This is my King. He doesn’t wear a suit of shining armour. He doesn’t wear a fine business suit. He doesn’t have nice hair, or a secretary. He doesn’t have a PhD, or a career in politics. He is the Son of God, but that doesn’t stop him from coming to find people who are lost. He is the Commander of all the armies of Heaven, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to talk to people who hate him.Continue reading “this is my King”
on the Son of David
After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats.
At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!
“Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the LORD is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.
But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. “The LORD knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The LORD forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the LORD’s anointed one, for the LORD himself has chosen him.” So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.
After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, David came out and shouted after him, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.
Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the LORD placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the LORD’s anointed one.’ Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.
“May the LORD judge between us. Perhaps the LORD will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing one who is as worthless as a dead dog or a single flea? May the LORD therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!”
When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, “Is that really you, my son David?” Then he began to cry. And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the LORD put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it. Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the LORD reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today. And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule. Now swear to me by the LORD that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!”
So David promised this to Saul with an oath. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went back to their stronghold. — 1 Sam 24:1-22
I really enjoyed hearing and reading this Bible story when I was a kid. There was the swashbuckling adventure, David and his mercenaries running around in the hills, chased by murderous King Saul; there was the high drama of David’s impassioned plea, and Saul’s tearful reply – it’s good fun. Though I have to say, I enjoyed it the most as a kid because the image of King Saul pooping in a cave was hilarious to six-year-old me. And you know, it must’ve been pretty intense, or maybe David just had crazy ninja skills, that he could creep up to Saul and cut off a piece of his robe unnoticed. Such is the mind of a six year-old boy. Maybe six year-old girls think like that too. Maybe you’re thinking like that now. I’m not judging. Continue reading “on the Son of David”
There is a cryptic line in the film Alexander, where the Persian warrior Pharnakes says to Alexander on his wedding night, “In the ways of my country, those who love too much lose everything. Those who love with irony last.”
I’m not sure why that line has stuck in my head even after so many years – it’s not particularly helpful, and as far as I know it’s mostly a load of orientalist crap; there is no provenance beyond a possible garbling of a sermon by Ali, brother of the Prophet Muhammad.
But by happy coincidence I think this line speaks more truth than it seems to. Continue reading “on love”
law pt 2: the sorrow of Lucretia
Have you sat by the banks of Old Father Tiber before? On quiet days you may hear it murmur. Sometimes it grumbles as old men do, sometimes it sings, and sometimes it tells stories. I have heard a few stories in my lifetime, but none are so sorrowful as that of the woman Lucretia. Continue reading “law pt 2: the sorrow of Lucretia”
on Messiah the son of David
“Later, as Jesus was teaching the people in the Temple, he asked, “Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David? For David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David himself called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with great delight.
Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” -Mark 12:35-40, NLT
Why should the Messiah be the Son of David? On the surface of it this seems like a very uniquely Jewish question, more or less unrelatable to many Christians. And in many ways it is a uniquely Jewish yearning, but it does have more to do with us as Christians than might seem. Continue reading “on Messiah the son of David”
The story of Mephibosheth recently came up in a morning talk. King David was given supernatural grace to love his rival, the speaker pointed out, and this is something we should pray for too.
Now when I heard this I flew into a self-righteous rage (more on this later) over the seemingly man-centric conclusion, because I reckoned there’s a better way to look at it: we are Mephibosheth, standing before the King. By all rights we are dead men, not (it seems to us) by any virtue of what we’ve done, but simply because of who we are, the blood that runs in our veins. But someone before us has earned the King’s favour on or behalf, and because the King honours promises, he not only calls us friend, but brings us into his family, gives us a home, a future, and his own riches (2 Sam 9:6-7). Continue reading “on grace”
wherever you go
Part of growing up is realising that the monsters are not outside – often they’re inside us. It isn’t the world conspiring to do us in, it’s our weaknesses, our desires, our bad choices that find us again and again. The monsters find us always. And how we deal with them shapes who we turn out to be in the end. Continue reading “wherever you go”
on believing in God
Disney’s Aladdin is flawed in a lot of ways – the cheesy story, the sometimes comically inappropriate racism (though to be fair things were a bit different in the 90s) – but in lots of ways it’s a great movie.
One line has always stuck in my head though: when Aladdin (or Prince Ali at this point) invites Princess Jasmine for a magic carpet ride, he asks her “do you trust me?”
That line for me holds a lot of theological water when we think about our faith. At times we’ve made it all a bit hard to understand, or we’ve made ‘believing in God’ a mark of faith without really defining what said belief means. What does believing in God mean? Believing he exists? Believing he wants the best for me? But I think at the heart of that concept and of our faith is that same, simple question.
Do you trust me? Continue reading “on believing in God”
on elitism and inclusiveness
What happens when the Christian faith produces its own culture? Christian movies, songs, celebrities and cell groups with the Church stamp of approval, exclusively for Christian consumption so as to avoid secular culture? Or what happens when the Church holds out any group in particular as a special example of fallenness to avoid or resist, and leaves it at that? Continue reading “on elitism and inclusiveness”
on space jesus
I recently watched Man of Steel, and holy moly what a silly film, but fun. It was basically The Adventures of Space Jesus. The thing is I went into the cinema knowing that it had overt Christian themes, and I was looking out for them. And actually in the end I kind of liked seeing them there. A lot of the Jesus references were a bit ham-fisted, but it was fun, and there are plenty of explosions and fistfights. Plus it’s refreshing to see a big budget Hollywood film play around with Christian imagery and ideas.
Now apparently there are quite a few churches that are not happy at all about the Jesus imagery. Some of them have even labelled the Superman character anti-Christian, because the real Jesus would never fight back against the bad guys, punching and heat-raying them. The most Christ-like figure in the whole film, one critic says, is Kevin Costner’s self-sacrificial character, not Superman. Continue reading “on space jesus”