2 Samuel 7: Is It About Jesus?

Hello, good readers of Unsettled Christianity. This is Abram K-J of Words on the Word. Joel made the mistake kind move of inviting me to contribute to his fine blog… so here I am!

I begin simply with a cross-post, because I’ve already seen some incisive responses in the comments to a post at WotW: Is 2 Samuel 7 About Jesus?

I suggest that 2 Samuel 7:14b can’t apply to Jesus:

When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.

But all the “forever” language in that passage clearly seems to be about more than just the next generation, and even messianic.

What do you think? How do you make sense of the passage? Feel free to comment at the original post, or right here in the comments section.

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More Archeological Discussions of David’s Kingdom

Qeiyafa city wall
Image via Wikipedia

According to Garfinkel, the kingdom that existed here in the 10th century BCE was something between the two versions: not tiny, but also not as large as the biblical account would suggest. It comprised at least three major cities: Jerusalem, Hebron and the settlement he is excavating. Even such a scale, he emphasizes, is larger than the humble village evoked by the minimalist archaeologists. At the same time, other archaeologists are recruiting Khirbet Qeiyafa in support of the claims for a large united kingdom.

via The keys to the kingdom – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

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Examining God’s Word – Davidic Covenant in 2nd Samuel 7.10-16

As this is important, and figures very prominently in the book I am currently reading, I thought that I might examine this passage,

Continue reading “Examining God’s Word – Davidic Covenant in 2nd Samuel 7.10-16”

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Discussion: Lynch Pins of the Old Testament

Biblical Minimalism, as I understand it, essentially denies the historical value of the Old Testament. I’ve been thinking – not always a good thing – but what if the biblical minimalists are right on some level? (I do not hold their views) Is there a stopping point to biblical minimalism.

Continue reading “Discussion: Lynch Pins of the Old Testament”

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Stones of Faith – Why did David pick up 5 stones?

I was asked a question the other day by a dear person to my family’s heart concerning David. We know that this young child, perhaps early teens, had to have a great amount of faith when going against Goliath, but why did he pick up five stones instead of just the one?

We know the story:

Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:40 NKJV)

As a matter of fact, David had so much faith that he actually ran towards Goliath,

So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:48 NKJV)

But why five stones? Wouldn’t one have sufficed?

There is an old opinion that these were stones that came together in the sling, fitting neatly together perhaps, that would find themselves nearly as one lodged in the head of the giant.

My preference, however, is that David had foresight, that he knew enough about the enemy not to let family live. According the biblical account, Goliath and four giants besides him,

When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.” Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. (2 Samuel 21:15-22 NKJV)

These four giants were relatives of Goliath, brothers in some understanding. David knew that the fight was not over with Goliath, but took those five stones, one for Goliath, and one for the remaining giants, out of faith that God would not just give him the battle, but the war.

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Psalm 84: The Vally of Baca – Pt 3

(Psa 84:8) O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

(Psa 84:9) Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

The final conclusion is a prayer of hopeful remembrance. The Psalmist is asking for God to once again turn His face to him and bless him with a return to the courts of the Lord. It brings to mind 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, which reads:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

I take it, and I alone it seems, that when the Psalmist refers to the God of Jacob (instead of the three Patriarchs) that he might just have in mind Jacob’s separation from his homeland, God’s promise to bring him back (Gen 28:20) and how God brought him once again to the house of the Lord (Bethel)

(Psa 84:10) For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

‘Courts’ here is the same as in verse 2. Here again, to be even in the outer reaches of the tabernacles of God is better than to dwell with the wicked. The Psalmist would rather be a servant (again, Prodigal Son) in the house of his God, then to be well thought of. The phrase is literally, “I choose to sit at the threshold.” Reminds one of the woman with the blood disease who only desired to touch the hem of the garment of Christ. For those separated from God, just a glimpse, a taste, or a touch of God seems better to them than all that they have around them.

(Psa 84:11) For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

The Lord is the source of light and warmth and brings Creation to life. He will give mercy and honor and will hold back nothing that we need if we walk undefiled.

(Psa 84:12) O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Thus the completion of the Psalm, summed up with a single line. Had David walked undefiled before God and kept God as a refuge, hope, trust, then he would not have been separated from God.

Again, we turn to Isaac Watts:

The Lord his people loves;
His hand no good withholds
From those his heart approves:
From pure and pious souls
Thrice happy he,
O God of Hosts,
Whose spirit trust
Alone in Thee!

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Psalm 84: The Valley of Baca – Pt 2

(Psa 84:4) Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

Here the author calls those that are in the House of the Lord (tabernacle/temple) happy or blessed, as the KJV translates. עֹוד gives it’s meaning as continually. The house dwellers are continually praising God. This brings to mind what John saw in his Apocalypse 7:15 where those that come out of great tribulation are around the throne serving the Lord day and night, or continually. The Septuagint has the phrase: ‘They will praise you for ages of ages’ – quite literally, forever.

How unique is the perspective of the man separated from God! And how his heart longs for perfection.

(Psa 84:5) Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

The prophet Isaiah told us that those who will wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. David, when committing the sin with Bathsheba, failed to find the strength that God had previously given him. Now, he was suffering because of that. Now, he son had thrown him out of the palaces and had started a civil war. David knew full well that a man’s true strength lies with God, not in armies or even within himself.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, we read of God’s response to Paul’s prayer

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.

Throughout Scripture we find that God is presented as our strong tower, our refuge, our consolation.

“in whose heart are the ways of them”

Consider the esteemed lyricist, Isaac Watts, when he wrote:

O Happy souls that pray
Where God appoints to hear!
O Happy men that pay
Their constant service there!
They praise thee still
And happy they,
That love the way

Happy, says the Psalmist, is the man who has found strength in the Lord, and who loves the way of God. This entire Psalm is reflective of a journey, whether it is David’s, pilgrims or even ours. Our heart must be given over to the highways of God, to travel them, and to find strength for the journey.

(Psa 84:6) Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

הבכא can be translated as weeping or tears, but the theory is also that it relates to a balsam tree that excretes sap (hence weeping). All the translation theories that I have seen point to the same idea, that of weeping or tears. It is no far stretch of the imagination to see that Psalmist here is conjuring up a painful journey. If it is indeed the arid valley where travelers are hard pressed to find life sustaining water, then so be it; however, the image is still the same: When traveling through such a place, the righteous will make it a source of strength.

מעינה rightly means fountain or spring. It is the spring that the weary traveler sets down in to refresh himself, or renew his strength in pressing toward the city of God. Perhaps in the valley of weeping, when the tears are flowing, you should use those tears and grow from them. You should make them into a fountain. God has already promised us that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

That is not to make light of any situation that one is going through. Look what the Psalmist was going through. He had been separated from the city of God and could not worship Him in the place that He had appointed. David, presumably, had been exiled and was running for his life as his own son pursued him. He was in the midst of a civil war. He was at a pretty low point in his life.

When Paul and Silas was thrown in prison, instead of accepting defeat or recanting, they began to sing and we know what happened then. That was their Baca. That was their fountain.

“the rain also fills the pools”

גם ברכות יעטה מורה has several different suggested meanings. The Septuagint renders it: ‘The lawgiver will give blessings.’ Some render the Hebrew as, ‘The instructor will cover in blessings’. Some authorities render it as early rain. To a simple reader such as I, I can see the beauty and edification of both meanings. Since the giver of all blessings, and he who pours the rain (Joel 2:23) is God, it really makes no difference on how you translate it; the meaning is the same – In that Valley of Weeping, when you journey through and your tears start to flow, make it a moment of rejoicing and you will receive your blessing.

(Psa 84:7) They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

Or, from victory to victory, from army to army, from company to company. The meaning is that those who walk victoriously through the valley will go from victory to victory, winning and overcoming. On the final victory, the overcomer will appear in the city of God, to sing and worship God continually, without anymore valleys.

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Psalm 84: The Valley of Baca – pt 1

This is my first attempt at exegesis of an OT passage, at least for this blog, so if you want to offer any helpful comments, let me know!

Some have called this one of the most difficult Psalms to translate; something that I will not even attempt to do, Hebrew being a weakness. It is filled with some vague phrases, but overflowing with powerful images. Some have suggested that David wrote this during his exile, having been overthrown by his son Absalom. To those who would suggest such a thing, it is easy to see that this was written on the way back to Jerusalem, perhaps even resting in a place called Baca. Some see this as the same valley in Judges 2:1-6.

It has also been suggested that this is a Psalm sung on the way to the Tabernacle, perhaps as a pilgrimage tune. Some Muslims refer to Baca as the valley of Bakkah where the first mosque was built. To them this is Mecca, and the Psalm relates to the journey there.

I see it as a journeying Psalm, perhaps on the way to the Tabernacle or the Temple, but written by one who has been separated from the city of God for some time. (See Psalm 137) We know that the Ark of the Covenant resided in Jerusalem when this Psalm was written. (v7). We also know that the author, presumably David, was not at Jerusalem and somehow kept from getting there. This is why I would suggest, along with a few others, that this was written during Absalom’s civil war.

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

(Psa 84:1) How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

The word משׁכנותיך rightly means ‘beloved’ as opposed to ‘lovely’, as if the tabernacles (perhaps everything surrounding the center of divine worship) was tenderly love. Granted, no matter the material state of the building, wherever the people of God meet, it is still a beautiful place, something to be loved, but the meaning here is that the tabernacles of God is beloved, something to cherish.

(Psa 84:2) My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

Here the writer speaks longingly of the outer courters of the tabernacle/temple, where all manner of people may visit. To me, the simple reader, I see the write longing to the point of exhaustion to be even in sight of the house of God, to be included even among the strangers of Israel. I am reminded of the Prodigal Son who sought only to be a servant in the house of his Father if he could but be home again!

I live in West Virginia, and when I have to travel for extended periods of time, I start to long for home. When I was out in Indiana for a while, I missed the mountains so much that I would take a different path or go into Kentucky just to feel closer to home.

I know that when I am far from the Lord, and I begin to long, I do what I can just to get another taste of the goodness of God. How far was David away from the city of God that he was willing to settle for just being in the courts, where everyone was allowed?

David says that his לביand his בּשׂר cries out for God. This is his entire being. With every ounce, his inner man and his outer man, he sought his God, and longed for that city.

(Psa 84:3) Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

I know from what I have read that the Hebrew here is a bit confusing as is the logic of what David is saying. The altar was considered holy, so who would permit birds to nest there? How could they with the constant activity in that area?

I prefer this reading: (combining verse 2 and 3) My soul longs, yea, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my flesh cries out for the living God, even for your altars, O LORD of Hosts, my King and my God! Even the sparrow has found a house and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young.

This preamble, as it where, sets the stage for the rest of the Psalm. We see the writer, presumably David, on a journey, perhaps exiled from the very city of God, barred from worshipping the one true God where He had chosen to place His Name. Surrounded by many others (the same could be said for pilgrims) perhaps even a court full of servants, he was solitary; he was alone.

No matter the circumstances imposed by perception on the Psalm itself, a few things are clear:
1.) A separation, whether spiritual or physical exists between the author and Zion (v7)
2.) A great longing, a deep seated emotional attachment to Zion exists in the author’s heart.
3.) The author is going back to the city of God.

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