The Lion of Judah – And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 2

It’s the opportunity that Hushai’s being waiting for. He’s Hushai, puts himself in place in order to deceive Absalom. When Absalom asks him for advice, Hushai basically says, look, your father and his men are mighty men, and they’re enraged about the rebellion. In this state, they can beat you, Absalom. And David’s not stupid. He won’t be with the troops tonight. He’ll be hiding somewhere. And as soon as some of Absalom’s troops start falling, word will spread like wildfire that you’re losing troops left and right. At that point, nobody is going to stick around to fight a losing battle. Everyone in the nation knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men. They will have you beat. (Please see 2nd Samuel 17.)

So Hushai advised Absalom to call together a general mobilization of all of the armies of Israel, led by none other than Absalom. 12 So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.” 2nd Samuel 17:12-13 esv

I can see Absalom nodding his head in agreement. He’s pretty egoistic and he likes an entourage. He says “okay,” and the priests whom David had sent to Jerusalem flee with the information that David keep going and not spend the night in the wilderness.

And Ahithophel, knowing good and well what he’d advised Absalom was the only way to win this thing, when he sees that Hushai’s advice is followed, he freaks out and kills himself. This is telling of what he thinks is getting ready to transpire. He knows that Absalom will now lose and that all involved in the rebellion will be put to death. He can’t bear to see it all happen, so he hangs himself.

David’s top commanders are his nephews, the sons of his sister, Zeriah. Absalom, somewhere along the line, has connected with Zeriah’s sister’s son, Amasa. Amasa would be cousin to Joab, Abishai and Absalom, and also the nephew of David. The Scripture here appears to be a little confusing, but after extensive study on the sisters of David coming from Nahash, this is the most conclusive definition I’ve found:

Nahash — is thought by some to be another name of Jesse, or according to others, the name of Jesse’s wife.

—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

So they could be daughters born before David’s mother married his father, making them half-sisters. I think more than likely, in this instance, Nahash is the name of David’s mother, and I don’t think she was an Ammonite.

David brings his people a considerable distance, with Absalom hot on their heels – and then something awesome happens.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, 28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.” 2nd Samuel 17:27-29 esv

… hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness…

I tried to find a way to explain what I saw in this passage, but I couldn’t find the words. George Williams said it this way:

Refreshing as were the gifts brought by Shobi and his companions to David, more refreshing to him must have been the affection which prompted the gifts.

—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary

As I read this portion of the text I cannot help but think of the times I’ve felt real rejection and sadness in my ministry – and then out of the blue someone will show up at my house with a small gift, or I’ll get an encouraging text or an email. And while the gift or the message is always refreshing, God makes it clear that the person who reached out to me in that way has real affection for me…and God. That’s important to us, and God knows this. George Williams continued,

Precious to the Lord, while still rejected, is the love that expresses itself to Him by deeds and gifts however small or great.

—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary

Solomon was just a little tike when all this was going on around him, but he must have a great awareness of the facts because he wrote these warnings in his Proverbs:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15 esv

And

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. Proverbs 23:13 esv

Amnon hadn’t been disciplined for his crimes against Tamar, and he died. Perhaps striking Amnon with a rod (the rod being representative of any punishment, not necessarily a beating, and in Amnon’s case a public rebuke, a hefty fine, and an eternal marriage) would have saved his life. Even, perhaps, would have driven the folly from his heart and turned a decent human being out of him.

Absalom certainly wouldn’t have murdered his brother.

A full pardon for Absalom was inexcusable. Even in the end, as David is sending his men in pursuit of the rebel army he gives express instructions to not harm Absalom.

But, like Amnon, where David did not dare discipline his own sons, someone else stepped in and administered the punishment instead. Absalom should have been quickly executed for the murder of Amnon. Instead he suffered a long, painful death at the hands of men, and David, naturally, is crushed. (Please see 2nd Samuel 18.) He’s lost his third lamb. Part of him has got to be wondering who is next.

Parents that don’t discipline their children and then turn them loose in a world of heathens are going to bring horrific consequences upon them. The world will see clearly what we have failed to do at home and take swift, albeit cruel, action against them.

It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. 2nd Samuel 19:1-3 esv

The people who had loyally followed David out of the city and fought for him now hung their heads in shame. David was so moved by the grief of losing his rebellious son that it overshadowed the victory of having suppressed an unkind, unworthy usurper to the throne.

Joab, shrewd statesmen that he is, confronts David, and rightly so.

Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” 2nd Samuel 19:5-7 esv

David submits to this, but I think he’s just going through the motions. Never once in 2nd Samuel 19 does he ask the Lord for advice – which indicates to me that he’s still really comfortable in the disobedience with which he handled Amnon and Absalom.

Unrepentant sin weakens our moral judgments, which in turn acts as an amnesiac on our God-given duties. In David’s case, God has given him the duty to judge and to do so justly.

Meanwhile, Israel (the ten tribes minus Judah and Benjamin) is in complete turmoil, and getting pretty nervous without a king. They realize that David had delivered them from the Philistines, but they thought maybe Absalom could do a better job…but now Absalom is dead and David is out of town….

 

Please come back next week for And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 3 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

 

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Posted in Absalom, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, Old Testament, The Lion of Judah, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lion of Judah – And the Sword Will Never Depart Part 1

David has left town with his family. He’s left behind ten concubines acting as spies – and he’s also sent some allies into the city in order to keep tabs on Absalom’s rebellion. (Please see A Royal Dysfunction Parts 1, 2, 3)

The following incident with Mephibosheth’s servant is just an icy reminder for me not to listen to the garbage that floats its way to the top of the heap during times of great personal crises.

When David had passed a little beyond the summit, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of donkeys saddled, bearing two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred bunches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, “Why have you brought these?” Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who faint in the wilderness to drink.” And the king said, “And where is your master’s son?” Ziba said to the king, “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father. Then the king said to Ziba, “Behold, all that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” And Ziba said, “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.’” 2nd Samuel 16:1-4 esv

Scholars are divided in their opinions of whether or not Ziba is telling the truth here. I am in the camp that believes Ziba to be a traitor to his master, Mephibosheth.  And I think he’s still bitter over his abrupt change in job description. (Please see 2nd Samuel 9) I think Ziba was confident that Absalom’s rebellion would fail, but he sought to take advantage of the rebellion itself. He abandoned his crippled master and left town with all sorts of flattering gifts for David in order to get on his good side. Saying that Mephibosheth had his eye on the throne was a stretch of the situation at hand, and David should have known that.

But for some reason, David believes Ziba.

Here’s the thing – when we are involved in great personal crises, we can easily become entangled in outside deceptions by people who seek to take advantage of the situation. I’ve been there, and I’m certain if you thought about it you’d have to admit that you’ve been there as well. The decisions we make during these times are dangerous, and their repercussions long lasting. David made a snap decision here without even talking to Mephibosheth.

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”13 So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust. 14 And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan. And there he refreshed himself. 2nd Chronicles 16:5-14 esv

The curse by Shimei is another one of those pieces of garbage, except that instead of flattery it’s ordinary cruelty, and Shimei uses an element of truth within his accusations. Folks who condemn us of our past failures in the midst of a crisis can steer us into repentance – and they don’t even have to know what they’ve done!

Abishai, like Peter, wanted to intervene with his sword but David doesn’t let him because he’s thinking: well, maybe it’s true. Maybe I am a loser and if I take some abuse from this guy the Lord will repay me with good.

As I’m writing this lesson I’m fresh off a confrontation with a fool (Shimei is representative of a fool here) and I’m reminded of Solomon’s warning proverb: Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly. Proverbs 17:12 esv  In other words, you’re better off  to deal with a wild animal than a fool bent on being a fool.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4 esv David kept quiet when he dealt with Shimei – and in this portion of the lesson, I’m convicted that I must hold my tongue…though I’d like to fillet that fool who brought unrighteous curses against me!

On the other hand, this morning in my office God reminded me that some of the fool’s accusations were very true about my past. I had indeed done those things, but there was no way the fool could have known about it. It felt so good to ask forgiveness from a holy Savior and be cleansed of that unrighteousness left over from my past.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:9 esv

David kept his tongue and allowed the fool to utter his unrighteous curses. I’m going to keep a bridle on my well-tuned tongue and say nothing because I was blessed with a self-revelation because of the fool’s curse.

The scene abruptly shifts back to Jerusalem where David’s friend, Hushai, puts himself in place in order to deceive Absalom and foil Ahithophel’s counsel.

Ahithophel was a trusted advisor in the royal court, and had been for many years. He decided to stay with Absalom instead of leaving Jerusalem with David—and a quick glance at his genealogy explains why. Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather, and he wanted David to pay for the crimes he’d committed against their family.

Unfortunately, for David’s concubines, Absalom turns to Ahithophel for counsel when it comes to his first act of State. Ahithophel is drooling for revenge and he pounces on the opportunity to humiliate David and his concubines.

21 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house, and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.” 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. 2nd Samuel 16:21-22 esv

Absalom is so deep in the sin of his rebellion that he commits the very crime that brought him to murder his brother…times ten! Absalom’s boundless hypocrisy is revealed in his actions. Not only does he want to show Jerusalem that he has now assumed the throne, but he wants to publicly solidify an irreversible break with his father. Apparently his reasons to take the throne have morphed from Oh that I were judge in the land! to I’m going to humiliate him and anyone that he cares about.

Besides being fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecy (2nd Samuel 12:11-12), this is a horrific crime. I don’t think David ever imagined that Absalom would do such a heinous thing, which could be why he was comfortable leaving them to keep the house. These concubines were trusted women whom Absalom had lived around for his entire life – one of whom was the mother of his half-brother, Jerimoth.

Both David and Absalom think Ahithophel walks on water, and can steer them in no way wrong. So, on the heels of that event, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.” And the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel. 2nd Samuel 17:1-4 esv

But earlier, when David first learned of Ahithophel’s betrayal, he prayed “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” 2nd Samuel 15:31 esv

And, immediately on hearing Ahithophel’s counsel, Absalom turns around and says, What do you think, Hushai?

It’s the opportunity that Hushai’s being waiting for…

Please come back next week for And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 2 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

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Posted in Absalom, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, King David, Old Testament, The Lion of Judah, The sons of Zuriah | Leave a comment

The Lion of Judah – A Royal Dysfunction Part 3

So, Absalom got everyone to look at him, and then he named his daughter Tamar – thereby keeping what Amnon had done at the forefront of everything. With Amnon’s sin kept alive and well, people may not even notice that Absalom is a murderer and an insurrectionist.

28 So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but Joab would not come to him. And he sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab arose and went to Absalom at his house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”

32 Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent word to you, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.” Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king, and if there is guilt in me, let him put me to death.’” 2nd Samuel 14:28-32 esv

Basically, Absalom is telling Joab, look, if you don’t get me in to the see the king I’m going to make your life miserable. But look closely at Absalom’s last words to Joab: if there is guilt in me. IF? There’s not one ounce of repentance in this character. Please recall, he murdered his brother and he’s in an open rebellion against his father, the king.

 33 Then Joab went to the king and told him, and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom. 2nd Samuel 14:33 esv

All is well in the family once again – as long as we can just get along. David’s going to throw his daughter and the Word of God under the bus and pretend like everything’s going to be okay now.

But David sticking his head in the sand is going to get him bitten in the rear end.

As soon as King David has displayed the very public pardon Absalom rigs himself up to look like royalty.

After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2nd Samuel 15:1 esv

Hertzberg, a professor of the Old Testament in Kiel, Germany, said that this was not typical in the Israelite courts, and that Absalom probably learned it from his pagan grandfather, the King of Geshur.

He begins with this presentation to give the appearance of a man who carries himself in a royal way. He makes judgment calls at the city gate, where he does not have authority, ingratiating himself to the locals. His behavior is equivalent to the present-day term slumming. Here’s this wealthy, powerful man, but he’s not too proud to embrace the peasants.

Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” 2nd Samuel 15:4 esv

What he’s saying is that David is no longer worthy of the throne – and perhaps David isn’t at this time, but it doesn’t matter. God has anointed him just the same as he anointed Saul.

Because David’s head is in the sand he doesn’t see Absalom stealing the hearts of the men of Israel.

Absalom hoodwinks his father into letting him go over to Hebron to worship, but it’s just a ruse that begins the rebellion.

10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel [Bathsheba’s grandfather] the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing. 2nd Samuel 15:10-12 esv

Absalom knows who his allies are. Bathsheba’s grandfather, I would imagine, has watched, from an intimate purview the king’s behavior spiral. Jewish historians assert that Ahithophel was disgusted with David’s behavior, and he wanted revenge for his family. He immediately joins the ranks of the rebellion.

I think that another reason Ahithophel wants revenge (and please be careful with this information because there is the very real chance that I might be wrong in this) but Ahithophel’s son, Eliam, Bathsheba’s father, disappears from the royal records, and he had been among the mighty men. Could it be that the battle David sent Uriah into also took the life of Eliam, Ahithophel’s son? And this is part of what leads Ahithophel to break ranks with David and join the rebellion?

When David finds out about Ahithophel, he’s horrified, but he decides to leave Jerusalem in a split second. I think his actions were not only those of a skillful soldier (putting the Jordan between himself and the rebels) but also to save the lives of the subjects he truly loved. He didn’t want the city to be put to the sword. Also, I think David knew that God was dealing with his sin. He was king, he could have fought for the throne, but he decides to put his life in God’s hands, just as he did when he went on the run from Saul.

David leaves Jerusalem with all of his servants, leaving 10 concubines behind to keep the palace.

They weren’t left behind just to keep house. David had an intricate network of spies, and the word keep is shāmar—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary — the exact same word is used in Judges 1:24. The context in Judges is that the people of Israel are attempting to take the Promised Land from its current inhabitants.

22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 And the house of Joseph scouted out Bethel. (Now the name of the city was formerly Luz.) 24 And the spies saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him, “Please show us the way into the city, and we will deal kindly with you.”Judges 1:22-24 esv

And the spies = shāmar

In this text of 2nd Samuel 15:16 indicates that the concubines were left there to observe and report on the comings and goings of what happened in the palace while David was gone.

I don’t think David ever imagined that Absalom would do the heinous thing that he’s about to do in Chapter 16, which could be why he was comfortable leaving them to keep the house. These concubines were trusted women whom Absalom had lived around for his entire life – one of whom was the mother of his half-brother, Jerimoth.

As David flees Jerusalem, a considerable amount of the populace leaves with him as well. Apparently Absalom has NOT stolen all the hearts!

As David flees, he writes a song for the Lord:

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

3 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God. Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah

Psalm 3 esv

Rather than becoming bitter at his enforced exile, David submitted meekly to what God had allowed. … In this psalm we find David’s trust in the Lord was unshaken as the storm broke over him.

—William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Please come back next week for And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 1 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

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The Lion of Judah – A Royal Dysfunction Part 2

*Please note: reading 2nd Samuel 13-14 will give depth to the narrative below.

David had a son named Amnon, and our Scriptures make Amnon appear to be very troubled and disturbed. For instance, along with his favored cousin, Jonadab, Amnon planned, and succeeded, in the raping of his own sister. And David did not discipline them. If anything, he was a willing accomplice.

As I said before, Amnon was nuts and dangerous, and the entire family had to have known. Think about it. When we get together with our families don’t we have certain relatives from whom we guard our children? Don’t we just know? Yet, David sent his daughter, the virgin princess, into a doomed situation.

That whole thing, on top of what happened with Bathsheba, makes David look like a very ineffective leader.

As a result, David son, Absalom, shows outwardly to the entire kingdom that he doesn’t trust the king to protect the princess anymore. He takes Tamar to live in his own home.

David’s unwillingness to judge and discipline Amnon makes Absalom doubt the king’s ability to discern wrong from right – and probably plants that doubt into the hearts of Jerusalem as well.

Some scholars believe that Amnon should have been put to death, since Tamar was a princess being kept pure for marriage (like a betrothal) and that’s why Absalom decides to take matters into his own hands. Besides – here’s another plus side of killing Amnon – if Amnon is out of the picture that puts Absalom next in line to the throne. And let’s face it, he thinks he belongs there.

Absalom bides his time, and when the coast looks clear for Amnon, Absalom’s plan goes into action. His servants murder Amnon at the appointed time. David has now lost two sons in lieu of Nathan’s prediction.(Please see 2nd Samuel 13)

And the guy who helped Amnon plan the rape, Jonadab, appears for the second time in our Scriptures, to announce to David that the murder of Amnon has been in the works since the day he raped Tamar. Here’s what really strikes me: Jonadab is Divinely remembered (via our Scriptures) for all eternity for only two things: helping a rapist, and revealing to the king that the murder of the rapist (the king’s son) had been planned for two years by another of the king’s sons. (Please see 2nd Samuel 13)

37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. 38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 2nd Samuel 13:37-38 esv

Absalom had had two years to stew and plan the murder of Amnon. Within that plan he could see that he would need to leave Jerusalem for a time – just in case his father wasn’t as lenient with him as he had been with Amnon. Absalom flees to his mother’s father, who is the king of Geshur. He probably took Tamar with him. She may have known about the plot. For certain the king of Geshur knew because he allowed Absalom to stay there for three years.

During these three years, David puts the thing with Absalom and Amnon behind him, and his spirit longed to go out to Absalom. But the thing is that the law demanded that Absalom be put to death, so the polls in Jerusalem just don’t look favorable for him to return to David’s court quite yet.

So Joab, David’s faithful general, comes up with a scheme to get the prince (the next in line) back to Jerusalem. (Please see 2nd Samuel 14)

Sure enough, David falls for it. I couldn’t sum it up better than George Williams here, who wrote, in part:

When dependence upon God, and subjection to His Word cease to govern the life, then it is easy for the wisdom of this world to entangle the heart. Therefore it was that the wise woman of Tekoah easily entrapped David to indulge his affection as a father rather than perform his duty as a ruler. The Law of God commanded the death of Absalom. The king should have obeyed that Law. Had he done so, many lives would have been saved, and much sin and suffering escaped. Had he obeyed the Word of the Lord and put Amnon to death still greater evil would have been thereby prevented. All this teaches the lesson, which man is so slow to learn, that a Christian embitters his days by acting independently of God. Amid all the movements of this chapter [2nd Samuel 14] was God enquired of? He does not once appear.

—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary

And don’t let Joab’s actions fool you here. He did NOT have some weird stroke of compassion for the situation. This guy is a cool customer. He calculates everything he does. He’s looking for a way to get Absalom (the next king) indebted to him – Joab will always be in charge.

23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king’s presence.

25 Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight. 27 There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman. 2nd Samuel 14:23-27 esv

A couple of things here pop right off the page, alerting us to what’s really going with Absalom’s move back into Jerusalem.

Number one, he’s got some extraordinary looks. He’s some kind of a beautiful specimen! No blemish in him. And what about that hair? My ESV Study Bible says that 1 shekel equals 2/5 of an ounce – and he’s cutting 200 shekels off his head once a year. Do the math here! That’s five pounds of hair! He’s awesome.

And he’s using his beautiful appearance to attract a following.

Here’s what else he’s using – Number two, Absalom wants the public to know that he’s still deeply grieving the loss of his sister’s purity. He has one daughter, and he names her Tamar. The implication here is as if Absalom is saying what happened to my father’s daughter will not happen to my daughter.

He’s started to manipulate Jerusalem with his attractiveness, and what appears to be the goodness of his heart. Can’t you hear the populace? Poor Absalom. He’s been through so much – what with having to execute his brother and all – he loves his sister so much. He’s still so devastated about what happened to her. How can someone selflessly care so much for another?

The truth here is that Absalom got everyone to look at him, and then he named his daughter Tamar – thereby keeping what Amnon had done at the forefront of everything. With Amnon’s sin kept alive and well, people may not even notice that Absalom is a murderer and an insurrectionist.

 

Please come back next week for A Royal Dysfunction Part 3 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

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© 2018 Ta`Mara Hanscom

Posted in Absalom, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, King David, Old Testament, Tamar, The Lion of Judah | 1 Comment

The Lion of Judah – A Royal Dysfunction Part 1

…and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. 2nd Samuel 12:6 esv

Those were David’s own words against the rich man who’d been accused of stealing the poor man’s ewe lamb. God’s Law did indeed provide for such restitution. “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. Exodus 22:1 esv

Little did David know, however, that when he uttered that judgment that he’d be the one paying the restitution with his own lambs. Bathsheba’s baby was the first of David’s sons to die after Nathan’s prediction.

And while David was hard-core in his judgments against people he wasn’t related to, he was soft on his sons…and what was dangerous about that was that David had taught them little regard for God’s word and self-control.

David denied himself nothing when it came to pleasing his flesh. If he was grieved and wanted revenge, he took. If he wanted horses, he took. If he lusted, he took. But David had no reason to take. God had given David blessings in abundance.

Through the prophet, Nathan, God told David, if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?

10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 2nd Samuel 12:8b-12 esv

The prophet’s words are a little misleading here. We know the character of God is good and perfect, therefore we know that He does not raise up evil. I believe that God allowed the natural course of evil to reign in David’s home, and it was because of what David had taught his family. I believe that David could have stopped it from unraveling at any time – but he lacked the conviction and courage when it came to dealing with his kids.

David’s eldest son at this point is this character, Amnon. And what the manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal to us about Amnon is that David loved him because he was the firstborn. Being the eldest then, Amnon is the assumptive crown prince in David’s kingdom

Tamar is David’s only daughter, and she lives sequestered in the palace, kept completely safe away from all men, because her virginity is of utmost importance. She will be kept pure until the time of marriage because if she’s the only surviving child of David, her husband would then be in line for the throne.

The other thing, little known fact about these princesses, and what I learned in my studies on this, is that they were famed for their ability to make these delicate little pastries…and they loved to do it.

1Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. 2And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. 2nd Samuel 13:1-2 esv

That phrase to do anything to her reveals exactly where this character is at. The original language there indicates that Amnon has tried to get her attention, or perhaps strike up a relationship with her, but to no avail. She’s uninterested in him.

Amnon wants Tamar bad. Verse 1 says that he loved her, but the Hebrew word that’s used is ʾāhab, and Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible says that, in this instance, it’s not referring to love, but to sexual lust. And he’s allowed himself to be so consumed with having sex with her, and not being able to possess her, that he makes himself physically ill. This guy is nuts, and he’s dangerous. And because Amnon is the favored son, David’s probably been looking the other way for a long time. I’d bet, however, that everyone in the palace knows that Amnon has a problem – including Tamar and her mother.

Along with David’s nephew, Jonadab, Amnon lays a trap in order to have his way with Tamar. (Please read 2nd Samuel 13:3-19)

Sure enough, David falls for it and sends Tamar over to his house.

And I think besides arguing with Amnon before the act, Tamar must have put up quite a struggle during the act as well. The Scripture says: 15 Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. 2nd Samuel 13:15 esv

Tamar was NOT interested in this guy. He had to force himself in order to be with her – and he wasn’t happy about it. He has been scorned by the object of his obsession. He was humiliated, and he blamed her. When he was finished with her, he couldn’t wait to get her out of his sight. He threw her out of his house.

Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, second in line to the throne, hears about it (please read 2nd Samuel 13:20-22) and he starts to nurse a grudge – though he tells his sister, basically, don’t broadcast the thing around the kingdom. Let’s keep this within the family.

When David heard of all these things, he was very angry. 2nd Samuel 13:21 esv

David heard of all these things because the atrocity committed against his own daughter had been brought before him. Not only was he king, but he was the ruler and he judged the people. It was his responsibility to punish the aggressor.

David’s. Very. Angry.  But that’s it?!

Everybody in the family knows what’s supposed to happen here. Amnon must pay a fine for what he’s done, and then he must marry Tamar (unless David refuses), and never divorce her all the days of his life. (Please see Deuteronomy 22:25-29*Special Note: Some scholars believe that Amnon should have been put to death, since Tamar was a princess being kept pure for marriage like a betrothal. I am also in that camp.)

But, if the simplest interpretation of the law would have been followed, it would mean that Tamar would be queen when Amnon takes the throne. He’s stuck with a woman who will probably never love him. How could she?

Instead of calling Amnon into the court and publicly disciplining him, David is very angry. That’s it.

Absalom takes Tamar into his home – and this is a very significant action. I think Absalom, Tamar and their mother Macaah have decided together that David is unworthy of the crown. This whole thing, on top of what happened with Bathsheba, makes David look like a very ineffective leader. And if we’re honest here, we can admit that we see into the family dynamics of what just happened. As I said before, Amnon was nuts and dangerous, and the entire family had to have known. Think about it. When we get together with our families don’t we have certain relatives from whom we guard our children? Don’t we just know? Yet, David sent his daughter, the virgin princess, into a doomed situation.

As a result Absalom shows outwardly to the entire kingdom that he doesn’t trust the king to protect the princess anymore. David’s unwillingness to judge Amnon makes Absalom doubt the king’s ability to discern wrong from right – and probably plants that doubt into the hearts of Jerusalem as well.

Please come back next week for A Royal Dysfunction Part 2 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

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If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.

© 2018 Ta`Mara Hanscom

Posted in Amnon, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, King David, Old Testament, Tamar, The Lion of Judah | 1 Comment

The Lion of Judah – An Affair to Remember Part 2

Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward – David & Bathsheba
20th Century Fox 1951

Bathsheba mourned for her dead husband one week and married David the next. They’d gotten what they wanted. They were together at last, and no one could stop them now. Honestly, does this remind anyone but me of the Forensic Files?

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. 2nd Samuel 11:27 esv

30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31 esv

David very much falls into the hands of the living God.

It is generally believed that about a period of one year passes between the end of 2nd Samuel 11 and the beginning of 2nd Samuel 12. During that time, the newlyweds are presumably living it up, celebrating their new baby, and thinking they’ve gotten away with murder…until that pesky ole prophet showed up.

1 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 2nd Samuel 12:1-3 esv

Uriah was never afforded the chance to tell his side of the story – and so God does, through the prophet, Nathan.

Uriah loved Bathsheba, affectionately and deeply. He shared his own portions with her, and she drank from his cup. They were like the young couple you see in the restaurant, so gaga over one another that they are feeding each other off their own plates. Uriah was a man wholly in love with his wife, and she was sacred to him. He held nothing back from her. Furthermore, she was all that he had and he was delighted to have her.

Nathan continues with his story:

4Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 2nd Samuel 12:4 esv

A traveler came to the rich man. The Hebrew word for traveler is hēlek, and it can also be translated as wayfarer. This is a person who travels from place to place on foot.

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1st Peter 5:8 esv

This traveler, the wayfarer, the devil, came prowling over to David’s place, looking for someone to devour, and he found it. David is not being sober minded. Judging from his actions over the past year or so, we can just about guess where he’s at in his Bible study. He’s supposed to study the Law every single day, (see Deuteronomy 17:18-20) and he’s been given a directive to shepherd the flock. Well, the flock has been dispatched without its shepherd for a considerable period of time. The shepherd stayed in Jerusalem and the flock was out there fighting the Ammonites on their own. The devil came to David with some carnal desires and had to be fed. And instead of going to his own harem, he exploited the sacredness of a good man.

Make no mistake, these carnal desires will demand to be fed, and if we’re not sober minded and watchful somebody is going to get devoured.

When Nathan is finished with his story,

5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 2nd Samuel 12:5-6 esv

David is so moved with compassion at the story that he blasts, he deserves to die!

Isn’t it funny…we can always see the gravity of sin in someone else, but we’re completely blind to our own. Didn’t Jesus say something about that? Oh, yes, here it is in my notes: Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 esv

David invokes the Law with which to punish this guy Nathan is talking about – God’s penalty for such a crime is to return the stolen property fourfold (Exodus 22:1). And in that, David prescribes his own judgment.

7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house. 2nd Samuel 12:7-15 esv

And in the weeks to come we will see how David’s own judgment plays out in his personal life. He will pay back that lamb he stole fourfold…and judgment begins immediately.

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. 2nd Samuel 12:15-20 esv

David worshiped. David was trying to come back to the Lord. He’d been on his face before God for seven days, possibly writing Psalm 51. In his repentance he recognized the work of the Lord in his life.

He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2nd Samuel 20:20-23 esv

In the whole lesson, my greatest comfort comes from verse 23. Let me tell you why.

Thirty-four years ago at Thanksgiving we lost a baby. This verse gives me hope that I will go to that baby someday. David believes he will see his little one someday, though he knows he can’t bring him back to this place. I know that too.

That David possessed a deep understanding of God’s character is evident by the way he responded to God’s judgment. Before the blow fell he prayed, knowing that Jehovah was a God of mercy. After the blow fell, he worshiped knowing that Jehovah was a God of righteousness. He forgot the things that were behind, accepted the divine discipline, and looked ahead to the future. He did not despair because he knew that God would yet bless him. He was right.

—William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba… 2nd Samuel 12:24 esv

The Hebrew word for comforted is nāḥam—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, and this is the definition from Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible:

“to repent, comfort.” [… ]to bring acts of kindness and favor, and encouraging words to another. David “comforted” Bathsheba after the death of her child born in sin […] this probably indicates his repentance of what had happened in their indiscretion.

Put simply, David repented of his sin against God, but also how he’d sinned against Bathsheba. He’d seduced her away from the arms of a man who loved and cherished her, and now here she was grieving the death of her child. David was sorry for what his sinful actions had brought to her life. As a result, he went to her with kindness and encouragement, and repented of his actions, and God blessed him for it.

[David] went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord. 2nd Samuel 12:24-25 esv

This new little one, Solomon, has been conceived not in the sinful will of the flesh, but within David’s tender repentance toward Bathsheba. This is an important aspect of repentance. David acknowledged that he’d sinned first against God Almighty, and then he went to the injured party and repented – and God blessed David’s sincere actions with a new life. With Solomon, and the Lord loved him.

 

I will be out of town for the next ten days, so please come back in two weeks for A Royal Dysfunction Part 1 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

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If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.

 

© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom

 

Posted in Bathsheba, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, King David, Nathan, Solomon, The Lion of Judah | Leave a comment

The Lion of Judah – An Affair to Remember Part 1

Please note: You might want to familiarize yourself with the story of David and Bathsheba if you don’t know it very well. You can find their story in 2nd Samuel 11 and 12. P

Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward – David & Bathsheba
20th Century Fox 1951

lease read 2nd Samuel 10 as well so that you have a pretext for the story at hand.

David and Bathsheba’s story actually begins in 1st Samuel 11, where we saw Saul take on King Nahash and really clean his clock. Here are some of the important details:

According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, and also Anthony Campbell and Mark Obrien, authors of Unfolding Deuteronomistic History: Origins, Upgrades, Present Text, Nahash, King of the Ammonites had brought the tribes of Gad and Reuben under his subjection. His regular practice with them was to gouge out their right eye. There were hardly any Israelites living on the east side of the Jordan River that hadn’t had their right eye gouged out. About 7000 men had escaped Nahash’s reign of terror and were living in Jabesh. Nahash desires to reclaim them, thus starting a war.

So this is the history between the Ammonites and the Israelites – so I cannot explain why David then says, many years later, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” 2nd Samuel 10:1-2 esv

Some scholars believe that this is evidence that Nahash aided David in some way when he fled from Saul.

So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites. 2nd Samuel 10:2 esv

Now, David doesn’t do any of this messaging personally – he’s always sending these servants back and forth to speak for him. His men are humiliated (2nd Samuel 10:4), and a huge war begins with the Ammonites.

 7 And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men. 2nd  Samuel 10:7 esv

So while Joab and the mighty men are duking it out with the Ammonites, David is walking around on his roof…watching a woman taking a bath.

And she isn’t just any woman. She is the wife of one of his mighty men. Not only that, she is the daughter of Eliam, he is also one of David’s mighty men, or we see them referred to as The Thirty.

Let me be clear, David suddenly gets Bathsheba’s husband and her father out of town, while he himself stays at home to relax in the palace. I think that’s interesting!

Here’s what else I think: This woman does not just happen to be taking a bath on her roof at the same time the king is walking around above her. I think they were well acquainted with one another and had had something going on in their heads for a while. David, however, had the power and the means to do something about it.

2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2nd Samuel 11:2-5 esv

This fling turned into more than just a late afternoon roll in the hay. Very rarely does a woman get pregnant the first time around. I think that Bathsheba had stayed with David for a while – while her husband and father are out on the battlefield attempting to overcome the Ammonites.

I can’t imagine what went through their minds. Their sin was punishable by death, which they both knew, and now the proof of what they’d done was on its way. And apparently David has a sudden glimmer of realization that it isn’t worth dying for. But, he has the power and the means with which to formulate an amicable solution.

Perhaps he thought: I’ll call her husband back to the palace. After all, he’s one of my top men. It’s perfectly normal that I ask him questions about the battle. I will then treat him like one of my own sons, who are not on the battlefield, pretend that he is special to me, and then I’ll send him home to Bathsheba. She’s a smart girl. She’ll know what to do and we’ll make Uriah think the baby belongs to him….

But it didn’t go like that.

9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab 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? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 2nd Samuel 11:9-11 esv

David must be so blown away. Uriah has some impeccable moral character. He can’t stand the thought of his comrades fighting on the battlefield while he luxuriates in the comforts of home and woman.

I find it incredibly ironic that the man David sought to remove from the city so that he could freely pursue his wife, he now calls back to cover what he’s done with her – and he can’t get Uriah to take the bait!

Something else that points to Uriah’s character is his personal self-discipline when it comes to the Law. He knows that if he has relations with his wife he’ll be considered ceremonially unclean and have to wait a day or so before he can rejoin the other soldiers.

David had to have been thinking, wow…what am I going to do with this goody-two-shoes. I know… I’ll get him so hammered he doesn’t know up from down, send him down to the wife, and Bathsheba can take it from there.

But it didn’t go like that.

12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. 2nd Samuel 2:12-13 esv

Even getting him drunk did not make Uriah compromise his faith. That’s some self-will.

David is beyond freaking out at this point. The only solution appears to be Uriah’s death.

When David realizes that Uriah stayed away from Bathsheba he writes a letter to Joab – a man he knows is brutal and beyond moral scruples – and invites him into the plan to have Uriah killed. Uriah, devoted soul that he is, unwittingly carries his own death sentence and delivers it into the hands of his executioner. I love what George Williams wrote about this:

 …and so this false step also led to the moral wreckage of this chapter when David further surrendered himself into the hands of Joab.

 —George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary

Joab does what’s expected, and through messengers he and David basically congratulate one another on a job well done.

Bathsheba mourned for her dead husband one week, and married David the next. They’d gotten what they wanted. They were together at last, and no one could stop them now…

Honestly, does this remind anyone but me of the Forensic Files?

 

Please come back next week for An Affair to Remember Part 2 in our series, The Lion of Judah.

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If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.

 

© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom

Posted in Bathsheba, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, King David, Old Testament, politics, The Lion of Judah, Uncategorized, Warrior | Leave a comment