Dancing with David

Brass harp

I had time on my side, so decided to do a bit of drawing.   Only this time I didn’t use my pencils, I drew from the Scriptures and did a character sketch of David.
I wanted to know more of the constructs of the character of the man of whom it was said   ‘he was a man after God’s own heart.’

Perhaps there are some who don’t know David.     In short his life is a lovely story, so worth reading,  of a shepherd boy who became a king.   Set deep in the trenches of the history of Israel.   David seemed to be a well rounded human being.
He was king of Israel, a man among men, yet with a tender heart,  a victorious warring warrior, a psalmist, faithful, just and a worshipper of God.

As someone in the courts of king Saul described him
“…. a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite,  who is skilful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person, and the LORD is with him”

David was at first a shepherd boy, and tendered his father’s sheep in the outback.  He must have been a boy of obedience and of courage, for in the wilderness, where lions and bears roamed he took care of the family’s flocks.   A boy of contentment, for in the places of solitude he spent his time playing his instruments of praise, and in his loneliness, he worshipped the God of Israel.
He was far removed from the political clamour of the day, and the threat of war with the Philistines.

Then on a day Samuel, the prophet, came looking for a son of Jesse.     Of all he found none were suitable, for  ‘the Lord does not see as a man sees: for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” – 1 Samuel 16:7
Then David was recalled from the sheepfold, and anointed as the new coming king of Israel.
David was drawn into the politics of the day.   He, against all odds, killed Goliath the Philistine giant, with the help of God, and five smooth pebbles and his slingshot.

david and Goliath

 

David respected the people, and their appointed leaders.    He served king Saul well, but the relationship turned at the jealousy of Saul.    David was hunted and persecuted by Saul, and ran for the caves of Adullam for safety.    Around him, gathered a mottled lot of distressed, indebted and discontented men.  So he became the captain over these 400 men – who would in time  become the mighty army of God.
David fought for Judah and won, and so his renown began.    And he was anointed by his elders, at Hebron, as king of Judah.

David was a brave-heart.  David’s conquests were many.  He was a victorious warrior.   Do not diminish the wars against his enemies.     These were not mere skirmishes in small numbers.   ‘David made a name for himself when he returned from killing 18,000 Syrians in the Valley of Salt.’  – 2 Samuel 8:13
Great battles, fought,  more often won, made David great and renowned in the region.   The enemies of his people were the peoples of Philistine, Moab and Syria.

David had a passionate heart, especially so for Jerusalem.   In history he took the stronghold of Mount Zion from the Jebusites.  It became known as the City of David,  – Jerusalem that has an integral part in the history and culture of God’s people to this very day.      And all this may well reflect on the New Jerusalem, the heavenly City to come.

David was explosively expressive, and jubilant when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, –  and David danced before the Lord.

David dancing

David, was tender-hearted, and loyal, and a mourner.   He mourned the death of Saul his king and  Jonathan his best friend, when they were killed.    At the time David too mourned Abner, the commander of Saul’s army when he was killed by Joab.

Is this were the tear in the nation began, for though they were divided they were of one people.
And it was when Abner made Ishboshebeth Saul’s son king of Israel, that the tear became a schism, and the civil war between the house of David and the house of Saul grew wider.
Eventually David became king over Judah and Israel.
David reigned over all Israel and administered judgement and justice to all his people. – 1 Chronicles 18-14

David knew of the treachery of men’s hearts.  At the death of Abner by Joab, his own army commander.    The treasonous behaviour of his own son Absalom, who rebelled against his father.   And even the treachery of his own heart when he conspired to have Uriah killed in battle, so that he could justify his adulterous affair with Bathsheba.
The son born to David and Bathsheba died, and David mourned.
But in comforting Bathsheba, Solomon was born.   He was the one who would build David’s heart’s desire, a temple for God.

David was kind-hearted, and sought out Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son, and provided a place at his table for him.

David readily shared and was generous.
When the ark of the Lord was set in its place in the tabernacle,  David ……  blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.
Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both women and men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.  So all the people departed, everyone to his house. 
 –  2 Samuel 6: 19.
David shared the spoils of war.   1 Samuel 30:26
Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD” ‘
And thirteen other regions …….  ‘and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to rove.”  – 1 Sam 30:31

David was a man after God’s own heart.
God does not look at the outer but the inward heart of man.
God’s favour was with David, and he was victorious in many battles against his enemies.   God made a covenant with David – 2 Samuel 7:12
… I will set up your seed after you,  who will come from your body and I will establish his kingdom.    He shall build a house for My name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.
16.  And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you.   Your

throne shall be established forever”

This amazing covenant may well be the hint of another coming kingdom, and Jesus the Son of God,  who would establish the kingdom of God, beginning its fulfilment in the New Testament.
Even here God was preparing His people among the nations for a future time to come.

David had a heart filled with thanksgiving,  and the writing of the Psalms reveals such a heart.   The Psalms are given for the  understanding of the emotional condition of the heart of man –  for all seasons, and in all generations.   Those who read the Psalms would have understanding and become wise.  David knew God intimately and wrote the psalms from his heart, and from his life experiences.

PSALM 23
The LORD is my shepherd
I shall not want
He makes me to lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul :
He leads me in the path of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death;
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil,
My cup runs over,
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.
All the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever.

It was through David that Israel knew their golden years, when they were victorious in war, wealthy through the tributes brought to them, esteemed by the nations around them, were just and generous to their own people, and when their collective wisdom was captured in literature and songs and worship,  a great nation at its pinnacle,  was being forged through history, for a future story to yet unfold.

If you love stories, you will find many other stories intertwined in the life of David.  Stories that reveal people’s hearts and motives, the goodness of God and miracles.  His story is a rich tapestry of the human condition, and not much has changed since David’s time, except that everything is now perhaps a little more accelerated.

If I sit back and take a gentle look at David’s life I get the impression that there are far reaching effects of a simple life that worships God, a life that dances before God, can have such an influence on future times to come.

Never underestimate yourself, and the work that God does in your life, woven in  for His purposes and His ultimate story, even if it does not make sense at the time.

Like David, let our lives dance before the Lord, and know that He sees the end from the beginning, and that there is more goodness and glory yet to come.

 

Can a Leopard change its spots ?

 

IMG_0529 (1)

 

My somewhat lopsided Leopard, with all its intricate and significant markings, took me ages to complete, and finally brought me to this question  :  Can a leopard change its spots ?

This questions reminded me of a sweet Bible joke,  –  and a play on words that has the
power to make me smile.
Before I share it with you I have to set a scene from our history for you to understand my little joke, –  and some of our nation’s culture tensions.

We have 11 official languages in South Africa !   One of which is Afrikaans.    The Afrikaners were part of the forge from European nations e.g. the Dutch, French and German, who all had their reasons to set sail for African shores in the distant past.
In the wake of the discovery of gold and diamonds, the Anglo-Boer (the war between the Afrikaans farmers and English soldiers )  –  scraping through a crippling drought, famine and poverty, the Afrikaners were instrumental in establishing a firm foundation, and set infrastructures in place for a nation to emerge here at the southern tip of Africa.  Of course, not perfect, they have made huge mis-judgments and mistakes in the development of our people, that have their result in our very present day super sensitive racial tensions.

Butterfly SA

We are a very complex and diverse nation, evident in each of our 11 cultural languages with their own histories, before we even get to the collective history – which is still unfolding !!

Because of the Anglo-Boer war,  before our recent history, there had always been a sharp cultural tension between the Afrikaner and the English-speaking people in the land – mainly due to the war.    The ‘Boertjie’ a nick name for the Afrikaner and ‘Rooinek’ for the English were at times intentionally disparaging toward each other. One particular aspect was that the ‘Boertjie” often got his tenses wrong when he was forced to speak English.
Perhaps that’s the reason why some of my writing gets its tenses wrong  – a kickback from my ancestry !!

images.png Smiley face    Now let me tell you my little joke, emanating from that part of our history.

Adam and Eve were walking in the Garden of Eden, and Eve had identity issues, with questions.
She asked Adam if they were English or Afrikaans ?   Adam scratched his head unknowingly and said he would ask God.     So the next day when they met in the cool of the evening as was their custom,  Adam asked God if they were English or Afrikaans.  God gave Adam a penetrating gaze and said in a soft wisdom “Adam my son, you are what you are”
The next morning over an apple crumble breakfast, Adam told Eve he now knew the answer to her question.  Eve sat forward, for she had an inquiring mind and liked to gather knowledge.  “We are English” Adam told her.  “And how did you come to that deduction” asked Eve.  “Well” said Adam, ” I asked God if we were English or Afrikaans, and He said  ‘ Adam you are who you are‘  – well now, if He was Afrikaans He surely would have said Adam you is who you is.”  –  (smile now)

Language,  and culture make up identity.   I think that mindful language will not easily offend, and a little humour can go a long way in today’s global racist climate.  We need to laugh at ourselves more often – and that is easier done when you have an understanding and an acceptance of your own place in history, whatever that may be, your identity,  and your own unique story, for we all have stories to tell.
History clarifies that we all come from a race and cultural group.  And History will always reveal the bias of past governance.  Taking the high ground of hindsight is easy, and demanding justice has its place.   But we can’t truly go forward, looking in the rear view mirror.  We need to get into the gear of forgiveness to take us forward to fulfil our potential and our destinies, – or stay as we are, and wait until time heals or new adversaries surface !   History has an equalising effect.
I came across a telling quote recently,  it read :  We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it – Rick Warren.   Well said.

With worldwide nation-shifting currently going on, the world is in a state of cultural and racial flux. We all have our own cultural perspectives, because we are all diverse.  We would be wise to heed sensitivity and by the same token avoid a victim-mentality.  After all we all have our own distinct and different spots, so to speak.

Identity, is not only language and culture, but character too.  Character is based on values, ethics and morals – and choices make character.
In my little joke, God in His wisdom said : you are who you are,  but we are not expected to stay that way.   Through moral values and decisions we have opportunities to become more, and this can and will influence our character, identity, even our destiny.
Perhaps it is not just the social economic poverty, which is huge, but moral poverty that is the true cause of the ills in our societies today.

Attitude is telling, and shines through the filtered light of our varying  societies.   An often used quote is  : Attitude is everything.   I agree with that.   It’s the place in life, where courtesy and respect begins or ends, the difference between being civilised or barbaric.   I like to keep this quote in mind : Courtesy is the first rung on the ladder of civilisation. (source unknown)

‘Ubuntu’  is an African term that can take on different connotations  e.g. community caring, kindness, courtesy, respect for each other.   This makes all the difference to our attitudes in our societies.
My interpretation of Ubuntu is  –  Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

We can change our spots by changing our minds, and our attitudes and sprinkled with humour can even help to change the spots of others.
So even when we humorously retort  …..’  I is who I is ‘  ….. we can change !
If we stop to think about this, it is applicable on many levels, –  socially, psychological and spiritual,     As a man thinks, so is he.  Proverbs 23:7

I found my leopard in the Bible, Jeremiah 13:23 where it says : Can an Ethiopian change his skin, can a leopard change its spots ?
As the chapter also speaks to idolatry and  pride – eeek ! –  I had to pay close attention, because my spots can so easily reveal my pride too !!   It is something to think on.

My spots are my spots, but if I allow God’s goodness and grace to change me, my spots, wrinkles and blemishes will change into a thing of beauty, that helps me see the beauty spots in other people.  That kind of transformation is good, essential and eternal.

In today’s super sensitive racial climate, may my leopard serve as a reminder for us to love our neighbour.

Ubuntu,  my friend  Ubuntu !

Butterfly SA