Tag Archives: David

We’ll Leave the Light On

Once again, I watched “Close Encounters,” one of the best movies ever made.  Do you remember the scene, early in the movie, in which the people who had seen or sensed the presence of the aliens gathered on the hillside, lighting lights to welcome them?  Remember how they watched and waited, eagerly anticipating their coming? 

It would be nice if Christmas lights were lit with that same attitude, watching and waiting, eagerly anticipating the coming of our Lord.  Perhaps they once were, back before Christmas became flattened and homogenized into “Happy Holidays.”  But you and I can light welcoming lights year round, not on our gutters and bushes but in our attitudes and actions.  Watching and waiting, as many once did for His birth.

David said it like this:

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love,and with him is plentiful redemption.  And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.(Psalm 130:5-7)

When the Lines are Down

Well, it happened again.  I was saying something heartfelt and important to someone on my cellphone, not realizing that the connection had died.  After a few seconds of silence, “Hello… hello… Are you there?”  Feels kind of stupid and helpless, talking to a dead phone, right?  Do you ever feel as though your prayers aren’t getting through?  Like you are trying to talk to God and the connection is broken?  Don’t sweat it, it happens to everyone, even to a guy considered to be so good at praying, he wrote many of the prayers in the Bible.

David felt disconnected and cried out,  “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”  And“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (excerpts of Psalm 86:1-4).

You’ve probably felt like that, too, right?  What do you do then?  (“Who you gonna call?”)  Consider two things David asked God for when he felt that his connection was down:

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

David knew God could hear him, even when he felt disconnected.  But he also knew he, David, needed to change in order to “hear” God.  So he asked God to teach him the right way, so he could walk on the path of truth.  David sensed that the disconnect he was feeling happened in part because he had wandered off the path of truth and into the weeds of ideas and attitudes that were not true.

It’s kind of like when an adolescent gets the false idea his parents don’t love him, as so frequently happens, even when they really do.  All their attempts to communicate become disrupted. It is not until he accepts what is true about their love that their relationship can be really restored.  So David says, show me what’s true, show me your way.  Smart man.

But he also asks God to give him “an undivided heart.”  David recognizes his heart goes back and forth between the ways of God and the pull of the world.  Perhaps you, like me, yearn for a heart that is undivided by all the stuff that clamors for our attention in the world.  David knew to ask God to fix his heart, that self-help wasn’t going to work.  When he asks “that I may fear your name,” he doesn’t mean that he will be scared by God’s name.  He means that he will live with an awareness of God and a reverence that keeps their lines of communication intact.

My guess is that David’s prayers were answered on the spot, because one of the next things he says is this:

“For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:13)

Next time you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, try David’s approach.  Ask God to show you where you’ve gotten off the path of truth and the way you should go.  Ask Him to fix your heart so it is undivided.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

Woot, Woot!

The red and blue twirly lights came on just past Fort Donelson, as we drove down along the Cumberland River in Tennessee.  I eased our 25 year old RV to the curb, rolled down my window and waited.  As the officer approached, I said, “Is this a Colorado marijuana stop?”  “Not yet,” he said with a laugh.  “i clocked you going 40, coming down that hill into town.”  You know what always comes next: you hand over the paperwork and then sit there, drumming your fingers on the steering wheel and wondering what’s coming as this sick feeling begins to grow in your stomach. My guess was 4 points and 150 bucks.  After what seemed like a very long time, he came strolling back from his cruiser, hitching up his pants and adjusting his hat.  Didn’t look good…  “Well sir, I’m going to give you a warning this time.  Please drive more slowly and y’all have a nice day.”  Do you remember what that feels like?  The sudden, unexpected rush of freedom and joy?  Woot, woot!

Be honest: If you owed $150 for every time you drove over the speed limit in your life, how much would you owe?  How about for just last week?  Justice demands that we pay the full amount.  Grace, the kind of grace I received from a cop in Tennessee, treats you as though you had obeyed the law completely.  We all know justice is good.  But grace is better!   What if you had to pay the full and just penalty for everything you ever did that was not good?  Hmmm….

Psalm 32 begins like this:

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2)

The first phrase is grace.  God will let you off (with a warning!) and treat you as though you had obeyed the law completely.  But notice that the second phrase says our “sins are covered.”  By Whom? This ancient psalm foretells the sacrifice of Jesus!  He will “cover” the cost for our sins.  Having done so, He will also cover over our sins, as though we had never sinned.  Amazing!  And “blessed!”  Woot, woot!

But notice, the last phrase, which talks of the one in “whose spirit is no deceit.”   As you read further in Psalm 32, you discover that David is talking about one who openly confesses his sins to God, with no holding back, no deceit.  The process of surrender to Jesus, by which we are given the full pardon of grace, includes heartfelt, honest acknowledgement to God of our shortcomings and moral failures.  We don’t pretend that we deserve the grace He offers.  We come “without one plea.”  But that confession (which becomes a continual part of our relationship) clears the air.  We have no secrets and live, fully aware of just how much we need grace.

Woot, woot!

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Words and Music

As Albert Einstein lay dying, he gathered a faltering breath and spoke final words. Are you curious to know what he said?  Nobody knows, since his nurse didn’t speak German!  It was probably only a critical correction to his theory of relativity or something.  Famous last words…  Often the last things that a person says come from a very deep place.

When Jesus died on the cross, His final words were a quote from a psalm written by David, roughly 1000 years earlier.  He said,

“Into Your hands I commit my spirit…”   (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)

If you read the rest of that psalm, it is uncanny how perfectly it expresses what Jesus must have been thinking and feeling, a complex mixture of anguish and trust.  Jesus also quoted Psalm 22 on the cross:

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34, Psalm 22;1)

Once again, David’s psalm eerily captures both the agony of Jesus,

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)

and, later in that same psalm, His overriding confidence in God:

“You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Psalm 22:23-24)

Those who write songs frequently say they feel as though the words and music were already there, waiting to be discovered.  It must have been that David was so in tune with the heartbeat, the “words and music” of God, that the words he was inspired to write, were the ones spoken from the lips of the Son of God, moments before His physical death.

I’m not sure there is a lesson there, or any practical application.  But when I ponder that powerful connection between David and Jesus, it casts me into a deep, swirling pool of profound awe.  I hope it might do so for you, too.  I believe it is in such awe that we find ourselves more in tune with God’s “words and music.”

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Chrismystery

Consider this:

King David of Israel:

  • Was born in Bethlehem
  • Was considered too little and too young to fight with the big boys and instead was assigned to shepherd his father’s sheep.
  • By the power of God, and against all odds, rescued the nation from an unstoppable threat (Goliath – cool name, huh?).
  • Became the best king Israel ever had.

Jesus

  • Was born in Bethlehem – a town considered too small to play any important role in the affairs of the nation.
  • Came as a tiny, homeless, poor baby – a descendant of King David.
  • Became a Shepherd for His Father’s flock.
  • By the power of God, and against all odds, saved His people from an unstoppable threat (Satan).
  • Will be revealed to be the King of Kings forever.

You might think this was mashed together by revisionists, after the fact, to make Jesus seem more important.  In truth, the synchronicity of those two men was mysteriously designed by God as an object lesson for His people and was explained by the prophet, Micah, 700 years in advance of Jesus’ birth!

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.  (Micah 5:1-5)

Ancient Glimpses

Long time no post…  We’ve been wandering for a month or so, from Colorado up over Lake Superior in Canada and back, by the little squiggly roads.  We’ve encountered beautiful sights and some really crappy WiFi.  Worth it though…

So then, back to the “Fresh Bread;” here’s a mind-bender for you…

Isaiah saw glimpses of Jesus, 700 years before His birth; we’ve mentioned that before (See “Ancient Sroll; Secrets Revealed”). Go back 300 years earlier, and King David saw glimpses of Jesus, too:

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”  Psalm 110:1

The puzzle in that first line of David’s psalm is that David says that God (“The Lord”) speaks to his God (“my Lord”).  Who does he say God is talking to?  Jewish theologians from antiquity agreed: David was referring to the Messiah.  But the Messiah was understood to be a king from among David’s descendants.  How could David call a descendant of his “my Lord?”   Jesus posed this question for the theologians of His day:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’  Matthew 22:41-44

David had been given a glimpse of Jesus, 1000 years or so before His birth.  In that same psalm, David talks of Jesus’ powerful rule.  In poetic imagery, he alludes to Jesus’ eternal life, saying that each new day…

Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.  (Psalm 110:3b)

But then David calls back an event from the life of his ancestor, Abraham, that took place 700 years earlier, 1700 years before Jesus.  Abraham was returning from a battle he knew God had caused him to win, seeking a way to give thanks and honor to God, when a mysterious stranger showed up.  His name was Melchizedek, which means “King of Righteousness.”  He served Abraham as a priest, receiving an offering of thanks for God, serving as one through whom Abraham could connect to God.  He then vanishes from the pages of Scripture.  In addition to not having any record of his lineage, Melchizedek has no death recorded in Scripture.  But the really unique thing about him is that he served as both a king and a priest, something no other king or priest has ever done.

David, in his psalm, says that God says to the Messiah:

“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”  (Psalm 110:4b)

This may sound confusing, but David was saying that one day, a descendant in his line would be a righteous, powerful, supreme leader, a man who would live eternally, and who would serve as both a king and a priest.  Jewish scholars and theologians who puzzled over that psalm generally agreed.  1700 years later, Jesus acknowledged that He was that Descendant, Righteous King and Perfect Priest.  He would serve to connect us to God in a perfect way.  The author of the Book of Hebrews later gave a rather detailed explanation about how all those pieces fit together (Read Hebrews 6:13 – 8:2).

When I consider how unlikely it is that such ancient glimpses of a Messiah would ever fit together, much less be realized in the Person of One Man, my head swims.  And all of  that just skims the surface…