Archives for posts with tag: David

I am practicing my breathing these days. Conscious of the need to take deep breaths and then slowly exhale. In. Out. Taking in fresh air and breathing out the carbon dioxide. It is good for my body, mind, and spirit.

We are now several days into the Lenten Season. This forty day period, not counting Sundays, leading up to Easter is a time for reflection and introspection. A time to slow down and focus on things that are important and eternal. A time to breathe.

It is a common practice during Lent to intentionally practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Focusing on one’s personal and spiritual self leads to a closer relationship with God and a fuller realization of the purpose of one’s existence.

In addition to reading from my church’s devotional book, I have also followed my pastor’s suggestion and have been reading two chapters of the Gospels each day. There are 89 chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John so one can easily read through those four books during Lent.

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The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. The first sixteen verses list 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. “Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac was the father of Jacob,” and so on down to “Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

I was tempted to skip those opening verses with all the names but I decided to trudge through them. Those verses trace the lineage of Jesus through 42 fathers with the mention of only one woman by name, Mary, in verse 16. In reading that long list I discovered something interesting in verse 6: “David was the father of Solomon whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.”

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Mary is the only woman named in the genealogy. However one other woman is mentioned but not named. Bathsheba’s name is missing. Instead it says Solomon’s mother “had been Uriah’s wife.”

The biblical story of David is certainly one of success. This young shepherd becomes king. He defeats giants, lions, and bears. He is the envy of every man. Then he reaches a low point in his life.

The story is told in the 2 Samuel 11-12 in the Old Testament. David slept with another man’s wife while her husband was away at war. When he discovered that she was pregnant David devised a scheme to hide the truth. After this effort failed, David had Uriah killed and took Bathsheba to be his wife.

Nathan the prophet came to David and told him a story (II Samuel 12:1-7) that enabled David to see himself and his sin. From that encounter with Nathan, David penned the words of the 51st Psalm. The verses of this poem demonstrate David’s awareness that knowing God’s favor is far more important than everything else.

This Psalm takes on a very personal tone if we believe the Apostle Paul, that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We don’t have to wait for an “emergency session” with God to learn and apply the principles of David’s experience.

When David was confronted with his sinfulness, he:

  • responded by calling on God for mercy and forgiveness (1-2)
  • acknowledged his wrong doing, confessed his “bent to sinning,” and trusted God’s forgiveness (4-9)
  • looked to the future and sought God’s help to be a different person. (10-12)

 

As a result of David’s extra-marital affair with Bathsheba, a child was born but died a week after his birth. Then David and Bathsheba were blessed with the birth of another son, Solomon. He would become one of Israel’s wisest kings. This story clearly illustrates that mistakes can have painful consequences. But it also shows how God can transform a mistake, even a serious one, into something good. All errors are not fatal IF we acknowledge our wrong doing, ask for forgiveness, and change our behavior.

O Lord, help us to know where we have sinned and give us the grace to follow David’s example so that we can be right with You and do right by others.

Jamie Jenkins

Free Will 1

Have you ever had an “Aha!’ moment? A time when something just leaps out at you and gives you a new perspective, new insight? That happened to me on a recent trip to Israel. I had been there many times but I “saw” something new on this visit.

About half way down the western side of the Dead Sea is an oasis called En Gedi.

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One of my favorite stories from history is set in this desert spot. Saul, the first king of Israel, had been rejected in favor of a young shepherd boy from Bethlehem named David. Saul in his anger pursued David to kill him and David fled for his life.

King Saul learned that David was in the wilderness near En Gedi.  So he took three thousand men and went to look for David. During the search Saul went into a cave to use the restroom, not knowing that David and his soldiers were hiding in the very back of the cave.

When David’s soldiers saw Saul they said, “Now is your chance. Your enemy has walked right in and you can do to him whatever you think best.” So David quietly crawled close to Saul without being noticed but instead of killing him, he cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Immediately David felt horrible for what he had done. David believed that God had chosen Saul as king so he would not allow his soldiers to attack the king. Saul then left the cave. David then called out to Saul to let him know that he had the opportunity to kill him but had refused to do so.

I have known that story for years. I have read it and told it many times. I know that David exercised free will in sparing Saul’s life. He could have killed Saul and been justified in doing so but he chose to let Saul live. In spite of Saul’s determined pursuit with the intention of killing him, David chose to save a life rather than take a life.

Free Will 5

Some people think that every detail of one’s life is determined by events of the past, over which a person has had no sort of control. But David’s action, or inaction,  is a clear demonstration of free will, a capacity that is unique to human beings. The ability to make choices. To do as you see fit.

In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume thought that free will (or “liberty,” to use his term) is the “power of acting or of not acting, according to the determination of the will: that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.… This hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to everyone who is not a prisoner and in chains.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” We are afforded opportunities every day, many times every day, to choose how we act or react to a variety of situations. The choices we make every day determine our character.

Free Will 7

I agree with J.K. Rowling. “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” David exhibited a respect for human life and a devotion to God when he chose to let Saul live. The decision he made in this circumstance gives real insight into his character.

Most daily decisions do not carry the same weight as the decision David made in the cave at En Gedi. But every step we make is influenced by each previous step. Each thought or deed builds upon previous ideas or actions. We may choose wrongly and later have to take corrective measures but if we are wise we will be careful in the choices we make and the actions we take.

God has not created us to be robots or puppets. We are endowed with the ability to choose. God help us to choose wisely.

Free Will 3

Jamie Jenkins

 

Note: You can read the entire story of David and Saul at En Gedi from I Samuel 24 in the Bible.