to have ended but there is what appears to be an addition to the Gospel. As Kent also pointed out yesterday, I think John is painting Peter in poor light. For those of you who have stayed tuned to see if I agree or disagree with Kent, I’ll have to say that I agree. Peter has a few more jabs taken at him in the end but also receives a great commission.

I have heard numerously different opinions in regards to what is going on when Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. I’m sure you’ve heard a number of differing opinions as well. I would like to open you up to another opinion as to what is going on here. While I have leaned more and more in the direction of this opinion, I don’t want to pretend that I have the best corner on the market on Johanine scholarship and I hope to never come across as thinking everyone else is wrong. So…here it goes…

Jesus, after finishing breakfast, looked at Peter and asks, “Do you love more more than these?” And Peter replies, “You know that I love you.”

Jesus uses the form of love that is sacrificial, the very love that Jesus has for us. So Jesus basically says, “Peter, do you love me enough to die for me.” And Peter responds, “You know I love you like a brother…”

This goes on again but the third time Jesus says, “Do you love me like a brother?” Peter is hurt by this because Jesus is questioning his love for him by asking him three times. Jesus, knowing that Peter’s heart is not sacrificially with him, then tells him that he will in fact die for him. He then gives him the greatest commission that you can receive, “Follow me!”

Feeling the pressure of the moment, Peter is looking for the heat to be taken off of himself. He turns, looks, and sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following them and asks, “What about him?! Does he have to die too?!” Jesus replies to him, “Quit worrying about what others will have to undertake or not undertake but simply understand this…You. Must. Follow. Me.”

 

All throughout this conversation Peter continues to struggle but Jesus meets him where he is. Every time Peter fails to meet Jesus where he is, Jesus comes to his level and gives him a task of service. He builds Peter up even though Peter continues to fall short. He gives Peter the same commissions that he gives us: Feed and take care of those whom I love. Follow me. Don’t compare yourself to the tasks of others. And again…Follow Me!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

Good News/Bad News and the New Jesus

2 Samuel 18-19

There’s an odd dynamic that continues to occur in David’s life. The people who are most loyal to him and do difficult things that favor him are so often rebuked by him. The messenger who brings him Saul’s crown…killed. The men who kill Ishbosheth and bring David his head (and the throne of Israel)…beheaded and befooted(?). Joab murders Abner who had been leading armies against him and David gives him a royal funeral. David’s army defeats a rebellion from his son, kills his son, and restores the kingdom to him and David mourns. With the exception of Absalom’s death, two words come to mind…”Plausible Deniability.”

With Absalom, however, David is grief-stricken. He has such a weak spot for his children, especially his sons, that he is unable to be glad or grateful that his kingdom has been restored (or at least soon will be). It’s hard to know whether or not David would have been willing to give up his entire kingdom to keep his rebellious son alive. Joab, a man among very manly men, demands David step up and lead.

Joab is clearly a powerful figure. We know that he leads David’s mighty men, one of the greatest hand combat

Israelite Warrior - Joab Perhaps?

units the world has ever known. We know that he was willing to kill Abner, a man who David was politically and socially aligning himself with, without fear of repercussions (and David had no problem killing people who killed people he liked). We know that Joab blatantly disobeyed David’s orders to be easy on Absalom and that all ten of his armor bearers were willing to follow Joab’s orders over David’s with regards to Absalom. Then, Joab marches right up to the grieving father and tells him to dry his face and go act like the king his people just fought to protect. When you remember that Saul killed his thousands and David tens of thousands and Joab does all of this…that is one scary powerful soldier. All I am saying is that if Samson just got a haircut, then Joab is the Old Testament guy that I want going with me into a dark alley. That’s all I am saying.

John 20

As mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus is resurrected and appears to the women, the disciples and then to Thomas. He is still human, more human, fully human…or something like that. What’s clear from the Gospel accounts of the resurrected Jesus is that the Apostles struggled to find the words to describe what Jesus was now, because he was the same and yet also something altogether new. He wasn’t a ghost. You could touch him and he could eat. They recognized him…except for a few times when they didn’t recognize him. He still had scars. He could seemingly appear all of a sudden and leave in similar fashion. But they had no question that he was alive and that he had defeated death and that somehow they could now also.

Two odd things about this passage in John. First, Jesus breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
We all read this and say, “Huh? I thought that happened at Pentacost?” Second, Jesus then tells them that they determine whether or not people are forgiven. I decided that to deal with these passages I really wanted to check a couple of commentaries to see what people smarter than me said about these two verses. However, when I spun around to my shelves I realized my commentaries are all still in boxes, so you are stuck with my initial reader response.

I think John is really emphasizing the “passing of the torch” that is taking place during these days between the Resurrection and the Ascension. The breathing of the spirit takes me right back to Genesis when God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. Jesus does the same thing with the Apostles in a way that seems to say, “You are the beginning of the new humanity.” The command about forgiveness seems to emphasize that they will continue his work of condemning sin and spreading grace (although said in a way that makes me uncomfortable). They are to continue the work of the King and usher in the coming of the Kingdom. I think this is how John shows us that’s what’s going on.

Then the book ends…sort of. I don’t know when books started to have an “Afterwards” at the end, but I think this might be the first. If vs 31 doesn’t sound like the end of a book, I don’t know what does. Then, to further prove my point, tomorrow’s reading begins with “AFTERWARD.” Sticking with Ryan’s theory that John likes to make Peter look like an idiot, I think John stuck in the remainder of Gospel to get in an extra jab or two (and a moving commissioning of Peter as well). Will Ryan disagree with me….stay tuned for more on this tomorrow…

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

Ahithophel is Foolish – Jesus’ Peace and Control

2 Samuel 17:1-29

Ahithophel, as someone who is supposedly a counselor who was deemed as someone who had consulted the Word of God, is pretty quick to change his allegiances. It is a shame that someone who is so close to the wisdom of God doesn’t have a better understanding of right and wrong. At this point he is looking out for himself and would rather align himself with Absalom because he would probably die if he sticks with David. Wanting to keep his job, he moves loyalties over to Absalom but God (as we found out in 15:31) is going to turn all of his counsel into foolishness.

There seems to be a lesson here that, when you align yourself with God and what is right, you are more apt to make wise decisions, whereas when you seek your own selfish desires your wisdom is turned to foolishness. This is what we’ve been reading for a few days now in Psalms 119. Here are some examples from today’s Psalm reading.

133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

139 My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.

In the end, Ahithophel’s decision took him to a horrible ending.

John 19:23-42

Even at the end of his life, while suffering greatly, Jesus still is taking care of others. He puts the disciple whom he loved (who is unnamed) in charge of taking care of his mother (who remains unnamed) as if she were his own. As he approaches his death, Jesus remains in control of what is going on. He carried his own cross (as it was pointed out in 19:17). He realizes that all has been fulfilled. He ties up loose ends with making sure his mother is taken care of. There is no crying out from Jesus in John’s Gospel. He says, “It is finished.” And with that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Jesus is in control and is at peace through the Passion narrative in John’s Gospel. This is the Christ we have with us when we go through our trials in life. In Christ we find control and peace.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Bible in One Year

 

David’s Weakness and Jesus’s Strength

2 Samuel 15-16

Two things about these passages. First, David seems to have family problems. He manages Israel well and does a really good job of running the army. However, when it comes to his kids he isn’t the leader he should be. When his son rapes his daughter, he is very angry, but doesn’t do anything. (An interesting side note: 2 Samuel 13:21 says, “When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.” But in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls versions of the same text, it reads “…he was very angry but he did not punish his son Amnon because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.”) Whether that is textually accurate or not, the sentiment certainly seems to be. We are also about to see David unwilling to stand up against rebellion from another son, Absalom. David, like so many great leaders (Moses as discussed earlier in this blog), is a great leader of armies and nations, but struggles to be the leader his family needs. Even if he doesn’t punish Amnon, he could have granted Tamar’s final plea and forced him to marry her and restore some of her honor. But he takes a pass. This sets up the conflict with Absalom, which exposes this same struggle.

The second observation is that Israel’s faithfulness to their kings seems to be as shaky as their faithfulness to God. As soon as any king shows weakness there are plenty in Israel who are willing to jump ship and support anybody else claiming the throne. We saw it when David was an alternative to Saul and now we see it with Absalom as an alternative to David. It’s interesting that Israel always remembers David’s reign as one of unity, prosperity, and strength for their nation. Many of the stories, especially in these chapters, tell of people who are switching sides every time power shifts. It is nice to see David being faithful to God during this difficult time and showing reverence to the Ark and God’s plan throughout his time of exile.

I also just feel really sad for David. I can’t imagine how much this all would have hurt.

John 18-19

More than any of the Synoptic Gospels, John makes it very clear that Jesus is in control throughout his trial and execution. He is not silent, but speaks boldly and from a position of authority to Pilate. The Jewish leaders seem disorganized, deceitful, and whiny throughout the narrative. Pilate doesn’t even have enough power to release a man who he believes is innocent and he wants to let go. When Pilate claims he has that power, Jesus refutes it and says that what power he does have is given him from above. Jesus is in control. Jesus has power and authority. In a way that made sense to nobody at the time, what looked like ultimate weakness, ultimate failure, final defeat, was in fact the greatest victory humanity has ever known. In this moment, death is defeated and the doors of heaven are thrown open. In this moment, new creation begins and the resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of what is to come.

 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Bible in One Year