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.

Real Life > Cartoons

What You’ve Missed…
* King Saul dies.  So do his kids.
* David becomes the king of Israel.
* David goes from good-hearted underdog to wild man on campus when he becomes a total hornball, gathering together a solid concubine, then sleeps with a married woman, and then later has her husband killed.  Geez David…lay off the Red Bull man.
* David’s son Absalom starts a rebellion, chases his dad out of the city and takes over the throne.

Day 119
Daily Reading: 2 Samuel 17-19, Psalms 3 & 63

Today is going to be short and sweet.  Partly because what I want to write about is incredibly simple (ridiculous, but simple) and partly because I’m currently in Honduras with limited time and internet access.  (What am I doing in Honduras?  Two things really.  One, co-leading a missions group serving here for a month.  Two, enjoying local energy drinks I believe the FDA has banned from The States.)

So, back to David.  He’s run away from the capital with his supporters, armed guard, and of course his concubine, wondering how to recover the throne which has been stolen from him by his son.  The only problem is he doesn’t want his son to die…which makes it hard to lead an attack against the guy with the sole purpose of killing him.

So he sends out his personal army with the specific order not to harm Absalom.  They go out, start fighting up a storm and…

“During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men.  He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair got caught in the tree.  His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air.”  (2 Samuel 18:9)

“Then Joab took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree.  Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.”  (2 Samuel 18:14-15)

What?  The dude was dangling from a tree by his hair?  This sounds a lot more like a really jacked up and violent Bugs Bunny cartoon than real life.  For starters, whose hair is long enough for this to even happen?  And if your hair is that long, wouldn’t it be tied up when you’re going into battle?
And while a horse could offer up some serious speed, is there a mule on the planet who could run fast enough to cause a man’s hair to become untied?  I mean…we’re talking about a donkey here.  Not Seabiscuit.  (Note: I have no idea if Seabiscuti was considered fast or not…I never saw the movie, but feel pretty safe in making the assumption he was fast enough to have a movie made about him.)

Seriously though, this really happened.  And while the Disney version may have the tree dangler charmingly talk his way out of the situation, later to become the dashing hero who has won our hearts through song and dance, The Bible delivers death by human pinata.

Way to come through Bible.  You never disappoint.

Ghost, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters

What You’ve Missed…
* The story of Samson, a man who was more bad ass than Rambo, more follicly gifted than Fabio and exactly as (un)intelligent as you might imagine both of those men to be.
* The people of Israel don’t have nap time, so they’re all whiny, begging the prophet/judge Samuel for a king. When he tries to dissuade them, they just whine louder. This proves naps are integral for a healthy adult life. (It’s science.)
* So God gives them what they want and grants them a king named Saul who turns into a paranoid nutcase. Saul then spends years hunting down a kid named David who God has said will be the next king of Israel.
* David is pretty much an Old Testament Bear Grylls who spends his time surviving just fine in the wilderness. Not only does he survive, the dude ends up leading a rag-tag army of over 600 men in the process, eventually becoming the king of the tribe of Judah. Oh yeah, this was all by the age of 23. (I wonder if this was what my dad always meant when he told me to “take some initiative”…)

Day 108
Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 28-29

So at this point in the story Saul’s enemies are coming to attack Israel and he’s pretty much a crazy old coot who has worried himself into oblivion by now. He seeks God for advice, but God remains silent, so he looks for a medium who’s able to talk to the spirits’ of the dead. And he finds one. And then, thousands of years later, someone reads about it and writes a movie called Ghost. And then, thousands of people discover pottery wheel sex is way sexier in movies than in real life.

Alright, so Saul’s at this medium’s house and they haven’t gathered for a quick round of Ouija board, asking if anyone in his class has a crush on him. He’s here to get his Sixth Sense on and talk to dead people. He asks the medium to bring back the spirit of the prophet Samuel (who died somewhere during the recap) and, she does.

Now, we’re not talking about someone who sees some mystical smoke in a mystical crystal ball. Nor are we talking about a gust of wind that comes through, blowing out all the candles in the room to indicate the “spirits are with them”. The woman brings back Samuel from the dead. Straight up. (No pun intended.)

“I see a god coming up out of the earth” she said. “What does he look like?” Saul asked. “He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel… “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul?  (1 Samuel 28:13-5)

Saul goes on to say he needs help figuring out what to do about his enemies, and Samuel throws out a solid speech, which I bet was made way more dramatic because he’s probably floating in the air or something, and Saul can probably see through him and well, he’s a dead guy who’s a little annoyed that they’ve brought him back from whatever it was dead prophets do, which is probably better than hanging out with some paranoid, weirdo, old dude in the back of a psychic’s hut.

Anyway, long story short, Samuel tells Saul he’s going to lose the battle, and Saul starts moping around.  And that’s it. That’s the whole story.

But can we just stop for a minute to talk about the fact that even The Bible admits that communing with the dead is very real, and that people possess the ability to call forth specific spirits of people who died? This isn’t Ghost Hunters here, or even Ghostbusters, which is a little sad because you can never have enough Bill Murray. This isn’t Madame Sage in her suburban psychic shack who reads tarot cards and talks about the planets being in alignment with Jupiter rising in the house of Saturn and cows jumping over the moon or whatever.

This is the real deal here. A real psychic medium, bringing back a real person, who really died. And the spirit doesn’t just hover there looking all dead and mopey and maybe sliding a book across the table or something, but he speaks up and shoots straight. So, if you’re a Christian, and you think all that spiritual mumbo-jumbo is a bunch of hogwash (does anyone actually use that word in real life?) then I’d encourage you to think again. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the jokers who run psychic hotlines know anything about anything, other than how to snag $9.95 in thirty minutes from you (and $2.95 for each additional minute) but according to The Bible, bridging the gap between the spiritual and physical worlds is very real.

Though I do have to say, while the Ghostbusters version may not be as serious, it does have a way better theme song. I mean, who doesn’t know who they’re gonna call at this point?