The Bible Turns Me On

What You’ve Missed…
* Proverbs on how to become wise.
* Proverbs on the value of a good work ethic.
* Proverbs on how to live a long, healthy life.
* Proverbs on how to gain wealth.
* Proverbs on how to remain in God’s favor.
* Basically…Solomon (the wisest man ever) is giving away the most amazing advice of all time. For free.
* And as my friend Antley says, “If it’s for free, it’s for me.”

Day 155
Daily Reading: Song of Solomon (Or Song of Songs)

There seems to be this idea out there in the universe that Christians are prudes. I’m not talking about prudeness in terms of being “generally conservative.” I’m talking about sex, baby. In my experience, some people who aren’t Christians have seemed to infer they believe that Christians think sex is pretty much the devil. In my experience, some people who ARE Christians have also seemed to infer that sex is pretty much the devil.

Sex oriented conversations can often be “hushed up” at church. I mean, how dare anyone talk about s-e-x while in the house of the LORD.

But have these Christians read the Bible? There’s tons of sex! In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that Song of Solomon is extremely sexy. Yup…one of the books in the Bible is incredible sexy. In fact…it may be one of the sexiest things I’ve ever read. Here’s a taste of what I mean (this is a dude speaking to his lover):

“Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a skilled craftsman. Your navel is perfectly formed like a goblet filled with mixed wine. Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat bordered with lilies. Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle…” (Song of Solomon 7:1-3)

C’mon on! If that doesn’t get you a little riled up, then you’re probably wearing an ankle length skirt, or ridiculously thick trousers, and claiming that fornication is of the devil. And you’re probably a total bummer to everyone you talk to.

But the young man doesn’t stop there. I mean, we’re talking about a guy here. A guy who’s very interested in, and planning on getting some action. In fact, he goes from stirring up some sexual passion to being straight up horny just a few verses later.

“You are like a slender palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit. I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.’” (Song of Solomon 7:7-8)

I don’t mean to be coarse, nor am I simply trying to shock you. But let’s be honest here. Basically, this guy, in THE HOLY BIBLE is saying, “I can’t wait to jump you and grab your boobs,” to the woman he loves. And do you know how she responds? Girl ain’t ashamed of how the good LORD blessed her. She’s clearly familiar with the idea of, if you got it, flaunt it. She knows she got it goin’ on.

“I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers. When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees.” (Song of Solomon 8:10)

Know what else she says?

“Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.” (Song of Solomon 7:12)

This is some pretty hot stuff. Breasts like towers? Climbing the palm tree to grab hold of some “coconuts”? “Flowers” opening and blossoming? Mounds of “wheat” between a woman’s thighs? This is pretty straight-forward sex talk if you ask me. It’s also pretty erotic. Beautiful too.

So. If you’re not a Christian, and you think Christians are prudes who’re out to remove sex from the human experience, well, not all of us are. In fact, some of us are pretty big sex fans ourselves. And if you are a Christian, and you’re turned off by the idea of hot sex, well, read your Bible, and get turned on.

Where Da Gold At?

What You’ve Missed…
* Psalms NOT written by King David.
* Psalms NOT about melting people like wax, or butter, or my heart after watching Life is Beautiful.  (Why must you make me laugh and THEN cry Roberto Benigni?)
* David’s son Solomon becomes king.  A rich king.  A VERY rich king.

Day 145
Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 8-9, 1 Kings 10

This past week, each daily Bible reading has been about King Solomon establishing himself and ruling as the king of Israel.  There have been some interesting moments here and there, but as I’ve read, one singular and definitive theme has arisen from the pages of this sacred and holy book.  And that theme is this…

Solomon’s life was ridiculous.

Allow me to elaborate.  Solomon’s reign begins like this,

“So Solomon took the throne of the LORD in place of his father, David, and he succeeded in everything, and all Israel obeyed him.”  (1 Chronicles 29:23)

That’s a pretty solid start.  Succeeding at everything and having everyone obey you right out of the gate?  The guy’s clearly destined for a charmed life.  But stay with me dear reader, because we’re about to leave a charmed life in the dust.

Later Solomon marries the Pharaoh of Egypt’s daughter, a princess basically (who was probably crazy hot, especially with all that alluring, heavy Egyptian eyeliner they had goin’ on.)  Then he starts work on building a temple for God.  I’ll give you the short version.  The place is basically constructed out of gold and the finest materials in the world, which are offered to him in exchange for food.  Food!  That’s a ridiculous business transaction!

Then Solomon builds a palace for himself that is basically twice as big as the temple he built for God, and takes three times longer to construct.  Oh, and it’s also practically made out of gold.  The dude was rolling in so much gold, no one even cared about much else.

“All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the palace.  They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day.”  (1 Kings 10:21)

How rich are you when silver is considered worthless?  Crazy rich  Ridiculously rich.  Richie Rich rich.

But it gets better.  Solomon also had a fleet of ships that would return every three years loaded with gold and other valuable stuff.  And by “other valuable stuff” I mean monkeys.  Those ships returned with not just boatloads (literally) of cash, but with boatloads of monkeys too.  (He pretty much had his own little army of monkeys, which is kind of most guys’ dream really.  Especially if they’re dressed up in tiny hats.  The monkeys.  Not the guys.)

We’re not done yet.  As if being the most ridiculously rich man in the world wasn’t enough, God comes to Solomon and says He’ll give Solomon whatever he asks for.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’d probably blow that wish on like, a cool, robot-best-friend, or a talking dog or a girlfriend who loves video games or something.  But not Solomon.  The dude wants to be a good king, and so he asks God for wisdom.  And God is pleased with this answer, and so He gives Solomon wisdom, declaring him the wisest man to ever live.  Period.  For all time.  (Oh, and God’s so pleased with this answer, He throws in wealth and fame as freebies.)

So, now we have this incredibly rich guy, who’s also the smartest man to ever walk the face of the earth.  Rarely in life does anyone ever get to claim either one of these titles, and Solomon is simply GIVEN both of them.  He didn’t earn either one.  Are you kidding me!?

The years pass.  Solomon gets richer (and by richer, I mean he received 25 tons of gold a year.  25 tons!  Every year!  C’mon!  Does that much gold even exist?  I don’t even think Scrooge McDuck had that much gold.  Or the Mobile, Alabama Leprechaun.)  As time goes by Solomon becomes crazy famous and one day the Queen of Sheba comes to see if all the rumors and legends of his vast wealth and knowledge are true.  She discovers not only the rumors are true, but that they don’t even come close to describing how fantastic he actually is.

“She exclaimed to the king, ‘Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom are true! … In fact, I had not heard the half of it!  Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told. … Praise the LORD your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne of Israel.’ … Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels.”  (1 Kings 10:6-10)

Did you catch that?  People are just giving this guy stuff for being so awesome.  They’re all like, “Oh, you’ve got tons of awesome stuff, and you’re totally awesome?  Well, here, I’d like to give you tons more awesome stuff.  For free.  No, no I don’t need it. You have tons.  You have more than everyone.  You should have this stuff too.”

It’s ridiculous.  Not even George Clooney lives this good.

Can a Person Actually Melt?

What You’ve Missed…
* Lots of psalms praising God.
* Lots of psalms asking God for help.
* Lots of psalms thanking God.
* In short. Lots of psalms.

Day 139
Daily Reading: More Psalms

As I’ve continued to read through the psalms of King David it seems each one falls into at least one of three categories. There are psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Psalms of David asking for help. And lastly, there are psalms of…what I’ll call…crazy bloodlust.

Turns out our friend King David is a serious Guns N’ Roses fan because the dude has a major appetite for destruction. (I really, really wish our Internet technology allowed me to insert some sweet 80’s guitar riffs right here. I mean, TED, Skype and icanhascheezburger.com are amazingly fantastic uses of technology and everything…I just wish it included more 80’s electric guitar is all.) Not only does David often ask God to help him, to rescue him from his enemies, but he usually takes it one step further. David often asks God to pretty much obliterate his enemies in the process. Exhibits A through D:

“Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and make their bodies shake continuously. Pour out your fury on them; consume them with your burning anger.” (Psalm 69:23-24)

“Let burning coals fall down on their heads. Let them be thrown into the fire or into watery pits from which they can’t escape. Don’t let liars prosper here in our land. Cause great disasters to fall on the violent.” (Psalm 140:9-11)

“Rise up, O God and scatter your enemies. Let those who hate God run for their lives. Blow them away like smoke. Melt them like wax in a fire. Let the wicked perish in the presence of God.” (Psalm 68:1-2)

“May they be like snails that dissolve into slime, like a stillborn child who will never see the sun. God will sweep them away, both young and old, faster than a pot heats on burning thorns.” (Psalm 58:8-9)

Melt them like wax in a fire? David, I thought you were a man of compassion. Let burning coals fall down on their heads? David, that sounds like medieval torture bro. Let them be thrown into the fire? David, ease up with all the fire and burning people alive talk buddy. Make their bodies shake continuously? Seriously David? You’re asking that they have a constant barrage of seizures? May they be like a stillborn child? Geez man! I’m not even fully sure what that means, but it’s repulsive.

What is the deal with this guy? To quote one of the great philosophers of our time, a brilliant and insightful woman known as Fergie, “Where is the love?” Seriously David…where is it? You seem to want God to shower you with love, yet shower others with…well with torture, pain and death.

Those were my first thoughts. But as I continued to read, I discovered more and more of this man’s humanity. He’s just a guy. A regular, imperfect guy. (Why is it that Christians tend to think of people in the Bible as “characters” who are one-dimensional, and only capable of displaying a single emotion or character trait? Aren’t they just as wildly dynamic as we are?)

And a regular, imperfect guy can be a little emotional at times, a little over-zealous. Even a little outrageous. (Me trying to live life in my 20’s is a solid example. I was Steve Martin in The Jerk, just less charming, way, way more jerkish and equally as aloof.) I think that’s what’s going on here. Regular guy David has been harassed, attacked and hunted by his enemies and he’s had enough. He’s ready for it to end.  And…he gets a little extreme in the process.

I’m not trying to give the guy an out to be a crazy pyscho or anything. I mean, I think we can all agree that the movie Seven does a great job of showing that weirdo torturers don’t mingle too well with the rest of society. But I am trying to see David as a regular dude, struggling through his emotions and thoughts like I do

So what am I saying?  I’m saying David’s desire to see his enemies suffer and die caught me a little off guard. Really off guard actually. Especially because I was beginning to think of him as a weak and humble man. But that’s the point! He’s not JUST that. He’s also a ferocious warrior who has real enemies and knows they are a serious threat to his kingdom and who need to be removed from the equation. He’s a multifaceted man, capable of grace and love, who’s also capable of seriously laying the smack down.

He’s like Andre the Giant. In the ring the dude would mess you up. In The Princess Bride he warmed your heart with charming peanut comments. In real life, he was just a man.

Cry Me a River

What You’ve Missed…
* David starts to get old.
* David helps his son Solomon prepare to build a ridiculously ornate temple for God. Like, over-the-top-Vegas-style ornate.
* David continues to get old.
* One of David’s sons tries to take over the kingdom, but it’s pretty lame and unimaginative by Biblical standards. D+.
* David gets older.
* David hands the kingdom over to his son Solomon.
* David gets even older. I mean really old. So old that even his new, beautiful, virgin servant girl isn’t enough to “rally his spirits.” Reading this has made me realize that it’s time someone does the American public a solid, and confronted our buddy Hugh Hefner, letting him know we’ve all been way too creeped out for way too long, and that it’s time to go ahead and hang up the ol’ robe. It’s time my friend. It’s been time. For a long time.

Day 135
Daily Reading: Lots of Psalms

So King David led a pretty bad ass life, full of some pretty intense war and tons of sweet hand-to-hand combat. But now I find myself in the book of Psalms, many of which he wrote, and it’s a definite change of pace. It’s like sitting down to a cup of coffee with New York’s craziest cowboy cop (clearly officer John McClane from Die Hard) and having the guy break down, crying in your lap. Sure David’s a giant-slayer, a magnificent war hero, and a king with more wealth and women than he knows what to do with (maybe David had a li’l more Hef in him after all), but at his core, he’s just a man looking for love (though, not in all the wrong places.)

David looks for, and finds, love in God. Throughout Psalms David cries out for God’s help. He also spends an ample amount of time praising God, proclaiming his loyalty to God and thanking Him again and again for His kindness and love. It’s amazing. This man of battle-hardened steel turns out to be much more of a lover than fighter. But more than that, he also turns out to be incredibly weak, and I think that’s my favorite part about what I’ve read.

This great man, great leader and great warrior, is constantly asking God for help. And he’s not just asking, the man is often at his wits’ end, begging with all that is in him for help from God. King David, Israel’s pillar of strength, is not a pillar of strength at all, but a man fully dependent on God’s strength, which he seems to trust fully and in every way. Here are just a few samples of the naked desperation this “strong” man of God reveals as he wears his heart on his sleeve.

“Return, O LORD, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love…I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” (Psalm 6:4-6)

“O LORD, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs.” (Psalm 22:19-20)

“Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all!” (Psalm 25:16-17)

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.” (Psalm 69:1-3)

(Clearly the man’s a crier.  Which would put me in good company if he and I ever decided to watch Marley and Me, or Forest Gump, or heck, even The Care Bare Movie if I’m being honest…basically pretty much any movie really.)

And that’s just a crazy small taste of David’s desperate cry for help. In other passages he talks about how he calls on God for help constantly. How he is depending on God alone to save him. He doesn’t simply pull himself up by his bootstraps like all good tough guys, coming up with some elaborate plan to save himself. Instead, he displays his helplessness without shame, and asks for help again, and again, and again. Then again, and again. And again.

Here’s a man, not trying to be the hero, but rather, a man who knows full well he isn’t.  He’s weak.  Very weak.  And he knows it.   And it’s this guy who’s considered a biblical hero. Something to think about.