ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: 15 STEPS LI
Jun 1, '07 7:05 PM
I'm BAAAAAACCCCKKKK! Miss me?
This was supposed to post on Wednesday, but because of activities with our son, Chris, and his search for a home here (he's preparing to move his family from Alaska to Sunnyside, Washington) there simply was no time to even be in my office. Things are getting back to some semblance of "normal" today.
Ever notice how kids seem to copy their parents? I remember as a child copying things I saw my father do because I wanted to be just like him. Over the course of the last 2 1/2 years, I've shared with you many of my experiences, and most of you know that I have spent a lifetime in radio and television broadcasting in one way or another -- both technically and in front of a microphone or camera.
When our oldest son, Chris, was about two and a half, (he's been visiting us from Alaska for the past week, along with his 15-year-old son, Jake) I came home from work one day to find that he had pulled out the television set, removed the locks that held the back on the TV, taken the back off, and started pulling tubes out of their sockets. (That WAS a long time ago! I don't even remember when manufacturers quit making TV's with tubes in them.) Chris had seen me repair or service many television sets and monitors, and at his young age didn't understand that there was specific purpose or objective in removing or checking certain components. But he'd seen me take tubes out of TV's and thought that was the thing to do.
He came by his curiosity honestly. I was perhaps 7 or 8 years old when I got my start in radio broadcasting (singing duets with my brother and playing my mandolin -- he played the ukulele or the tipple [ten-stringed instrument] in those days). Being at the radio station every week, I saw technicians and engineers working on the broadcast equipment, and it fascinated me. I'd already started taking radios apart to see what made them work, and seeing all that equipment in the radio station wired me to no end (pun intended).
Seems like it was 1953 or 1954 when we took a vacation trip back to Wisconsin to see aunts, uncles and cousins, and my grandparents. My grandfather owned a three-storey house in Madison in those days. He and Grandma lived on the main floor, and Uncle Lincoln and Aunt Dorothy lived on the upper floor with their son and daughter (my cousins, Lowell and JoAnn). Uncle Lincoln had just bought a new Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder (they were the new technical -- and spendy -- marvel in the 50's), and it was my first chance to actually put my hands on one of these new whiz-bang machines.
One day when Uncle Lincoln was gone and Aunt Dorothy was at work, I decided to see what made this recorder work. I took it off the buffet where it was set up and proceeded to dismantle the machine so I could look at its inner workings. Uncle Lincoln came home before I had reassembled the tape recorder, and when he saw it in pieces on the dining room floor, he about had heart failure. He stood over me while I put it back together, and then made sure it still worked. It did, by the way.
See! Chris -- never mind the fact that he wasn't even three years old at the time -- came by his curiosity honestly.
Yup. Kids love to mimic their parents. That's how I learned to be a carpenter, cabinet maker, plumber, electrician and interior decorator -- watching, and working with my folks while they built churches throughout the arctic. Grandkids learn from watching their parents AND their grandparents. Jessica -- our five-year-old granddaughter (who thinks she's supposed to live with us) -- has decided that Grandma Della doesn't need to vacuum the floors any longer. She just needs to let her do it instead.
Petey (we call him P.J.) likes to be a Papa's helper when I'm making Belgian waffles. He gets the eggs out of the fridge, cracks them into a bowl and uses the egg-beater to whip them and prepare them for me while I'm making the rest of the mix.
But parents can learn from their kids, too. After Dad saw the success of my career in broadcasting -- and particularly in radio -- he decided to learn ham radio, and got his general class license. 'S Funny how that works sometimes! His ham radio turned out to be a lifeline for many people living in native villages prior to the advent of regular telephone communications.
OK. Kind of got to reminiscing this morning. Time to get on with the day. Della picked up some French Roast coffee beans with the San Francisco Bay label, and we've mixed them with the Double-Roasted French and what's left of the Kona coffee Danielle sent us. That's what's brewing in the French Press this morning. Smells great! Think I'll go pour my cup.
Let's see if we can finish up this 14th of the 15 steps in the 23rd Psalm today: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
We had to stop last week in the middle of our discussion from II Samuel 1 while we were talking about David's just learning that Saul and Jonathan had been killed. As the event unfolds, a young Amalekite soldier happens upon Saul as he is trying to commit suicide after being mortally wounded.
"And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped. And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
"And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.Â And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
"He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord."
Now we see the full impact of this event on David. The Amalekite's actions shook David to the core of his being. That he would somehow think that his taking of Saul's life would please David clearly illustrated just how different David was from the society of the day.
"Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him: And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
"And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD'S anointed? And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed."
As I noted last Wednesday, this thing about touching the Lord's anointed was enormous. David reverenced that anointing as He did the Lord Himself. The subsequent putting to death of the Amalekite illustrated something that is true even today. God does not look kindly upon those who touch His anointed.
I won't take the time to deal with the entire story today of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) other than to note that they disregarded the anointing of the Holy Spirit, thinking they could get away with lying and/or concealing the truth from Peter concerning the actual sale of their [possession] estate, and the amount of money they received (the Greek word in this instance isktema: acquisition, estate). That disregard for the anointing cost them their lives. They died on the spot, just as the Amalekite soldier died on the spot for his disregard.
And David mourned for Saul as though he were mourning over the loss of his best friend. His sorrow over the loss of Jonathan was almost without measure, and he determined to see that his covenant with Jonathan was kept to the nth degree -- and then some!
Saul's death meant that Israel was without a king. Because David's reputation, his skills, AND his anointing had long since preceded him (and because he was of the house of Judah), the leaders and princes in Judah came to David; and he was crowned King of Judah. Abner, Saul's former captain and principal aide, however, was playing a political game; and he feared for the loss of his position and the esteem of the people that went with it. He therefore went to Jonathan's younger brother, Ishbosheth, had him crowned King of Israel in his father's place and, of course, kept his place as the power behind the throne.
Bear with me while I lay some historical foundations to help you understand the significance of David's fulfillment of his covenant with Jonathan; and so you will clearly see the living demonstration of "goodness and mercy" following David all the days of his life.
Just because folks want to play politics and decide their decisions have supremacy over God's choices doesn't make it so. Ishbosheth had never been anointed to become King of Israel, and he didn't last on the throne with any recognized authority for more than two years. He actually sat on the throne for the seven years that David ruled in Hebron, but was more a figurehead than a true king. Abner had successfully parlayed his position as the power behind the throne so that he became the functioning leader in Israel for the last five years of Ishbosheth's titled reign.
It's a funny thing (not really so funny!), but even anointed leaders find themselves surrounded by folks who want to get in on the benefits of being around the anointing. More than that, they want the recognition that goes with it and frequently have nothing but self-serving political motives. David certainly had men around him whose motives were self-serving.
Saul had Abner. David had Joab. And, Brother, those two were a pair! They were political competitors who easily traded alliances, depending on the circumstances. Joab had served Saul, but under Abner. When it served his purposes, Joab switched sides and began to serve David. I'm not suggesting that all of his motives for doing so were completely self-serving -- and he DID effectively serve David -- but there's no doubt about it: Joab was a politician who continually watched for opportune moments to make gains for his master, and of course for himself.
I won't take the time today to quote the whole episode from II Samuel 2 (and you can read it for yourself), but Abner takes a group of his soldiers to the pool of Gibeon to meet up against Joab, who also has a group of soldiers with him.Â This is one of those moments where they expect to resolve the conflict of who is going to lead all Israel. Joab is there representing David, and Abner is there representing Ishbosheth (and the House of Saul).
Abner suggests to Joab that they allow twelve of their soldiers (from each side) to "have at it" so to speak. Twelve of Joab's finest take on twelve of Abner's finest in what was expected to be a sporting contest and kill them. Abner obviously was unprepared for the event, and he fled the scene with his soldiers in order to assemble the armies of the tribe of Benjamin and take on Joab's soldiers.
Joab's brother, Asahel, made the foolish mistake of chasing after Abner. Abner stopped and confronted Asahel, and warned him not to continue the chase. Asahel was determined to take out Abner, obviously unprepared to do so, so Abner simply hurled his spear and pinned Asahel to the ground where he died. When Joab learned of his brother's death, he mounted a full-scale attack against Abner and the armies of Benjamin, killing some 360 soldiers without any casualties to his men.
I know you're wondering what this has to do with anything, but bear with me. I may seem to be going around a forty-acre field, but I'm drawing a picture for you.
Abner realizes that things had better come to a quick halt or he's going to suffer the kind of military defeat that will end his career, his position in the royal court and his standing with his puppet king, Ishbosheth. He sent a message to Joab calling for a halt to things on the basis that "innocent lives" were being shed over their personal feud. Joab agreed and blew a trumpet, effectively ceasing all military action.
The battle may have stopped for that day, but it began a series of protracted wars and battles between Joab and the armies of Judah and David, and Abner and the armies of Israel that lasted over a period of nearly five years. During that period the armies of Israel under Abner's leadership suffered one defeat after another while David's armies grew stronger under Joab's leadership.
Prior to Saul's death, he had taken a young concubine by the name of Rizpah for himself. Though Saul was dead, she remained in the royal court to be cared for. Abner decided that since he was the real ruler of Israel, she was his for the taking. Ishbosheth took offense and rebuked Abner for his unethical (and certainly impolitic act).
Abner now decides he's had enough of this game-play with Ishbosheth; and -- knowing that time is short anyway for Israel's governance under the House of Saul -- elects to take this moment to meet with David. He first meets with the elders of the tribes of Israel. (See II Samuel 3:17-20)
"Ye sought for David in times past to be king over you: Now then do it: for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.
"And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin. So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast. And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a league with thee, and that thou mayest reign over all that thine heart desireth. And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace."
Joab happens to be out engaged in a battle when this truce is reached, and Israel hands itself to David under Abner's supervision. When he learns that Abner has departed from David under a peace treaty, he fears Abner's possible future conspiracy against David and personally sets up a meeting with Abner in which he assassinates him.
So David finally takes the throne over all Israel. But the intrigue within the royal court of Israel hasn't ended. Ishbosheth has had two captains serving under Abner by the names of Baanah and Rechab. Despite what happened to the Amalekite who thought to do David service when he killed Saul, these two captains have somehow gotten the idea that it's OK to do the same thing to Saul's son -- in service to David, of course.
"And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon. And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night."
Think maybe this idea of beheading one's enemies has been around for awhile?
"And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the LORD hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed. And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the LORD liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity, When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings: How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth? And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron."
Whewww!!! David sure wasn't messing around with folks like this! Fact is, however, there was much more to this than meets the eye. David was keeping his end of the covenant he'd made with Jonathan -- and he was going all out to keep his end of the covenant.
Watch. Take a look at II Samuel 9.
"And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness (kheseed) for Jonathan's sake? And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. (See II Samuel 4:4 for the reason.)
"And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar. Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth.
"And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
"Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
"Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet."
What a picture! How's that for keeping his end of the covenant? This is a picture of both agape and kheseed all rolled into one. You'll recall thatkheseed conveys a picture of "chasing after" (the phrase in Psalm 23 is translated "shall follow") in an active sense.
David didn't do this for Mephibosheth out of "duty" to his covenant with Jonathan. He did this because they had a bond of love between them that knew no bounds. It was his great pleasure and desire to take care of Mephibosheth as though he were David's own son.
Mephibosheth had been taken to a place called Lodebar when Saul's servants had fled the palace following his death. Lodebar traditionally translates to "pastureless, without pasture," but it draws an even greater picture in the Hebrew text. The word, Lodebar, is based in the Hebrew ¸ -- dabar, which is translated both "word" and "thing" or "matter." Thus, Mephibosheth lived in a place "without the Word."
Early in this series on the 23rd Psalm, we read, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures," and saw that the "green pastures" literally represented eating of the Word.
Mephibosheth, by David's "goodness and mercy" (kheseed) has now been restored to a place where he has continual access to the Word -- the Word of God as it comes through David, and the word of David as King of Israel. Though legally Mephibosheth has no more kingly authority because of the removal of the anointing for royal leadership from his grandfather, Saul, yet because of the goodness and mercy which had become part and parcel of David's character and makeup, he will eat from the King's table and have access to the inner workings of the royal court all the days of his life.
When the Lord referred to mercy (in Isaiah's prophecy -- Isaiah 55:3) within the context of "the sure mercies of David," He was drawing a picture of His mercy within the context of someone whose life literally exemplified the mercy of the Lord in human flesh.
David's covenant with Jonathan was filled with agape. It was a covenant of kheseed, and that is exactly what Isaiah prophesies, "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
Yessir! "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
The Bible is neither a collection of laws and commandments nor a book of rules. It contains 66 bags of seed that we can plant in our lives. As long as we actually plant that seed, and then water it appropriately with our daily confession of faith, we will receive the expected and very tangible harvest.
Blessings on you!
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