Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Life and Times of King David part 3

The City of David

The Life and Times of King David

part 3

David, being a man of his word and convictions, would not strike Saul. He loathed the thought of civil war for Israel as well. Thus he left the country and headed for Philistine territory. He returned to Gath with 600 men in his tow. In an attempt to release himself from the pursuit of Saul he offered his services and those of his men to the king.

King Achish no doubt had some problems with the concept, but nevertheless established them in the town of Ziklag. David and his men were then expected to conduct raids on the southern border of Judah.

However, David and his men instead went after the semi nomadic enemies of Judah, and strengthened her borders. The spoils of victory were given to the people of Negeb. Covertly, David was enhancing his position with those he would one day rule.

King Achish knew nothing of David’s duplicity, and was instead concentrating on the plans of the five Philistine overlords of the north. They had come together for an all out assault on Israel. Their first movement was to take the plain of Jezreel. David was asked to join them, but the commanders had a basic lack of trust in David and his men, and he was kept out of it. David was en rout from Jezreel to Negeb when Saul confronted the Philistines at Mount Gilboa.

When David returned to Ziklag, he found that the Amalekites had raided the town. They had looted and pillaged, but had also taken everyone hostage. The Lord told David to head after them, for he would surely catch them and make rescue.

David headed south to the brook of Besor, where 200 of his men collapsed, too exhausted to continue. David and his 400 found the Amalekites spread out over the land. They were having a great feast in celebration of all the spoil they had taken. David attacked at dawn, and recovered all hostages and livestock. He then divided the spoil  among those who had fought and those who had stayed behind.

Saul and his men, poised for battle at Mount Gilboa, were going into battle with an old king. A king who was no longer confident in the Lord’s involvement in his life. Before he went into battle he had consulted with the prophets of God about the coming battle, but the “phone rang off the hook.”

He then went to a witch, or medium for answers. He wanted to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. To everyone’s surprise, even the medium’s, Samuel showed up and predicted Saul’s death and the defeat of Israel.

Distraught and convinced he was headed for his last stand, he fought at Mount Gilboa. Jonathan and his two brothers, Abinadab and Malchishua, were all killed. Saul was seriously wounded by Philistine archers, and apparently when you lose to the Philistines you are subject to anal rape, so Saul fell on his own sword and perished also.

Until David came along, the state of Israelite music
was rather primitive. It typically consisted of instruments
like the "sistrum". This was little more than an elaborate rattle.
David imported skilled Phonecian musicians and added
to his nation's culture.
David received news of the defeat and the deaths of those he had come to know as family. Though he went into mourning he also realized that if he were to take Saul’s place as king, he would have to move quickly. He consulted of God as to where to go now, and was told to go to Hebron.

To Hebron they all went, and there David was anointed King over the house of Judah. The date was about 1000 years before Christ. David now ruled Judah, but Israel was now in division. A nation once unified under Saul, was now led by Ishbosheth, Saul’s youngest son. He ruled the ten tribes who lived in the central and northern areas of the kingdom: Benjamin, Dan, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Gad and the remnant of Rueben which had escaped the Moabite and Ammonite pressure. David ruled over the tribes of Judah and Simeon.  Abner, Saul’s chief general, lead bloody skirmishes against Joab and the armies of David for two years with little results.

Abner, however, began to move without the let of his king and took one of Saul’s concubines for his own. The king saw this as treason and a split developed between the two men. Abner then met with David secretly, no doubt feeling that Israel would have a better future under David’s rule, and he discussed the plans for turning over the northern kingdom.

As a show of good faith, Abner returned Michal to David from the town of Gibea. She had been married off to another when David had fled the country. There in David’s harem, she provided a link between Saul’s family and the Kingdom of Judah. This strengthened David’s position as future king of Israel.

Joab however, knowing nothing of the talks between Abner and David, sought revenge for a brother Abner had killed in battle. Abner, not realizing that Joab knew nothing of the secret talks, walked right up to Joab and was quickly disemboweled.

This was bad news for David and his political future, so David called a national day of mourning  in respect for the fallen Abner, this in order to keep his people from retaliation. However, without Abner, his king began to lose courage and the people followed suit.

Two of Ishbosheth’s captains, seeking favor of David, for the future, killed the king in his sleep.  Instead of promoting them, David had them executed for killing Saul’s son, not only their king.  Only Jonathan’s five year old crippled son remained of the house of Saul. Now no one stood between David and the throne of Israel. All of the elders went to Hebron and anointed David their king. With this act, Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled.

The Philistines, hearing these events, became alarmed. As long as Israel fought amongst itself, they knew that all of Canaan would eventually be theirs to take. A united Israel, however, with warrior King David at its command, was big, big trouble.

They therefore attacked before David would be able to get any help from the northern tribes. They amassed in the valley of Rephaim, hoping to drive a wedge between Israel and Judah before any solidarity could take place. David proved more than a match for them however, and defeated them twice. In fact, David kept rolling until the armies of the Philistines were destroyed.  The Philistines were never heard from again.

Jerusalem, the last city in central Israel was still controlled by the Canaanites. It was built on a high ridge bordered on the east, west and south by steep valleys. It had high walls and lofty springs. David considered this to be the best place for a capitol. It was also on the border between the two nations of Israel and Judah and would also be a great place for political rule.

David then set out to capture the city, only to be mocked by its inhabitants. The Jebusites told him, “The blind and the lame will defend this city against the likes of you.”  David told his men that the first one to smite them would be chief and commander.

Joab led his men through a water tunnel that ran under the city, no doubt a lesson learned from the fall of Babylon. They emerged inside the city and threw the Jebusites into confusion. He then threw open the city gates for the rest of his forces and soon the victory was done.

David would live there. He would call it the City of David. It belonged neither to Israel or to Judah. It was the sole property of David himself. Pretty good for a little shepherd boy from Bethlehem!

David centralized the power of the state in the king, with Jerusalem as the seat of government. Tribal allegiance was forgotten once inside the walls of Jerusalem, one now belonged to the king, not just a confederacy.

David also had the ark of the covenant brought there with the prophet Nathan. David danced before God as the ark was brought into the city. Jerusalem was now not only the City of David, but with the seat of God there, it was also the City of the Lord. Michal, his wife, thinking David silly for his exuberance, rendered herself barren with derisive comments. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.!

Now the whole of political, civil, religious and all other administrations were concentrated in one place with David as its ruler. David then surrounded himself with officers and clerics and created an administration of some of the most famous names in the Old Testament: Joab, Jehoshaphat, Seraiah, Benaiah, Zadok and Abiathar, to name a few.

It was then that he commissioned the collection of the book of Psalms. These hymns were sung by priests and celebrants at the Tent of the Covenant. We still have these books and records of these events to this day, including the existence of Israel, and her people who are historically connected to all of this. The flag of Israel is decorated with the Star of David. Remind your atheist and agnostic friends and co-workers, that it is one thing to disregard an invisible creator, but quite another to ignore Israel and the Jews.

more on all of this next time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Life and Times of King David part 2

"The Lord gave you into my hand in the cave...but I spared you." 1 Samuel 24.10
In an En-gedi cave like this, David spared Saul's life, even though Saul was trying
to kill him. He and his men also hid out in these caves, whose cool recesses
offered shelter not only from men but from the blazing heat of the desert
The Life and Times of King David

part 2

With his great victory, David was now a sports hero so to speak. Now a full fledged leader in the army of the king, his victories mounted and grew.  He had sudden fame and glory and all the women came out of the city singing his praises.

“Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands!”

Saul had promoted David due to his prowess in battle, and the obvious advantage of having someone with God’s hand on him didn’t hurt either. The public adoration for David didn’t help him in the eyes of the king. Naturally, he began to distrust David’s inner motives. Suspicion of a threat to his throne grew within Saul.

Still suffering from the fits of madness, he twice throws his javelin at David, attempting to impale him. David was younger and more agile and thus able to avoid the javelin. Saul, however, couldn’t admit this advantage over himself and saw it as obvious help from God in David’s ability to avoid certain death. This only added to his suspicions of a threat to the throne. No matter how many times he sent him out to meet the Philistines in battle, they failed to kill the boy. David’s popularity, and obvious favor of God over Saul, began to steam roll in the constituency.

Saul then offered his eldest daughter to David in marriage, if he won even more victories. David never married her however, since Saul abruptly gives her to another. But he tries again with his younger daughter Michal, who had a bad jones for the young hero. The price of marriage? 100 Philistine foreskins. A task I cannot imagine: circumcising 100 dead men and collecting their penis skin. Oh my!

Saul must have thought this impossible if not repulsive and surely David would get himself killed trying such a stunt. Please make sure they are all dead first, or you’ll have quite the fight on your hands! But David brought back 200 foreskins instead. Michal was his, and seemingly David was invincible.

Saul then called on Jonathan to kill David. But Jonathan pleaded David’s case siting his service and record, and Saul relented. They even reconciled for a time, but it was only a temporary respite.

Even Michal got into the act of going against he father for the sake of David. Upon hearing of Saul’s plan to have soldiers bring him to the palace to be slain, she warned him to save his life. She tried to fool the soldiers when they arrived  with the phoney “pillow under the covers routine” and claims that David was ill and couldn’t be moved, but the soldiers didn’t fall for it and discovered the ruse.

"And the servants of David went out and met the servants
of the son of Saul at the pool of Gibeon.... and the battle
was very fierce that day" 2 Samuel 2.13, 17
The probable scene of this encounter a stair well that leads
down to the water table. This was discovered in 1956 by archeaologists.
It was a circular pit , 37 feet across, cut from solid rock to a depth of 82 feet.
Almost 3,000 tons of limestone had to be removed. Village women would have
to descend the stair and then climb back up with water pots on their heads.
The 79 step climb must have made for some well toned ladies.

David had fled in the night, and ended up in Ramah, a few miles away, in the safety of Samuel the prophet. Saul pursued him there, but God intervened and had the soldiers and Saul himself become overwhelmed with a type of religious dancing in praise of God.

David then secretly met with Jonathan to discuss the problem and asked him just what it was he had done to deserve the wrath of Saul. Jonathan assured David that Saul would have no success at killing him and the two men renewed their friendship.

The feast of the new moon was the next night, and as tradition would have it, David was obligated to be at table with Saul. When he wasn’t there Saul was furious, and Jonathan had to lie to Saul with the excuse that David had been given leave to visit his brothers in Bethlehem.

In the morning, after an evening of near death from his own father’s javelin tossing, Jonathan met with David secretly in the field, and the two  said farewell for the time being. They both knew that David would now be a wandering outlaw in the wilderness until Saul’s death.

David then moved on to Nob, where he received the sword of Goliath which had been left in the care of Ahimelech the priest. No doubt thinking that he would not be found in the Philistine town of Gath, he fled there, only to be seized by the King’s soldiers. When brought to King Achish, David faked madness like a man in a rubber room.

Achish of course, tossed David out, as David had expected. In his day, the insane were thought to be touched by the divine, and therefore inviolable. The Philistines released him and he fled to a cave in Adullam, near the border between the two territories of Judah and the Philistines.

In this area all those who were the outcast, the indebted, the receivers of Saul’s ire, and those considered a rebel, gathered around David. They survived off of the kindness of local shepherds and farmers and kept one step ahead of Saul’s pursuit. In time, the followers of David grew, and became a small army of rebels unto themselves.

David’s army soon encountered the philistines in battle and overran a force at Keliah. With 400 men under his command, he soon demanded tribute from the settlements in the hills. Nabal from  Carmel, a rich man who owed David tribute, refused to pay and David planned to march against the town. Abigail, Nabal’s wife moved quickly however, and brought David tribute on the way from town. Nabal was so incensed that he had a cardiac arrest and died.

Due to the days in which he lived, a King’s power was often measured by how many wives he had in his harem. (That would make someone I know very, very weak!) And David married Abigail in recognition for saving him from something called “blood guilt”. He was loath to avenge himself by his own hand.

Saul, however, had continued his pursuit of David and had killed Ahimelech and his family for the kindness he had shone to David. The priest's son had escaped Saul and warned David to run from the enclosed town of Keilah, and David once again avoided Saul.

David and his men led the life of guerilla fighters in Judah. They offered protection to those who fed them and wrentched provisions from the uncooperative rich. Like Robin Hood, they shared with the poor, all the while harassing king Saul's men. In this rendering, the meal would be lentils and figs with goat's milk. Weapons and water flasks were enough of a burden to carry without the cares of food maintainence. Living on the run required a light travel bag.

Saul followed David and his men to the edge of the Dead Sea. He stopped to “drain the dragon” in a cave that held David and his men in the back, where they were hiding. David got close enough to have killed Saul, but refused to think of such a thing as he still held the King in his position.  Instead, he cut off part of Saul’s garment and then when Saul was a good distance away, he called to him, waving the garment piece, and displaying his innocence of any claim to the throne.

Saul was tearfully repentant upon the realization of what he had done, but still could not rid himself of his hatred for David. Such is the result of physical addiction to internal emotions. Later on David would again sneak into camp where Saul was sleeping, and took his spear. Easily the young King could have killed his tormentor, but instead he continued to hold him in honor.

Once again, David had spared the life of his aggressor.

More on this in the next installment   

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Life and Times of King David

The Life and Times 
Of King David
David, Israel’s greatest leader, defeated the Philistines and subdued them, breaking their power forever. His gifts as a poet, soldier and statesman make him, of all Israel’s kings, the most beloved by his people and the most respected by his enemies.

A brilliant leader, decisive and just, David transformed Israel from a weak and divided kingdom into a formidable empire. This transformation paralleled his own progress from shepherd to king. Throughout his life he was loyal to the Lord and the prophets, a fact that brought him victory against his foes and forgiveness for every human weakness, His colorful court history, written by a close friend, makes him better known to us than any other Old Testament person.

David was indeed, the Lord’s anointed one.

Toward the end of the eleventh century B.C., Israel was finally getting a leg up on its hated enemies, the Philistines. Under the direction of King Saul, several victories had given them the advantage in the foothills and valleys of central Canaan. Saul, however, butted heads with the prophet Samuel more and more. Samuel felt that all too often the King had ignored the special privileges of the prophet’s position. Samuel was soon told to anoint a new monarch for the young kingdom of Israel.

“I repent that I have made Saul king,” said the Lord to Samuel, “for he has turned back from following me, and has not performed my commands.” He ordered Samuel to go to the land of Judah “to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

Samuel feared that Saul would kill him if he learned of the selection of a new king. The Lord reassured him and Samuel then headed for Judah. When he arrived the people were alarmed to see him. The elders came to him asking if he did indeed come in peace. He told them he had come in peace to sacrifice to the Lord, and requested that Jesse and his sons be present.

But when he saw the seven boys that Jesse brought with him, he told them that the Lord had not chosen any of them.

“Are all of your sons here?” Asked Samuel.

“There remains yet the youngest,” responded Jesse, “but he is keeping the sheep.”

“Send and fetch him,” ordered the prophet and David, who was “ruddy... had beautiful eyes, and was handsome,” was brought in.

“Arise, anoint him... this is he,” said the Lord to Samuel. The prophet did as he was commanded and... “the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.”
The Negeb landscape where David hid from Saul
David was then sent back to the hills, where he wandered with the flock of sheep and goats during the day seeking good pasture. The wells in the hills provided the water the animals needed.  In the summer he would sleep with his animals under the sky, curled up in a sheepskin coat. The winter months were guarded against with a tent, cave or stone sheepfold. He ate lots of bread, cheese and olives. The hours were long and lonely and David used this time to play his lyre and write songs. He also gained a widespread knowledge of the territory and rugged terrain of Judea.

As a shepherd he carried a studded club, almost three feet long to protect the flock from predators, and humans alike. He also carried a leather sling which he had made himself. He could throw stones for a considerable distance with it, and developed a great accuracy. With it he could warn an errant sheep of going astray or fell a wolf, bear and even a lion. In his day this is a close as one came to missile defense systems, but it was accurate nonetheless.

David continued his life as a shepherd even after his anointing by Samuel, while at Gibeah, only seven miles away, Saul, unaware of David, continued to war with the Philistines. Breaking with Samuel he fell into deep depression. At times, he approached madness, for the Spirit of God had left him and an evil spirit tormented his mind. His servants suggested that music may indeed clam his mind.

“Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me,” ordered Saul.

One of his men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse who is skillful in playing and the Lord is with him.”

David was sent for and brought to the castle at Gibeah. It was more of a fort than a royal palace in design and was only two stories tall and rather plain in decor. David played his lyre and sang for the king, and, as his servants had hoped, “Saul was refreshed and the evil spirit departed from him.”

Saul came to love the young musician, in a way of admiration and gratitude, not philio. He then appointed the young boy armor bearer. But David never forsook his families’s duties and traveled back and forth from the palace to his father’s home to care for his sheep at Bethlehem.
Valley of Elah

David was then attending to the flock while Saul was arrayed for battle against the Philistines at the Valley of Elah, in the foothills of the Judean mountains. Three of David’s brothers were in the army of Saul. David’s father sent him to them with some parched grain and ten loaves of bread as well as 10 cheeses for their commander. “See how your brothers fare,” charged Jesse.
As David arrived he could hear the clamor of the Philistines as they lined up for battle. He left his gifts with the keeper of the baggage and searched out his brothers. He ignored their commands to leave and when Goliath stepped out to challenge the army, David was in its ranks.

Goliath challenged them to send their best man out to go mano a mano with him. The bet was for the victor of the fight to the death to lead his people into mastery of the populace.

These sorts of duels between warriors, to decide  the victory between two armies were common place. Sometimes the duels were only between two men, as the term duel would suggest, but at other times they involved groups of elite fighting men who would face each other. The soon to be King David would himself have a group of three men who were such a team. They were known as his greatest warriors. Commanders often loved this sort of thing for it cut way down on military attrition of soldiers. When one considers that an army may have only 12,000 soldiers, it is easy to see why this was the case. The Israelites however, rarely practiced this custom.
David and the slingshot

Goliath was about nine feet eight inches tall. He had the best armor, a bronze helmet and had chain mail that weighed 150 pounds. Greaves of bronze adorned his legs and a huge spear was slung between his shoulders. The spear was so large that its head weighed 20 pounds or so. Just image how long and thick this rod had to be in order to be effective.

No one answered Goliath’s challenge. But David, standing close by, wondered aloud who the hell this Philistine with a foreskin was who dared to challenge the armies of the living God! Saul himself warned him to check his mouth and get back to daddy, but David instead ran out to meet the giant.

Using his field tested missile defense system to the amazement of the armies surrounding him and the giant, he actually felled the Philistine.  He then ran over and beheaded the giant. In the time it takes to throw a stone, the Philistines had lost the battle and a hero was born.

David beheads Goliath
Jonathan, the prince of Israel, was deeply impressed and gave David his best sword, girdle and bow. They made a covenant of friendship that day which would stand the test of time.

more on David and his lifetime in the next segment.

Escape The Hezbollah