Work of His Hands

The work of His hands.  cropped-flowers-1.jpg

A comforting idea that is in poems, sermons, and song is that we are “the works of God’s hands.”  Job and David both used this beautiful idea in their writings, but with two different perspectives. We will start with Job.

In Job 10:3 Job is answering one of his tormentors, Bildad, in his third discourse of his book.  Job’s bitterness is evident in this discourse; it is directed at Bildad and God.  (Job 9:33, part of the discourse, is a plea for the work of Jesus as being an arbitrator.)  The end of verse three is still directed at God and says, “While you (God) smile on the schemes of the wicked.(NIV)”  If we look at the original words we find the word “work” with slightly different meanings.  The word work in Job is ygiya it carries the idea of hard toiling/labor.  This fits in with the general tone of how Job is viewing himself and his relationship with God at that moment in his life. It is not pretty and Job is upset.

David uses the phrase in Psalm 138:8.  David uses a different word for work, his is maaseh and it still means work or labor but Vine’s Dictionary says it has to do with farming, artisans working, or the work of praising God.  It has a positive context as compared to ygiya. This fits very well with Psalm 138 and its overall upbeat message.

Even though the general tone of Psalm 138 is positive I can’t help but think it was written at a time when David needed to encourage himself. (ex. After Bathsheba, when he was on the run from Absalom, or when Ziklag was burned.)  It seems he is reminding himself and God of things that he has done and has happened. So the last line of verse eight with the word “abandon” in it puzzled me; it is the reason I think it was written during a time of duress.  It speaks to David’s plea not to be left alone at this time.

“The work of God’s hand.” Two men both referring to themselves as God’s handiwork, but I believe both from a different mindset.

Psalm 138 to 145 – David’s Journey

Psalm 138 to 145

This group of psalms (138 to 145) has recently got my attention.  They are in the Book Five of Psalms and are with the psalms known as the “Songs of Ascent.”  These were song that pilgrims sang as they went up to Jerusalem and the Temple.  Outside of Books One and Two this is the largest grouping of psalms attributed to David the writer.  The original subtitles are in my NIV and many Bibles like my Holman Study Bible add their own titles to give people a sense of contents of the psalm.

These psalms were probably grouped by whoever did the editing and grouping of the psalms into the form we know today.  I like to think where and when psalms were written and read them in those possible contexts.  Only Psalm 142 gives you a time frame and that is “in the cave” referring to David’s outlaw days (1 Samuel 22) when he was hiding from King Saul.  Two (139, 140) are “for the director of music” which may indicate that they were written after he went to Jerusalem, three (141, 143, 145) are identified as a “psalm of David”, and Psalms 138 and 144 are just “of David.”

The first verse or two in each of these Psalms give you a good idea of why they were written.  Most are truly songs of praise or thanksgiving but they seem to have been written at crucial or highlight points in David’ life.   I guess I have started to look at them as a journey through David’s life.  Psalm 138 could have been after Samuel anointed him and they go to Psalm 145 that has the sound of an older mature king who is looking back at his life and wanting his people to look ahead to the life and purpose in God.

Faint/Overwhelmed

Faint/Overwhelmed

You are not sure how much you can take? If one more thing goes wrong! Can I just stop and think for a moment, please? It has been bleak for so long when will things get better?

The Hebrew word that might describe your condition in all of these is ataph. In the KJV it is translated “overwhelmed” and in the NIV it is rendered “faint.” My Strong’s Concordance states that it means being shrouded or clothed and extends from the idea of darkness. The word ataph is not the only word for “faint” but it caught my eye in Psalm 142:3 and 143:4. Ataph is also used in Psalm 61:2, 77:3, and in 102:Title. I often test the definition back into the passage, so I tried: overwhelmed and shrouded in darkness. Both caught the idea of the verse and I liked overwhelmed better than faint in those verses.

In Psalm 142 and 143 David is having a bad time because in both of these “his spirit was faint” (NIV). Psalm 142 is identified as when David was “in the cave.” I associate that time with 1 Samuel 22 which is right before the saving of Keilah (see Hero to Horror). Several of the psalms in this section (138 to 145) I would place in that period of time before Keilah. Psalms 138 to 145 are all attributed to David. This section of Book Five of the Psalms has been referred to as the “Songs of Ascent.” These would have been sung as people went to the Temple.

David faced many ataph moments in his life but the most telling one on how he handled these overwhelming times is 1 Samuel 30:6b – “David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Hero and Horror – Making of a King

It took nine pages in my Bible. Six chapters, 1 Samuel 18 to 23, tell the story of David’s David052rise from being a hero to the Most Wanted List then to acting like a King.

Drama

This journey is marked with great drama and powerful emotions. Here are some of the action words or ideas that can be found in these six chapters: joy, galled, anger, betrayal, fear, bold rescues, grief, love, friendship, daring escapes, fiend insanity, ruthless pursuit, murder, and jealousy.   Michal, Saul’s youngest daughter, is a big part of this drama. She “loved” David but Saul knew he could use her as a snare to kill him. She helped David make a daring escape but I find it interesting that she never tried to flee Saul and go to David’s side. I believe that since David was a songwriter he used the things in his life to be the inspiration for his songs. I could attribute fifteen psalms to this time of drama.

Keilah

The story of Keilah is the story of David starting to act like a king. In the time it is set with the Feast because a harvest was happening, which is what the Philistines were after – the grain. Keilah must have been an important city because it had “bars and gates” and a population big enough to “hand David over” to Saul. On most maps, David’s hideout is only a few miles from the city. To compare Saul and David here is appropriate; David went to the city and liberated it from the enemy but the Bible never mentions Saul going there to check on the population.

David

In Chapter 23 we see David growing as a leader and David’s men learning to trust him as a leader. There is a difference between saying someone is your leader and then actually following him into battle. David’s habit of asking God for directions is mentioned at least five times in this story. It would seem that David had a prophet named Gad and after the victory in Keilah the priest of God named Abiathar and Aaron’s Breastplate (the ephod) to give Heaven sent answers.

David gained much knowledge and help from his willingness to free Keilah.

  • He found out that just because God had you do something it does not mean the people will be thankful, the citizens of Keilah would have turned him over to Saul.
  • David learned that you follow God just because He says to do it. This will lead to God’s bragging on you and not praise from men.
  • David learned to keep his options open and to ask more than one time for directions.
  • On the practical side, he picked up 200 more men, the Philistine’s supplies, and a new enemy.

Ziphities

David’s new enemy was the Ziphities. They were descendants of Caleb and a leading clan in Judah. They were going to turn David over to Saul even though David rescued Keilah. The reason could have been many but jealousy and fear of losing prominence within the Tribe of Judah possible were factors. David penned Psalm 54 over this incident and with phrases like, “Let evil recoil on those who slander me” verse 6 (NIV); it is clear there was no love loss. The word Ziph deals with flowing asphalt. This was found around the Dead Sea and brings to memory its trapping ability when Bera’s men fled in Genesis 14:10 and fell into tar pits.

Abiathar

He is a priest (Aaron’s family) and a member of the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:30). He was faithful to David during his life but did not agree with Solomon as king. He sided with Adonijah so Solomon removed him and his family from being priest (1 Kings 2:22). It is possible that his family being killed was going on at the same time as David rescuing Keilah; compare 1 Samuel 22:20 with 23:6.

Take Away

For me, the BIG thing in this story is that David, acting independent of Saul, showed compassion and concern for the people of Israel. This is the first recorded time that he did what a king would have done, save a city.

http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1379673661/Bible_Characters_Clipart/David_Clipart

Bends in the Road vs. A Straight Path

curves in the roadA “bend” in a road is often a literary signal for a change, either good or bad. Adventure is waiting, danger and destruction are lurking, or a golden opportunity awaits the noble wayfarer who is on the journey of a lifetime. Contrast this to the “straight” road where things are peaceful and the future is visible, if only you will lift your head and look.

David in Psalm 4: 8 is asking for just such a straight road because of his enemies. It is interesting that we want a straight road from God but we always want the bend if means adventure and excitement. A contrast here is Isaiah 40:3 where WE are to make straight paths for God. Part of this “preparing” is to knock down hills and fill in valleys.

Hills, valleys, bends in the road, and straight paths so many paradigms and graphic straight roadimages. All the words preached and ink spilled on paper using these icons can they be combined? Maybe! I tend to think horizontally and probably need to think more vertically (ah, more graphic images). If Jesus is in control and I do not purposely choose to bend off of His path why should our paths be anything but straight to God? WELL, what about all the tough times we encounter?

Join me now in a vertical look at a straight road that goes through hilly country. Do you rollercoasterbend down to go into a valley and then bend up to go to a hilltop? But I can’t see everything in front of me on that road! No, God never promised that you could always see everything in front of you He just said, “Follow Me.”

What about Isaiah 40: 3? Since the command there is that we make level paths so that God’s glory will be revealed; may I suggest that as we knock off high spots and fill in the low spots on the path for people behind us, it will be smoother and a little more level for them.

 

https://openclipart.org/detail/177913/on-the-road

https://openclipart.org/detail/25003/curves-ahead-sign

https://openclipart.org/detail/153769/roller-coaster