If a friend wakes you in the middle of the night it’s to warn you, an enemy on the other hand seeks only to disturb your rest.
If a friend wakes you in the middle of the night it’s to warn you, an enemy on the other hand seeks only to disturb your rest.
Rest is a friend; He is seven times a friend, just as His name is represented by the word sheva—seven--Shabbat—the seventh day, G-d given rest.
Rest is a ceasing of self-effort; Rest is a stop sign that protects you from oncoming traffic. When Rest acts He acts in your favor, He opposes the disquiet that seeks to steel you away, He is the defender of the weary, the restorer of the soul.
Rest is seven times a friend.
Rest is a voice to the nations, a call of the shofar—ram’s horn. The voice of Rest goes forth in seventy directions to the four corners of the earth. Rest is flame, tongues of fire, and languages of light. Rest is communication; He is the conversation of G-d.
Rest is seven times a friend.
Seven is a unity, when seen in the Menorah—sevenfold candelabra of the G-d of Israel—the light thereof is intense, there are seven branches of light that shine as one, this is the only light to illuminate an otherwise dark temple: we—in Messiah—are the temple of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit, you—in Messiah—are the temple of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh. The Ruach Ha-Kodesh is the evidence of Rest.
Rest is seven times a friend.
Oil is the symbol of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh, oil is ignited by flame and fuels the sevenfold light. This same oil feeds every branch of the Menorah; it is echad—a complex unity. Oil is poured out as a gift upon those who have been chosen by G-d in Rest. Those who turn toward G-d, exposing their darkness, and accepting that they cannot see without His light, find Rest. Rest is light, the light of the sevenfold Menorah, He cannot be put out.
Rest is seven times a friend.
Seven times seven times is a group of weeks, it is a holy remembrance--zakhor—of G-d, and we call it Shavuot—sevens, rests. We are surrounded by these weeks, a cycle of Rest. We are put in motion by Rest and are returned to Him. These weeks are intense; they begin with Rest and end with Rest. From the day after the first Shabbat--Yom Ha-Bikurim, first fruits—we look forward through seven shabbat’s toward Shavuot. From the day of Shavuot we look back in remembrance of the price paid for our rest--Pesach, Passover.
Rest is seven times a friend.
Rest is Mashiyach—Messiah, the greatest of friends.
If a friend wakes you in the middle of the night it is to warn you, an enemy on the other hand seeks only to disturb your rest.
“Cease striving and know that I Am HaShem—YHVH.” –Tehillim/Psalm 46:10
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
To say that Scripture has been manipulated by human agenda outside of G-d’s will, is like saying a marshmallow can keep its shape in acid.
An examination of 2 Samuel 12:1-25 and Psalm 51
12:1 HaShem sent Natan to David.
In the previous chapter David’s frequent sending after sin (11:1, 3, 6, 14, 27) presents as the desperate actions of one who is powerless: this is one of the greatest ironies of David’s transgression, he is a king who has submitted his throne to sin, a free man who has become a slave. (Romans 6:16)
HaShem on the other hand, when He decides to act, sends once and with certainty brings about the intended outcome. G-d reigns and submits to nothing. In some sense we can read “sent” as a past tense statement. HaShem’s Torah—Instruction, had already laid out the parameters for David. G-d had allowed David nine months to come to his senses and return to Him. Now the cancerous growth of sin had grown so large in David’s soul that only the invasive and precise cut of The Master surgeon could rid his body of it. To pursue the analogy further, the surgery was just the beginning, David has months of chemo ahead of him as a consequence of having let the cancer progress for so long.
I am reminded of the many times in my own life that I have hardened my heart toward G-d. In His great mercy He allows room for severe discipline. The enemies of G-d perceive discipline as condemnation, but a child of G-d receives discipline as an act of love. We may at times have to undergo painful surgery and endure the ongoing consequences, but the end result will be fullness of life.
He came and said to him, “In a certain city there were two men, one rich, the other poor. 2 The rich man had vast flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing, except for one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared. It had grown up with him and his children; it ate from his plate, drank from his cup, lay at his bosom — she was like a daughter to him. 4 One day a traveler visited the rich man, and instead of picking an animal from his own flock or herd to prepare a meal for his visitor, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
This mashlam—parable—shouldn’t be over analyzed. Many find grave error when they misperceive a teaching tool to be a Rosetta stone. The parable is intended to reveal to David the workings of his own heart. It is not intended as an allegorical road map for revealing hidden secrets. Some of our rabbis’ suggest that the traveler represents sin itself, but that cannot be because the parable doesn’t infer that the eating of lamb is wrong but that the stealing of a poor man’s only means of sustenance by a rich man with ample provision is wrong. Had David partaken of one of his own wives—lambs—he would not have found himself in this predicament—I am not condoning polygamy, which is a different issue entirely.
On the other hand an overly literal interpretation can also lead to error, after all, the ewe lamb representing Batsheva is said to be like a daughter to the poor man who represents Uriyah, given the sexual obligations of marriage this would be a perverse insinuation indeed. Also, the lamb is eaten by the rich man’s guest, clearly Batsheva was not shared with or eaten by any guest of David.
If we address the simple structure of the parable we find the following key points:
· The rich man is David
· The poor man is Uriyah
· The flocks are David’s wives
· The ewe lamb is Batsheva
· The traveler is sexual desire
Therefore, rather than satisfy his natural sexual desire by sleeping with one of his wives, David chose to sexually defile himself with Batsheva.
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Natan, “As HaShem lives, the man who did this deserves to die!6 For doing such a thing, he must pay for the lamb four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
2 Samuel 11:27 says, “But the thing that David had done caused Yahveh’s eye to tremble.” HaShem was heartbroken by David’s actions.
David’s response on the other hand is the self-righteous reaction of a guilty man. Ironically on a subconscious level he is furious, not with the fictional rich man but with himself. The guilty man has no mercy to offer himself, thank G-d that His mercy is wide enough even for the hypocrite.
Natan has enticed David into a judicial situation, a station common to the kings of Israel—and her surrounding nations—at that time. It is interesting that David initially chooses an unjust punishment for the crime, after all the Torah only requires fourfold payment for such an act. David is perhaps, at some subconscious level, prophesying against himself with the words, “As HaShem lives, the man who did this deserves to die... because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Perhaps he heard in the parable the echo of his own guilt?
The fact that David requires the rich man to repay the poor man fourfold is proof of his knowledge of the Torah requirements for punishing such an act. David would indeed pay fourfold for his sin with the lives of four of his sons: the nameless child of David and Batsheva, Amon, Avshalom and Adoniyah.
One wonders how David went so long without turning to G-d, knowing as he did the Instruction of HaShem and the symbolic importance of his role as king over G-d’s people Israel. Having said that, I am challenged to take a sober look at my own life and ask the question, “How long have you been ignoring the elephant in your room?” Thank G-d that His mercy is wide enough even for a hypocrite!
7 Natan said to David, “You are the man. Here is what HaShem, the God of Yisra’el says: ‘I anointed you king over Yisra’el. I rescued you from the power of Sha’ul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives to embrace. I gave you the house of Yisra’el and the house of Y’hudah. And if that had been too little, I would have given you much more.
I suspect that even before Natan pronounced the verdict that David already knew he was the man. What follows are both personal and public representations of G-d’s Name over His people Israel and their human king. Not only has G-d delivered David and gifted Him with wealth and power, He has also placed upon David the very representation of His own Great Name. We cannot be seen to unite the body of Messiah with a prostitute. (1 Corinthians 6:15) All action is worship, when we worship anything other than G-d we misrepresent and blaspheme His Name. This, as we will come to understand is cause for the enemies of G-d to blaspheme His Name and attempt to impugn His character. This can have a devastating and misleading effect on those who are unsaved, who, having seen our hypocrisy turn ever further away from HaShem. Thank G-d that His mercy is wide enough even for hypocrites!
G-d says, “If that had not been enough I would have given you much more.” We are children of the King of the Universe, if we are struggling with desire for things we shouldn’t touch then let us turn to HaShem and ask Him to redirect our eyes. What He has to give isn’t an alternative to sin, it is much better and it’s born of an entirely different seed. The green grass on the other side of the fence is a hologram covering an abyss. The fence is there for a reason, HaShem teach us to ask for Your help when we are walking the tight rope of temptation.
9 “‘So why have you shown such contempt for the d’var—Word—of HaShem and done what is evil in my eyes?
Contempt for the Word of HaShem is contempt for Mashiyach—Messiah—who was to be born of David’s line. Nothing is hidden from G-d, David’s sin is before G-d and must be atoned for if the relationship between David and G-d is to be restored. In one sense David’s sin is irritating G-d’s eye.
You murdered Uriyah the Hitti with the sword and took his wife as your own wife; you put him to death with the sword of the Amonites.
Through Natan HaShem recounts the sins of David beginning with the last act, that of murder. This was pretexted by David’s first judgment of punishment against the rich man of the parable, thus the punishment should befit the crime. The Torah requires David’s life to atone for the act of murder.
10 Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house — because you have shown contempt for me and taken the wife of Uriyah the Hitti as your own wife.’
The second sin mentioned is that of adultery, this is also deserving of the death penalty. G-d says that as a result of David’s sin, violence and death will never cease to be an issue for his household.
11 Here is what HaShem says: ‘I will bring evil against you out of your own household. I will take your wives before your very eyes and give them to one who is close to you; he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this before all Yisra’el in broad daylight.’”
This is later literally fulfilled when Absalom sleeps with his father’s concubines on the roof of the palace for all Israel to see. Thus what was done in secret is brought into the light.
13 David said to Natan, “I have sinned--missed the way—against HaShem.” Natan said to David, “HaShem has taken away your sin--punishable offence. You will not die. 14 However, because by this act you have given great occasion for the enemies of HaShem to blaspheme, the child born to you will die.”15 Then Natan returned to his house.
Unlike his predecessor David is truly sorry—as shown by his genuine repentance. Natan tells David that HaShem has—passed tense—taken away his sin, however the blood guilt that is upon David for the death of Uriyah must be atoned for. Therefore the child will die.
This seems unfair to the modern reader, we ask, “doesn’t the prophet say that each one will die for his own sin?” There is more at stake here than murder and adultery, the very Name of HaShem has been misrepresented to both Israel and the nations. David, as king of Israel must not be seen to be allowed to flaunt his sin in the face of G-d’s Torah. The child, had it been allowed to live would defile the line of the Messiah and make the Messianic kingship an illegitimate one. In addition to this the child, had it grown would have been known to be illegitimate and perceived of as a great threat to David’s other children. The child’s life may well have been far worse had he been allowed to live. By dying at this young age the child is delivered from a tortured existence and drawn into the arms of G-d.
The death of the child is a tragedy born of David and Batsheva’s sin. The child dies at the age of seven days, one day prior to circumcision, meaning that he is not officially welcomed as a son of the covenant. The reason for this is again to distance the child from direct relationship to the legitimate throne of David’s greater son Yeshua the Mashiyach.
HaShem struck the child that Uriyah’s wife had borne to David, and it became very ill. 16 David prayed to G-d on behalf of the child; David fasted, then came and lay all night on the ground.17 The court officials got up and stood next to him trying to get him off the ground, but he refused, and he wouldn’t eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day, the child died. The servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, because they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he didn’t listen to us; if we tell him now that the child is dead, he may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw his servants whispering to each other, he suspected that the child was dead. David asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” and they answered, “He is dead.” 20 Then David got up off the ground, washed, anointed himself and changed his clothes. He went into the house of HaShem and worshipped; then he went to his own palace; and when he asked for food, they served it to him; and he ate. 21 His servants asked him, “What are you doing? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat food!” 22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; because I thought, ‘Maybe Adonai will show mercy to me and let the child live.’23 But now that he’s dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
We see from the text that the child is known as the child of Uriyah’s wife. This is said to show the illegitimate nature of his conception.
David’s actions here are the petitions of a truly repentant man. He is not grieving but returning. He knows that others have pleaded with G-d and in response G-d had turned His face from wrath, so in relationship David returns to plead his case for the life of his son. It seems that G-d’s mercy is greater in the taking of the child. Realizing that there is nothing he can do now that the child is gone, David puts his trust in the fact that he will one day be reconciled to the child he has lost, “Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” In this simple statement we are given a glimpse into David’s belief in the Olam Haba—World to Come.
24 David comforted his wife Bat-Sheva, came to her and went to bed with her; she gave birth to a son and named him Shlomo—Peace. HaShem loved him 25 and sent word through Natan the prophet to have him named Y’didyah—loved by G-d, for HaShem’s sake.
These verses begin with the statement, “David comforted his wife Batsheva.” This is announced so that it will be understood that, having been punished for their sin David and Batsheva are now given the freedom to be married in the eyes of HaShem and to produce a legitimate heir to the throne.
Shlomo—peace, is well named, his line will bear the Prince of Peace our Messiah. G-d delights in this prophetic child and by way of reconciliation to David He gives the child an additional name that carry’s his father’s name within it. He calls him Y’didyah—loved by G-d, for HaShem’s sake. Notice that Shlomo is not only loved by G-d but he is also loved for G-d’s sake.
I find the evidence for a late dating of this Psalm to be weak at best, however even if a late dating is agreed to it does not negate the fact that even a late redaction of this psalm was reliant on an original version which was passed down either in written or oral tradition. This psalm so clearly relates to the events of 2 Samuel 12 that only a fool would presume it has been negatively manipulated for any reason, exilic or otherwise. In the end, we believe that the Scriptures are the inspired word of HaShem intended for the illumination of our souls. To say that Scripture has been manipulated by human agenda outside of G-d’s will, is like saying a marshmallow can keep its shape in acid.
Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Natan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Batsheva. The first thing to notice here is that David intended for his dirty laundry to be aired publicly. This psalm is addressed to the Leader of Mishkan—tent/Temple—worship, it is intended for public recitation. This is the act of a truly repentant man. He is no longer seeking to hide his folly, he is making it clear to all, both Israelite and Goyim—nations, that he is guilty of desecrating G-d’s Torah. In doing this he is disassociating his sin from the false witness it had presented in light of HaShem’s Holy nature.
51 Have mercy on me, O G-d, according to Your steadfast love;
according to Your abundant mercy obliterate my transgressions--rebellion.
Only G-d can forgive David, Uriyah is dead. David reminds himself of what G-d has already done by taking away David’s bloodguilt. It is G-d’s steadfast love and abundant mercy that obliterate David’s rebellion.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity--perversity,
and cleanse--purge—me from my sin--sinful condition, perpetual sin, missing the mark, falling short of the standard!
David understands the need for atonement, the covering of sin. He also understands the need for cleansing, the purging of all sin for eternity, hence the doublet of washing and cleansing/purging. Perversity is washed away, the sinful condition--yetzer ha-ra’ah--must be purged, utterly removed.
3 For I know my transgressions--rebellion,
and my sin--sinful condition--is ever before me.
David understands that he is prone to give in to the yetzer ha-ra’ah and that in himself he has no means of removing his misdeeds from his mind’s eye.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned--missed the way,
and done that which is evil in Your sight,
In fact David has sinned against Uriyah, Batsheva, Israel and the nations, but what is meant here is that all sin is primarily sin against G-d.
so that You are justified in Your sentence
and blameless in Your judgment.
G-d is without sin, He alone is able to process just judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in the secret place.
The poetic Hebrew mechanism of doublets is again employed to illuminate the meaning of the text. Here we see iniquity which is rebellion followed by the sinful condition--yetzer ha-ra’ah, fallen nature.
David’s mother is not known to have committed a sin act in conceiving him, thus the mother here is understood to refer to the mother of us all, Eva. This is an allusion to the rebellious actions of both Satan and Eva which result in the yetzer ha-ra’ah—sin’s entry into creation.
David then relates the womb to the inner being and asks that G-d teach him the paths of righteousness retrospectively from his inception as a person to the time of the psalms construction. We see in this not simply that humanity has a fallen nature but rather that consciousness begins at conception, and not of the developed brain alone.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
David has previously asked to be purged of his sinful condition, here he asks again, this time he acknowledges the vehicle for the purging by alluding to the blood of the Passover lamb which was spread with hyssop onto the door posts of Israel in order to save the Israelites' from the judgment of the avenging angel.
We can also see the blood of Messiah—purge me—as facilitating the purging and His baptism—wash me—given to all who believe as a symbolic washing of the soul.
Clean here is from the Hebrew meaning to glisten and is the pairing for snow. Elsewhere we are reminded that, “Though your sins are as scarlet I will wash them white as snow.”
8 Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9 Hide Your face--plural, signifying intensity—from my sin--sinful state,
and blot out all my iniquities perversity.
David is asking for the restoration of the brokenness caused by his sin, only then can he truly rejoice. He doesn’t ask G-d to hide His intense face from him, rather he asks G-d to turn his face away from his sin. This is more than covering, it is the obliteration of sin which makes way for the eternal cohabitation of G-d and humanity.
10 Create--bara, used only of G-d’s creative power—in me a clean heart, O God,
and build up a new and right spirit within me.
Genesis 1:1 begins with the words, “Bereshit bara,” newly creating: this same word for creating is the word used here, it means to create something from nothing and is only used of G-d’s creative power. Only G-d can create a clean heart in us. Having done so, outside of time, He then builds us up into the Holy people He intends us to be.
11 Cast me not away from Your presence,
and take not Your Ruach ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit—from me.
G-d had taken His Spirit from Shaul the first king of Israel, perhaps David expected the same? The point here is that David was terrified of the thought of losing G-d’s Spirit, this proves his strong desire for continued relationship, Shaul on the other hand was only interested in using G-d’s power to win wars and prosper himself.
12 Return--Shuva—to me the joy of Your Yeshua—salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
I have been a prodigal son, though I can’t save myself I implore You, return to me Your salvation.
13 Then I will teach transgressors--rebels—Your ways,
and sinners--those who fall short of your standard—will return--shuva—to You.
Yeshua says, “Those who have been forgiven much, love much.” Having been a rebel and a sinner David is now able to minister to the lost children of G-d, bringing them the hope of salvation that is only found in Him.
14 Deliver me from blood-guilt O G-d,
G-d of my Yeshua—salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of Your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
David’s deliverance from blood-guilt is freedom to his soul and in David’s case his mouth gives birth to rejoicing which is seeded by a grateful heart.
16 For You have no delight in sacrifice;
were I to give a burnt offering, it would not please You.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to G-d is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
David is not saying that sacrifice is invalid, rather he is saying that sacrifice performed without the true repentance of a contrite heart is invalid. G-d requires a truly contrite and repentant heart, only then will a physical sacrifice be acceptable.
This verse has been widely misused by both Jewish and Christian commentators alike. It does not negate the need for the shedding of blood as some have mistakenly concluded. “I give you the blood for making atonement.” “Without the shedding of blood there can be no covering for sin.”
18 Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem,
David now relates his personal sin to the effect it has had over all Israel. Just as David’s heart needed to be built up, so to Israel needs to be built up. David is asking that G-d not hold his sin against his people but that He bless her and build her up.
19 then You will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.
Finally, the result of right standing with G-d in the inner being is the outworking of that right standing through right sacrifice. We see in these last verses that G-d delights in the sacrifice that is made with integrity. Integrity and unity of spirit and action.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
To have been chosen is not the assurance of right action, rather it is the challenge of right relationship. The Father has chosen us from before creation, He offers His hand, if we refuse it we lose sight of who we are and become servants of the evil inclination.
David and Bathsheba
An examination of 2 Sh’muel/Samuel 11
This tragic account of Israel’s G-d anointed and heroic king is a poignant reminder of the yatzer ha-ra’ah—fallen nature—of all humanity.
To have been chosen is not the assurance of right action, rather it is the challenge of right relationship. The Father has chosen us from before creation, He offers His hand, if we refuse it we lose sight of who we are and become servants of the evil inclination. Yeshua was adamant when He spoke to those among the religious authorities who disbelieved, saying, “You are sons of your father ha-Satan—the adversary… he was a liar from the beginning.”
It is important to note that this account, unlike the histories of other nations—which exclude information that might disparage their heroic leaders, shows a very fallible and human David, king of Israel. It seems that the Hebrew writer of 2 Sh’muel—Samuel—is more concerned with the Kingdom of G-d and His righteous expectations than he is with reporting pro-Israel propaganda. This type of consistent recording of the reality of Israel’s moral highs and lows is yet another proof of the authentic historical accuracy and incomparable spiritual value of the Scriptures.
One rendering of the Hebrew text of 11:1 is as follows:
“One year later, in the spring, when kings go out to war.”
This holds continuity with the previous text which records the beginning of Israel’s conquest against the Ammonites. It helps us to understand the chronology of events in a way that gives some illumination to David’s decision to remain in Jerusalem while Israel went out to war. We must remember that the scrolls of Israel’s prophets did not include the chapter and verse markings of modern texts, this is all one story.
The greater story—account—of the Scriptures is known as its Meta narrative, here we have a powerful—if sordid—sub narrative which speaks a dire warning to each of us as we live out our own sub narrative role as part of G-d’s great Meta narrative.
11:1 Then it happened--at the turning of the year—in the spring, at the time when kings go out to war that David--beloved—sent Yo’av—Joab, fathered by YHVH—and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah--great, large. But David stayed at Jerusalem--the city flowing with the instruction of peace.
Up until this point in the story of David’s life he has been known as a successful warrior, a man gifted by G-d in warfare, one might say that in some way this was part of his vocation—calling. The text makes it clear that this is the time of year that all the kings of the nations’ go out to war. Why is David, the mighty warrior king of Israel staying at home?
Some have suggested that he was weary of warfare. Others believe he may have become prideful in his many successes and was beginning to act like the arrogant kings of the Far East. One of our Yeshivah students observed that David’s actions were consistent with the symptoms of depression; his staying away from the battle, his sleeping in the afternoon and waking in the evening rising from the couch to walk in the cool air and gaze on the setting sun. Mental illness is not a modern condition, it is as ancient as humanity itself. Those of us who have experienced mental illness know well the vulnerable moral state that such conditions can leave in. However there is always an opportunity for us to lean on HaShem—G-d—in our weakness. Vulnerability is not an excuse for sin, it is an opportunity for a hug from HaShem.
Regardless of the reasons for David staying behind the important warning for us is that of avoiding isolation. I am not saying we should never take time to be alone with G-d or to seek space from the maddening crowed. I am simply alluding to the fact that Isolation breeds moral relativity, whereas solace, rest and contemplation seek moral clarity. The issue is one of motive not circumstance.
“In the spring time when kings go out to war, the beloved of G-d sent his servant, the one fathered by Yahveh out to fight his battles for him, rather than doing what he was called to do, the beloved of G-d stayed at home in the city that flows with the instruction of G-d’s deep peace.”
– AJB paraphrase 2 Sh’muel 11:1
2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing herself; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
This indicates that David had been lounging and sleeping during the day and had awoken to rise and stroll in the evening air as the sun descended. This is the antithesis to the rhythm of human life, in fact many of the actions that follow are in complete contradiction to the rhythm of David’s life up until this point in time. Is he feeling a distance between G-d and himself? Is he deeply depressed? Is he finally allowing the heavy loss of his good friend Jonathan to sink in? Why has he not sought Nathan the prophet? Why has he not asked friends for council? Where are his friends and allies? The answer to the last question may well be that they are out at war, how do they feel about David’s decision to stay home in Jerusalem?
Why was Bathsheba bathing herself in a location where she could be seen? Some have said that she was seen simply because David had a bird’s eye view but this becomes untenable when one realizes that all of Israel had a view of the king’s palace roof from their houses in Jerusalem. The present city of Jerusalem, while built with matching stone and continuity of structure, does not resemble the ancient city referred to in this text. At the time of these events the city was much smaller and the lines of sight much clearer than the modern city. Absalom at a later date uses this very knowledge to defile his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel on the roof of the palace.
It seems then, that it was known to Jerusalem’s occupants that the King could see into the exposed spaces of their homes from the palace roof. It was probably also known that the king liked to take strolls on the roof. In our present sub narrative almost all the men had left the city to go to war and the people of Jerusalem would have been aware that David had not gone with them. What then would be the motivation of a woman who knowing these things, chooses to bath herself somewhere she can be seen by the king?
I am not seeking to detract from David’s obvious guilt but we must remember that there were responsibilities incumbent upon the women of Israel regarding their purity and integrity. These responsibilities are clearly outlined in the Torah and violation of them is heavily condemned.
With respect to our own lives we must be careful not to passively entertain fantasies of violation. We are being watched by others and our motivations may well be seen in our actions. If we provide temptation for others we become the potential inception of the subsequent sin. In doing so we also become responsible for the resulting actions.
3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba--Daughter of seven/oath, house of seven/oath, the daughter of Eliam--My G-d of the people, the wife of Oriyah--my light is YHVH—the Hittite--Descendant of Chet?”
David had found himself tempted, he had seen the woman and rather than look away he had lusted after her. As a man I understand this, we are often driven to madness by the beautiful body of a mysterious woman. In the present age we have a palace view that far exceeds David’s. We have internet, T.V, and e-magazines, all within close proximity and easier than ever to access.
Perhaps we find ourselves tempted in this way on a daily basis? This is why Yeshua warns us that, “If a man lust after a woman in his heart he has already committed adultery with her.” Being fully human, Yeshua knows the potentially rapid descent of a man who is emotionally and physically aroused by the sight of a beautiful woman, therefore He explains in one concise statement the entire story of David and Bathsheba.
While this was extremely tempting for David, he had an opportunity here to cease his potential journey into adultery. We too have this same opportunity on a daily basis. When tempted we must lean into G-d, asking for the strength of His Spirit and the ability to resist the enemy. If we do not resist at this early stage we will soon lose the will and or ability to stop our descent.
David sends for information about this mysterious woman and one of his attendants says, “Hey, isn’t that Uriah’s wife?” I hear the warning of a friend in this statement, “Hey bro, I know she’s hot but she’s married mate. Don’t touch that!”
More accurately David is told:
“That’s the daughter of Oath, the child of My G-d’s people and the wife of the light of HaShem.”
If I were to see a beautiful woman on a T.V. show and were tempted by her beauty I would have the opportunity to turn off the show, that choice would end the potential journey into thought adultery. However, if having completed the show I then turn to the internet seeking more information about her and hoping for sordid photographs etc. then I have missed the opportunity to turn away and have begun a journey which can only end in disaster. This is what David is about to do, only his T.V. is a window to Jerusalem and his muse is Bathsheba the wife of one of his most honorable servants.
4 David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, she had purified herself from her uncleanness, and he lay with her. After this she returned to her house. 5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.”
David has entered the “aching with lust and desire” stage of temptation, he must have her. At this point he doesn’t know her as a person, he is utterly objectifying her, and he desires her as a means to satisfy his sexual urge. Perhaps this is an attempt to escape his mental and emotional state? Whatever his reasons he is thinking only of himself. A woman called by the king is in no position to refuse, this is a tragic and brazen abuse of G-d given authority.
David has sex with the woman and after their encounter she returns home. Note that Bathsheba is not called by name here, it seems that the writer holds some distain for her actions and writes in such a way as to show Bathsheba’s desire for anonymity with regard to the sin she has committed with David. She cannot possibly be named in relationship to him at this point because this is not an act of relationship, it is an act of sexual objectification.
While Bathsheba may not have had any way of refusing the kings invitation, she did have a way to refuse his sexual advances. The palace was occupied by many servants and advisors, all of whom were aware of what was going on. The Torah says that if a woman is about to be raped in a walled city and calls out then she remains guiltless but her assailant must be punished, however if she doesn’t call out then the act is considered consensual. Not even the king is immune from the rule of Torah—Instruction of G-d. Therefore it seems that for all intents and purposes this was a mutually consensual act.
The author makes it clear that the woman had just finished her period thus indicating it was not possible for her to have been impregnated by any man other than David.
It takes at least a month for a woman to be certain of a pregnancy, this means that some time had passed before David was informed that Bathsheba had conceived as a result of their adultery.
6 Then David--beloved—sent to Yo’av--fathered by YHVH, saying, “Send me Oriyah--my light is YHVH—the Hittite.” So Yo’av sent Oriyah to David. 7 When Oriyah came to him, David asked concerning the welfare of Yo’av and the people and the state of the war. 8 Then David said to Oriyah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Oriyah went out of the king’s house, and a present from the king was sent out after him.9 But Oriyah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.
David is now faced with one of two options: confess his sin and submit to the Torah or attempt to hide his sin. Calling for Oriyah is the beginning of both outcomes, it is the husband who has the right to know first regarding the sin that has been committed against him.
On Oriyah’s arrival David conducts a conversation of pleasantries and then urges Oriyah to go down to his home to see—and sleep with—his wife. The Hebrew idiom, “wash your feet’’ infers a night of complete relaxation, in this case it is not outside the realms of possibility that it was understood as a euphemism. David’s intentions are clear, he wants Oriyah to sleep with his wife so that he will believe the baby is his and no one will be any the wiser—except the palace servants, advisors, Bathsheba’s girlfriends and of course HaShem Himself.
We understand from the text that Bathsheba has no children from her marriage to Oriyah, one wonders whether Oriyah was able to seed a child given that the Torah commands that a newly married man may not go out to war until he has spent at least one year with his bride. Surely if Oriyah was potent Bathsheba would already have been impregnated prior to this time? Perhaps she had miscarried in the past?
Oriyah chooses to sleep at the king’s gate with his servants. It seems that his loyalty to his calling superseded his desire to be reunited to his wife.
“The beloved of G-d sent word to the one fathered by Yahveh, asking him to send the light of Yahveh to him.”
– AJB paraphrase on 2 Sh’muel 11:6
10 Now when they told David, saying, “Oriyah did not go down to his house,” David said to Oriyah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Oriyah said to David, “The ark and Israel--overcome in G-d—and Judah--praise—are staying in temporary shelters--Sukkot, and my lord Yo’av and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.”
With his words Oriyah effectively countermands every action of David up to this point:
Oriyah had gone out to war – David stayed at home.
Oriyah practiced self-control by not returning to his house – David sinned willfully, utterly lacking in self- control.
He is effectively saying, “Should I do all the wrong things you’ve done? No thanks mate, not on your life.”
David may be the protagonist of this sub narrative but he is not the hero. We might understand it this way:
“The light of Yahveh went out to war—against the enemies of G-d’s kingdom, but the beloved of G-d stayed at home. While at home the beloved of G-d took the light of Yahveh’s wife aside and defiled their wedding bed, sinning against the light of Yahveh. Calling the light of Yahveh home, the beloved of G-d attempted to deceive the light of Yahveh but the light of Yahveh challenged him saying, “On your life I will not do as you have done.”
It is possible that Oriyah had caught wind of what had happened, he had after all, slept at the gate with the king’s servants, many of who must have been aware of what had transpired. If this is the case then Oriyah’s words are meant as a rebuke, one that carries the weight of the commandment against adultery when he says, “on your life, even upon your very soul, I will not do this thing.” This only serves to show the great depth of integrity Oriyah has. He is a Hittite, a foreigner who has obvious regard for the holiness of Yahveh and His Torah and is devote in his loyalty to David and to Israel. He is rightly named “My light is Yahveh,” for of all the characters in this story Oriyah is truly a shining example of G-d’s light.
It is important to note that the ark was not in the Mishkan—tent—in Jerusalem. Oriyah alludes to it being out in the field with Israel’s armies. Why is the ark in the field? Last time Israel had taken it out to use as a good luck charm in battle it had been taken from her. Was David allowing ungodly practices to creep back into Israel’s routine? This may be yet another sign that David had allowed the fire of his love for Yahveh to grow cold, so cold in fact that when the light of Yahveh stood right in front of him he was able to ignore Him altogether, even to the point of plotting against Him.
12 Then David said to Oriyah, “Stay here today also, and tomorrow I will let you go.” So Oriyah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Now David called him, and he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with his lord’s servants, but he did not go down to his house.
In spite of David’s best efforts to get Oriyah to sleep with his wife, Oriyah’s righteous determination would not be swayed. It seems strange that we don’t hear of Bathsheba seeking out her husband by way of messenger, she must surely have known that Oriyah had returned, it had now been three days since his re-entry into Jerusalem. Why did Bathsheba remain silent?
Notice the repetition of the phrase, “he did not go down to his house.” Though he had every opportunity to change his mind and do what he considered ignoble, he did not go down. Self-control is born of the Holy Spirit.
14 Now in the morning David wrote a letter to Yo’av and sent it by the hand of Oriyah. 15 He had written in the letter, saying, “Place Oriyah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”
David’s got chutzpah—not the good kind, I’ll give him that. Giving the guy your about to murder his own death warrant and sending him to his executioner with it shows some real gusto. Of course it also shows that David trusted this righteous man not to open the correspondence. What kind of callus darkness does a person have to fall into in order to be able to send an innocent man to die for his sin? In fact, we have all fallen into that darkness, we have all sent an innocent man to die for our sin. Knowing our nature, He went willingly.
16 So it was as Yo’av kept watch on the city, that he put Oriyah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 The men of the city went out and fought against Yo’av, and some of the people among David’s servants fell; and Oriyah the Hittite also died. 18 Then Yo’av sent and reported to David all the events of the war. 19 He charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling all the events of the war to the king, 20 and if it happens that the king’s wrath rises and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck down Abimelech--My father (is/the) king—the son of Yerub’aal--Gideon? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Oriyah the Hittite is dead also.’”
Why was Yo’av concerned that David would be angry, hadn’t he done what David had requested? Yo’av did not follow David’s instructions to the letter. David had asked Yo’av to pull the other warriors back from the fighting so that only Oriyah was killed, Yo’av had let them carry on into the fray and too close to the city and thus a number of David’s best warriors’ were killed alongside Oriyah. This of course adds an even greater tally to the list of sins that David is now responsible for.
We must remember also that David’s relationship to Yo’av was rocky at best. Throughout David’s reign he was afraid of the power that Yo’av held over Israel’s fighting men and he disliked the short tempers exhibited by Yo’av and his kin. Yo’av knew this and often sought ways to collect ammunition against David and to garner favor with David that he could later use to his own advantage.
22 So the messenger departed and came and reported to David all that Yo’av had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we [h]pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate. 24 Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall; so some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Oriyah the Hittite is also dead.” 25 Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Yo’av, ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it’; and so encourage him.”
David is so relieved by the news of Oriyah’s death that he does away with any words of discipline regarding Yo’av’s poor battle strategy and instead encourages him for having carried out what was effectively a mass murder on behalf of the king.
26 Now when the wife of Oriyah heard that Oriyah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done caused Yahveh’s eye to tremble.
After seven days of mourning and the months that had passed by this time, Bathsheba’s growing belly must surely have been showing. Many in Jerusalem must have known what their king had done. This king was G-d’s anointed, does G-d condone this kind of practice?
“I was concerned for My Holy Name which Israel has profaned among the nations…” – Ye’tzkiel/Ezekiel 36:21
Notice that the writer is still not using Bathsheba’s name. This is the woman that has been a catalyst for some of Israel’s most catastrophic civil unrest. Like Haman--y’ma-shmo, may his name be blotted out—perhaps the author is canceling out her name temporarily to show his disdain for this act of desecration.
Finally we read:
“Yahveh’s eye trembled because of what David had done.”
The blame is rested squarely on David’s shoulders, but it is more than blame that we are reading about here. Yahveh’s eye trembled. It is only during times of extreme emotion that a person’s eye trembles. The metaphor here is heart wrenching. Yahveh is not just angry, He is heartbroken, this is gut wrenchingly painful for Him to observe, the man who is called after His own heart openly spits in Yahveh’s face. Perhaps this is the reason for the powerful realization of David’s repentant psalm:
“Against You alone have I sinned and done what is evil before your trembling eye!”
It is Rav Yaakov, the writer of the book of Yaakov—James—who sums up this story best when he writes:
“When tempted, no one should say, “Elohim is tempting me.” For Elohim cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone;14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
If our inward lives do not bear witness to our faith then our outward pretense will not save us. Better to be genuinely sinful than religiously disingenuous.
An examination of 2 Samuel 6:1-23
6:1 Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baalah-Y’hudah--lords of Judah, to bring up from there the ark of Elohim—G-d—which is called by HaShem—the Name, the very name of YHVH Tz’vaot--L-rd of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim.
We know from the 1 Chronicles 13 account of these events that David gathered together the whole community of Israel to bring up the ark, including the priests and Levites. This is significant because the ark had not had a primary place in Israel’s collective consciousness for many years.
“For we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” – 1 Chronicles 13:3
Baalah-Y’hudah (Lords of Judah) or Keriyat Ye’arim (Among the Forest)—as referenced in the 1 Chronicles account—is situated north west of Jerusalem on the boarder of the territories of Dan and Judah: given the name we can assume that Judah held some influence upon the town and that it was situated close to a forested area.
From every town in Israel the people must travel up to get to Jerusalem, hence “to bring up from there the ark of Elohim.” This gives geographical foundation for the spiritual reality of Aliyah—going up—which in modern terms is used to describe a diaspora Jew’s returning to the land of Israel.
The use of the generic term for G-d, Elohim in conjunction with the protective anti-blasphemy nomenclature of HaShem—the name—suggests a distanced relationship to the worship of YHVH at this point in David/Israel’s faith journey. The ark had not been sought after until now, having previously been wrenched from Israel’s hands at the time of Eli the priest and mishandled back and forth by the Philistines until finding a resting place in Baalah-Y’hudah.
YHVH here is called YHVH of Hosts, affirming the fact that He is not only a personal G-d but He is also G-d over all gods. He is said to dwell either above or between the Cherubim—angelic beings, probably shaped somewhat like those described in the book of Daniel, more Babylonian in appearance than the humanoid angelic depictions of modern Christianity.
“Dwelling either above or between the Cherubim” is a way of saying that the ark and the mercy seat represent G-ds footstool, the contact point of His manifest presence--Shekinah glory—on earth. This was the way the ark was perceived by David and Israel at this time. Psalm 132:7, a Psalm probably written to describe this or some similar event, calls the ark “His—G-d’s—footstool.” The point is that it should not be seen as a magic box that gives armies luck in battle but rather a symbol of relational communication between G-d and His chosen people.
3 They placed the ark of G-d on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab--father of generosity—which was on the hill; and Uzzah--strength—and Achio--brother, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. 4 So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab--father of generosity, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. 5 Meanwhile, David--loving/beloved—and all the house of Israel--overcomes in G-d—were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of cypress wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.
David, along with the priests and Levites and all of Israel decide to follow the example of the Philistines—1 Samuel 6:7—and place the ark of the L-rd on a cart. Exodus 25:12-15; Numbers 4:5-6, 15 clearly require the ark to be carried on poles on the shoulders of the Levites. Perhaps this shows the lack of knowledge held by the priests and Levites at the time? It certainly indicates great neglect at best and at worst a great distance between David, Israel and her spiritual leaders and the G-d who Israel claimed to be theirs.
This echoes as a sobering warning through history to those of us who call ourselves followers of YHVH but neglect to observe--shamor—and remember--zakhor—His past, present and future word at work among us. In the past the ark was our point of contact, now the Son Himself is present to speak directly to all who would keep a place for Him in the tents--sukkot—of our lives. We must be intentional and on guard against a apathetic practice because practiced complacency stems from a dying relationship. Un-watered plants don’t grow and without sunlight all things perish.
All the singing, instruments and so called worship bands in the world do not compensate for the desecration of that which symbolizes G-d’s sovereign holiness. If our inward lives do not bear witness to our faith then our outward pretense will not save us. Better to be genuinely sinful than religiously disingenuous.
6 But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon--prepared, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of G-d and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. 7 And the anger of HaShem--YHVH--burned against Uzzah, and G-d struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of G-d.
It seems tragic that Uzzah had to suffer for the ignorant actions of David and Israel. Uzzah’s name means strength, perhaps he thought himself strong and able to save the ark of the L-rd? Maybe his motive for reaching out was a prideful one? We can’t know for sure. Regardless of Uzzah’s personal standing, David and all Israel were responsible for his death to some degree. Uzzah and his brother are not listed among the names of Levites and priests therefore they should not have been involved at all in the transportation of the ark. This is affirmed by 1 Chronicles 13:13.
The anger of G-d is justly manifest here, He is being gravely misrepresented both by and to Israel herself and to the surrounding nations who might be looking on. I do feel for Uzzah, if his action was a natural reflexive attempt to stop the ark getting damaged, it resulted in great loss. I suspect that someday he and I will be able to discuss this in the Olam haba.
8 David became angry because HaShem broke out against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah--breaking strength—to this day. 9 So David was afraid of HaShem that day; and he said, “How can the ark of HaShem come to me?” 10 And David was unwilling to move the ark of HaShem into the city of David with him;
I suspect David’s anger was directed at himself. We are told that he became angry because of what happened and not that he was angry at or with G-d. His original desire to give the ark a place to rest was a good one however he went about it rashly and without consulting the L-rd. As a result a man had died and Israel was still without an appropriate relational symbol of YHVH. Thus king David must take full responsibility for what has happened, therefore he is angry with himself.
Once David had taken time to think on what had happened he became terrified. This doesn’t seem like a relational awe inspired fear of G-d but rather a frightened response of alienation. This terror is perhaps likened to the terror one faces at the realization of a holy G-d, we are born with an evil inclination and stand in G-d’s common grace with the realization that we have wronged Him, at this point we are children of creation but we are not children of G-d. David’s statement here is a truthful acknowledgement of his present standing before HaShem, “How can the ark of HaShem come to me?” Rav Shaul the apostle reminds us of the Psalmist when he says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-d.” This is a terrifying thought, how then could I possibly have G-d speak to me personally? Perhaps this account is revealing David’s personal journey toward reconciliation with G-d.
but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom--worker of Esau—the Gittite--inhabitant of Gath. 11 Thus the ark of HaShem remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the HaShem blessed Obed-edom and all his household. 12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The HaShem has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.”
Finally David makes a wise decision and takes the ark to the house of a Levite, Obed Edom. Obed Edom is listed among the Korahites, a sub group of the Levites who were gatekeepers of the Mishkan—tent of meeting in 1 Chronicles 26:4. He is clearly blessed, being a man with eight sons to carry on his family line. This is a profound form of blessing in the tribal culture of Israel which places great importance on continued paternal bloodlines.
I see Obed Edom as the hero of this story. His willingness to receive the ark after what has just taken place shows his deep trust in HaShem. He is not afraid of the same fate that befell Uzzah and the Philistines because he is aware of the Torah and its requirements regarding the ark. He knows that G-d blesses those who love Him and keep His precepts. The fact that the ark remains three months is a sign of completeness and unity within the home of Obed Edom and reminds those who hear of it that the G-d of Israel is to be held in awe filled relationship and not in subjugated terror.
By simply receiving the ark of G-d Obed Edom shows great faith and is rewarded. It is his faith that inspires David to seek a way of reconciliation. G-d has provided the means for that very thing and is waiting to bless David and all Israel when they approach Him in repentance and treat the symbol of His uniqueness with respect. No longer seeing the ark as a magical relic but holding the G-d that it represents in fearful awe.
David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the HaShem had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.
What was different this time? Why do we not hear of anyone dying on this occasion? 1 Chronicles 15 greatly illuminates the 2 Samuel narrative. David is filled with hope at the news that G-d has blessed the home of the man that has cared for the ark these last three months and he wants to do things properly this time. He has read up on the Torah requirements and has prepared the Levites and priests accordingly. This time it is the Levites who carry the ark on poles thus fulfilling the requirements of G-d’s instruction to Israel.
14 And David was dancing before the HaShem with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod--priestly garment. 15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the HaShem with shouting and the sound of the shofar--ram’s horn.
David is pictured here uniting the Kingship and the priesthood. He is the G-d appointed king of Israel wearing a priestly ephod. Too much attention is given to the fact that one of the garments he wore was linen and possibly a loin cloth. The point here is not that he is scantly clade, the point is that he is wearing that which is only lawful for the priest to wear and yet he is not struck down, just as he was not struck down when he and his men ate the show bread that was only lawful for the priests to eat. Why? Because G-d had placed upon David the prophetic representation of David’s greater son, the Messiah. Messiah Yeshua would later refer to David as the king who united the kingship and priesthood of Israel, the king who foreshadowed Yeshua Himself.
David and all Israel are dancing and shouting and blowing shofrot. David is dancing with all his might, these are joyous actions born of grace. Israel is tasting and delighting in G-ds grace and mercy toward her. This is not the same as the celebration of the previous attempt to bring up the ark, that celebration was born of superstition and a desire for power. This was different, it was the weightless dancing of freedom.
16 Then it happened as the ark of the HaShem came into the city of David that Michal--brook—the daughter of Saul--inquire—looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before HaShem; and she despised him in her heart.
Michal had every reason to despise David, she had loved him, protected him from her father, and then after years of separation and having developed love for a new husband she had been abruptly torn away from her new husband and taken back to live among David’s many wives and concubines. Now as one of many and a daughter of the deposed Saul to boot, she was probably not on the Kings top ten list. Add to this her scantly clade husband dancing with reckless abandon for all to see and it only seems natural that she would despise him.
Michal’s perspective on these events is clouded by her hatred and unforgiveness toward David. David is surely guilty of neglecting her and she has every right to be hurt, but her choice to gaze through the lens of unforgiveness clouds her ability to see the wonder in what G-d is doing among the people of Israel. We would do well to learn from this, there are times when by justified hatred we too miss what G-d is doing among us.
17 So they brought in the ark of the HaShem and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the HaShem.18 When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of YHVH Tz’vaot--L-rd of hosts. 19 Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a challah loaf and piece of meat and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.
David had pitched a tent for the ark, it may have been the Mishkan of old or it may have been a new tent designed to match the original Mishkan, either way David was showing the proper respect for the Instruction of HaShem. The generic Elohim is not mentioned here, David blesses the people in the name of YHVH of hosts the unmistakably relational One true G-d of all things who has chosen Israel for His own.
David then distributes a loaf of challah, a piece of meat or cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each one. It is possible that this food is part of the priestly offerings, if so then it is food that only the priests should eat, it is therefore another prophetic action acknowledging Israel as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to G-d.
Some versions of the text render the gifts of food as “bread, meat and wine.” If this is correct then the bread may retrospectively represent the people of Israel—given that it is made with yeast it cannot in this case represent Messiah—and the meat and wine the body and blood of Messiah
20 But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 So David said to Michal, “It was before HaShem, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of HaShem, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before HaShem. 22 I will humiliate myself further and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.” 23 Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
As mentioned earlier Michal’s vision was clouded by unforgiveness and hatred. David on the other hand saw only the great joy and freedom that G-d’s grace had brought to Israel at the celebration of His mercy, seated between the Cherubim.
Angered by Michal’s reaction to what had taken place David rebukes her harshly but truthfully. Her father, whose name meant inquirer had not inquired of G-d except when he was in dire straits and even then only through an intermediary conjured up by a medium. David rightly concludes that G-d desires a broken spirit and a contrite and humble heart, one that he is willing to give unreservedly to HaShem.
Many have said that the reason for Michal’s barrenness is because of a curse placed upon her womb by G-d but the text in no way infers that G-d is punishing Michal here. Michal’s childless position is simply meant to convey the fact that Saul’s bloodline had no direct link to the Davidic Kingdom. Michal’s barrenness is probably best attributed to the fact that she and David did not continue to have intercourse, thus leaving her with no other righteous means of procreation.
Finally, it is interesting to note the parallels between this account and Psalm 132, a Psalm of David which may well have been written to commemorate this very event.
Psalm 132 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
132 (0) A song of ascents:
(1) Adonai, remember in David’s favor
all the hardships he endured,
2 how he swore to Adonai,
vowed to the Mighty One of Ya‘akov,
3 “I will not enter the house where I live
or get into my bed,
4 I will not allow myself to sleep
or even close my eyes,
5 until I find a place for Adonai,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Ya‘akov.”
6 We heard about it in Efrat,
we found it in the Fields of Ya‘ar.
7 Let’s go into his dwelling
and prostrate ourselves at his footstool.
8 Go up, Adonai, to your resting-place,
you and the ark through which you give strength.
9 May your cohanim be clothed with righteousness;
may those loyal to you shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
don’t turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 Adonai swore an oath to David,
an oath he will not break:
“One of the sons from your own body
I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my instruction, which I will teach them,
then their descendants too, forever,
will sit on your throne.”
13 For Adonai has chosen Tziyon,
he has wanted it as his home.
14 “This is my resting-place forever,
I will live here because I so much want to.
15 I will bless it with plenty of meat,
I will give its poor their fill of food.
16 Its cohanim I will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy.
17 I will make a king sprout there from David’s line
and prepare a lamp for my anointed one.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him there will be a shining crown.”
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Word from Adonai was rare, not because Adonai was reluctant to speak but because Israel was reluctant to listen.
An examination of 1 Sh’muel/Samuel 3:1-21
3:1 Now the boy--Hebrew indicates a youth between birth and early adolescence--Sh’muel—Samuel was ministering to Adonai—YHVH--before Eli--my G-d. Word from Adonai was rare in those days, visions were not breaking out.
Given the Hebrew text and the level of cognition, Sh’muel could not have been younger than 5 years and no older than 13 at the time. Notice that as we begin this passage Sh’muel is ministering to Adonai as a student of Eli.
Word from Adonai was rare, not because Adonai was reluctant to speak but because Israel was reluctant to listen. This can also mean that knowledge of the Word was rare in those days. Initially this is also true of Sh’muel who doesn’t know who is speaking to him.
2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 and the nir—light—of Elohim had not yet gone out, and Sh’muel--hears G-d--was lying down in the Sanctuary of Adonai where the ark of Elohim was,
Eli is well on in years as indicated by his failing sight. Failing sight may also be a metaphor for failing spiritual sight. This is the first of two allusions to failing light, thus utilizing a poetic tool to convey an allegorical meaning.
Nir, or light, is the same Hebrew word prayed each Sabbath in the candle lighting bracha—blessing.
The statement, “the light of Elohim had not yet gone out” could be interpreted to mean that at that time the Priests—lead by Eli—were allowing the Menorah to go out. This would be in contradiction to the Torah which clearly commands that it be tended to from evening to morning perpetually, so that it’s light never ceases to burn in the Mishkan—tent of meeting (Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:3).
The statement, “the light of Elohim had not yet gone out” could also be referring to this being the time prior to Israel’s loss of the ark (When Eli and his sons were killed, leaving Israel temporarily without priests). Saul did not inquire of the L-rd using the Ark during his kingship (1 Chronicles 13:3)—thus the other practices of proper worship may well have gone by the wayside, leaving Israel’s light to go out: this being a metaphorical representation of Israel’s sin and neglect of the true worship of HaShem according to the Torah—which David later returned to Israel.
Spiritual darkness was coming upon Israel: in keeping with this idea, we might interpret Israel as having become a fading flame spiritually speaking, thus, through Sh’muel G-d was present to rekindle the light amongst His people. Thus we can read the text as meaning, “the light had not yet gone out, there’s still time to rekindle it.” This positive approach gives us hope, it is as if G-d were saying, “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.” – Yeshiyahu/Isaiah 42:3
It is important to remember that the Menorah is a symbol of the seven-fold Spirit of G-d (Revelation 3:1), His Shekinah Glory—manifest cloud-encompassed presence and the present power and work of the Holy Spirit—as represented in the oil which feeds the seven branches—and among the people of Israel, both individually and corporately.
The Sanctuary here is not the Temple of Jerusalem—which will be built at a later date, several kilometers to the north of Shiloh. The Hebrew text indicates a large hall or meeting place, it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word Mishkan—Tent of meeting—is not used here, this may suggest that the structure in question is semi-permanent as opposed to the transportable Tent of Meeting of the desert wanderings: however it may also be another way of referring to the Mishkan, in 2 Samuel 7:6 G-d explains that He has only dwelt in the Mishkan from the day Israel was first commanded to set it up until the date of David’s request to build the Temple in Jerusalem.
This leaves one of two possibilities, the place of worship referred to here is the Mishkan or alternatively that G-d did not dwell in this semi-permanent structure due to the adulterated worship practices at the time. This would add great significance to Sh’muel’s calling. It is important to understand that Israel had not yet had a king build a Temple for the L-rd. Shiloh, while tranquil, was not the mountain of ADONAI.
If the text is to be understood to indicate that Sh’muel was literally beside the Ark of HaShem—YHVH—then he was lying in the Holy of Holies. It is also possible—and more likely—given the clear instruction of the Torah regarding the Holy of Holies, that he was outside the Holy of Holies but near to the curtain which shielded the Ark, alongside the Menorah.
4 Adonai called Sh’muel; and he said, “Here I am.”5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
Sh’muel is far enough away from Eli to require him to run to him. Sh’muel mistakes Adonai’s voice for Eli’s, this tells us that Adonai spoke in a masculine humanoid voice of some kind, this makes sense as the story progresses and we find Ha-D’var—the Word--standing as Adonai Himself with Sh’muel, whose name means, “he hears Elohim.”
6 Adonai called yet again, “Sh’muel!” So Sh’muel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.”7 Now Sh’muel did not yet know Adonai, nor had Ha-D’var--the Word--of Adonai yet been revealed to him.
From a human perspective repetition is often a part of the journey to hearing G-d’s voice. Sh’muel is still hearing, what to him is a male voice, he presumes this is Eli and again goes to find him. Sh’muel is sure it was Eli’s voice, emphasizing the point by saying, “you called me.”
Eli’s response is gentle, “my son.” Perhaps given the immoral behavior of his own sons, Eli delights in Sh’muel’s integrity of purpose. Next, the writer clarifies what the narrative is already inferring, that Sh’muel does not yet know Adonai. This is an indication of an ancient Hebrew understanding of personal, relational spirituality. Sh’muel obviously knew the protocols of Adonai’s Sanctuary and studied Torah, however the writer of 1 Sh’muel/Samuel is careful to show that knowledge devoid of The Spirit leaves a veil between humanity and HaShem, much like the veil between the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. This teaching is alluded to by Yeshua when He says, “You are in error because you do not understand the Tanakh or the power of G-d.” (Matthew 22:29) But there is so much more to this brief and powerful sentence; the text says, “Ha-D’var—the Word—of Adonai had not been revealed to Sh’muel.” This is explained by the Gospel writer Yochanan—John—when he says, “In the beginning was Ha-D’var—the Word—and the Word was with G-d and the Word was G-d.” (John 1:1) Yeshua is Ha-D’var. We are able to hear G-d’s voice only by His Word, subsequently we are only able to know G-d when the Word is revealed to us. Anyone can hear G-d but only those to whom He reveals His Son can know Him.
8 So Adonai called Sh’muel for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that Adonai was calling the youth. 9 And Eli said to Sh’muel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Adonai, for Your servant is listening.’” So Sh’muel went and lay down in his place.
Three is a sacred number in Judaism, representing confirmation, unity of the whole and divine guidance. I suspect that pre-teen Sh’muel was nothing if not incredulous at this point as he ambled back to Eli for the third time. Eli exhibits the wisdom of age and relational experience with Adonai, despite what must have been a series of annoying night time interruptions for him, Eli gives some of the soundest advice one believer can ever give to another, “if He speaks to you again say, ‘speak Adonai, for Your servant is listening.’” Sh’muel obeys Eli’s instruction and it is then that something spectacular happens:
10 Then Adonai came and stood and called as at other times, “Sh’muel! Sh’muel!” And Sh’muel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
G-d Himself comes and stands in the room with Sh’muel and calls him for a fourth time. He calls out Sh’muel’s name twice, this is an indication that whatever Adonai is about to say to Sh’muel is firmly decided—in much the same way that the double dreams of Joseph concerning famine in Egypt were an indication that G-d had firmly decided the matter, there would be no recourse.
Notice that Sh’muel doesn’t repeat Eli’s instruction verbatim, he says, “Speak, for your servant is listening,” thus leaving out the Holy name Adonai—YHVH. Sh’muel is still yet to fully enter into personal relationship with Adonai, this is all new for him.
11 Adonai said to Sh’muel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.
This is a Hebrew idiom meaning, “everyone in Israel will feel like someone just walked over their graves,” or “this is going to freak the hell out of everyone in Israel.” Why is it important that everyone in Israel should tremble at what the L-rd is about to do? It is an opportunity for Israel to see that G-d takes Holiness seriously and return to HaShem: understanding that His priests who represent Him, are required to be pure as an example of those who bear His name. Adonai knows that Israel will soon ask for a king like the other nations have, thus rejecting HaShem as King. Sh’muel’s prophetic ministry must be born of a cleansed Sanctuary system because he will bear witness against Israel when they ask for a human king. The King—G-d—Himself has just visited Sh’muel in person so as to seal his position as witness against Israel.
12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”15 So Sh’muel lay down until morning.
G-d is about to punish Eli’s family line because although Eli knew of the evil actions of his sons he did nothing to continually rebuke them or discipline them. In later life Sh’muel’s sons also fall into error, however Sh’muel has clearly disciplined them and attempted to guide them in the way they should go, therefore Sh’muel is not punished as Eli was because he acted righteously, thus the sins of his sons are theirs to account for.
When it is said that the house of Eli “cannot be atoned for by sacrifice or offering” it is referring to the temporary sacrificial system of Israel’s priesthood. The sacrificial offering of Yeshua is able to atone for all error, His offers a superior Priesthood.
Then he opened the doors of the house of Adonai. But Sh’muel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.
Here the writer calls Sh’muel’s experience a vision. The Hebrew word marah can also mean mirror/reflection. Adonai both stood with Sh’muel and showed him a mirror image of the future events planned for Eli’s family line. In some respects Sh’muel is being warned concerning his own future.
16 Then Eli called Sh’muel and said, “Sh’muel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May Elohim do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.”
Again Eli addresses Sh’muel as son, perhaps he wishes his sons had been as honorable and G-dly as this young man, whatever the case he clearly has deep affection for the youth.
It is a common Hebrew phraseology here that gives the threat of a curse at the withholding of information. Other similar phrases are, “May the L-rd deal with me be it ever so severely” and “May the L-rd judge between you and I.” Here it is not meant so much as a threat as it is a means of releasing Sh’muel from the fearful responsibility of passing on such a grave message from Adonai. Again Eli is being very gracious toward Sh’muel.
18 So Sh’muel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is Adonai; let Him do what seems good to Him.”
Eli speaks the words of one who has given up, rather than putting on sack cloth and repenting he becomes disillusioned and allows apathy to govern his response.
19 Thus Sh’muel grew and Adonai was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Sh’muel was confirmed as a prophet of Adonai.
Sh’muel was being guided by the L-rd, who was with Him. This means that G-d did not just pop in and out of Sh’muel’s life with prophetic messages, on the contrary, He was always with him.
From Dan to Beersheba indicates the whole of Israel from top to bottom, this is a poetic repetition confirming the fact that All Israel has recognized Sh’muels status as a prophet and leader of Adonai even before the death of Eli and his sons.
21 And Adonai appeared again at Shiloh, because Adonai revealed Himself to Sh’muel at Shiloh--tranquil—by Ha-D’var—the Word—of Adonai.
Finally we learn that Sh’muel has come to know Adonai because Adonai revealed Himself to him at Shiloh by Ha-D’var—the Word, that is Yeshua. Notice that we were formerly told (v.7) that Sh’muel lacked intimate knowledge of Adonai because ha-D’var—the Word, Yeshua—had not been revealed to him, now we are told that Adonai revealed Himself by the Word: this is what many evangelicals might call a salvation experience. Whatever we call it, from Sh’muel’s perspective it is the beginning of his personal relationship with G-d. G-d already knew Sh’muel, now He has made Himself known to him through Mashiyach. Shiloh means tranquility, an accurate description of the place where we understand the grace of G-d through Yeshua our Messiah.
Faith comes from hearing—Shema—and hearing by the Word—ha-D’var—of Messiah/G-d with us—Elohim. – Romans 10:17
He hears G-d—Shema + El = Sh’muel.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.