About Errors…And Other Things I’ve Learned From Baseball

With baseball season quickly descending upon us, I was reminded of this devotional I did for a wedding shower last year. It’s one of my favorites, so I hope you enjoy it too. I love baseball and believe that it’s taught me many things about life in general.

Jose Iglesias

Jose Iglesias is a fantastic short-stop. Until recently he played for my team, the Detroit Tigers. (Jose has now signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds. More than likely, he will make the opening day roster.)

Jose started off with the Red Sox organization in 2011. Two years later, entering 2013, Iglesias was ranked as the 10th best prospect in the Red Sox organization.

He batted .420 for a stretch of over 100 at-bats, including an 18-game hitting streak—and this was just within a AAA team!

When he was finally given his chance to play with the Red Sox team at Fenway, Iglesias started that 2013 season playing 63 games with a .330 batting average. That is awesome for a rookie.

After the All Stars Game in July of that year, Iglesias was traded to the Detroit Tigers…and were we ever happy to have him.

Iglesias drove in a run with a single in his very first game as a Tiger, helping Detroit to a 2–1 win over the White Sox. The next night, he hit his first home run as a Tiger, a solo shot to left field in the fourth inning.

Our current shortstop at the time, Jhonny Peralta, had been given a 50 game suspension for his connections to the Biogenesis Clinic (which was a steroid scandal) and Iglesias was named the new Tigers shortstop.

That year (2013) for the Tigers was a good one. We actually wound up playing for the American League Championship.

You have to play up to 7 games in an ALC—whoever wins the first 4 games wins the pennant. Well, we were in game six with the Boston Red Sox. So far, the Sox had won 3 of those games, and we had won 2. We needed to win this game in order to stay in the championship.

We got to the 7th inning of the game. It was tough, but things were going pretty good…The Sox were up to bat, they had an out, and the Tigers were clinging to a 2-1 lead. The Sox had a man on third and a man on first.

And then Jacoby Ellsbury came up to bat. He managed a good swing that connected with the ball. It was traveling pretty fast, but it was low to the ground, and it went straight to our amazing shortstop, Jose Iglesias.

The reasonable outcome of that hit should have been a double play. Jose reached for the ball. It was a beautiful catch…I could already see him tagging Xander Boegarts who was on his way to second base, and then firing the ball to Miggy Cabrera who was waiting to make the second out when Ellsbury got to first base.

But it didn’t go that way. That beautiful catch bounced out of Jose’s glove and hit the field. Boegarts made it to second base and Ellsbury easily made it to first. And now the bases were loaded, and Jose was charged with an error.

And it was such a serious error that we lost that game, and resultantly the Championship as well.

Jose went into that play with good intentions—he by no means intended to make that error, but look what it cost.

Marriage can be this way as well. We oftentimes go into a play thinking we’re going to come out shining like the sun, and instead we find ourselves in a serious error.

For instance…

When we were first married my husband Jim put my name on his checking account—so that we could have joint checking. Jim was a little bit older than me and had had a checking account for years. But, I was only eighteen years old and I didn’t have much experience with a checking account, but I wanted to learn—and let’s face it, it was cool to write checks. I had my own little checkbook that I carried around in my purse and I started writing checks.

Well, there’s a place on the ledger in a checkbook where you write your debits and your credits. To make a long story short I had listed several debits into the credits column, and when I went to figure my checkbook I added these figures to my balance instead of subtracting them.

So one morning while we were getting ready for work the phone rang and it was a really nice lady from the bank. (Back then the bank would call if they saw something weird going on with your checking account.) Anyway, she explained to Jim that we were extremely overdrawn and needed to make a deposit right away. Jim asked me to see the checkbook, and he saw right away what the problem was. Fortunately, we had some money in savings and he transferred that over to cover my error.

That was an error I’ll never forget—for a couple of reasons. Certainly I did not go into my checking account experiment with the idea that I would overdraw the thing—but I did. And it was a pretty serious error. We didn’t have a lot of money—it took us a long time to save back what that error cost us.

Thankfully, I was married to someone who was willing to forgive me.

Like I said, I was only eighteen years old and this situation upset me a great deal. I was crying while Jim was on the phone with the bank, but when he was done transferring the money, he hung up the phone and smiled at me. And then he put his arms around me and laughed a little. He said it would be okay, and it was.

There’s a great example of this in our New Testament. Now the portion of Scripture that I’m about to share with you has to do with a far more serious error than mine with the checkbook. A member of the church body in Corinth had been in sexual sin and the body punished him for it—and apparently the punishment had gone on longer than it should have (perhaps he’d been ostracized?) because Paul wrote to them and said: Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 2nd Corinthians 2:5-8 esv

Throughout my marriage I have learned that we commit these errors from time to time, but none of them have been so serious that we lose the game. Some of them could have been—but keeping our eyes on Christ and His ways has delivered us from a multitude of pain

Every time I speak at a wedding shower I remind everyone that the only way to make this thing work is to keep our eyes on Jesus and in the Scriptures.

Peter wrote: 6 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2nd Peter 1:16 esv

These people knew what they’d seen—they’d lived it—and thankfully they put it in writing so that those of us who came behind them could learn from their experience and be not only saved, but grow in the image and likeness of the One who created us.

Jesus forgives, and he commands us to forgive one another as well. He said, 3 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4 esv

Jose Iglesias has made 357 catches—of which only 6 have been errors.

I love to be married. I’ve shared 36 ½ years with my husband, and it only gets better. Most of the time we do alright…but I know that there could still be that occasional error that causes some sort of a flub or even a loss, but Jim will forgive me—and if he goofs up, I’ll forgive him too!

Marriage is a blessing, and you’re going to love it! But there will be errors, and in Christ you can forgive and move on, and it will only get better and better. Like Jose Iglesias, you’re going to make far more catches than you are errors. Don’t get hung up on those errors. Forgive them.

Okay, one more baseball story…

The Tigers were playing the Twins in Target Field in Minneapolis in April of 2017. Awesome game. It was the top of the third inning and Twins reliever Justin Haley was pitching to Tiger JaCoby Jones. Jacoby was a rookie at the time. Haley pitched a 90 mph fastball directly into Jones face, splitting his lip and chin wide open. There was blood everywhere right away. Jacoby, miraculously, never lost consciousness. They took him from the field to the hospital and got him stitched up.

In the meantime, the rest of the Tigers stewed over this event because they thought it was intentional. So, when we get to the bottom of the fifth, Tiger’s reliever, Matt Boyd, comes in to pitch. Twins heavy hitter, Miguel Sano is up to bat and Boyd pitches him a fast ball that lands behind his back—it nearly hit him.

Miguel is really ticked off and he decides he’s going to confront Boyd right there on the mound and starts walking toward him. Tigers’ catcher, James McCann, got in between the two and put his glove in the face of Sano. Sano then shoved McCann and was immediately ejected.

Both dugouts and the bullpens rushed onto the field, defending each other’s players, and it was an all-out war right there in downtown Minneapolis.

Here’s my point…

Sometimes somebody is going to pitch you something that just isn’t right and you’re going to want to talk to that pitcher about it. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who will leap out of the dugout should you ever charge the mound—you need to be that person for your spouse (especially when you’re married to a man!) as they often charge the mound.

 

Jim gave me this a few months ago (see what it says) and it hangs proudly in my office. I look at it every day because I know that if I should have to charge the mound, he will gladly leap out of the dugout for me—and I for him! And he knows it, too!

© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom

COMING APRIL 15, 2019

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Book 4 The Gift is coming soon!

I was asked recently why I wrote the Caselli Family Series. I sat at my computer for a long time trying to find the reason “why” I wrote the series, but I couldn’t come up with a single answer. I think that’s because I really didn’t have a “why” for writing the series, it was just something God put on my heart…and if you’ve heard me speak, you know how that happened.

Since the story’s inception (1996) I have not lost one bit of the intense desire to share it with the rest of the world.

It’s been a fairly difficult project, and there are several reasons for that. Firstly, the base of the series The Pretender had to be written from a young adult perspective. I was thirty-two years old at the time and reaching back into my “coming of age” years wasn’t easy. We see things differently as we mature so it was hard sometimes to relate to the antics of my teenaged characters. It was hard as well putting that on the paper in such a way that reflected the immature actions and feelings of young adults. However, in drawing on the experiences of my own past, I was able to put a lot of authenticity into the story’s plot. Many a reviewer has remarked that it’s simply “unrealistic,” and to that I say: pay attention to your kids. They’re doing some risky things out there.

The next difficulty was attempting to mature my young adult characters, ever so slightly, as I began Book 2 Pit of Ambition. There were older characters to anchor the story, with mature development lines, but I had to figure out a way to age the character of Angel/Tillie in such a way that it revealed growth and wisdom. At one point, long after her marriage to Alex, she’s thinking of Noah and recalling what a wonderful man Noah had appeared to be at the time she met him. She finally draws a defining conclusion: Noah was ordinary, so unlike Alex who seemed as extraordinary as a flashy star. Angel/Tillie is growing out of her immature naivety. And it was important for her growth to begin, whether in realizations, or later in Pit of Ambition, to be able to forgive without exemption.

The growth and maturity that begins in Pit of Ambition sets the stage for Book 3, A Blackguard’s Redemption.  The earlier young adult feel of the series will quickly fade as very adult issues are faced once Tillie and Noah realize what has transpired. And though Noah has taken far greater strides forward in the maturity department, he will have setbacks like none other. In fact, one of my earlier readers told me once that while she was praying she lifted up Noah, and then had to laugh at herself. Noah’s struggles will become that painfully real in A Blackguard’s Redemption, and he will draw Tillie into the suffering with him.

What I would like most of all is for my readers to understand the power of prayer when combined with God’s will in a matter. And while we may not like the way God’s will appears to be playing out, we must resist the urge to force our own will into any situation. In the fictional setting of the Caselli Family, we see the ramifications of someone having the ability to change the circumstances just enough so that he doesn’t have to deal with a difficult situation. In doing so, Giuseppe changes the life of his daughter, but he also, unknowingly, derails the lifelong work of his son, Marquette. Now, please don’t take that to mean that I believe that we can thwart the will of God, because I don’t believe that one bit. However, we can delay His blessing because of our own disobedience, and we can drag others down with us in the process. Rest assured, God’s will will be done, even if we make the choice to use deception in order to “fix” things. No matter how long we try to put it off, God will have His way. He makes certain that all things are made right in His time, His sovereignty trumping all of our efforts.

Book 4, The Gift, will be released on April 15, 2019, and I’m so delighted to finally be sharing this story with you. I think you won’t find many surprises within the story, but what I do pray for you is that you see beyond the fiction of the story and into the power of our glorious Creator. He will have His way, as He always has, and in this fictional example I pray that you will find it easier to yield to His holy will.

The first 3 books of the series are now available on Kindle Unlimited. Start here.

I pray that each and every one of you will read this series and delight in it the same way that I have. I pray for each reader as well that God will give you a holy craving to explore His Word and His ways to the greatest possible depths. That you would not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 esv

Thank you and bless you for taking this journey with me. It means the world to me.

~Ta`Mara

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The Lion of Judah – And the Sword Shall Never Depart Part 3

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. They had to have been thinking: we need to start thinking about bringing back the king!

David obviously hears about this and decides to contact Judah instead.

11 And King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar the priests: “Say to the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his house, when the word of all Israel has come to the king? 12 You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me and more also, if you are not commander of my army from now on in place of Joab.’” 2nd Samuel 19:11-13 esv

Joab had disobeyed the king, but worse than that he’d killed his precious, spoiled son, and David must have resented him deeply. He publicly appoints the general of Absalom’s rebel alliance (Amasa), giving the appearance here that loyalty is punished, and sin is rewarded.

But by now the people are about as weak-minded as David.

14 And he swayed the heart of all the men of Judah as one man, so that they sent word to the king, “Return, both you and all your servants.” 15 So the king came back to the Jordan, and Judah came to Gilgal to meet the king and to bring the king over the Jordan. 2nd Samuel 19:14-15 esv

When a leader is this far gone, his people won’t be far behind. It goes downhill from there.

David mistreats Mephibosheth, who is clearly been mourning the king’s absence. He has all the physical markings, but David is so blind in his own sinful delusions that he doesn’t see. He should have punished Ziba for his slander. (Please see 2nd Samuel 16 and 19.)

In the meantime, Israel has heard that Judah alone has gone to bring the king back – and they’re upset that they weren’t invited to participate in the reunification.

41 Then all the men of Israel came to the king and said to the king, “Why have our brothers the men of Judah stolen you away and brought the king and his household over the Jordan, and all David’s men with him?” 42 All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “Because the king is our close relative. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we eaten at all at the king’s expense? Or has he given us any gift?” 43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king, and in David also we have more than you. Why then did you despise us? Were we not the first to speak of bringing back our king?” But the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel. 2nd Samuel 19:41-43 esv

Here’s that sword that Nathan the prophet (Please see 2nd Samuel 12) was talking about – the fierce words of the men of Judah – these never depart from David’s kingdom. Not only do we see the trouble it leads to in Chapter 20, but eventually to the division of Israel and Judah on the map.

Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said,

“We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!” 2nd Samuel 20:1 esv

The Hebrew word for worthless in this text is actually Belial. Sheba was of Belial, and the definition is rendered “wickedness.” And his rally cry, every man to his tents, is like a national watchword for insurrection. Now David’s got another rebellion on his hands.

So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

And David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house and put them in a house under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood. 2nd Samuel 20:2-3 esv

David finally shows some forethought and concern here for someone else other than his wretched son. The first order of business when he enters his home is to take care of the concubines that have been violated in his absence.  He puts them under guard, assuring that what happened to them in his absence before will not happen again – just in case Sheba’s rebellion is successful.

David sends Absalom’s rebel commander, Amasa, to summon Judah, but Amasa doesn’t return in accordance with his orders. David then appoints Abishai (his nephew) as commander – so he must still be estranged from Joab.

Joab kills Amasa. And even though Abishai has been appointed commander, it becomes clear that Joab is the one with the reputation for victory.

11 And one of Joab’s young men took his stand by Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” 12 And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped. And when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him. 13 When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

14 And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in. 15 And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. 2nd Samuel 20:11-15 esv

And not only does Joab have a reputation for victory, but his statesman persona has also traveled ahead of him.

16 Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” 17 And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” 18 Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. 19 I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” 20 Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king. 2nd Samuel 20:16-22 esv

Joab returned to the king. This is big. After all the disobedience, Joab goes out and grabs an enormous victory, avoiding additional bloodshed, showing himself as a compassionate diplomat, and David welcomes him back into the court, and back into the command of all the army of Israel.

…the reappearance of Joab… is a proof that, in public affairs David could not do without Joab and Joab could not do without David. Had David continued in the Path of Faith he would himself, as already pointed out, have captured Jerusalem, retained his God-given position as captain and chief, and thus never have fallen into the hands of his crafty and ambitious nephew.

—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary

David is our type of Christ, but an imperfect type. While David was willing to shirk his responsibility as supreme commander over Israel and her troops, Christ retains his position of commander for all times, without help from anyone.

 

Please come back on November 15, 2018, when we start a new series: A Kingdom Divided. The first post will be entitled Loose Ends Part 1.

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

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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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 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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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 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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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 Absalom, Bible Study, Christian, Christian Bloggers, Christianity, Old Testament, The Lion of Judah | 1 Comment

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.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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