Holiday in Philistia.
David, sick of being hunted by mad jealous Saul, has been hiding out in the enemy country. The narrative is disturbingly lacking in editorial comment. I don’t know what it really means. But he seems to be on holiday from God, and from the expectations of being god’s anointed.
The inevitable comes and he’s called upon to fight his own people. Will he? He says so. He and the philistine king exchange all sorts of statements of trust and affection.
We know from the last chapter though, that he has been lying to the king about how much of a traitor to Israel he’s really been. The philistines generals don’t buy it for a second. Slaughter requires quite some commitment, their instincts are good I think.. He is sent home.
The narrative doesn’t say it’s divine intervention, but I reckon it is. He must have been relieved to avoid that dilemma. The former shepherd seems like a lost sheep. God’s plan has come to a stand still.
I love that my new church is a doing church. After the service on Sunday, we wrapped parcels for the homeless and poor people they regularly minister to . They preached on the great commission, Jesus last words to his disciples. After all they’ve been through, Jesus says “therefore, go…” …and do something.
What should I do? I feel a bit like I’m living out my life in enemy territory, not really god’s, not really not god’s? Lying a bit to both.
God instructs the Israelites to build a cairn of stones, 12, one for each tribe. So 12 men take a stone each from the middle of the riverbed. Joshua also makes a second cairn right in the middle of the Jordan to commemorate the crossing.
They cross armed, and camp at the edge of Jericho. The act seals Joshua’s leadership, the people venerate him as the new Moses. They arrive at the promised land ready for a fight.
Starting a new week, thinking about the things I have to do, praying for my children and the strains in my life. Behind is an undercurrent of sadness this week over the huge massacre in the gay nightclub in the U.S.
Remembering what God has done for me, that I am blessed, and aware in this world that we must be prepared for battle.
Pray for the families and friends of those who were killed, and for wisdom in the world’s response.
Ezra lists the people who came with him. Then there is a description of the sacrificial system being re-established.
When he first assembled the people, there are no temple priests or attendants, so he puts out the call and gets about 40 of the priestly clan and 220 attendants. It takes a lot of people to run the temple. But it’s essentially a slaughter house, quite a bit of work I suppose.
He sees gods hand in bringing the people to him. Rather wonderfully they fast and ask God for protection on the journey, because in Ezra’s enthusiasm to depict to the king that it is a blessed project, he said he would not need protection of a horse guard, because God would be his protection. It’s rather sweet that he confesses to momentary second thoughts… he was ashamed to ask for it after that. God indeed protects them. I like that sort of “fake it till you make” it trust thing.
He trusts 12 leading priests with the gold articles to guard. I see it is a journey of some considerable danger from bandits, given the treasure they are carrying. They make it, after 3 days rest a sacrifice is given and the letters of kingly protection go out to the region.
It is a chapter full of grace and blessing, human fear and faith, and godly guidance.
May I trust you day by day father.
I met with the minister of our church to voice my concerns about things yesterday. It was good and made me feel heard. I don’t think he is a person who changes quickly, but it started a conversation, as they say. Will it work out? Fake it til I make it, eh?
The surrounding nations presumably don’t like the regional power shift of Jerusalem becoming viable again. Their plot to stop it first involves offering to join the efforts, to hopefully make it lose its racial flavor. Then they run interference, bribing officials to frustrate and slow down progress. Finally they write directly to the king.
It is actually not hard to sympathise with the opposition. Their assessment that a strong Jerusalem would be bad for them could be entirely fair. Their letter to the king is effective because it’s not really slanderous, it tells the new king to check out the history of Jerusalem for himself, and he finds a history of trouble and shuts down the work.
The only thing that stops it being an entirely predictable and reasonable power struggle is that it is god’s plan that Jerusalem should be rebuilt. And god is love. It’s god’s long term plan of love for the world that they have inadvertently stumbled upon and blocked.
I think this is a good passage to remember when we find opposition in the world to get confidence to carry on. As the blues brothers said, we’re on a mission from God. Christians today get a seige mentality, and think of opposition as the forces of evil to be destroyed. But they are only behaving as we should expect. Beating them is not the mission directly, our response should be faith based and between us and God. A refocusing on our mission. Like how David, in times of crisis, would go into the presence of God and be restored.
Reeling as we are at the moment with revelations about the betrayal of children by religious leaders, and the ascendency of a brutish egomaniac like Donald Trump, it’s easy to forget what truly inspiring leadership looks like. Unless you read Nehemiah 5. He sets the example. When he eventually made governor, he shares the perks of office liberally with the poor. He shames the business operators who are trying to profit from their community in a way that weakens it. They have nothing to say, they fall into line. And it is all inspired by his personal love of God. Looking at cultivating a sense of mission in life, this is most inspiring.