Tag Archive: king david


worshipmoney

When it comes to money and using it well, i believe this is something that relates to everyone, not exclusively Christ followers. But, writing as a Christ follower, i will give Biblical backing for the things i am wanting to share here, as i believe they are rooted in God’s heart for humanity which looks very different to when we just let mankind get on with it by themselves.

Two powerful stories comes to mind when i wrestle with the question of ‘How to follow God well in a way that involves my money.’

And interestingly enough they both come from chapters 21 of their respective books:

First up is a story in Chronicles where King David has given in to the temptation of the devil and disobeyed God and the nation of Israel is being punished severely as a result. The story ends with David making an offering to God and the plague is halted. You can find the whole story in 1 Chronicles 21, but look at these three verses near the end:

22 David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to theLord, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.”

23 Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”

24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Then in Luke 21, Jesus is hanging in the temple with His followers and this little interaction occurs:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

i like how Jesus sums up the attitude of the rich, when He says, ‘All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth.’ The Message paraphrase says it like this: All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”

Offerings they will never miss vs. All she had to live on

And David sums it up with his statement of, I will not sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

In fact, the same story exists in 2 Samuel 24 and this time David says, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

We see a similar story acted out in Genesis 4 with the offerings of Cain and Abel. Abel gives of his absolute best while Cain gives a less enthusiastic offering. The story ends in murder. And interestingly enough it is the one who kept the best for himself and not the one who gave of his best [and thus had less for himself] who ends up doing the killing.

Does our giving cost us? There is Trust involved in this. There is Sacrifice. There is Community.

Or do we ensure that we are comfortable first and have everything we need [and everything we want] and then see what is left and give a small portion of that? Or none at all?

I will not offer worship [sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings] that costs me nothing.

For those of you who are part of a Sunday congregation church, is this possibly a question that could be extended to the community you worship with? Are you at the place you are at on a Sunday because of what it does for you, or because of what you can offer the people there? Or possibly a bit of both. This might be something to think more deeply about [especially if those people all look like you].

Let’s give good and generous gifts. 

[For more thoughts on Money and God and Life, click here]

 

this is a pretty short psalm and to be honest i didn’t get a whole lot from it. we do know that it is written by David and it is written in a time of war and battle and so that influences the mood and the atmosphere of the writing.

the one thing i felt when reading the intro, and this may just be me, but it seems to read slightly differently from some of the other psalms. this one begins with the phrase, You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us” but whereas in some Psalms it seems more like an accusation or a huge question of ‘Why, God?’ the way i read this psalm was almost more an acknowledgement that we deserved it [knowing Israel’s history, probably because once more we were disobedient or turned against you] and so this sense of ‘i get it God, but please turn it around now.’

1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry—now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open;
    mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times;
    you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
    to be unfurled against the bow.

Like i say, that could just be my reading of this piece, but it’s the phrase, ‘now restore us’ that follows the first line, that seems to suggest there is no huge accusation or question, coupled with verse 4 which reads, But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.’

Verse 9 asks a couple of ‘Who?’ questions with David leading up to his conclusion by moving the focus squarely on to God before giving Him this acknowledgement. Yes, we are confident that our help will come from God:

10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.

We’ve all heard that one. Well, you have at least now.

It is King David speaking and you can find the quote in Psalm chapter 14 verse 1.

You can also find it in psalm 53 which I just realised is pretty much the same psalm – strange.

Anyways, that’s not really the point of this post. I was thinking about that line on the bus the other day when I came up with this:

A fool says, “In his heart there is no God.”

The idea that we can look at someone else and judge whether or not God is at work or living in their heart.

It has been said before that many people might be surprised one day not so much by who is not in heaven, but by who is.

[This, of course, excludes the Universalists who will just be surprised if anyone is not there]

The church has for too long focused too much energy on the whole “who is in and who is out” vibe.

And this is nothing new. The disciples were at it in Mark 9:

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Whoever is not against us is for us. I’m sure many theologians have had many issues with this one.

And it is at times like these that I am reminded of the two foundational rules of life:

I. There is only one God.

II. It is NOT me. 

Get that one right and you’ll be golden. Because you know what, it is God who is going to take a look at our lives and our commitments and how we spent out time and energy and money one day and He is going to make a call on it.

I am fairly confident that the sole provision for ‘making it’ into heaven one day is not going to be ‘Did you raise your hand and say a prayer at some holiday meeting when you were a child?’ Beyond that, well I’m happy for it to be up to God.

I do think Jesus spoke quite strongly and clearly about it [take a read of Matthew 7 for example] and I think there can be a lot of evidence in play that might suggest that someone is not following [active] God.

But sometimes we just can’t tell. Sometimes the Jesus followers look a little rough around the edges like a fisherman Peter or a tent-maker Paul [you know? the guy who went around killing them]. And we should take absolute joy in the fact that it is going to be God who makes the choice.

We’d be foolish to spend our time judging the unjudgeable surely?

A fool says, “In his heart there is no God.”

What we can do in the meantime is focus on our life, our walk, our talk, the consistency with which we live and follow and bring in the kingdom. [There’s usually a lot of work to be done there]

waiting

And then lead others towards Jesus. Point them towards God or else grab their hands and say, “Hey, let’s go check this thing out!” and walk and lead and direct and wrestle and give them opportunity to doubt and disbelieve and question and be angry or incredulous or skeptical.

Just don’t let them not be loved.

Wow! David having a bit of a bad day, it seems.

This is one of the Psalms I would generally skip or quickly move past to the next one if it was just for my reading, but since I’ve committed to commenting on them I guess I will have to give it a try, but this one is NOT for the faint of heart. In fact, if Psalms had movie restrictions, this would get an R for sure.

I think maybe one important point that can be brought up using this psalm is the following: Just because it’s in the Bible does not mean it is true. Wait, let me be more specific there – does not mean it’s true for me. Not every line in the Bible is teaching. Because it says he took a second wife means I can take a second wife. Because Cain killed his brother means I can kill my brother. No, that just shows lazy, uneducated reading of the Bible. Because the Bible is written in so many different forms of writing [history, poetry, song, metaphor, teaching] we need to be mindful of the intention of the part we are reading. What message would the intended audience have taken from it? Is this what God is trying to say to me now?

And with psalm 58 I think that is important because it is a bit of poetry or song and really seems to be David [once again, you say] having a bad day rant against the people he sees as unrighteous or his current enemies at the time [he had quite a lot throughout his lifetime] and he wishes some pretty hectic stuff against them.

1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?
2 No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

The first two verses echo what a lot of us might think and feel about our present governments, I imagine. Just a sigh of frustration as the people who have been put in the places of leadership [or authority, perhaps] just don’t seem capable or at least focused on doing what is right.

But then over the next few verses David gets a little graphic about what he wishes would happen to them and the wicked in general. I’ll let you go and look those up.

Then in verses 7 and 8 he comes up with some strong metaphors which I do want to look at [the one is very hectic and unfortunate, but does convey strong imagery] in terms of perhaps finding something that might apply to us in an introspective kind of way:

7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

So, pretty hectic, right? But let me look at each one briefly in terms of the possible meaning I see in them [this is not necessarily what David was meaning but just trying to draw some meaning of my own from what I read here]:

# ‘water that flows away’ indicates something with non-present boundaries. If water is placed into a container it will remain there and be useful. But once you take all the boundaries away, remove all the limits and restrictions, then the water will be lost. It will seep away into nothingness. This can be a strong reminder for us as individuals and as society I think or the need for helpful boundaries and restrictions. Not ones that are so rigid that the water is not allowed to flow where it needs to or even ones that can’t be changed or adapted from time to time. But the complete lack of all restriction and restraint can often lead to something becoming completely ineffective and useless.

‘let their arrows fall short’ to me speaks of the lack of power behind the arrow. If you put an arrow into a bow and let go, the arrow will fall directly to the ground and have shown to be completely useless in achieving its goal [or your goal with it]. In the same way if we continue to operate purely in our own strength so we will miss our goal [or God’s kingdom goal for us] again and again. We need to be empowered by His Holy Spirit living in us and invited to operate fully in us. Have you surrendered yourself completely to God or are you at least in the process of living day to day offering your life to Him. When we allow ourselves to have the power of God working in and through us, then our arrow will fly further and be more effective in hitting its intended target.

‘a slug that melts as it moves along’ – with my limited understanding of biological things, i’m still pretty sure that if you throw salt at a slug it melts and so when I read this I think of a slug that is moving along on a trail of salt. The lesson for us being that if we pursue or follow a destructive path [or a path that contains strong elements of the things that are bad for us] then we are causing our own destruction. The warning to be aware of the things in our life that are not helpful or healthy for us and making wise [sometimes difficult] decisions to that we don’t melt as we move along. The enemy never starts out with tempting someone to commit adultery or to kill someone. No, he begins with the subtle temptation of a returned lingering glance, of a late night meeting with that person you have felt attracted to at work [despite being married] and choosing to go and have a drink with them afterwards instead of heading home [and not telling your wife about it] or a little white lie that at a later stage will need a slightly bigger one to cover it. Before you know it there is a weird smell and a bubbling sound. We are called to be salt in terms of adding flavour and preservation to things and people around us. But we must identify the things that would act as salt to us if we were slugs and choose a different, less dangerous path, every time.

‘a stillborn child that never sees the sun’ – this is a hectic image and not one I really want to look at because of all the pain that it carries for anyone who has walked that path [and even those who know people who have]. But simply put, it brings to mind the idea of missed potential. All that could have been that will now not be.

And so this psalm is a rant from David and not necessarily a teaching on what we should even wish on our enemies – after all, Jesus gave us some strong teaching on how we should love them, bless them, walk the extra mile for them [and at least the metaphorical satisfaction of the burning coals that might fall on them if we do] – but by looking at the extent of his curse-wishing on them, we have hopefully been able to do a quick stock take on our own lives and take some valuable lessons of things, life paths to avoid from those.

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

what an incredible psalm.

we know it was ‘To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks” which makes me wonder what type of genre song that was? is this David at his hip hop best? the title does have more of a country feel to it, or maybe a rock ballad? who knows, but it makes for interesting speculation.

we also know this psalm is from ‘when the Philistines seized him in Gath’ so i’m picturing David sitting with his journal and pencil in a Philistine prison, okay probably not but then how did they write stuff in those days?

but two powerful concepts are waiting for you here:

By this I will know that God is for me. [vs. 9b]

i wonder how many christians believe that.

and maybe if more unbelievers could wrap their faith around that idea they would be more quick to follow.

do you actually really believe God is for you? or is your picture of Him closer to a ‘traditional old testament’ view of God – the angry headmaster just waiting for you to step out of line so he can march you to his office and exact the worst kind of humiliating punishment on you?

but David seems confident – by this i will KNOW that God is for me.

one picture i have of God which i find particularly helpful is the idea of a father standing at the finish line of a 100m race screaming his lungs out in cheering me on. He is not running the race for me, but he is giving me complete support and encouragement and motivation.

the passage that first brought this to mind was Hebrews 12, the first three verses:

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ 

Know that your God is for you!

 the second Truth to hold on to or invite is this one:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 

In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. 

What can mere mortals do to me? [v. 3-4]

trusting God is obviously an important one and knowing He is the one we should run towards when tragedy strikes [and not away from, or towards in blame] but i am more looking at that last line – What can mere mortals do to me?

this week has been a bit of a tough one for me personally in terms of understanding just how easy it is to let mere mortals affect me, but it’s all about knowing that my core foundation stands firm on God. no matter how irritated people get with me or upset with what i say or how i come across, it really doesn’t matter. i know who i am in God and my identity stands firm in Him. when that really kicks in then it becomes so true that what can mere mortals do to me? nothing.

the two go hand in hand – i know my God is for me, and because of that, what can man do to me?’

do you know these two?

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

‘For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.’

i mean, that’s quite an intro already, right? and possibly carries a profoundly deep message in terms of really getting our minds around the fact that David, altho he had messed up horribly, still ends up at the feet of God, rather than simply trying to hide or run the other way… where do you end up when you are caught up in the depravity of sin?

‘You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise.’ [vs 16-17]

and there we see that David really gets it – he starts at the point of his brokenness and failure but realises that it is not the outward motions that God is after – it is not about performing the right religious activities or rituals – God wants to know and see that he has truly changed – God is interested in the heart…

‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.’ [vs 1-2]

this is the start of the Psalm – David appeals to what He knows of God, who he knows God to be – He appeals to God’s ‘mercy’ and His ‘unfailing love’ as well as His ‘great compassion’.

Note that David is asking for mercy, not justice. Which is a thing most of us do much of the time i imagine. David knew that calling for justice for his actions would mean his life. But knowing the God he serves, he knows deep down that even though he doesn’t deserve it and possibly might not even feel like he has the right to even ask, that God is all of those things and will likely respond with much mercy and grace and undeserved forgiveness and new life.

and then he speaks those words that Keith Green turned into such a brilliant and haunting song:

‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. [vs 10-12]’

this could be a daily prayer to start the day with… the search for a clean heart, the joy of really knowing God’s salvation and a spirit that is willing for whatever opportunity is placed in front of you…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

oh David… David, David, David…

after many Psalms of “Crush the wicked!” and “The evildoers are gonna get it” he seems to have changed his strategy or approach to the more nonchalant one of “ah, it doesn’t matter, God will take care of it in time”

‘Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.’ [vs. 1-2]

it could almost be like he is talking to his earlier self as at one point he utters, ‘I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.’ [vs. 25]
it’s like he is saying, ‘I’ve seen how this ends and we win.’

but as you read the psalm it still seems like he has not yet had his moment of facing the mirror – Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who is the sinfulest one of all? [sounds more powerful in my head when i imagine it with the Charlize Theron elocution and accent] It is YOU, David! Seems like that one is still coming as he is still pretty amped that the wicked [as in “not me”] are gonna get it.

and then vs. 3 hits which is a great little gem: ‘Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.’

it’s like a ‘Love God, love people’ type summary of life – almost like a casual throwaway…oh, by the way, just trust God, do good things, be in the land and stay safe…

what really jumped out at me even from that line in the psalm was the word ‘dwell’ – i think i had a status a while back that went “be where you are” and that is exactly it. the word ‘dwell’ for me carries a depth, a commitment, an involvement, some strong intentionality – don’t just exist or reside or habitate but really dwell – dig your feet in and immerse yourself in the place where you are at.

and i am not saying move into a place and stay there for 80 years – what i am saying is that whenever you are in a place, be it for a visit or a season or a decent period of time, really BE there. invest in the place and the people [even if it is the shortest of visits] – we see that at the Hospitality House here at the Simple Way – a lot of people visit and have the experience and the conversation and the tour… but every now and then someone will tell me about the conversation they had with [insert local resident/friend of ours name] and it is a lot more exciting because even though that person was just passing through, they took an hour or a couple of hours to invest in one of the people we know, even in just hearing their story or sharing some of theirs. and it is a powerful, powerful thing.

many people exist, but a small amount of people really live. be a liver. wait, that doesn’t sound right. be a live’er. that’s better [marginally]

do you know the names of your neighbors? have you ever heard their story? invited them round for a meal? shared a batch of chocolate chip cookies with them?

maybe if you are doing this kind of dwelling in the land, safe pasture is a natural consequence because you have built up good relations with all those around you and so you have other people watching your back and cheering you on?

how about you make a conscious decision today to plan something creative within the next month that will increase your dwellingness in the context in which you find yourself today [whether it’s in a house or apartment or student res or boarding house corridor] and then come and share here how it went.

to be continued… [dun dun duuuuuuuuuuunnnn] but only if you click here.

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

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