David and Absalom – Finding the Comfort and the Christ in Crisis

September 21, 2016


During our Wednesday services, we’ve been studying the shepherd-king David in all his glory, but now there are challenging times in his kingdom, which began with his own household. David has been forced out of Jerusalem by his son Absalom, and so he has retreated to mourn at Mount Olivet, known in the New Testament as the Mount of Olives. These readings include how David responded to his betrayal, including his own words from the psalms he wrote during this experience.

Are you spotting more similarities between David and Jesus?  David’s son betrayed him; an enemy cursed him and threw stones at him; and lame Mephibosheth, whom David had taken into his own home, appeared disloyal. Throughout this ordeal, David continued to express mercy, a quality so clear in Jesus that he was called “the son of David.”

Another similarity which is not as obvious is that one of David’s priests was called Zadok.  Melchizedek, king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem) brought bread and wine to Abraham, since Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:18). Then in Hebrews, Jesus is described as being “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:17).  (We actually did a Wednesday service on “Melchizedek? Melchisedec Who?”, and I like thinking of Daniel’s Zadok as providing a holy connection between the Old and New Testament priesthood.)

Both Jesus and David had gloomy nights on Mount Olive, but Jesus’ disciples slept. David’s household was awake and weeping with him, and different friends nourished David  and his mighty men.  In our Time for Thinkers Book Club, we’ve asked:  If Jesus’ disciples had been awake and supporting him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, with all they had learned, would they have brought in the millennium? (Science and Health, p. 34)  David taught us mercy, but Jesus’ lessons were so much more!!

In our next readings, we will find out if Ziba was lying about Mephibosheth, if the cursing stone thrower reforms, and if David regains his kingdom. My husband thinks this is all quite the soap opera, so you will have to stay tuned in!

If you are wondering why I am spending so much time on David, here is an interesting article by William McCrackan from the December 1916 Christian Science Journal where he wrote, “Metaphysically considered, Christian Scientists are entitled to consider themselves direct descendants in the royal line of David. . .” and then he compared the “key of David” to our own “key to the Scriptures.” (Science and Health, p. 499, which has Revelation’s quote about the key of David). I’ve learned so many lessons from studying David which have opened up the Scriptures for me, and I’d love to hear your inspiration as well!


David and Absalom – Train up a child

September 14, 2016


We all know the story of David and Bathsheba, but what happened afterwards? Did David use his own moral failure as a teaching moment for his own sons and daughters, or was this a case of “sour grapes, setting his own children’s teeth on edge?” Here is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of that saying:

God’s Message to me: “What do you people mean by going around the country repeating the saying,

The parents ate green apples,

The children got the stomachache?

“As sure as I’m the living God, you’re not going to repeat this saying in Israel any longer. Every soul—man, woman, child—belongs to me, parent and child alike. You die for your own sin, not another’s. Ezekiel 18:1-4 The Message

Here are some Bible notes on the story of Amnon and Tamar:

13.1 Tamar was Absalom’s full sister, Amnon’s half-sister. Amnon was David’s oldest son and the crown prince. The next oldest had apparently died (perhaps as a child), leaving Absalom as second in line of succession to the throne.

13.12 “Such a thing” may refer to incest or rape or both.

13.13 “He will not withhold me from you,” Tamar suggests that David would allow their marriage despite its incestuous nature. Perhaps she is just trying to buy time.

13:16 Ex. 22:16 and Deut. 22:28-29 required marriage in such cases. Tamar may have such laws in mind when she says that in sending her away Amnon is committing a greater wrong that the rape itself.

13:17 “This woman,” a contemptuous reference. The word “woman” is not in the Hebrew, so that it might be translated “this thing.” Having robbed Tamar of her virginity, Amnon takes her identity as well.

13:18 “A long robe with sleeves,” used also for Joseph’s garment in Gen. 37:3. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pages 462-463)

In the King James Version, Tamar is wearing a “garment of divers colours” as the king’s daughter, which of course made me think of Joseph’s coat of many colors from his father.

Should David have trained up his son to express morality to women, especially since David had experienced that lesson himself?  And after the rape of Tamar occurred, why didn’t David at least follow the Old Testament rules and discipline his son Amnon?

In the story of David and Bathsheba, Nathan tells David a story to uncover his sin; and in today’s readings, Joab uses a widow to tell David a story about a blood feud which started when one of her sons killed his brother. David knew it was Joab’s words, perhaps because Joab had learned this revenge lesson himself when he killed Abner for killing his brother (last week’s readings).

The Bible readings end with a psalm written by David when he fled from his son Absalom for stealing the kingdom. David sang:

Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. (Psalm 3:7,8)

In other words, “God striking the enemies on the mouth for their words is poetic justice, punishment fitting the crime. The psalmist, however, leaves the actual punishment to God.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, page 777)

The third tenet is so helpful in understanding that this “belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.” (Science and Health, page 497)

David – Using Wisdom or Playing the Fool

September 7, 2016


We’ve all been warned about “playing the fool,” and one of the Bible’s most famous examples of an apparent lack of common sense is an Old Testament character named Abner who died “as a fool dieth” according to King David. Abner foolishly took a fatal misstep, so our service this Wednesday is on “using wisdom” as our parents warned us, or in the words of Jesus, “wisdom is justified of her children” (Luke 7:35).  In other words,

“CS stands for Common Sense,” Bessie McLoon


“Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  Eugene Peterson, The Message


“Time tells all stories true,” Allison Phinney, Jr., The Christian Science Sentinel


“Wisdom is known by its fruits. Look at the results to see if you made the right decision.” Colleen Moore’s paraphrase from reading the wise words above!

Abner made some foolish decisions, and here are some Bible notes to help you understand his story:

2 Samuel 3:7-8 “To sleep with a member of the royal harem was to claim the throne. Hence, Ishbaal’s question is tantamount to an accusation of treason. A dog’s head, used only here in the Bible, this expression is obviously reproachful, but its origin is unknown, although comparison to a dog or a dead dog is a frequent form of self-depreciation. Abner does not deny Ishbaal’s accusation but is contemptuous. Although the power is his, he has been loyal to Ishbaal.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 449)

Hebron is one of the seven cities of refuge in Joshua 20:7.

“The towns of asylum provided the right of asylum for someone who committed involuntary manslaughter until the case was adjudicated. . . .The right of asylum helped to limit the social damage of unrestrained blood vengeance or feuding, especially  important in a tribal context. . . .The avenger of blood was the deceased’s nearest relative. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 348)

There were dozens of sermons online about Abner playing the fool, and there is a correlated story in Miscellaneous Writings about a New England worker who was played a fool. Mrs. Eddy’s anecdote is included at the end of the readings, but in summary, a practical joker at her brother’s mill had asked a new hire to “tend the regulator” by unnecessarily pouring a bucket of water every ten minutes on the regulator which controlled the machinery. Mrs. Eddy commented,

“Some people try to tend folks, as if they should steer the regulator of mankind. God makes us pay for tending the action that He adjusts.” (“Fallibility of Human Concepts,” Mis. p. 353)

So, not only did Abner foolishly start a game with enemies which resulted in a brawl, killing Joab’s brother; then foolishly stepped outside of the sanctuary city with Joab; but he also foolishly tried to meddle with arranging David’s kingdom when God already had everything under control! There is certainly wisdom in unity, but this story warns us that it should be directed by God (as David was patiently learning) instead of outlined by man (Abner’s foolish mistake).

In this same article, Mrs. Eddy lists six attitudes which many have found wise to follow in their lives:

“A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated, would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God.” (Mis. p. 354)

Have you noticed the symbolism of David becoming king over a unified Israel at age 30? Was David the first “lion and the lamb,” because he symbolized the lion of the southern tribe of Judah, and lovingly shepherded the northern tribes to unite and become one flock? Did you spot the symbolism of the two witnesses, the Christ from Judah; and the Comforter from the northern tribes of Israel (such as the tribes of Benjamin and Gad, and Joseph’s tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh)?