Grace, Favor, and Mercy Bestowed

For the music director; to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a psalm, a song. May God show us his favor and bless us! May he smile on us!

-Psalm 67:1 (NET)
Psalm 67 is an invitation to partake of God’s favor.
The song is a priestly blessing.  We can say this to each other.
“May the Lord bless you!”, and we answer back, “May the Lord bless you!”
Where did this gracious blessing start?  It started with Abraham.  God said to Abe that he would be blessed and the whole world would be blessed through him.

The Lord told Abram, “You are to leave your land, your relatives, and your father’s house and go to the land that I’m going to show you. I’ll make a great nation of your descendants, I’ll bless you, and I’ll make your reputation great, so that you will be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you, but I’ll curse the one who curses you, and through you all the people of the earth will be blessed.”

Abraham was as good as dead, yet from this one man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
-Genesis 12:1-3 and Hebrews 11:12 (ISV)

It is a good guess that this is what Psalm 67 has in mind.

Psalm 67 is a missionary Psalm.  It is about God’s mission to save all people.  The blessing of God on our lives is for saving the world.
Each of us are not saved in a vacuum, but through God’s blessing on other people.  That is what the blessing of God on your life is for.  And the more we realize this and let the blessing work for others, the more we will be blessed.
May God show us favor and bless us.  Other translations say, ‘show mercy’ or, ‘be gracious’.  The Hebrew  carries with it the idea of grace, mercy, favor, and kindness.  And to be blessed by God encapsulates all four of these.

I learned from a faith leader, to sign notes with ‘blessings’.  Blessings means, ‘grace, mercy, favor, and kindness to you’.

May God show us his favor and bless us! May he smile on us!

Humbled But Happy

Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

-Matthew 5:5 (CEB, NLT)
The blessings of God are laid out sequentially, by Jesus.  They build upon each other.  Each one of these are called by him, ‘fortunate situations to be envied’: that is what ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’ means here.
We first agree with God that we are hopeless and poor without God and then begin living our lives as ‘happy mourners’.  We live in the kingdom of God, receiving its treasures.  And we live with broken hearts that are continually comforted by our Father.
After these fortunate states have been established in our lives, we are in a place where we have been humbled.  We now have a measure of humility from which to live.  And the reward for a life of humility towards God is inheriting the earth.
Jesus way and Jesus words are the complete opposite of the way of the world and the way that many in his first audience and today’s audience are expecting to do life.  There are several ways we say this today in Christian circles, but what it comes down to is an elevation of self, for the glory of God.
‘God loves a winner’, really is not the message.  ‘God loves loves losers’ or ‘God loves failures’, is a lot closer to the truth.  Jesus says, “Blessed are people who have been humbled by God”.  We are hopeless without God and we are mourning our hopelessness, and this has been profoundly humbling.
If you have not gotten in touch with your hopeless state and if you have not been grieving your hopelessness; then you probably have not been humbled and this saying of Jesus does not resonate with you.
If it is true that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble, where does that leave the Christian who is not humble?
The most powerful person, who had every reason to be proud, was also the meekest person to ever live.  Jesus is our example, our forerunner and the one who teaches us how to live and then lives that life out through us, as we yield to him.
To the ones who would say that we have to harness politics to get God’s way or that we somehow need military or political power to do God’s will, comes these words of Jesus:
  • Embrace your hopelessness and encounter the kingdom of God.
  • Mourn the hopelessness and be comforted by God.
  • Let these humble you (be humbled by God) and receive an inheritance of the earth.

Yes, we do get to receive from God.  But the one’s who receive are the humbled ones.  In other words, before ‘Carpe diem’ comes, ‘Be humbled by God’.

Most everywhere we look in Christianity and pseudo-Christianity and even in the cults, is this idea that we can do this and God will do that.  There are all sorts of teachings that do not necessarily agree with each other, but they have that same bottom line: do this and God will do that.
But, Jesus says something very different and the whole Bible is behind him.  Jesus says to trust God, follow God, give your whole life to God; because of who God is.  Then Jesus says that we are to stay in that relationship with God as God the God and God almighty, while God does not do what we want him to do, whatever it is, and to stay with God; and thereby be humbled.
Jesus says to let yourself be humiliated by God and to still follow him.  This is a hard saying and Jesus deliberately says these things to wake us up to the seriousness of following him and being his disciples.
I suspect that many Christians are not happy and are not content because they have not gone through the first steps of letting God humble them and have never gotten this message.  
What is this humility, this meekness that Jesus speaks of that we are to have?
  • Accepting God’s dealings that are contrary to what I want without complaining, resisting or rebelling.
  • Living in ‘Thy will be done’, from a bowed heart; toward God.
  • Believing that God is sovereign and has a way that often is not my way.
  • Not being provoked to ‘tit for tat’ payback.
  • Meeting evil with good.
  • Not being irritable, but being at peace, in God, no matter what people do.
  • Not demanding being, or feeling, entitled to being treated positively by others.
  • CONTENTMENT
    • Always satisfied
    • ‘Having nothing, possessing everything.’
    • ‘All things are yours.’
  • You can not make yourself meek through a vow of poverty or becoming a monk.  
    • Only the Holy Spirit can make you meek.  
    • You can not do it on your own.  
    • All Christians have The Holy Spirit.
      • The Holy Spirit is our helper who helps us know our hopelessness and points us to the kingdom, and stands by our sides in our mourning, to receive comfort from God; and fashions meekness in our lives in the shape of Jesus.

Headship: God, Christ, The Husband, and The Wife

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.

-1 Corinthians 11:3
What is the foundation of a Christian marriage?  Who is the key to a happy, joyful, abundant husband and wife relationship?  And what is the Christ-following husband’s role in regards to his wife?

These are questions that cross the minds of Christians who are married, thinking about being married, or have been married in the past and are looking back or looking forward.  In society, getting married is much easier to do, even though some single people who are searching or waiting might not agree with this; it is easier to do than getting a drivers licence or all sorts of other things we commonly do.

Being married and staying married are much, much harder.  Two people living in a space together, even with rings and the paperwork, does not a marriage make.

Christian marriage is a covenant between two people, both who are in Christ, that is held together by God.  The legal marriage certificate is a contract that in enforced by laws that will come into play if one of the spouses ends the marriage through divorce.

The covenant only works when we work with it.  God holds our marriage together, as we hold onto God.  It is all about our relationships to God and to one another.

We are all in a covenant, the New Covenant, in Christ, with God.  There are always two sides or two parties in a covenant.  Even though God does all the saving in our covenant with him, we must participate or be engaged in it to actualize the covenant in our lives.

We can’t say, “I’m saved”, and then go back to our lives, running our show.  Being saved means we have begun a journey with God, where we give up everything we have and God gives us everything we need.  That may not be the gospel message that you have heard or believed in, but this is the gospel of the kingdom.

When we say we are in the covenant of salvation or the covenant of marriage, the next step and life style is to live in the covenant relationship.  We don’t leave Christ or our spouse at the altar, so to speak, where we said “I do” and then go off on our own, saying, “see ya when I need ya!”.  But that is how some people live towards Christ and towards their spouse.

Before we look at this issue of head and headship, we need to make sure we are saved and look at our salvation.  If a man or a woman is not in a vital union with the living Christ, where they are dying to their selves and living to Christ, marriage will not work.

Many people are legally married, but not living in marriage.  The Bible gives clear instructions on how to live in marriage as Christians.  If you are not first living as a Christian, then you will not be able to or will have troubles participating in marriage, God’s way.

What Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 11, is, “this is the way it is and the way it is supposed to be”.  If you read the whole letter, you will see that the Corinthians had problems and Paul is addressing the problems and their questions.  Some of them were not doing great in their being in Christ.

Before Paul addresses the issues that were coming up regarding hair and head coverings, he says the statement that I am highlighting, as a foundation or backdrop to a discussion on hair and head coverings.  Paul could have said: “Thanks for remembering a lot of the stuff I taught you about being Christians.  Now, before I get into this issue of hair and covering or not covering one’s head, I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

In case you did not realize it, and the Bible translation, HCSB, that I quoted has a footnote to flag this: scholars say that Paul meant husband and wife, when he wrote man and woman, here.  The ESV, for example, does this without a footnote:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Before Paul gets into the hair and veil customs, he grounds things in Christ; and that is how we get this verse and that is the context, which we will go through broadly, in a moment.  The back story to Paul’s admonitions on head coverings, may have been questions or problems with this issue at Corinth.  And Paul brings them and all his readers from then till now, back to our relationship to God and each other.

Before we get into head and headship and the wife being under her husband’s head, we have to say this:  A married Christian woman is a person who is herself in Christ, under Christ, and living her life from Christ; while also being and living under her husband’s headship.  A married Christian man is a person in, under, and from Christ; while also the head of his wife.

There has been an ongoing discussion, a theological debate, about what “head” here means.  Over on one side, some scholars have said that head here means ‘source’ or ‘origin’; while the other side says that head means ‘chief’ or ‘ruler’.  Head (kelphale’) also means the ‘end-point’ of something: the top of a column or the end of a pole.  The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is also called the head of the year. 

Also, head (kelphale’) means controlling agent, but not preeminent.  Our physical heads, having our brain within, rules and has authority over our bodies: our head is the controlling agent of our bodies.  This has nothing to do with preeminence, but everything to do with function.  The head is the boss, from which control emanates, but is not bossy nor controlling.
A body without a head is dead.  It is normal for a body to be under the rule and control or authority of the head.  When we take headship as a metaphor, we see that Christians can and do live without being under Christ’s headship.

In Christ, there is life and outside of Christ there is not life.  If a Christian is not living in Christ, functionally, then they are not living in his life.  Imagine a person who is legally married, but does not live in a marriage.

Living as a room mate, living self centered, not sacrificing, not sharing everything you have, and not laying down your life for your wife; are examples of the husband who is not living under the headship of Christ.

Christ is head of the church, head over all things, the head corner stone, and head of man; and God is the head of Christ and husbands are heads of their wives.  The church can ignore, set aside, or give lip service to Christ being it’s head.  And wives can also not believe in or live under the headship of their husband; and both of these can be happening today, to our detriment.

After studying, reading, listening, looking things up, and reading some more; my conclusion is that ‘head’ (kephale) here in Paul, means ‘authority’, and not ‘preeminent’, ‘source’, or ‘origin’.  There are links to articles, in the bibliography at the bottom, for your further study, if desired.

There have been Christians who are confused about Christ and God, saying things like, “the man upstairs”, or “God is my co-pilot”.  The truth is that God and Christ is king and we need to bow and surrender our lives.  But God is also good, love, and full of mercy and grace.

Christians are the bride of Christ and the children of Father.  God and Christ are not this incredible religion or philosophy that we adhere to.  Being a believer means we give up everything and God gives us a different everything.

It means death and resurrection.  It means leaving our mother and father and getting married to Christ.  It means that we are no longer orphans, but get adopted and become God’s children.

If you do not have these basics, these staring points down; if you are not in and on the pathway of Christ; then having Christ as chief, head, authority, and boss of your life might be a strange and off-putting topic for you.  And it would follow, that if you are a wife, to have your husband over you in any chief, boss, or leader role would possibly be foreign, unwanted, incorrect, and rejected as archaic and bluntly crass.

God and Christ is and are our source, and that is a Pauline idea (Acts 17:28, Rom. 11:36).  But that is not what 1 Cor. 11:3 is saying.  It is also not saying that one is superior and one is inferior.  Paul is not saying the husband is the inferior to Christ and the wife is the inferior to the husband and Christ is inferior to God.

The text is neither saying that the husband is inferior to Christ nor is Christ inferior to God, and not that wives are inferior to husbands.  But it is saying that there is a hierarchy.  Some of us don’t like that word.

God’s headship of Christ gives us an example to follow.  Jesus lives under his father’s authority.  He did all the good things and said all the good things, under his father’s headship.

The husband lives out his life under Christ’s headship and his wife lives out her life under her husband’s headship.  The wife has her own walk under Christ, while also walking under the headship of her husband.  Christ is the wife’s savior and Lord, but she functions under the authority of her husband.

The husband has Christ as his model for leadership.  Christ’s leadership is sacrificially loving.  The husband is called to sacrificially love his wife, who he is head over.

Men and women are equal before God.  Husbands and wives are equal in value before God.  But husbands and wives have different roles in marriage.

Different positions in the hierarchy does not mean superior/inferior.  That is a worldly perspective and not part of Christ’s way.  Jesus and the Father are one.  Jesus Christ is Lord, and not just a man who was a carpenter and a traveling teacher/prophet/healer, who had and still has followers.

“God is the head of Christ”, means God the Father has a role of authority over Christ.  It is a function and role issue.  While the husband is not God, Christ is also the head of him; and again it is a role and function.

Remember how in the great commission, Jesus says, “all authority has been given to me”?  Father gives authority to Christ and Christ gives authority to us.  The one is functionally over the other and gives authority to the other.  Jesus has a oneness with Father, but is also under his headship.

In marriage, the two become one; but the wife is under her husband’s headship.

This is an aside, but if Christ calls a woman, a married lady, to be a pastor; her husband is obviously still her head.  If she is married, a blurb on their church’s website might read, “Sue Jones is the pastor (or lead minister) of Tall Mountain Jesus Is Lord Fellowship, and her husband Larry Jones is the boss of her”.  For anyone worried that she is not under her husband’s headship, that settles it.

To every pastor, preacher, or standing up in front of people in a leadership role person; I would simply ask, “has Christ called you?”  If Christ calls a woman and if Christ gives a woman the desire to serve and teach and speak and minister, and gives her his authority to stand in leadership; who are we to argue with him?

If elders are men and the elders are the pastors, then it makes it difficult to be a woman pastor.  But if Christ not only gifts a woman with gifts and then calls her to serve as a leader, and there is much discernible fruit from her ministry, then we call her a pastor, agreeing that Christ has made her one and his.  He has ordained her and we bless his work in her life.

Also, it would be ideal for a woman pastor to have a qualified elder husband.  His being qualified as an elder actually is an endorsement or qualifier of her standing up and speaking and thereby leading other people.

However, most people don’t make it to the ideal, and being divorced or never married should not disqualify anyone who Jesus desires to use, and he does.

Is Christ the head of all Christians, male and female, husbands and wives, young and old?  Yes, of course.  This passage or section does not need to say that because Paul is talking about roles and functions.

Husbands and wives have equal value and standing before God, in Christ.  But they have different roles, and that is what this verse is saying.  Imagine a narrow path, where only one person can fit at a time and one goes first and the other follows.  That is a picture of roles, not about one person being valued more.

Think about a car, where there is one steering wheel in front of one seat that the driver sits in.  The one who drives and manages the wheel, is not superior, but only in the role, function, and service of driving.  Drivers who drive recklessly, speed, blare the radio, where headphones, text while driving, have their eyes off the road, tailgate, cut off other drivers, or drive the wrong way may be called bad drivers and get in trouble or hurt themselves or others, but being in the role, function, or service is not a bad thing.

And that is the way it is with bad husbands.  Their God given role of being head is not the problem, but what they are doing in their role is the problem that needs correction.  Egalitarianism might be saying that the role thing is the problem, so we need to get rid of that and be equal in the roles.

But the complimentary roles and functions, unique to each sex, are given by God; and are not the problem.  The problem are people who do bad things, act in bad ways, and are ungodly.  Egalitarianism seeks to set us free from ‘archaic’ roles, ‘patrimony’ and ‘misogyny’.

The Bible and the roles for husbands and wives are not wrong and don’t need a re-write.  We need to separate the people who have done wrong, lived sinfully, even while saying they are walking with God, from the God we serve, who has created man and woman, with equal value, but different roles as husband and wife, that compliment each other.

The only way to have a Christian marriage is in and through Christ.  We know that Christ is under the headship of God, but the husband must also be intimately aware of his being under Christ’s headship, for his wife to take her place under his headship.  It is about function and relationship.

But before the husband begins to exercise his authority, as head of his wife,there is something to check.  Is he under or functioning under the headship of Christ?  If he is not, then he needs to come under Christ and let Christ be his authority.

This is the subject I wanted to talk about.  Everything I have said up to this point is an introduction to what I am about to say.  There is a problem today, with Christian marriages failing or being dysfunctional, because the husband is not living under the headship of Christ.

I could and am tempted to give you a list of bad things that Christian husbands do.  I could also give you a list of problems that Christian wives have that are to an extent, the result or fruit of their husband not being under Christ’s headship.  Obviously, Christian wives may sin themselves in ways that are not the fruit of their husbands lack of relationship with Christ, but that is not what I am talking about.

This word, that I am focusing on, that says that, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ”, is found in the context of Paul’s words about hair and the covering of a person’s head.  It may be stating the obvious, but we know that Christ and his headship is for all time and universal; but the issues of hair length, and the covering of one’s head, in Corinthian, Grecian society are particular.  

The challenge for us with passages like this, is to find out how the passage applies to us today.  And we can broadly place many things in the Bible into two categories: custom and command.  The statement, that Christ is the head of the husband is a command, for all Christians: to obey.
But, the words that follow in 1 Corinthians 11, about hair length and veil wearing are in the custom category.  Paul is referring to the customs of their culture and  reflecting on how to be loving, in Christ, in the midst of their particular cultural customs.
The husband being the head of the wife is also in the command column.  If you place that piece into the custom column, then you must also place Christ and his headship over man  in the custom column as well.  And some people do that, who say that the whole Bible is just customs.
At the other side of the spectrum, some might say that this whole passage is of the command type, and we must strongly transpose Paul’s words then to our lives now.  And what this point of view would say, is that, “women must wear head coverings, for the Bible commands it”.
What is funny, in an ironic way, is that if you were to grow up, or be raised up and discipled in a church culture today, where you were taught, “women must wear head coverings, for the Bible commands it”, you would hear, and we could say, be indoctrinated, by an argument, that would lead you to believe that veils or head coverings are required by scripture, and the rest of Christianity and secular society that does not practice head coverings, is wrong.  Does that sound like any groups of people today?
This is why critical thinking and cross-pollination is so important and beneficial for Christian strength of learning.  Indoctrination and sectarianism are religion.  Christianity is centered in Christ.
Today, many Christians are centered on their beliefs, doctrine, and customs; rather than Christ.  They say they are centered on Christ.  But if they were centered on him, they would love what he loves, both the lost and all of his different flocks.
Now, here is the context of the first half of 1 Corinthians 11:

Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.

Now I praise you because you always remember me and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since that is one and the same as having her head shaved. So if a woman’s head is not covered, her hair should be cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should be covered.

A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory. For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man. This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.

Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a covering. But if anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.

-1 Corinthians 11:1-16
If you use this passage to say that women should wear head coverings, I might say that is ok, but please do not try to force it on others.  It is interesting to note that in Paul’s day and today, in Judaism, in their worship; the men where the skull cap and women let their hair flow down and about.  How did Paul get from that to the other?

The answer is tradition or custom or culture.  If you look around the world, you will see different styles of dress.  In various cultures, women cover up their heads and even their faces.

Corinth and Greece at the time had a culture that the Corinthians lived in.  They had to live and witness for Christ within that culture.

This hair and head covering part is a cultural discussion that we can transpose and glean some wisdom from for today, which is what many even handed preachers try to do, when they speak on this passage.  But that is not the point of my message.

My message is this:  Christ is the center and Christ is the head of man and head of the husband.  The husband is head of his wife, but that will not work out very well, unless that husband is under the headship of Christ.  Any Christian husband who is not under the headship of Christ, needs to start living in and from that place, and any wife who in not under her husband’s headship needs to start living from, in, and through that place.

If we refuse this calling, we are living a double life that is exhausting and not in the peace of Christ.  We will do the religious things to feel good and then be selfish and lash out at others and even make disciples in this wrong way.  Please don’t do it.  Please come home to Christ.

___________________________________
Bibliography:

Brauch, Manfred T.; The Head of Woman is Man?, The Hard Sayings of Paul, The Hard Sayings of The Bible, pp. 559-602, (1989)

Bruce, F. F.; The New Century Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Corinthians; pp. 103-4, (1971)

Grudem, Wayne; Does Kefalh (“Head”) Mean “Source” Or“Authority Over” in Greek Literature?A Survey of 2,336 Examples (1985)

The meaning of κεφαλή (“head”):An evaluation of new evidence, real and alleged, (2002)

Kroger, Catherine; Head, The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Hawthorne & Martin eds.; pp. 375-7, (1993)

Nathan, Rich; Why Vineyard Columbus Encourages Women To Preach, Pastor & Church Plant, (2014)


Rich Man, Poor Man: Discontent vs Loving Your Gift

So the Lord sent Nathan to David. 
When he arrived, he said to him:
There were two men in a certain city, 
One rich and the other poor.
The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle.

But the poor man had nothing 
Except one small ewe lamb that he had bought.

He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children.
It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; 
It slept in his arms, 
And it was like a daughter to him.
Now a traveler came to the rich man.
But the rich man could not bring himself 
to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him.
Instead, 
He took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.
-2 Samuel 12:1-4
Question: Do you ever want what someone else has?  Do you ever long for a different life, to have the things, the position, or the recognition that someone else has?  Are you unhappy with other peoples blessings?

A Simple Story About Two Different Men

Nathan, the prophet, told a story here, to David, of two men.  One was rich and one was poor.  One was content and one was discontented.
We might imagine that the poor man was the one who must have, naturally, been discontented.  But, not so.  The rich man was discontent.  He coveted the one prized possession of the poor man.

The Ugly Word: Covet

Covet is a Bible word that we do not use often in every day speech.  The sin of coveting, found in the ten commandments, is the sin of strongly desiring other peoples stuff.  In ancient times and today, coveting other people’s stuff is an issue, a problem, and a destructive sin.

Covet: to want to have something very much, especially something that belongs to someone else.

Coveting often leads to stealing and stealing is often the result of coveting.

Acting on Coveting Opens the Door to Destruction

In the story of the two men, the rich man has the audacious desire to have and then steals the one prized possession of the poor man.  He adds stealing on top of coveting.  To not steal is another thing spoken about in the ten commandments.

You might say, “wait a minute – I see the stealing, but not the coveting”.

Let me explain.  He coveted it when he looked and desired to have it: something that belonged to someone else.  You begin to get the idea of how bad this is when you see someone looking at what is yours, even at your wife or your husband, with the desire to take her or him from you.

The rich man, even though he had his own flocks or herds of livestock, had his desires set on the one lamb of the poor man.  He looked and desired before he stole.  His discontent drove him to destructive sin.

The Biblical mandate for all is to live the opposite of this.  We should celebrate other’s gifts and generously give to others.   The poor man lived right and the rich man was evil.

Everybody is tempted to covet and to steal.  We all need to not do that.  But it is particularly egregious when the rich covet and steal the prizes or the gifts that poor people possess.

David: Man after God’s own heart and egregious sinner.

The person’s story that this parable points to is a particular person, who was one of the most honored and favored persons in the whole Bible: David.  We could examine this story, forgetting it’s immediate context, but look at it in the context of the whole of scripture and conclude or teach, and rightly so, that God is against the rich exploiting the poor.  All of scripture and God himself, stands against this rich man and the evil thing he did.

But it turns out that this rich man, the bad person in this story, was none other than David, beloved of God, grandfather of Jesus.  When I read the wider story here, I wept for Uriah, and I wept for the baby.  I felt very sad for Bathsheba and very angry at David.

There is a cognitive dissonance here, a paradox.  The, “Man after God’s own heart”, engaged in something diabolical.  If you read the rest of the story, you will hear God’s indictment of David, that he despised the Lord (2 Sam. 12:10) and treated God’s word with contempt (12:9).  David’s sins were a direct affront to God.

We have to ask, “why?”: The forensics of the crime.

The beginning was covetousness.  Why did David act on it?  Why would he or why would we do something so selfish and destructive, when he or we know better?

Covet: to want to have something very much, especially something that belongs to someone else.

Sitting in a palace, surrounded by the gifts of God, David was an ingrate: an ungrateful person.

Ungrateful: not showing or expressing any thanks.

David might have experienced envy, which is a sin.  Envy rots a person from the inside (Prov. 14:30) and is a loveless heart (1 Cor. 13:4).

Envy: to wish that you had something that another person has: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

David showed no pity for the Uriah, when he stole his wife.  He displayed conduct that was unbecoming (of) an officer and a gentleman, and deserved court-marshal.

Pity: sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy.

No pity: indifference, mean, mercilessness, unkind, disdain.

Grace defiled: ungracious licentiousness from a bitter root

Licentious. 1 : lacking legal or moral restraints; especially : disregarding sexual restraints. 2 : marked by disregard for strict rules of correctness.

Why or how could David have done this?  In the episode he was completely without grace: he missed the grace of God.  David was not walking with God or living in the empowering presence of God when he did this whole thing.  David displayed very bad fruit in his life.

David’s entitlement, his arrogance, and his greed; was rooted in his putting himself above the law (Deut. 29:19).  In so doing, he fostered a “bitter root that defiled many” (Heb. 12:15).  The indictments bear this out (2 Sam. 12:9-14).  David did what he did out of contempt for the Lord and he despised God’s laws.

David was not a pagan or a heretic.  He was known as someone with good theology and an example of God’s work.  But he allowed himself to become corrupt and put himself above the rules, as if they did not apply to him; but they did apply to him.

This very destructive episode, which would haunt David and ended the lives of two people; all started with coveting, with David desiring something that was not his.  One sin leads to another greater sin, and by greater, I mean more destructive.  And sin is not a private singular matter, but affects those around the sinner and the sinners family and whole community.

We can imagine that Uriah had fellow soldiers that were also killed, because of David’s malevolent scheme.  Later, two of David’s sons would die tragic deaths that did not have to happen, but for David’s own treachery.  Does the story of David’s sin break your heart?

The only hope for David and all sinners is the Lord, who forgives and redeems.  

How could this happen to David, the gifted warrior and worshiper, who had a heart previous to pursue God?   How did it happen, and what can we learn of how this can happen to us?  David forgot who he was and all that God had done for him, and ‘helped himself’ to something that was not his to have, that was ‘off-limits’.  
Did David set out to ruin his life and ruin the lives of others?  I do not think so.  We can not get in his head, but he seems to have become delusional.  What he did was insane.

David walked himself and fell into a trap.  In a moment of self-deception, he reasoned that he was poor and that woman was his for the taking.  He did not see her as someone’s wife or someone’s mother, sister, or daughter.  He did not see her as Father’s child.

See the person.

A great lesson, in the realm of romance, or eroticism, is to see the person.  The same principle applies when ministering to a person who is not attractive to you on the outside in any dimension: to see them as a person who Father loves.  And this principle also applies in matters of prejudice: to see them as a person, a person whom God loves and we love with the love of God, if we are indeed Christians.

Discontent: the illusion of poverty

We could talk all day about how stupid and how bad and how sinful he was.  But, setting that aside, perhaps David, in his mind, was the poor man, who was starving for something, and when opportunity knocked, he opened.  This is the deception of discontentment that leads to the destructive sin of coveting.

It is interesting that low self-esteem manifests itself both in delusions of grandeur and self-hate, both in the same person.  What if David was conceived out of wedlock and he and his brothers found out and he began a life of shame based wildness, while congruently having a gift for intimacy with God and an insatiable hunger to worship God and know God?  Like all of us, David was a mixture of personal brokenness and the gifts of God.

The Bible says that “the sins of the fathers are visited on the children…”  We pass on our sins to our children, unless we appropriate the forgiveness and redemption, healing, and deliverance that God offers.  What if David’s dad conceived him with a lady he was not married to at the time, and this became more of an open wound for David?  Deep healing is available for deep wounds, if we seek it.

Low self-esteem is usually rooted in childhood hurts.  When we are walking-wounded people who are not in God’s program of healing, we do not see ourselves or others through God’s eyes and we might imagine ourselves to be poor, when we are indeed rich.

Today, we have a lot of people walking around, who have been blessed, but have not processed their woundedness, who are living destructive lives.  This destruction did not have to happen to David, and it does not have to happen to us.  The truth is that we can and will destroy our lives and other people’s lives, if we do not walk with God.

David’s story yells to us, “do not do what I did!”, “spare yourself the heartache and destruction!”, “walk with God and keep your eyes on the Lord always!”

When we are jealous of others, of their gift from God, and want to take it from them for ourselves, we are just like David and his sin, who this story has pointed at.  To look at others and think, “they should not have that, I should have that”, is flat out wrong.

Father gives good gifts to each one of his children.

When we look at others with envy and jealousy, and covet for ourselves, wanting to steal what they have been given, for our own selves; that is wrong because it takes our eyes off of God, who has given and is giving precious and personal gifts to each one of us.  When we desire what others have and yearn to steal it for ourselves, that is self-destructive to our own relationship to God, where in he is our Father who gives good gifts to each of his children.
We can not yearn for and desire to have someone else’s life, their gifts, their fame, their influence, opportunities, or their homes and families; and walk with God.  
When you feel bad because something good happens for someone else, I hope I don’t have to convince you that it is not good.  We do feel bad when bad things happen to us.  But when we feel bad when good things happen to others, we have a symptom of a problem.
The solution is not just, “stop it”, but, “turn back to God and see the gifts he is giving and has given you.  Let’s imagine, and I believe it is true, that the poor man in the story was very content.  Let us imagine we are each the poor man.
Being “the king”, and being, “the songwriter”, and being famous does not bring happiness.  David’s happiness was always rooted in his intimate love relationship with Yahweh, cultivated during those long lonely days and nights, out with the sheep.  That was David’s treasure and his gift from God.

The one who lived before the Lord, in contentment.
The poor man in the story is the man named Uriah.  Uriah had a love for God.  Uriah had a wife, who was a gift from God, to him.  Uriah seems to have been content and a godly man.

The parable of the two men, the poor man and the rich man, is a lesson about contentment.

Being rich, powerful, and famous does not make you happy or content.

It was the rich man who had a problem and sinned against the poor man.

Money and fame do not bring happiness.  Money and fame actually bring stress and trouble, especially when they suddenly come and you are not able to handle it.

Many rich, famous, or powerful people do not feel good about themselves.  They feel poor, and not in a blessed way.  Contentment is an inside job.

All of us are either content or discontent.  Being discontent has nothing to do with your stuff.  It is soul problem.

The poor man is our model for content living.

The person to emulate, from the parable, is the poor man.  He relished and cherished the gift he had acquired.  He was living in contentment.

  • Relish: to like or enjoy something greatly.
  • Cherish: to love, protect, and care for someone or something that is important to you.
  • Contentment: the feeling or state of being happy or satisfied.
We can choose, and it is up to us to cultivate contentment.  If you do not enjoy life and the gifts of God in your life when you are poor, you will not enjoy life when you are rich.

The content person enjoys what they have.  They savor their life.

Promotion, striking gold, or favor are welcomed by the content person.  They do not strive, but they work hard and welcome new gifts, more gifts, if and when they come.  They are content whether they are rich or poor, whether they fail or succeed.

Content people are also unselfish team players.  Content people do not cheat.  Content people are dignified and honorable, giving dignity and honor to others and God; out of their lifestyle of humility, meekness, and love.

Discover, unwrap, and enjoy your gift from God.

The lesson of Uriah, from Nathan’s story, is to enjoy the gift or gifts that God gives you and cherish them.  It seems that this is what Uriah was doing before David interrupted his life.  That is the lesson for us and for David.  This is the verse that is my message:

But the poor man had nothing 
Except one small ewe lamb that he had bought.

He raised it, and it grew up, living with him and his children.
It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; 
It slept in his arms, 
And it was like a daughter to him.

-Second Samuel 12:3

You may not be rich and famous, but you do not have nothing.  See that word “except”.  You are exceptional in God’s sight.  He has already given you an exceptional gift.

Have you discovered the gift of God in your life?  We might have a gift, in the singular; or a plurality of gifts.  Have you seen your gift?  Have you opened it?

We need to discover and unpack our gifts from God.  Then, we need to cultivate them, enjoy them, learn about them.  We need to thoroughly enjoy our gifts and celebrate them with God.

The gift of God in your life is for God’s glory.  Gifts always point back to the giver.  Are you glorifying God with the gifts Father has given to you?

Why would we need to be jealous of the toys that God gives to others, when we are sitting in Papa’s lap?  There is no need to feel bad when God gives favor, or promotion to his other kids, because Father is our provider too.  Cultivate and grow in the heart of Jesus that is never jealous of what others have, but is always enjoying what Father gives, sends, and provides.

Hide Me From Horrible People’s Plans of Verbal Abuse

Hide me from the scheming of wicked people, from the mob of evildoers.

-Psalm 64:2
There are very bad people who have it in their minds to verbally abuse others with lies, gossip, slander, maligning, or cursing.  They want to shoot their abusive words at people in an ambush or surprise attack, for maximum damage.
We can pray for God to hide us from them.  
You can be visible, popular, or famous; and still ask God to hide you from wicked people and their schemes.  
The enemy, Satan, uses people; and people, inspired by the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13) plot evil against other people.  We need to maintain a relationship with God, where we have the humility, no matter how successful we are, to ask God to hide us from the plots, schemes, and plans of wicked people.
Being hidden from horrible, wicked people is a good thing.  Peter was hidden from Herod, in Acts 12.  Obadiah hid prophets in caves (1 Kings 18).  
Our Christian lives are now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  It is a blessing or blessed state, to be hidden in God (Ruth 2:12).  Hiding in God is equivalent to resting in God (Ps. 91:1).  
Hiding in God is the place of rescue from enemies (Ps. 143:9).  Have you learned to rest in God, when you are under attack?  Have you learned the principal of not having to clear your name, but let God be your vindicator, judge and arbitrator?
God’s shelter is a place of hiding from all that is said about you: slander, false accusations, malicious gossip, and every verbal abuse (Ps. 31:20).  We are in Jesus hands (Jn. 10:28).  We are God’s treasure, his jewels, that are hidden in him (Mal. 3:17).
Being hidden is also to not be glorious to the world, in the world’s eyes, but to be obscure (Jn. 5:41) and getting glory by being hidden with Christ in God (Jn. 5:44, Col. 3;3).  
The whole of the matter or the rest of the story, as told by Psalm 64, the text, “Hide me from the schemes of wicked people“, in context is this:
For the choir director. A Davidic psalm.

God, hear my voice when I complain:

  • “Protect my life from the terror of the enemy.”
  • Hide me from the scheming of wicked people.”
    • “From the mob of evildoers.”
      • “Who sharpen their tongues like swords.”
      • “And aim bitter words like arrows.”
        • “Shooting from concealed places at the innocent.”
        • “They shoot at him suddenly and are not afraid.”
      • They encourage each other in an evil plan.
      • They talk about hiding traps and say,
        • “Who will see them?”
      • They devise crimes and say,
        • “We have perfected a secret plan.”
      • The inner man and the heart are mysterious.


But God will shoot them with arrows;

  • Suddenly, they will be wounded.
  • They will be made to stumble;
  • Their own tongues work against them.
All who see them will shake their heads.

Then everyone will fear and will tell about God’s work.

  • For they will understand what He has done.

The righteous one rejoices in the Lord and takes refuge in Him.


All those who are upright in heart will offer praise.
God has a plan.  God sees.  God hides us and protects us.  God deals with people who say and plan horrible things towards his people.
We do not need to vindicate ourselves.  If we give in to the need to do so, we will end up spending all our energy on it and also end up down in the mud with our muddy accusers.  We need to abide in, hide in the Lord.
Don’t be shocked, surprised, disheartened, or devastated when you are ambushed by verbal attacks.  Learn humility and meekness.  Learn how to love your enemy (human persons).
Hide in God.  Let God protect you and fight for you.  Let God vindicate you.  Let God be your vindication.
When attacked, go deeper with God.  Ask for hiddenness.  Face God when verbal attacks come your way.
You will be betrayed, slandered, maligned, maliciously gossiped about, lied to, called names, made fun of, taunted, threatened, cursed, and cussed out.  Do you still want to be Jesus’ disciple, Abba’s child?  I hope so.
“Come to Jesus, get saved, and you won’t have any more problems”, is not the gospel.  You will have more problems, but more solutions, grace, and unspeakable joy in life everlasting that begins now.  You will have hope that you didn’t have before.  You will peace that you never thought possible.
There are rainbows with the storms and there is rock that you with stand strong on in the storms.  Perseverance and contentment will be your way of live in the love of God.
Every negative that comes your way, including horrible people dogging you with verbal abuse; is an opportunity to receive a blessing from God.  Being hidden in God is our birthright, part of the whole package in Christ.  Every negative should turn us towards God, who provides for his kids.
You have a testimony and you are a testimony to the onlooking world of God’s goodness.  You are an epistle, a letter, a story about God’s redemption that is ongoing.  “Let me tell you what God has done and is doing in my life.”  
God does “show and tell” through our lives, as examples or what he does and who he is.  There is a time in the future when everyone will bow to God (Is. 45:23, Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10).  God is in the process, about the business, of encouraging people to come to that place, now, in this life; through his work in our lives.

Looking over the overlooked

I’M LOOKING OVER A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER
Art Mooney

Words by Mort Dixon,
music by Harry Woods
Written in 1927
– popularized in 1948 by Art Mooney

I’m looking over a four-leaf clover
That I overlooked before
One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain,
Third is the roses that grow in the lane.
No need explaining, the one remaining
Is somebody I adore.
I’m looking over a four-leaf clover
That I overlooked before

“Be thankful on all occassions, for this is the will of God.”
I think that it is so easy to overlook the blessings that we already posses, while we are looking off into the distance for something good to happen to us. I think that discontentment is a disease that we take with us wherever we go.

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