Was David a Priest?

Yes, David was a priest in the order or “in the way” of Melchizedek.  No, he was not a priest after the order of Aaron or anything to do with the Tabernacle or Ark.  David had a heart for God so he did many good works.  Near the end of his life (1 Chronicles 22 -26), David made plans for the Temple and helped to organize the Levites and Priest.  At times in his life, David did things that might border on priestly rights and duties and we will look at all (or many) of these.  This topic cannot be discussed without Psalm 110 being brought into the conversation, so it will be.

I will start with the NO answer.  David could not work in the Tabernacle or with the Ark simply because he was not a son of Aaron or Levi. (Levities 8 + 9) David did do some questionable things that could be mistaken as priestly duties and rights.  But even these actions need to be viewed in the light of some other leaders.

  1. King Saul – 1 Samuel 13 is the story of Saul offering a sacrifice.  Verse 9 has Saul ordering “someone” to bring the offering to him.  The context of the story makes it sound like he did the cutting and sprinkling of the blood.  Verse 13 has Samuel telling Saul his kingdom and lineage will not last.  (Saul’s line could have ruled “for all time”.)  He actually “lost the kingdom” in 1 Samuel 15.
  2. Jeroboam – 1 Kings 11,12, and 13.  11:6 explains that Solomon had not followed God or His commands and that the nation of Israel would be divided.  Jeroboam also had a promise of a lasting kingdom if he did right (vs. 39).  12:31 (NIV) Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.  13:33 +34 repeats his disobedience and the outcomes.
  3. King Uzziah – 2 Chronicles 26: 18,19,21.  Uzziah was a grandson of David who actually had done well until he gave into his pride.  He went into the Temple and was offering incense.  The real Priest confronted him.  He broke out with leprosy and lived separately until he died.

Please set these examples and all of the other “kings” of Israel next to Deuteronomy 17: 14-20.  These verses were the Lord’s rules for the kings who would reign over His people.  Verse 18 states that he is to make a copy (his own) of the Law and read it every day.  If David had done this it is a good bet that Solomon did not, because he broke the rules in verses 14 -17 very well.  In Jeremiah, King Josiah held a Passover because the Book of the Law was found during a Temple cleaning and he had never seen or read it before. Makes you wonder what the priest was working from?

If my three examples were judged for making sacrifices, burning incense, and allowing non-Levitical priests.  It would stand to reason if David had done these types of things he also would have been held guilty.  He had his problems but acting as a Priest in the order of Aaron was not one of them.

WELL HE DID –

  1. Eat the Bread of Presence (1 Samuel 21:1-9).  Yes, this was after he lied and deceived Ahimelech the priest, and thought about killing Doeg. I will give this one up as God’s grace and mercy and not David’s right behavior. A point of interest here is that Ahimelech’s questions to David were about legal purity and not a family origin.
  2. Wear a linen ephod. 2 Samuel 6: 12 – 23 and 1 Chronicles 15:27 has David along with the Levites wearing linen ephods as they moved the Ark of God to Jerusalem.  An ephod is a piece of clothing.  Yes, ephods are frequently associated with “priest”.  In the case of the tribe of Dan stealing one and the “house priest” it belonged to, it may seem that the robe was also worshiped.  Even if David was trying to “blend” in at the start of the parade by the end he may have taken off the ephod and was dancing around in his underwear.  A priest of the order of Aaron could not have done that, but one from the order of Melchizedek could have.  Sorry, David wearing an ephod, to me, is more like everyone trying to dress like the pastor.
  3. Move the Ark to Jerusalem.  This is David acting more like Melchizedek than Aaron.  The Tabernacle of Moses was still in use in Gibeon (2 Chronicle 1:3).  This Tabernacle of David or Tent of David has more to do with him wanting the blessing of God than him doing priestly functions.  The Tabernacle of David is a type of how to worship by grace away from the rules of the Law. 1 Chronicles 16:1-7 has David putting the priest and Levites in charge of a 24-hour praise session around the Ark.  Verse 37 – 40 has the priestly families split into two groups and doing duty in two locations – Jerusalem and Gibeon.  
  4. Build his own altar.  In 1 Chronicles 21: 18 – 30 and 2 Samuel 24: 18 – 25 David was ordered to build an altar by the prophet Gad.  He had to do this to stop a plague that his actions had started (counting the people).  This altar became the area where the Temple of Solomon was built.  David had people with him so I will suggest that he did not build the altar or kill the animals, which had to be done by a priest.
  5. Arranged the priest and Levities into divisions.  He also ordered that provisions be made and collected to build the Temple, that the leaders of the people were to help Solomon, and he changed the duties of the Levites because they were not going to be carrying the Ark and the Tabernacle around (1 Chronicles 22+ 23).  Chapter 24: 3 states that the heads of the priestly families were there with him.  He was not making these decisions by or for himself, but as a king who wanted Jehovah served and glorified.
  6. Write Psalm 110.    Some scholars will state a slightly different view on that – did he write it, was it written in his style, or was it written about him?  To me, because it is so prophetic, David wrote it and I just don’t feel he is the object of the conversation.  Matthew 22:43-45, Mark 12:36+37, Luke 20:42-44, and Acts 2:25 + 34 deal with verse one and the question of how David can call his son Lord and Messiah.  If you rewrite verse one as it should be, it would say – “Jehovah says to my Adonay”. Adonay has several meanings – God, ruler, husband, or someone in authority, that is an earthly authority.  (Check the lettering to see the difference in the word Lord.)   I am not sure that David would have talked about himself as a priest in the order of Melchizedek (vs 4), that is very boastful. If he did he would have had all of his clothes on!

Yes, David was a priest but of the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek is an interesting character, he is mentioned in three books of the Christian Bible but volumes have been said about him.  He is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18 as the “priest of God Most High” who shares a meal with and then blesses Abraham and is given an offering.  Psalm 110 adds to Melchizedek’s persona by bringing in the concept of eternal priesthood and adding the word “order”.  The Hebrew word dibrah (#1700 Strong’s) left me confused so I went to several translations for clarity.  The KJV and NIV use the word “order” while others use “like” or “in the same way”.  The Book of Hebrews (Chapter 7 discusses Melchizedek’s history) really adds to Melchizedek’s resume when he and Jesus are compared to each other. (More will be written later as this ballooned out of this study in ways I did not expect.). But back to the question of was David a priest.  Hebrew 7:12 states that a change of the priesthood and a change of the Law must go hand-in-hand, and verse 14 dispels David as a priest under the Law of Moses because he was of the tribe of Judah. So, David was a priest but not in the order of Aaron because the Law did not change and he was from the wrong tribe.

It took a while to piece together the thoughts on righteous kingship and priest. Moses gave me an example of that type of leadership.  There is no doubt of Moses’ calling and his authority but the plagues and other miracles were before the Law was given. Moses’s work before Aaron and his sons were selected, should show that he was working as Melchizedek did, a “king/priest of righteousness”.   Exodus 19:6 (which is before the giving of the Law) says all of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The episode with the golden calf changed what could have happened.  When God gave the Law the priesthood was given to Aaron.  The priesthood of “all of Israel” in the “order of Melchizedek” went to the family of Aaron, not the entire nation.  David would very fit in the order of Melchizedek because he was the king of Jerusalem and righteous, having a heart for God.

This thought is found again in Revelation 1:6 – we are kings (kingdom) and priests unto God.  Different translations use kings or kingdoms but it is in line with Exodus 19:6. I have seen several of these “plan A/plan B” or “what if” things recently.  God had a big plan but stubborn hearts temporally changed the first plan to a second plan.  God’s plan A is not dead but on hold until we accept God’s plan, which is what Jesus gave us at the cross.

So, the bold things David did, he did as a king/priest in the “order” of Melchizedek.  Some of his actions would not have fit under the Law of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron. 

Imagine – Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

Christmas Connection’s 2020

My wife found these two verses as we were looking into a place called Migdal Eder.  This Christmas connection adds support to the story we know and love.

Migdal Eder is a new place and term for us.  We heard about it in connection with the sheep and shepherds around Bethlehem.  In my post (Jeremiah – A Christmas Connection) we talked about Jeremiah 31:15 because of Rachel and her death and mourning.  Both of these things are part of the history of Bethlehem.  Migdal Eder was a tower that was used to guard the sheep that were used for the Temple.  This tower/cave/birthing pen/stable might have been where Jesus was born.  The reference in the Bible is Micah 4:8 and uses the term watchtower and stronghold and in 5:2 we have Bethlehem added as the location. There are many opinions and much uncertainty about Migdal Eder but I feel it has a place in the Story.   

During the study we saw Job 38:7 – “the morning stars sang together and all of the angels shouted for joy” (NIV).  This is part of the Lord’s answer to Job.  It also would fit very well into the Genesis narrative of the story of creation.  It describes the angel’s songfest for the shepherds on the first Christmas.  So, how does a creation idea work into Christmas?  Jesus’ arrival marked a new beginning for mankind and especially Israel. The Bible is the story of the children of God and our history.  First, with natural Israel and then with spiritual Israel.  The two stories need to be told together to get to all that the Lord God wants to show us.

Over the years, we have heard many facts and traditions about the swaddling clothes or strips of cloth that Mary put on Jesus and that the shepherds were to be looking for.  These two things are tied to Migdal Eder.    

They could have been at THAT stable for the lambs for the Temple.  There seems to be a few facts about the wrapping up of Temple lambs in strips of cloth from the worn-out priest robes.  Some people reference tour guides in Israel as their source of information and others quote an eighteenth-century book about a third-century oral tradition. Do your own study – the idea is nice but very few solid facts about wrapping up baby lambs.

Ezekiel 16:4 does talk about the practice of child care after birth.  The child was washed in water, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in strips of cloth.  This verse and story of how God treated Jerusalem can also be used as part of the Exodus story as the washing might be the trip through the Red Sea after they were delivered from Egypt. The rubbing with salt may be the forty years of wandering and the wrapping up could be the protection God gave Joshua and David.

These verses are good additions to my other Christmas Connection verses.

 

Leah the Overlooked

Leah is one Bible character that just seems to be overlooked or ignored.  I am writing this during the Christmas season which is part of the reason this is bugging me.  I do have a habit of disagreeing with popular preaching and she will be added to my growing list. (Lo Debar was not a dump, Mephibosheth was not pathetic, and Jesse was not cruel to David. Leah was the good faithful FIRST wife of Jacob who probably had “pretty eyes”.)  This Christmas season I have heard Rachel mentioned several times and Leah mentioned only once, and that was only because she was unloved.  So, please bear with me as I try to show you why Leah should be treated better!

Jacob – I know that he got the short end of the deal with Laban, but did he really have room to complain about deceptive practices!  He was not the poster child of fair-trade practices.  (By the way, Jacob was OLD when he took a liking to Rachel.)  It is also very plain that he did not ignore Leah, she had seven children (six boys and a girl).  All of Leah’s family came before the name change to Israel.  Yes, it still amazes me that from that point on he was called by both names.  That change has many foreshadows.

Rachel – She must have been good looking but her personality really did match Jacob’s – she was a thief (her father’s idols), a con artist (Ruben’s gourds), and a liar (faking her period before her father).  Leah is only mentioned in the Books of Genesis and Ruth (she was placed after Rachel), while Rachel is mentioned more times and made it into Jeremiah and Matthew.  She was the “loved one” but I still have a hard time seeing that she was the “better one”.  Because of her “loved” status people have heaped accolades on her but I shutter when they try to compare her to Ruth and Mary.  (Which by the way, Mary was a descendent of Leah and Jacob through Judah.)  Also, the fact that she was not taken to the family burial cave is a little perplexing.  It would seem that Jacob was grieving and set up a pillar over her grave, but he did not take the time to honor her with a trip to the only property the family owned at the time. I know she may have stunk by the time they made it there but he did not even try. 

Leah – Her exact role in Laban’s con of Jacob is never made clear, except that she went along with it and that Jacob could not tell the girls apart in the dark (okay, he was probably drunk).

At first, it bothered me that Leah was not mentioned more than she was in the Bible.  That was until I remembered that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke were really her family trees.  Boaz, Jesse, David, and Jesus are all her grandchildren, as were the majority of Jerusalem. 

It is probable that Leah took care of baby Benjamin and Joseph after the death of Rachel and that she was the “mother” in Joseph’s dream.  How long she lived and when she died is not told to us, only that she was buried in the cave with the rest of the family. 

Leah’s Sons – Please do not point to the behavior of the children as an indicator of how good the parents were.  If you read carefully the best one was Joseph and he may have had a pride problem before the trip to Egypt.  Leah’s children in order of their birth are Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah.  See the graphic in Marching Order.  

It is apparent that “true wives” versus servant girls and first-born and rights of the firstborn come in God’s planning in the Exodus story and occupying the Land.  Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are in the prominent position of first in the Exodus march and face east in the camp around the Tabernacle.  Rachel’s family of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin set out third and are on the west side of the Tabernacle.  This is not bad, but they are not in the lead.

After the kingdom was split into two parts the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (Aaron) are the ones that inhabit Jerusalem and protect the Temple.

A Thought – Like many things Leah and Rachel are types and shadows of things to come.  Leah the overlooked, the first wife of Jacob should/does represent present-day Judaism.  That would make Rachel a shadow of Christianity.  Okay, I am not sure how comfortable I am with that idea but God bless Leah the Overlooked and her part in the Family of God. 

Special pic is from the Ultimate Bible Collection – Leah_w_Rachel_67-63

Tree of Knowledge – East

The first cardinal direction mentioned in the Bible is East. Genesis 2:8 has God in the east planting a garden, so He must have come from the west.  I know this is a simple thought but directions come in pairs – west and east, and north and south.  This simple thought is also important – where is the east?  You can face the east, something can come from the east, go to the east, or be of the east.  

Many important things in the Bible face east – the Temple (especially the one in Ezekiel), the Tabernacle, and I believe the throne of God.  The etymology of the word east deals with where the light comes from and how we orient our position on earth.  Like many other things in the Bible “modern man” picks and chooses why something is important by current standards.  My example here is the direction north – we choose that to be the top of the map or the best/positive direction to go, and it gets the biggest letter on the compass.  A study of “east” in the Bible will include many things, with each bring a different significance to the table for discussion. Several examples are:

  • In Exodus, the children of Israel went east from Egypt to the Promised Land, and the east wind blew in locust, and the east wind parted the Red Sea. The locust became a plague while at the Red Sea the wind provided deliverance. 
  •  In Israel, east winds are a problem, they come in from the desert and dry the land out.
  • The camp around the Tabernacle was laid out with an east/west axis as its prominent feature.  The position of a tribe around the Ark showed birthrights and importance.  I started a study of that in the post – Marching Order.
  • The Christmas star and the Magi also bring east into the discussion.  The star “was in” or “it rose in” the east which joins it to Jesus in many ways.  The Magi came from the east to worship the newborn King.
  • Scripture shows several west to east movements – God to the Garden, Israel leaving Egypt going to the Promised Land, and Jesus, as a young boy, returning to Nazareth. 

An important feature of the east/west axis is the light.  Starting with Genesis 2 we see the metaphor of west (darkness) and going to the east (light).  (No, there is not a problem with the west and it is not a negative “area”.  The little cloud that Elijah’s servant saw would have come from the west – it ended the drought.  In Israel most rain showers come from west or northwest.)  God started in the west heading to the light to plant the Garden.  The two trees in the center of that Garden can carry a dark/light context.  Knowledge of good and evil led to darkness while the tree of life would have led to the light.  Like the study of numbers, the study of directions can add much to your Bible reading, but be sure you are looking EAST.  

Joseph the Tzaddik Christmas 2020

Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, is introduced in Matthew as tzaddik(righteous) for his part in the Christmas story.  That statement in Matthew 1:19 caught my attention because he was making a choice that was not religious (the Law).  John 8 (the woman caught in adultery) would have been the religious solution and would have had Mary stoned as an example. (Was Jesus thinking about His mother while this was taking place?) Stoning was the religious answer, not the righteous one! Joseph’s life and that decision made him tzaddik.

Why, am I using the Hebrew term? I used the two websites below and found the thoughts and the connections very interesting.  This is also a study blog, which means that getting out of your comfort zone is okay. (Note- the Chabad.org site is not Christian, but has great views into Jewish thoughts and practices that I do not find in Christian sites.)  Chabad portrays a tzaddik as a person who is calibrated to the Creator’s original concept of being human.  That dwarfs many modern definitions of the word righteous and challenges me to do some internal checking.

Joseph is not the only tzaddik in the Christmas story.  Luke also places Elizabeth and Zechariah as righteous Christmas characters.  Luke, being a Gentile, would have used the term dikaios for the idea of righteousness.  

I did use the Orthodox Jewish Bible, that is in Bible Gateway, to start this study; use the parallel function.  Grammar is a work in progress for me.  So Jewish grammar is a step-up and I may not have used tzaddik correctly in all of my sentences.

http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/ntstudies/tzaddikim.html

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2367724/jewish/Tzaddik.htm

In a previous Christmas post about Joseph, I had suggested comparing the Joseph of the Old Testament with the one of the New.  I will do a few of those now.

  • Both went to Egypt and escaped certain death.  I have no problem believing that the first Joseph would have been killed by his brothers and the second Joseph would have put up a fight.
  • I do believe that they came back because of/about Passover.  The death angel had cleared the way for Jesus’ return and Joseph’s body came back with Moses.
  • The Magi supplied for the needs of the Holy Family (the gifts) as Joseph met the needs of his family in Egypt.
  • Righteous – both by the way they lived their lives are righteous (tzaddik).  One was before the Law and the second one was before fulfillment of the Law.
  • Dreams – Joseph of Genesis had and interrupted dreams.  Jesus’s Joseph had dreams and then acted because of them.  Okay, they were different types of dreams.