Good morning Saints~
Thank you for sharing some of what Father is doing in your lives and hearts because of the challenge to read the Bible or fast something to start the year. I know that Father worked something special for each of you. Remember to continue praying for each other. Without the detail of prayer, anything we did would have been an exercise in futility. Otherwise our time of prayer and fasting really would have merely been a diet.
As I have spent the past several days working through Saul and David, the level of bloodshed has appeared greater this go round than times past. David’s nephew, Joab, the high ranking general in the duty of David, is a ruthless dude. He is fiercely loyal, cunning, unfalteringly obedient, and quite a warrior. Joab was more of a highlight for me, however, killing by others as well, was more dramatic and impacting. I have asked Father about the level of killing and think I come to some conclusions. See if you agree.
One of the nuances to our current, metropolitan society is that we don’t raise our own animals for slaughter and food. Unless one is a hunter and purposely purchases a tag, owns a rifle, and goes out to bag one, we just don’t have much interaction with dead animals, unless of course you creamed one on the highway. Hunters are familiar with having to gut, clean, and quarter big critters. Me- I wouldn’t even know what to do or where to start if an elk fell over in the front yard- even if it had a tutorial DVD attached to it with step-by-step directions on it and dotted lines on it showing where to slice. Because we don’t raise pigs and chickens for slaughter and consumption, the ideas about personally killing them, letting the blood drain, etc. is far, far from many of us. For me to use a sharp-edged object to end the life of another is foreign. For the great majority of us there is a sterility about death and dying in our culture.
Also, the component which is more likely to be the case, we don’t live in a society where “jungle law” rules. We have societal laws which keep, for the most part, a level of civility functioning in our midst. We all, again for the most part, respect each other and keep our grudges, aggressions, and retaliations to a minimum. We don’t just get someone because they got us. (It may not happen with guns and knives, but it certainly does happen with our words.) We don’t live in an age where the attitude is ’kill or be killed.’ We aren’t having to strengthen our survival skills to the degree that we must kill another human just to survive another day.
Once when I was visiting Kenya, our team found itself on several instances deep in the jungle far from any legal jurisdiction. The prevailing attitude and sense among the people was a high level of respect for each other. When I asked about my sense, the missionary we were visiting said that there is a high level of respecting the dignity of another and honoring each other. Otherwise, if that doesn’t happen and one person crosses another, one day in the near future, the one who is the offender, may be walking home just a bit late in the evening as the sun had just gone down and the offender may just come up missing. The offended, may, when no one is looking except the monkeys, knock off the offender in the jungle and no one will know anything about it. The body may decompose quickly or be eaten by jaguar, boar, or a plethora of insects wandering the jungle floor. The missionary called this ”jungle law.” Respecting and honoring others has a way of lowering the death rate.
Lastly, there was a level of honor and shame in the ANE (ancient near east) that we just don’t possess in our current culture. Today as I was reading through the initial chapters of 1 Kings, a young lady named Abishag is introduced. The Bible says she is a beautiful young virgin. She was tasked with laying with King David before he died, to keep him warm, and to have sex with him. If David was capable of performing with her, he would have been considered virile and strong. That act would have given him clout to continue leading the nation. Instead the Bible says he had no intimate relations with her. She was also a nurse, in that, she cared for the king in many more ways than being purely a status symbol. We are not told if David ever had sex with her for there was a short period of time after her initial introduction that King David dies. We do know however that David’s son Adonijah makes an attempt to take over as king after David dies. He has all right to do so as he is the oldest. It is Adonijah’s mother Haggith who presses this issue. However, the ever illusive and scheming Bathsheba manipulates the situation to have Solomon crowned king. Solomon was her son, Adonijah was not. You may think I am being to harsh on Bathsheba. Remember, she did say yes to David when her husband was out of town working. She was just as complicit in the adulterous tryst as David.
Back to the story. Adonijah comes to Bathsheba and asks a question. Interesting that she has to ask if he comes peacefully. They were at odds after all and I suppose the idea of him coming to kill her was not out of the question since she did have Solomon throned (new word) instead of Adonijah. Anyway, Adonijah asks if he can have Abishag as his wife. For us this may seem like a sensible request. She is finished with her assignment tending to the king and may have been available. Here is were the honor comes in. For Adonijah to ask for Abishag was like saying, “I have no respect for my father David and if he could not have intimate relations with her cuz he was weak, I can, cuz I am strong. And because I am stronger than him, I can take and use his property any way I want, better than him, and I should be king instead of Solomon.” Adonijah was disrespecting his father and the king. Therefore, Solomon picks up on this and wants him eliminated. Solomon orders Benaiah, the same one who kills a lion in a pit on a snowy day (2 Sam 23:20), to eliminate the disrespectful one. Thereby, maintaining honor and eliminating the shame aspect from the situation.
If you think I am reaching here, think back to a similar situation. 2 Samuel 16:22, Absalom pitches a tent on his father’s roof in plain site of all of Israel and sleeps with ten of David’s concubine. This was also a purposeful act of dishonor towards the king to show that Absalom was more powerful than his father.
Just a few thoughts on why killing is so egregious to us and some solutions as to why so much of it took place. Do any of those ideas seem plausible?
I hope you have a good week. Stay steady and keep at it. Pastor Mark.
PS. I attached a picture from my Life Application Bible of the highs and lows of David’s life. It helped me, I hope it helps you.