Sunday, May 31, 2015

"But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24
"I love you man."  Remember that?  It struck a nerve because men, even best buddies, hardly ever express love to one another in case they were like, well, you know.  Other than the disaster of Cain and Able, think of such pairs such as Woody and Buzz, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Batman and Robin, and Robin Hood and Little John. 

Even Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper" comes the closest to our story when the prince exchanges his clothes with a pauper.   In the story of the friendship of David and Jonathan, Jonathan means "a gift from God," and he was.  Have you ever had a friend who was a gift from God?  No?  Don't be afraid to prayer for one.

"Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, 'Abner, whose son is this young man?'  And Abner said, 'By your life, O king, I do not know.'  The king said, 'You inquire whose son the youth is,'  So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine's head in his hand.  Saul said to him, 'Whose son are you, young man?'  And David answered, 'I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.'"  (I Samuel 17:5-58) 

David had to climb back out of the valley,
up to Saul's camp carrying the heavy sword and shield of Goliath
and the giant's head.  Did you ever think of that?

"Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.  Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father's house.  Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.  Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him, and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt (girdle)." (I Samuel 18:1-4)

Jonathan and David, who was probably not this young.

Don't you just love this?  The king whose kingdom was just saved by this pip-squeak up-start, scratched his beard and ask his five star general, "Who is this kid?"  "I don't know, sir."  "Find out." "Yes, sir!"  "So, who are you young man?"  "I'm a nobody, son of Jesse of Bethlehem."  And Jonathan fell in love with this guy, BFF. 

Here's a ruddy looking youth.

David had already been in Saul's court as a harp player, but was only seen as a servant, a nobody not worth finding out his name.  Saul did not even recognize him without a harp in his hand.  For goodness sake, this kid had a giant's head in his hand!

Because of the complete route of the enemy beginning with Goliath, everybody had to be a little giddy with this overwhelming victory.  Jonathan was so moved by the young man standing before them that he took off his royal princely robe, his armor, his sword, bow, and belt or girdle which held it all together and gave them to this fresh-faced, ruddy, big eyed kid.  This was huge!  Jonathan made an unbreakable covenant, a pledge, a merging of fortunes with David. 

Such began a lifelong journey of two best friends.  There's strength in the grip of two hands intertwined in a handshake or gripping on to one another as in rescuing one from falling off a cliff.
Have you ever had a friend like that.  We've been blessed, even though we have moved from state to state, town to town, church to church, to have known such friends who though no longer close in proximity, are close in our hearts.  Someone said, "a friend is one who multiples joys divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable (pure, not violated)."

Jack Hyles said the giving of the robe symbolized one's stature, his rank.  Jonathan was in essence giving his throne to David.  As in the prodigal son, the father said, "Bring a robe and put it on him."  That meant he was restored to his former standing.  When a Jewish boy became an adult, they had what they called a presentation of that boy at the berma or judgment seat.  "This is my son.  Today he inherits my social standing.  Today, he becomes not 'a minor but a major.'  That's what adoption means in the Bible. 

He said that the giving of the garments was tantamount of giving up his military uniform.  When he gave up his sword, it was his defense, a surrender of sorts.  Remember in I Samuel 13:22, at that time only two swords were in the kingdom, Jonathan and Saul's.  The bow he bestowed upon David was his prized possession.  And finally, his belt or girdle held it all together.

Jack Hyles says that  "the robe is his hope, the garment his honor, the sword is his defense, his bow is his prized possession, and the girdle, his all."  This is symbolic of what happens when we surrender to the Lordship of Christ.  We give up our throne.  Our hope is in Him.  All honor is due Him.  We surrender our defense and trust Him for our protection.  Our most cherished possessions we lay at his feet.  The girdle is our all.  Scripture clearly tells us Jesus will sit on the throne of David.  Jesus has killed His Goliath, sin, and conquered death.  The stone He used was rolled away from the empty tomb.

Jonathan was no weak-sauce, a term our sons-in-law like to use.  He was to be the next king.  But just like when Jonathan said, "Perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few," (I Samuel 13:6) David's war cry was, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted." (I Samuel 17:45)  They were two peas in a pod.  Both had won victories for their people by overwhelming odds, victories bigger than they were, only a God-thing.  No wonder their souls were knit together, womb mates as in Psalm 139 "knit together in my mother's womb;" twins by another mother.  These two were knit together within the heart of God. 

"Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends."
John 15: 13
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, although He existed in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself...
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross."
Ephesians 2:5-8

This is Good Friday.

Regardless of what the Pope says, there is a hell,
and Jesus died to save us from the unquenchable fires of hell. 
But He not only died to save us from the terrible eternal separation from God,
but He rose again to prepare us for everlasting fellowship with Him.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Oh, David!
 "Only a boy named David..."
  Yes, this is about one of everybody's favorite Old Testament Bible stories: David and Goliath.  They should have sung the song, "Only a youth named David," or "Only a young man named David," because some (Adam Clarke commentary) think he was 22 or 23 years old.  Still, he was a young guy with a slingshot, armor-less and probably wearing very little.

Goliath's armor was probably over 156 pounds, probably about what David weighed.  Even King Saul's armor was too heavy and awkward for the shepherd to use.  David was beckoned by King Saul who was pretty desperate at this point.  Beth Moore says, "if a person does not fear God, then fear becomes a way of life." 


Yet, with the consequence of the battle being that they would become "servants" but more like slaves if they lose, it was quite a responsibility to place on this youth.  There must have been no other takers for the job of fighting this nine foot, nine inch giant covered in mail, brass plates like fish scales, with an 18 pound javelin.  David's response was, "Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine..." "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God."  And David said, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine."  (I  Samuel 17:32-37)  David is going toe to toe, paw to paw against the Giant.
8 seconds...

The most important thing David said was when he called God "the living God."  There has been no funeral for God.  In fact when they tried to bury Him years later, He walked out of the tomb.  God is still living and active.  Do we really act like it?  David did not think God was too remote to act on his behalf.  He trusted Him completely, beyond rational thinking.

N.C. Wyeth, one of my favorite illustrators.

Adam Clarke says, "What Goliath expected from his arms, David expected from the effable (indescribable, unspeakable) name."  This is the name Goliath cursed.  However, David placed his confidence in this name.  In the Old Testament, Yahweh's name was considered too holy to say.  Instead, they put in the vowels from Adoni which turned out sounding like Jehovah, which is where that name comes from, a hybrid of sorts.

After Goliath disdained him, and taunts him saying, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?"
"Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, and a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.  This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord's...'" (I Samuel 17:43, 45-47

1.  The battle is in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.
2.  There is a God in Israel who delivers.
3.  The Lord does not deliver by sword or spear, for the battle is the Lord's.

Hmm.  Do we need to hear that today?  Can Iran or ISIS really wipe Israel off the map?  Do we have a God who can deliver us?  God doesn't need the toothpicks of swords or spears, because the battle is the Lord's.  He can use earthquakes, fire, and even a little stone in a sling shot that can land exactly where the giant was unprotected, on his forehead.  Goliath lost his head by his own false word, by his own sword, rather than the Word of the Living God.  Beth Moore says, "We tend to measure our obstacles against our own strength...his confidence in God caused a single pebble to hit like a boulder."  And God said, "BAM!"

Friday, May 29, 2015

Leaving the Sheep to Go to War:
the Bahh or Battle?

Young David was first found as a shepherd among the sheep.  He certainly had lots of quiet time to play and sing, to worship, pondering the oral history, stories of the Hebrew children and his God.  But there were also times, besides the actual work of keeping the flock, that he was called to bravery fighting a bear and a lion.  Nowadays, they would make a reality show about him.  Did you know that a bear can run spurts of up to sixty miles an hour?  The creature has to be taken down asap, as the hunter prayed, "God if you won't help me, please don't help the bear."  Even bear cubs have the same  power in their jaws as an alligator.  Don't ever try to brush a bear's teeth.  And a lion?  "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"  It's a good thing there weren't any tigers slinking around; they must have heard about the lions and the bears and slunk away.

Next, after David was chosen to play for King Saul, after a time he was sent back to watch over his flocks by night.   His father also wanted him to be an errand boy, to "run" to take food to his three older brothers who followed Saul in the battle and to report back to his father ("And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in years among men) "and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them." (I Samuel 17:18)

The situation first was described as "The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them." (I Samuel 17:3)  Hmm.  Can
we apply this to mean that sometimes we have to get off our mountain top and go to the valley to battle?  The two sides can't always stay safely up there yelling at one another.  The valley isn't the most comfortable place to be, but they say if you are ever lost in the mountains, go down to the valley because that's where the life-saving water will be. The water with its river rocks is where David would find his ammunition.  The river, a symbolic term over and over in Scripture, is the dividing line between us and the enemy.  David had to get his toes wet as he crossed to fight the giant.

First David left his sheep in the care of a "keeper,"  Then "he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry....Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage "keeper," and ran to the battle line and wormed his way through in order to greet his brothers.  Sometimes it is time to leave certain things and responsibilities, certain baggage, to be passed on to others.  Do you know what I mean?

What an adrenaline rush for a youth.  "As he was talking with them behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David head them." (I Samuel 17:23)  Can't you see him elbowing the soldiers up to the front where he found his brothers? 
Curiosity killed the cat, but David couldn't stop asking questions" even as the army melted away around him in fear.  "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?  For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" (I Samuel 17:26)  Perhaps, David who had been in the court of King Saul had noticed his daughter, the one who would be given in marriage to the victor who could kill the Philistine champion.  Hmm, is this a little added bonus to the motivation for David?  He was young, but not that young to not have noticed Jonathan's sister.  I never thought about that before, but it certainly sweetened the pot for the young man.  He was a knight in shining armor to rescue the princess, except the armor was too big.  He had to go dressed in his sheepherding garb, smelling like the sheep.

"Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger burned against David and he said, 'Why have you come down?  And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness?  I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.  But David said, 'What have I done now?  Was it not just a question?" (I Samuel 17:28-29)  Sounds like brothers, doesn't it?  It does around here when the two brothers under our roof argue.

Sibling rivalry, jealousy, and anger erupted under the pressure in the face of a battle, a battle within a battle.  His older brother tried to belittle David, to make him feel small. Eliab also challenged this one who was chosen over him because David had a heart after God by saying, "I know your insolence and wickedness of your heart."  His brother mocked his motives when David came obeying his father to come see his brother's welfare.   Belittled and misjudged, yet David was not deterred by criticism or by the literal huge challenge in front of him.  This story is to be continued...

My husband has chosen to go to the front lines, so to speak, to face a giant, an enemy of souls entrapped by fear of a losing battle.  Not in a military battle, but a battle for the souls of the addicted.  Instead of serving the comfortable in the pews-including me-he has enlisted in the unsung saving of souls by "snatching them from out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh."  (Jude, v.23)  He's a heroic fireman, in a sense, with eternity in view.   Me, I'm more of a timid type, only willing to take the lunch to the soldiers, like David was originally sent to do, to watch from a distance.  I can't be tempted to criticize like David's brother who told him to go back to his sheep. 

I love I Samuel's stories, some of the best in the Old Testament.  I once read that we shouldn't try to sanitize these stories for children, after all it's the Word of God.  We are talking about the picture of young David holding the giants head in his grip, for goodness sake!  He is a hero who stood tall against all odds.  He used a sling shot, imagine that.   Sadly, we live in a world where young boys walk around with beheaded Christians in their grasp.  We can't afford to raise wimps, pacifists (hmm, the very word has the word "fist" in it.), but young men willing to be called to put on the armor of God, and fight: "Onward Christians Soldiers" and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, Ye Soldiers of the Cross."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our five year old grandson was camping with his family this past weekend and found a delightful fuzzy caterpillar which he promptly put in a box.  Later he declared, "I'm going to look at my caterpillar and see if it turned into a raccoon!"  He meant cocoon.  It would be a little shocking if a raccoon jumped out!

Do you ever want to revisit a place?  I want to go back to I Samuel 16:23, "David would take the harp and play it with his hands; and Saul would be refreshed and be well."  Sounds like a happy place to be.  I want to go there, don't you?  These simple words, refreshed and be well are found not in a far off place for Saul, but at his home.  Hmm.  Our home can be our cocoon, our oasis. Music, please.

This past weekend I was a social butterfly, well a "social" moth is more like it.  As a child who would chase and occasionally catch a butterfly, I well remember being cautioned to not pinch their wings or the dust would come off on my fingers and injure them so that they could no longer fly.  A butterfly which cannot fly is indeed a sad state of affairs.  I had a little loss of my fairy dust wiped off in the last few days, but I'm still good to fly another day.  I will be refreshed and be well as I come home to rest in my cocoon.  Another thing about a "social" moth, they are attracted to the light.  That's how I want to be.

"Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away,
in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."
Acts 3:19

Without anything between us and our Savior, we can enjoy times of refreshing in His presence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Music soothes the soul. 

"The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more."
William Wordsworth
Since the Bible is the most widely read book in all of history, so David's song lyrics, the book of Psalms, is the most widely read of any musician of all time.  Here was a teenager used to keeping company with the sheep out on the hillsides invited into the king's inner court as a musician. 

"'Let our lord now command your servants who are before you.  Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.'  Saul said to his servants, 'Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.'  Then one of the young men said, 'Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.'  So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, 'Send me your son David who is with the flock'... Then David came to Saul and attended him and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer.  Saul sent to Jesse, saying, 'Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.'  So it came about when the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him." I Samuel 16;15-23 

It makes me wonder if some of the young men who had heard of David were his friends from back home.  Were they privy to the knowledge that he had been secretly anointed to be the next king?  Were they plotting for the training up of David to prepare him for the time he would take over the kingdom?  Whether it was divine coincidence, or not, it was apt that David was Johnny-on-the-spot in the king's court. 

1.  He was a skillful musician (I think in heaven we might get to hear David play the harp.  Surely some angel will loan him theirs.)
2.  A mighty man of valor, a warrior (Was this tongue in cheek about this teenager who had battled a lion and a bear ?  His mighty inner warrior has yet to come out: he has not faced Goliath yet.)
3.  Prudent in speech (David probably learned the hard way around his brothers when to keep his mouth shut.)
4.  A handsome man (David was to be an ornament in the court as a harp player.)
5.  The Lord is with him (The absolute key factor as he was to face the evil spirit that visited Saul.)
6.  The result: "Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him."

Take it from me, if you have someone under your roof who has a mental discord, it affects everyone in the home.  The cloud raining on their head leaves puddles on the floor that can cause you to slip.   We had such a weekend with a boy curled up in fetal position on the bed refusing his meds or wearing a box on his head with cut out eye holes.  When he turned giddy singing Disney refrains or nursery rhyme songs, we were happy.  It is a roller coaster.  I even thought of taking up playing the harp!

This is however a lovely picture of a time when Saul loved David, as surely Jonathan did as well.  Happy days.  However, soon it would be time to send the young harp player back home because Saul was going to war.

North Hampton, Long Island
"The Not-So-Wicked Witch of the Hamptons" notified me this week of a witch who wasn't, charged and discharged, another skeleton in my closet.  In1658 Elizabeth Goody Garlick went to trial for being a witch.  She and her husband Joshua were trusted employees for the wealthiest land owner, Captain Lion Gardiner.  However, when his 16 year old daughter became delirious after complications from childbirth, she said that she saw Goody Garlick at the foot of her bed. 
Soon accusations, insinuations, backbiting swirled around Goody Garlick fed by the hearsay from a Goody Davis.  She accused Goody Garlick because her own child died after Goody Garlick had held her.  This was added to such things as Goody Garlick was casting an evil eye with a familiar spirit such as when an ox broke its leg or a "lusty" sow and her piglets died.  Even Captain Gardiner said that Goody Davis starved her own child in order to receive money for taking in an Indian baby.  In this new community of thirty-four families such backbiting was at fever pitch. 

The courts were used to hearing many cases of slander, but this was the worst.  They sent it on to Hartford, Connecticut to a jury trial serving under John Winthrop Jr., the son of the founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 
  The formal charges began, "Thou art indicted by the name Elizabeth Garlick the wife of Joshua Garlick of East Hampton that not having the fear of God before thine eyes thou has entertained  familiarity with Satan the great enemy of God and mankind."
A windmill and graveyard in the Hamptons
Fortunately, this was not Salem, and she was found innocent with a warning to her and the community to accept her back into the community and to get along.
What peaked my interest was the use of the term familiar spirits in several accounts which is the same term used as we studied recently the Bible account of the Witch of Endor.  She did not conjure up Samuel from the dead because she was terrified of his unfamiliar spirit.  God in his mercy sent him to visit Saul one last time.  In fact, the Bible strictly warns against such things.
"A medium is one who acts as a liaison to supposedly contact or communicate with the dead.  In reality mediums are contacting demons who convince the mediums that they are familiar and can be trusted and believed." (GotQuestions?org)
Here are some of the Scriptures: Leviticus 19:31; 20: 6-7, 27 and Deuteronomy 18:9-14.  We are forbidden to be involved with such as they are an abomination to the Lord.  Instead we are told "to be strengthened withpower through His Spirit in the iner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Ephesians 3:16-17)  As well are we warned, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIs might that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Just as Goody Garlick was accused of "not having the fear of God before thine eye thou hast entertained familiarity with Satan," we too must be warned.  We may think we have become so sophisticated to allow this today, but certainly many are entertained by mediums on T.V.  and elsewhere.  This warning is just as real for us today.  Do we have the fear of God before our eyes?  What is entertaining us?
 Hmm.  We are back where we started our story in Long Island.
(This is the second time I had to write this blog as it mysteriously disappeared and was lost the first time I tried to post it.  We fight against the powers...)