Being EagerRelated Media
In Psalm 56 David begins his psalm with a plea to the Lord for deliverance, because “all day long they press their attack” (vv. 1-2).1 He goes on to state that though he was somewhat afraid, he put his full trust in God (vv.3-4). 2
He then returns to emphasizing his plight. Not only do the enemies falsely malign him, twisting his words, but “plotting to harm him” (v. 5). Even worse, they await an opportunity “eager to take my life” (v. 6).
In a similar vein of thought, a later psalmist explains that God has often provided for his followers despite their times of unfaithfulness (cf. Ps. 78:23-31); indeed, “they kept on sinning” (v. 32). So it was that when God reprimanded them (vv. 32-33), they “eagerly turned to him again” (v. 34). Interestingly, Joseph Alexander remarks, “it was only at these times of peculiar suffering that the people, as a body, called to mind their national relation to Jehovah, as their founder, their protector and their refuge.3
Turning to the book of Proverbs, it is of special interest to note that Proverbs 28:20, 22 contain some special observations regarding eagerness.
A faithful man will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished….
A stingy man is eager to get rich
and is unaware that poverty awaits him.
In the former case, there is an interesting contrast between believers, a truly faithful believer and one who is greedy for financial gain. The former person will receive God’s blessing, while the latter will eventually be punished for his (or her) actions. A similar, perhaps more drastic, fate awaits the person who strives for riches in any way that they can be obtained. Such a person is likely to fall into poverty. As Allen Ross observes:
The idea is that the first is faithful to his obligations to God and to other people; but the one who hastens to make riches is at the least doing it without an honest day’s work and at the worst dishonestly. In a hurry to acquire wealth, he falls into dishonest schemes and bears the guilt of it – he will not be unpunished.4
A much better case can be seen in a faithful wife of noble character:
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She beings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. (Pr. 31:11-12)
Rather than waiting to be served, she herself serves her husband and engages in many activities in caring for her family (vv. 14-31). So it is that she deserves credit for her industrious efforts. As McKane remarks: “She deserves a good reputation and a high standing in the community.”5 Would that all of us followed the faithful example of this lady of noble character!
Indeed, as the Apostle Peter states in his first epistle, to the faithful believer it maybe said, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (I Peter 3:13). Accordingly, may we be eager to do good, for in so living, no harm will come to us. As Peter proclaimed, this is especially true for those in authoritative positions. Yes, our leaders should especially be “eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3).
Not only is this true for leaders but for all believers. True believers should be “eager to make your calling and election sure. For to do these things you will never fail” (2 Peter 1:10). As Osborne remarks, “the sense of being ‘eager’ here connotes ‘zeal’ and or ‘great energy or effort’.”6 Peter goes on to state that the faithful believer, “will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). A good scriptural example can be seen in the Apostle Paul who tells the Corinthian believers of the faithful ministry of Titus (2 Cor. 8:16-19). As the footnote in the NIV points out “giving to others is a demonstration of the righteousness of God in our lives, apart from which there could be no salvation.”7
Ultimately, we believers know that we are blessed with the privilege of living expectantly and eagerly awaiting the second coming of Christ our Savior. As Paul so clearly expresses it, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to being everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21). What a blessed hope is ours! As H.L. Turner expressed it:
O Joy! O Delight! Should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying –
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into Glory
When Jesus receives His own.8
1 All scriptures referenced are from the NIV.
2 Yet, as E. Schuler English once said, “Christians may take heart when troubles arise, for the Lord is available to protect or deliver His saints…. Nothing can touch the child of God outside of His permissive will.” See E. Schuler English, “The Life and Letters of Saint Peter”, (New York: Publication Office, “Our Hope”, 1943), 200.
3 Joseph A. Alexander, “Commentary on Psalms”, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1991), 339.
4 Allen P. Ross, “Proverbs” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), V:1108.
5 William McKane, “Proverbs”, (Philadelphia: Westminster, n.d.), 670.
6 See further, Grant R. Osborne, “1-2 Peter” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il., Tyndale House, 2011), XVIII:296.
7 Faith in Action Study Bible – NIV, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2005), 1911.
8 H.L. Turner, “Christ Returneth!”, (v.3).
Women of Influence Surrounding the Life of David
Editor's Note: This was originally shared at a Women’s Retreat, October 14-16, 2017,
and edited for Bible.org Spring, 2019
This series focuses on Influence. Originally it was shared at a Women’s Retreat, and is provided as a full resource with audio, text, handouts for notes, and small group questions. This study is a continuing look at biblical women who influenced their world for God ( see Women of Influence Surrounding the Life of Moses.)
Are you a woman of influence? Do others see you as a woman of influence?
In our world, people of influence get our attention and they change our lives.
Influence is about affecting, changing, swaying people’s thoughts, opinions or their actions or either good or bad. I desire to be someone who influences others for good, don’t you?
In this study, we are going to look at 4 different women: one is the daughter of a powerful man, one is a desperate wife, one whose husband is away at war, one is an end of life care-giver.
All these women of influence dramatically affected the life of David. Each can teach us timeless truths that can help us impact our families, our friends and our world for good.
1. Introduction and Michal (1 Samuel 18:1-19:17; 2 Samuel 25:44; 3:6-16; 6:1-23)Related Media
Influence means “the power to change or affect someone or something” (Webster’s Dictionary)
With that definition, everyone in this room is an influential person.
“Women of Influence” is a phrase that’s not original to me. Every fall I attend the “All about Influence Conference” at Dallas Seminary. Every woman there, whether speakers, attenders, or those serving; all of them, just like you and me, are women of influence. God has created us, as women, all of us, with purpose and the ability to affect our world for good or bad. You have that influence.
So, let’s look at the women surrounding the life of David, the man after God’s own heart. I have come to care deeply for these women who influenced David’s life and I look forward to meeting each of them; there must be so much more to their stories. Yet, the bible has recorded their names, and glimpses of their lives for a purpose. Our job is to discover that purpose. Why are they included in the Word of God? What can we learn from them?
Three women are David’s wives and one is not a wife, not a concubine but she is invaluable to David. One woman saved his life from certain death. Another saved his career and reputation; one saved the Kingdom and the last woman saved him from pain and loneliness in his latter days. The seemingly little acts of these four women dramatically influenced David and radically changed the world around him. It’s in the seemingly little acts, that we too can change our world.
II. Overview Of The Life Of David (I Sam 18)
Before we look at the women, let’s look at David.
I wonder if you enjoy biblical art like I do? Biblical art takes the story I read in Scripture and makes it real for me. I’m so visual and I remember when David became “real” to me. I was 12 years old when our 6th grade field trip went to New York City. The statue of David by Michelangelo was on loan from Florence, Italy. I was overwhelmed! The story is that in 1501 a large block of uncut marble sat in a dusty cathedral workshop. But Michelangelo saw something in that rock; by 1504 he had taken that rough piece of stone and transformed it into a masterpiece called David. 13 ½ feet tall, this larger-than-life physical size was intended to capture David’s colossal spiritual strength. He is called a “man after God’s own heart”. Just as it took years to chisel away at the rough edges of the marble to smooth the sculptures’ surface to perfection, there were also years of refining, testing, training for the man of God to be God’s King of Israel and our women of influence were part of God’s plan for David.
- In the Bible we first meet David when the Lord sends the prophet Samuel on a mission to find and anoint Saul’s replacement as King of Israel due to Saul’s rebellious heart and sin. In Bethlehem, Samuel meets seven of Jesse’s amazing sons, but not the one God had chosen. He asks “Don’t you have any more sons?” The youngest, red-headed David is brought in from tending the sheep and God says “This is the one” This anointing by Samuel doesn’t mean David becomes king immediately, it means he is designated by God to be next in line.1
- During this time, Israel is at war with the Philistines and David’s older brothers are soldiers in King Saul’s army. When David is sent by his father to check on them, he volunteers to fight Goliath. With God’s strength, he defeats the enemy and his life as a soldier, a warrior begins. Overnight he becomes a superhero and is rewarded by Saul who gives his daughter Michal to David to become his wife. She is our first influential woman that we will study.
- As David becomes more successful, Saul becomes more jealous of him and this hatred forces David to flee and become a fugitive, running away from Saul’s death threats. During those wilderness years, David meets our second woman of influence, Abigail, the wife of Nabal. What a fascinating story, filled with intrigue and suspense.
- Years passed and Saul dies in battle opening up the way for David to become first the King of Judah and then ultimately the King of all Israel, reigning a total of 40 years. When he was established in Jerusalem, known as “the City of David”, when his army is off at war, David spies a beautiful woman named Bathsheba who is our third influential woman. That spying led to a sexual encounter that led to a pregnancy, that led to a murder that led to a cover-up. It’s that cover-up that becomes a breaking point in David’s life. Yet, it is through this tragic event that David truly learns God’s forgiveness and mercy. Ultimately:
“David’s greatness shines in both his ability to take responsibility for his actions and the humility of his admission and the repentance that follows. This is part of the reason that the ultimate redeemer of the Jewish people and the world will descend from David’s line- he will be ‘Messiah son of David’.”2
- And yet, as also true in our lives, the consequences of his sin followed him the rest of his life. David’s family life gets very messy and complicated: There’s incest, murder, rebellion, plagues and political upheavals all the rest of his life. It’s at the end of his life that we meet the fourth woman, Abishag. She is not a wife, not a concubine but a care-giver, an essential care-giver.
1. One of the reasons we need to study these women is so that we may more fully understand holistically the man David, and his life: both personal and professional.
“The David stories alternate between a presentation of the private man and the public figure, so that in the end family affairs and affairs of state are intermingled, each having an effect (influence) upon the other.”3
– Adele Berlin
I had an annual physical recently. While waiting for the doctor, I was in the examining room talking to the nurse who was taking my blood pressure “ How are you doing today?” I asked. She answered “not so good.” Surprised, I asked her “why”? She proceeded to tell me about her teenage son and his troubles, that were her troubles too. Abruptly she stopped and apologized saying “I’m trying to leave my family problems at home, but that’s hard.” Yes, it is hard. In fact, almost impossible, to separate, to compartmentalize all our problems. It was hard for David too.
2. Another reason is that we can learn life lessons from them. We can learn from their successes and their mistakes how to be God’s influential women.
III. Michal (1 Samuel 18:1-19:17; 2 Samuel 25:44; 3:6-16; 6:1-23)
Michal was the first, and in some ways, the most interesting, of David’s wives…she is a full-fledged character with opinions and emotions of her own.4
– Adele Berlin
Michal’s story is a sad one. Like a pale and spindly sapling forever caught under a canopy of larger trees, Michal is emotionally trapped by the men around her: her father, King Saul and her husband, King David. Decisions are made for her as she is handed off from one man to another and trapped by power grabs. She is eventually cast aside, having no children to call her own.5
– Lindsay Hardin Freeman
You will have to decide whether you think Michal’s story is “seemingly” sad or not. Either way she is a vital part of David’s story; she is an important influence in his life. Although we don’t have her entire story, we have two accounts involving Michal and David that turned his life and her life in a different direction. The first story is when she falls in love with David, marries him and protects his life from her father Saul. The next time we see her with David things have dramatically changed in their marriage. Instead of loving and protecting, we find her belittling and ridiculing David; wounding instead of helping. The question begs why? What has happened? How does love turn to hurt?
A. Michal, Saul’s Daughter, Marries And Protects David (1 Sam 18:1-19:17)
Let’s set the context of our story. David has killed Goliath, that’s what everyone is talking about; this young, good-looking guy. Saul is initially impressed with David’s skill so he says David you are going into the army soldier! As David became more and more successful in battle, Saul became more and more jealous, envious of his victories. The better David did the more suspicious and angry Saul felt toward David. “Saul soon uses David for target practice.”6 Given to great mood swings, Saul would get fearful and mad. In those moments he would hurl his spear at David trying to pin him down, to intimidate him, to scare him, ultimately to kill him. Scriptures tell us that Saul down deep understands this conflict he has with David is all about the Kingdom. He is losing his grip on his throne and David is going to replace him. However, Saul is not going to give up without a fight and a plan. His first plan is to offer David his oldest daughter in marriage.
I Samuel 18:17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”
Saul was hoping the Philistines would kill David and that would be the end of it. Not so fast. David modestly declines the offer, saying he and his family were unworthy to be part of the kingly family. We don’t know but perhaps the family was unable to pay the dowry. So, the oldest daughter Merab is given to another man. Michal enters the story
I Samuel 18:20-21 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So, Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”
This time, Saul gives him a way to pay the bride price: go to battle and bring back 100 Philistine foreskins and you can have my second daughter. This is really a smoke screen. Saul doesn’t want foreskins; he wants David dead. But a deal is a deal. Saul likes this deal thinking David will probably die in battle. David also likes the deal. He likes the idea of being the king’s son-in-law; and we’re sure Michal likes the deal. The scriptures tell us she loves David. In fact, “She is the only woman in the Old Testament of whom it is said that she loved a man”7. The deal gets done. David comes back with proof of not 100 but 200 dead Philistines that he has killed. So, there is a wedding. David and Michal are married, both for the first time. But stop for a minute.
Can’t you imagine how happy she is? It seemed to be what David wanted too.
Most of us have been to a wedding and seen that joy and glow. We attended a wedding recently in New Orleans. The bride was just radiant, and the groom couldn’t keep from smiling. You could see they were so happy to be getting married.
David and Michal are happy too; but Saul is miserable,
I Samuel 18:28-29 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David,29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
David’s father-in-law was his enemy. You may have had or currently have a difficult father-in-law or mother-in-law, but this is the extreme: to have your father-in-law want to kill you.
It’s evident from the text that Saul was both mentally and emotionally unstable. He was given to fits of rage and remorse. He could turn from the rational to the irrational quickly and there were no ways to gauge what would set him off. David has already been dodging Saul’s spear but as time progresses there is an outright contract on his life and he is in danger. Let’s pick up the story in chapter 19.
We’re in the living room, Saul is playing with his spear, David is relaxing and playing the harp.
I Samuel 19:9-16 But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.”12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head. When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair.
“Quick thinking on Michal’s part saved his life”8
She rescued the husband she loved from certain death. She protected him. She masterminded his escape. We see two parallel truths:
Truth: Love protects and love defends even at personal risk.
I Corinthians 13:4-8a Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, love never fails.
As you look back over your life, can you see where God has used other people to lovingly protect you? Parents, teachers, friends? Have we loved well those that God has put in our lives? Have we protected and defended them? Michal lovingly protected David.
Truth: Loving others well cooperates with God’s eternal purposes.
In this story God used Michal to save His anointed future King David. I wonder was she aware, did she believe at this time that David would be the next King? We don’t know at this point. But we do know God was using her to accomplish His plans. This little rescue, saved the life of the future King of all Israel. This little escape saved the lineage of the Messiah. This little plan of Michal’s was used of God for eternal purposes. I’m just amazed aren’t you that God wants to use us too and our little lives for Kingdom purposes.
Psalm 139 tells us that we have been uniquely created as human beings. Ephesians 2:10 says we have been uniquely re-created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us. Good works that have eternal purposes, just like Michal.
Thinking of your own life, in what ways do you see God using you for His purposes? Where do you see yourself loving others in such a way that affects them, has influence in their lives? Maybe he’s called you to love someone who’s unlovely or unloving? Last week during our small group time as we were going over a selected passage and I asked the question ‘What makes us unique as Christians from the rest of the world?’ Immediately, one in the group said “Christians love their enemies.” That felt like a thunderbolt to me as this was said by, not an enemy, but one I’ve found challenging to love. I sensed God was saying to me: “ He is right and you need to really love this person. Love with my love.” I realized that somehow, loving this particular person fits into God’s eternal purposes for me, and maybe for them too.
Before we leave this story, to get some insight into David’s thinking, we need to look at Psalm 59. Looking back over that night, the night that Saul wanted to kill him, David writes:
Psalm 59:1-4 Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
2 Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from those who are after my blood.
3 See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
David cried “Oh God, save me, save my life.” God lovingly did save him and God used Michal to deliver David from certain death.
The story continues as David flees and escapes into the wilderness, Michal does not see him again for many years. David is a fugitive, running for his life, until Saul is killed in battle which results in a split Nation in crisis. David is made King of Judah for 7 years while Michal’s brother, Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth is King in Israel. Ish-bosheth has a falling out with his army general Abner after which Abner then switches sides, offering his allegiance and his army to join with David. David accepts, but on one condition.
2 Samuel 3:13-14 “Good,” said David. “I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”
Why does he want her back? It’s possible that David may have genuinely loved Michal. We know she had previously been in love with him. (I Samuel 18:20). Or perhaps it was a strategic political move. David also expressed that he had a prior claim to Michal. He had paid the bride-price, and she was still his wife when angry Saul gave her to Paltiel. But beyond all that, if David was seen as Saul’s son-in-law once again, David could claim to be legitimate successor to Saul’s throne.”9
So, during the years David was fleeing King Saul, Michal had been given to another man. She had been with him for at least 10-15 years as his wife when David demanded her to be returned to him. What had happened to her in those 10-15 years? Was she happy with him? Did she miss David? We don’t know, but we do her husband Paltiel deeply loved her and was devastated when she was taken from him.
2 Samuel 3:16 So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So, he went back.
Her loving husband was sent home crying; he was left behind weeping. David, on the other hand, at this time, had 6 other wives. ( See 2 Sam 3:2-5 chart in the handout).
Stop again for just a moment. I wonder what Michal was feeling when she said goodbye to her husband Paltiel? I wonder if she was crying with him? And what her thoughts were when she was brought into David’s household, seeing the 6 other wives and their children? How would you have felt?
B. Michal, David’s Wife, Ridicules David (II Sam 6:1-23)
After Michal’s brother Ish-bosheth is assassinated (II Samuel 4:6), David, who is 33 years old, becomes King over all Israel and captures Jerusalem for his capital city. His heart yearns to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. After the first attempt failed, David tries again and this time the ark is successfully brought to his city. David is so happy and so excited that finally the ark, the ark of Moses, the representation of God’s presence to His chosen people, will be with him in the city. Can you picture the scene; the ark is being brought up the hill, in the middle of the street, the crowds are following, singing, dancing, tambourines are playing. David has taken off his royal robes so he too can dance and skip and sing with the crowd. He has on the linen garment of a priest and he’s out front right behind the ark, leading the people in worship and singing and dancing. Scripture tells us in the procession there were hundreds of priests, musicians with harps, cymbals, lyres, singers, trumpets, elders of Israel.
I Chronicles 15:3 David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to the place he had prepared for it.
Think parade, think big parade, think of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
All Israel was there, celebrating with David, except Michal. She is not part of the celebration; she is watching from a window; watching with disgust.
II Sam 6:16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
David had brought the ark into the city and placed it in a special made tent, then offered sacrifices praising God. This was a big party. David ended with a godly blessing for all the people, sent them away with take home boxes of more food. What an incredibly happy time for him, a high point in his life, feeling God’s pleasure and the people’s happiness. His next move is to go home and bless his household. Let me read to you some different versions of this passage.
II Sam 6:20 “How glorious the king of Israel looked today! He exposed himself to the girls along the street like a common pervert!” (Living Bible)
“…a Burlesque street dancer” (Message)
I can’t imagine how painful her words felt to him at this moment. They would have surely pierced my heart. Listen to David’s response:
II Samuel 6:21-22 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
Why was she so upset over his clothes? She accused him of being improperly dressed in front of the girls. What was wrong with his clothes? Nothing really, he was covered, in a linen ephod, but he was not in his kingly robes and he was dancing in the streets. She seems to be more concerned that he wasn’t acting like a King; he wasn’t acting like her father.
“Michal apparently did not understand David’s reasons for bringing the ark into Jerusalem. She seems to have regarded kingship in Israel as her father had. He had believed the human king was the ultimate authority and that everyone should honor him. By referring to Michal as “the daughter of Saul” (v. 16) the writer linked her attitude with her father’s.
“Her idea seems to have been that the king should avoid mixing with the people, and be aloof and inaccessible. As it was, she despised him for the very qualities that made him great, namely, devotion to the Lord and spontaneity in worship.””10
Michal missed it, missed the celebration, missed the worship, missed the blessing because she seemed to be more concerned about “what other people might think?” Her remarks had to deflate David’s joy, collapse his enthusiasm. She hurt him with her words.
This one sentence, verse 20, drips with sarcasm, ridicule and criticism. Her words were meant to shame him.
Truth: Our words have the power to help or harm.
Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword
But the tongue of the wise brings healing
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death
And those who love it will eat its fruit
Michal had reckless words to David; words that pierced him like a sword. Her words revealed she despised David. (v. 16) “Despised means to regard with contempt, distaste, disgust, or disdain, scorn, loathe.” (Webster’s Dictionary). We know how we can destroy others with our words, we know how other people’s words have cut our hearts too.
James 3:1-10 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
My tongue. I grew up in a Christian home where I felt loved and would always be taken care of, but at times the climate was critical and judgmental of others. What I interpreted that to mean for me was “being good really meant you should be perfect. “Then there would be no criticism. Just do everything right and you won’t get criticized. So, I came into a marriage with the thinking I could say anything that was true, or honest, or “right” even if it was harsh and critical. I didn’t see that my words were unkind or cruel. I’m not blaming my parents, or their parents, that was just the way I was. So, my patient, exasperated at times, husband would often say “Do you hear what you just said?” “Are you listening to your words?” Which would most times make me mad and then I would shut down and quit talking to him, you know that silent treatment! But God used him and his words to make me look at my words. I grew sick of the way I would use words to hurt him and others. Today, most of the time, I stop before I use those “reckless words.” I depend daily on the Holy Spirit to help me with my words and I’ve learned you can’t be perfect, so just let it go. I know I am very capable of still using words that pierce like a sword. For those times, you and I have forgiveness.
How about you? If someone overheard your words would they find them to be reckless? Hurtful? Critical? Do you speak differently to your family than you do at work? Or at church?
Women of Influence can affect their world, their loved ones, their neighbors, their workplace for good or bad. We’ve got to remember people are impacted by our words. Let’s challenge each other to intentionally choose to speak truth in love, kind words, gentle words, encouraging words, words that build up and not tear down.
Michal’s life is a contrast between loving someone so much that you risked your life to protect them and then later in life despising them so much you try to destroy them with your critical words.
When they were young, she saved his life from certain death. But then, later, her harsh words, flowing from a hard heart could not be taken back. Last thing we know about her, a tragic statement for her, living in her times.
2 Samuel 6:23 And Michal, the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
Let’s remember how we need to not only start well, but also finish well for the Kingdom. I want that for my life, don’t you?
1 “David: The Shepherd and The Warrior”, SimpleToRemember.com; Judaism Online.
2 “David The King,’ SimpleToRemember.com; Judaism Online.
3 Adele Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 1994) 33
4 Berlin, 24.
5 Lindsay Hardin Freeman, Bible Women (Forward Movement, 2014) 186.
6 Freeman, 186.
7 Larry R. Helyer, “Hero and Heroine Narratives in the Old Testament” (Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol. SBJT 02:3, Fall 1998).
8 Freeman, 187.
9 The Quest Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House 1994) 404.
10 Dr. Thomas Constable, “Constable’s Notes,” NET Bible Study Suite www.NetBible.org.
Related Topics: Women's Articles
2. Abigail (I Samuel 25:1-44)Related Media
Can you remember the last difficult conversation you had with someone?
One that caused some anxiety or concern? One that you really didn’t want to have but you did? Those kinds of conversations are hard to forget because they are difficult and sometimes risky. Nobody really likes conflict but it is inevitable. It’s in how we handle conflict and how we handle difficult conversations that matters.
Today, our lesson is all about difficult conversations and our woman of influence is Abigail.
A. The Main Characters:
The fact that David was a former shepherd plays critically into this story. But we also know that he is a giant killer. He, with God’s help, killed the huge Goliath. His fame was also well-known as an excellent military leader. Because of this, Saul, the King, hated him, was jealous and envious, wanting David dead. David at this time is a fugitive on the run for his life. Our story is sandwiched between two stories of David escaping Saul’s capture. Imagine the mindset of this man David; a shepherd/warrior who must be quick and sharp and always on guard seeing potential danger and vulnerability around the corner. He’s probably in his early 30’s. Remember Scriptures tell us he was “Ruddy-cheeked, bright-eyed and handsome” (I Samuel 16:12) “handsome features, beautiful eyes” This is a good-looking man.
I Samuel 25:2, 3b A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal…(he) was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.
He was a wealthy, powerful landowner who also was a Calebite. It’s likely that being in this area, Carmel, that he was a descendant of Caleb, one of the spies that Moses sent to check out the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua were the only two men that came back with a favorable report. When the people of Israel finally arrived in the promised land, this area was given to Caleb as his inheritance, this area around Hebron. Here is where our story is located. This is Caleb country and Nabal was a powerful Calebite. But he was also a harsh man, mean, obstinate, unyielding, hard to get along with, hard to live with and “his deeds were evil.” His very name in Hebrew means “fool.” Somehow, someway he married Abigail.
I Samuel 25:3a She was an intelligent and beautiful woman
“The Rabbis depict Abigail as a wise and practical woman, capable of acting at the right moment and in the right way…(they) include Abigail among the four most beautiful women who ever lived..she is also mentioned among the seven women prophets of Israel.”1
Jewish history respects this woman. She is smart, wise, gorgeous, sensitive, discerning, quick to take action, generous, bold. This is a woman willing to confront a conflict, willing to have a difficult conversation to protect her husband, her household and herself. She is willing to take a risk to achieve peace.
II. The Story
1. David’s Request And Nabal’s Answer Then David’s Response (v. 2-13)
Our story opens when we are in the midst of sheep shearing in Carmel. It’s a festive time, a party time, when the sheep are gathered, shorn and their wool is sold. Money is made. David hears that Nabal is shearing his sheep. The back story is when Nabal’s sheep and his shepherds were camped near David’s men, David’s men did not take any advantage of the flocks, instead they defended these flocks. They safeguarded them, perhaps from roaming bands of raiding Amalekites or Philistines or natural disasters or wild animals. They had been, as the servant tells Abigail, a “wall” of protection around Nabal’s sheep. So, David sends messengers to Nabal with an equitable, a customary request: can we share in the feast?
I Samuel 25:5-8 So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. 6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!7 “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. 8 Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore, be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’”
Can we share in the celebration too? Can we join? They asked and then waited for an answer.
I Samuel 25:10-11 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”
Nabal explodes. Who is David? Who is this son of Jesse? This rude reply shows contempt for David, implying that he is just a runaway servant of Saul, and his men are runaways deserving nothing. 2 Nabal was either simply regarding David as a rebel, fugitive of the law; or more likely he was sincerely unwilling to part with his money, his food or his drink. He refused to acknowledge David’s help in protecting his investments. But the servants tell us more:
I Samuel 25:14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them.
Nabal “screamed at them” (NET); “tore into them with insults” (MSG). These 10 men go back to David and tell him exactly what happened. Remember this is a reasonable request that has been denied with insulting language. This is a gross injustice to David. As he listens to the messengers his anger keeps rising.
I Samuel 25:13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So, they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.
“Put on your swords.” In Texas, we would say “gets your guns and let’s go”. This is going to be a bloody shoot out. David is out to revenge this insult. But Abigail enters the story, a woman of calm courage, a woman who will be very influential in the outcome. As David and his men are preparing for a confrontation, meanwhile…
2. Abigail’s Preparation
Back at Nabal’s house, the alarmed servants inform Abigail of the situation, begging her to help intervene. We’re given an insightful statement about Nabal
I Samuel 25:17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
No one can talk to him, no one can tell him when he is wrong. When someone is described that way, I am on alert, aren’t you? That characteristic really scares me, no matter who they are. Everyone, especially leaders, especially CEO’s like Nabal, need someone who can honestly talk to them and correct them when they’re off base. But “fools” don’t listen to others.
Wise Abigail, on the other hand, is listening. She springs into action. Somehow, I imagine this is not her first time covering for her husband. She knows she’s got to run interference. As she is thinking, she is planning and preparing. She knows she has to have a difficult conversation with an angry man who is not her husband. Step back and think of her possible choices.
- She could have run off and left Nabal to whatever David would do to him
- She could have been so paralyzed with fear that she did nothing
- She could have denied the urgency of the situation and said it’s not that bad, let’s just overlook it.
Instead, she puts all of her energies into saving the life of her husband and his household.
I Samuel 25:18-19 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
Only a woman could pull this off.
“Can you imagine instantly whipping up an equivalent Thanksgiving meal of, say, sixty smoked turkeys, one hundred dozen yeast rolls, twenty-five pounds of butter, three hundred pounds of mashed potatoes, twenty gallons of gravy, fifty fruitcakes, and two hundred assorted pies, then transporting the entire assemblage miles out of town without your husband’s even knowing about it? Perhaps, if his life depended on it, you can”3
3. Abigail’s Appeal To David (v. 23-31)
Imagine donkeys laden with food slowly traveling through the countryside. Abigail eventually catches up with them. She moves to the front of the caravan. As she descends into the ravine, she meets David descending from the opposite direction to meet her with 400 men, 400 angry men. The first thing she does is quickly get off her donkey and humbly bow before David. What she does is so important but what she says to David turns the whole situation completely around.
I Samuel 25:24-31 “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him. 25-27 “I wasn’t there when the young men my master sent arrived. I didn’t see them. And now, my master, as God lives and as you live, God has kept you from this avenging murder—and may your enemies, all who seek my master’s harm, end up like Nabal! Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master.28-29 “Forgive my presumption! But God is at work in my master, developing a rule solid and dependable. My master fights God’s battles! As long as you live no evil will stick to you. If anyone stands in your way, if anyone tries to get you out of the way, Know this: Your God-honored life is tightly bound in the bundle of God-protected life; But the lives of your enemies will be hurled aside as a stone is thrown from a sling. 30-31 “When God completes all the goodness he has promised my master and sets you up as prince over Israel, my master will not have this dead weight in his heart, the guilt of an avenging murder. And when God has worked things for good for my master, remember me.” (The Message)
She says “Forgive my foolish husband!” “I did not know your men asked for food, or I would have filled their saddlebags. Have mercy on us. You are fighting God’s battles, and evil shall not be found in you. You are the prince of Israel. Because God has treated you well, show the concern for us.”4
It’s interesting that Abigail is looking both at the situation now and she’s also seeing the future for David. She says: Please take the food, please forgive my husband. Don’t do anything rash that might endanger or change God’s plans for you. I know His hand is on you and one day when He has made you leader over all Israel, you don’t want to have this bloodshed on your resume. You don’t want to get revenge this way. That’s not who you are, David. She called forth the best in him. She helped him see a better way
4. David’s Response (v. 32-35)
David, as he listened to Abigail, he heard God speaking to him through her wise words
I Samuel 25:32-33 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.
God used Abigail to keep David from seeking to avenge himself and he is grateful. She kept him from sinning and in return he backs off. He accepts her gifts and says “I have listened to you, I have heard your words, go home in peace.” And that’s exactly what she does, she goes home.
5. Abigail And Nabal (v. 36-38)
When she gets there, she finds Nabal drunk, oblivious to the danger that has been adverted. It would seem the party is still going on, Nabal “having a good time, very intoxicated” (v. 36) Wisely Abigail knows that he’s in no condition to understand what she might tell him, so she waits until morning after he sobers up. Remember Nabal had met David’s messengers, he knew their request, now Abigail tells him the rest of the story.
I Samuel 25:37 His heart died within him, and he became as stone.
The word “stone” points to some sort of paralysis. “It seems that when Nabal hears what happened and to what terrible danger he was exposed, he suffers a stroke and becomes paralyzed and ten days later he dies”5
I Samuel 25:38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died
God struck him dead. In life, Scripture teaches us there is cause and effect. “We reap what we sow”
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Nabal was a selfish fool and the Lord struck him, dead.
6. David’s Marriage To Abigail (v. 39-43)
Word gets to David. Again, David praises God seeing his hand of protection in sending Abigail who prevents him from killing Nabal. His stepping aside allowed God to handle the situation his way.
I want to stop and remind us that David is a young handsome man and Abigail is a beautiful young widow. David sends messengers to ask Abigail to be his wife; to “propose marriage.” He did not take her by force. Her response, her willing response, indicates she had a choice and she chose to go to him “quickly” (v. 42). She went to David and became his wife. She’s actually his third wife; Michal, Ahinoam and then Abigail. Eventually, Abigail and David have a son named Chileab.
III. The Lessons
Truth: Conflicts are inevitable, and can be opportunities to honor God.
We know that the Scriptures are full of conflicts: in families, in marriages, in governments, in synagogues and churches. I have a book entitled: “When two or more are gathered together, someone spills the milk.” Knowing that we have conflicts, Jesus gave several instructions on how to resolve our conflicts in ways that are honor God in the process. Let’s look at what Abigail did through the lenses of biblical peacemaking. Much of this material was gained through Peacemaking Ministries.
When you’re facing conflicts, what do you do first?
Working with women and men through Bible Study Fellowship or on a church staff, I have often sat across the table with someone who wants to talk about a conflict in their life. I carry a little card that is quite helpful. The front is entitled “The Slippery Slope, Staying on Top of Conflict” It diagrams the ways we handle conflicts. Our responses to conflicts often determine whether we “fake peace” or we “break peace” or we “make peace”. Scriptures are clear, we are called to try to make peace, always remembering what Paul wrote.
Romans 12:18 If it’s possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
In this story, what does she do first?
She is not running away, not denying the danger, not planning to murder David when he comes. Instead she decides to go and try to make peace. Going, for most of us, is the hardest step, the barrier we don’t want to overcome. Wouldn’t it be easier just to let it go and isn’t it better to just overlook an offense? But sometimes you cannot. So how do you know when you must go?
A. If You Have Offended Someone.
Matthew 5:23 If you are offering your gifts at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, Go and be reconciled.
B. If Someone Has Offended You And You Can’t Overlook It
Matthew 18:15 If your brother sins against you, GO and show him his fault, just between the two of you
When we face conflicts, most likely we will have to go and face it personally. I’m often asked, can’t I just write a letter? Email, text? You can, it may be necessary that you do, but know this: When we communicate with others, 60-80% of what is conveyed is through body language; the rest is communicated with our words. I have a personal policy of not talking about anything really serious, or emotional, or complex through email. I pick up the phone if I think I’m going to be misunderstood and going in person is usually the best, though often the hardest. Abigail went to David. Abigail decided to GO and confront David. She also decided to:
We’ve seen how she prepared and then sent the gifts of food. The withholding of food was the very thing that initiated the conflict. Yet, Abigail prepares to make this right by loading the donkeys full of food. As she was quickly assembling these provisions, I’m sure she was preparing her words. What she would say when she met David; how she would say it, must have played out in her mind, in her thoughts as she got ready to go.
As we prepare to Go and talk with someone, we start with PRAYER, asking God to help us first see the conflict from His point of view, praying for honesty, wisdom, courage.
I can remember a conflict that I had caused with a neighbor, I knew I had to GO and try to resolve it. It made me sick. Do you know that feeling? I wanted to avoid her at all costs but how do you do that when you live on the same block? And God wouldn’t let me go until I would GO. I remember writing out what I needed to say because I knew I’d probably stumble and leave out/add to my words. So, part of my preparation was to think out the words, jot them down, and put them in my heart.
Abigail decided to GO and confront the conflict, she PREPARED the gifts and what she was going to say so when they met she was ready.
She SPEAKS with humility not only in her words but also in posture. “She is polite far beyond what is required.”6 She addresses him with great respect as if he were already the king, using words like “my lord, my master”. She knew, as we do too, that how you say something is as important as what you say. Just as her words explained the situation and sought to resolve the conflict, we too need to have that goal in our difficult conversations: explaining, understanding, affirming, when appropriate asking forgiveness, offering solutions, seeking to restore relationships, making peace.
What life lesson do we learn from Abigail? A practical and often needed lesson is:
When its necessary we need to be willing to confront a difficult conversation, seeking peace with discernment and grace.
Have you been thinking of a conflict in your life? A difficult conversation you need to have soon? Are you willing? Abigail saved her household and the reputation of a future king by being willing to confront a difficult conversation. She was a peacemaker for Israel. We too can be a woman of influence for good, like Abigail. Are you willing?
1 Tamar Kadari, “Abigail: Midrash and Aggadah” jwa.org
2 The Jewish Study Bible, 608.
3 Debra Evans, Women of Character (Grand Rapids, Zondervan 1996) 112.
4 Lindsay Hardin Freeman, Bible Women (Forward Movement, 2014) 192.
5 The Jewish Study Bible, 610. jwa.org
6 Adele Berlin, “Abigail: Bible”
Related Topics: Women's Articles
3. Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-53; I Kings 1:1-53; I Kings 2:13-25)Related Media
What do you like to do in the spring time?
Sailing, hiking or planting flowers? Maybe you like to go camping after the snow is gone and leaves are budding on the trees. Spring is a beautiful time of the year but for David and our next woman, Bathsheba, the words “spring time” mean something quite different.
David and Bathsheba. Their names are forever linked. Their story is one of the most famous of all the bible. Movies, books, plays have been written and produced to tell their tale.
“Never have the words “wrong place, wrong time” fit a situation so snugly. Toss in “wrong person, wrong reason,” and you’ve summed up the David-and-Bathsheba fiasco in a nutshell. It’s a story replete with “seduction, intrigue, and murder,” starring the most unlikely of players: David, king of the Good Guys. The setting was Jerusalem; the season was spring…”1
Bathsheba has been for me the most challenging ‘woman of influence’ to study and to get to know. One of the reasons is that we don’t know from the text her inner thoughts, or her feelings, and so it’s “difficult to accurately judge the reactions and emotions of Bathsheba.”2 Yet, there is no doubt that she had a significant part in the life of David. She is best known as the woman who was seen bathing in the evening, then brought to the palace and slept with the King. This seemingly “one-night affair” results in a pregnancy that turns David’s world upside down. But we know more information about Bathsheba. She births a total of 5 sons to David; one is King Solomon. She becomes a favored wife at court and ultimately the Queen Mother. It would be true to say she remains a loyal wife to David all his life; and helps to save the Kingdom for her son Solomon. A woman of influence? Oh, I would say yes. Let’s look at her story.
II. Bathsheba’s Bath (2 Samuel 11:1-12:25)
A. Sin (v. 1-5)
2 Samuel 11:1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
This is one of the saddest verses in all the bible to me, in fact, I cringe when I hear these words: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…..” Our story in placed right in the middle of war. The previous chapter tells us that David and his army have been fighting the Arameans to the north and the Ammonites to the east. Then the winters came. Since David did not keep a standing army, his men went home, many to plant their crops. Then after spring harvesting, they were summoned back to war. But this spring, when the troops went out, David stayed home. In the text, there is implication that he should not be in Jerusalem, but with the men. At this time David is middle aged, probably around 50 years old. We don’t know why he stayed home, maybe he was tired of sleeping on the ground, eating camp food. He had been a warrior since he was a teenager, maybe he felt his general Joab and his men were completely competent and could win without his presence. But one evening…
2 Samuel 11:2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful
We need to think of the topography of the city. Jerusalem at this time is a city on a hill slope. It would be shaped like a slice of pizza, wide at the top, narrowing as you go down the hill. David’s palace is at the top of the hill and everyone else’s home is downhill from his view point. David, out on his roof, his patio, could see down on the rest of the city. David looking down, saw Bathsheba bathing and she was beautiful. He asked who is that? The answer should have been enough to stop his thoughts, to wave red flags and to turn his gaze away. Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam. This is unusual for the writer to include a woman’s father’s name if she’s married, except that her father may have been one of David’s officers (II Samuel 23:34). She is also the wife of Uriah, and that should have put the brakes on for Uriah was part of David’s elite bodyguards (II Samuel 23:39). He was like a green beret, a Navy Seal, a special ops guy. Uriah was one of the 30, selected out of hundreds, that were David’s mighty men. But Uriah was at war, David was at home and Bathsheba was beautiful.
2 Samuel 11:4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home.
The question that is often asked is “What part did Bathsheba play in this affair?” Scriptures are silent. They do not tell us the answer to that question. We know that David was the King, the absolute authority. We know that he sent “messengers” plural, not just one person, to get her : “the word literally is to take her” in the Hebrew (laqah meaning to “to fetch” or “ summon”.3 We know that the power was all in his hands. David could have anyone he wanted. Commentators try to read between the lines to see if she too is guilty. I repeat the Scriptures are silent when we ask that question.
“When we read of this incident, we do so through Western eyes. We live in a day when a woman has the legal right to say “No” at any point in a romantic relationship. If the man refuses to stop, that is regarded as a violation of her rights; it is regarded as rape. It didn't work that way for women in the ancient Near East. Lot could offer his virgin daughters to the wicked men of Sodom, to protect strangers who were his guests, and there was not one word of protest from his daughters when he did so (Genesis 19:7-8). These virgins were expected to obey their father, who was in authority over them. Michal was first given to David as his wife, and then Saul took her back and gave her to another man. And then David took her back (1 Samuel 25:44; 2 Samuel 3:13-16). Apparently, Michal had no say in this whole sequence of events. (Regarding Bathsheba:) she is not bathing herself at high noon; she is bathing in the evening. This is when the law prescribed (for ceremonial cleansing), and it is when the sun is setting. In other words, it is nearly dark when Bathsheba sets out to wash herself. David has to work to see what he does.”4
I think the better question to ask the text is Why did David go after her? If it was only sex, he had several wives in his palace who would have met that desire. But no, he wanted Bathsheba, even after learning she was another man’s wife.
I remember hearing on TV an interview with a famous, powerful man who had been exposed for having several affairs and he was asked “Why did you do that, risk your marriage, your reputation, your career to have an affair with an intern?” He answered, “I did it, because I could, and no one could stop me.” David sinned with Bathsheba because he could, and no one could stop him. It wasn’t just about sex; it was about control and power. How many times do we sin just because we can and we think we can get away with it? Perhaps that is what David thought, until he heard three small words, the only words Bathsheba speaks in this passage: “I’m pregnant.”
For many of us, when we experienced those words, we were filled with joy and excitement. However for others, pregnancy means anything but good news. And that’s where Bathsheba and David found themselves.
B. Cover-Up And Murder (v. 6-25)
David sets in motion a plan to cover-up this affair.
2 Samuel 11 :6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David.
He works really hard to pass the child off as Uriah’s. He questions Uriah with “what’s going on in the battle?” Then David sends him home to hopefully sleep with Bathsheba. But no, Uriah whose name means “Yahweh is my light” 5is an honorable man; he stays at the palace sleeping near the servants and does not go to his house. His reason?
2 Samuel 11:11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
He is not willingly going home to Bathsheba, so David’s next plan is to get him drunk. He will lose his inhibitions and surely he’ll want to go home and sleep with Bathsheba. But even drunk, Uriah stays at court. David is not yet out of ideas and the next is deadly. David writes a letter to Joab, the general, to order Uriah to the front lines to ensure his death. Ironically, David ordered Uriah to carry the letter himself to Joab. This plan works and Uriah is killed.
Don’t you wonder what Bathsheba knew? Again, Scriptures are silent.
Adele Berlin writes:
“Bathsheba seems to know nothing of David’s plan, and indeed, it unfolds outside her purview. Bathsheba is “on stage” in this story very infrequently and is silent except for the announcement of her pregnancy, which she does not deliver in person. No hint is given of her inner life or her complicity with or resistance to David’s actions.”6
We do know that when she heard her husband had died in battle, “she mourned for him” (v. 26) What were her true feelings? Was she heartbroken or relieved? Was her grief genuine or fake? Like most of her story, we don’t know what she felt but only know what she did, or what was done to her. She went through the prescribed grieving rituals for Uriah. Then, after the customary 7 days of mourning, David brought her to the palace (literally “sent and collected her), married her and she bore him a son. However,
2 Samuel 11: 27b the thing David had done displeased the Lord
“upset the Lord” (NET); “was evil in the sight of the Lord” (NASB)
As I studied this passage, this sentence is one of the strongest arguments for Bathsheba’s innocence. This sentence places the blame, the sin, the affair, solely on David; not David and Bathsheba. It does not say “Bathsheba displeased the Lord” but David alone. David alone took advantage and sinned against the Lord and he sinned against Bathsheba. We’re going to see that this is not the end of the story of Bathsheba. However one of the truths of we learn from her life is:
Truth: Sins against us are not the end of the story in the plans of God.
Many of us have been sinned against. In fact, all of us have been sinned against. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave a model of prayer that we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus knew we would sin and be sinned against, needing to receive and give forgiveness.
Luke 11:2-4 Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us
We sin and are sinned against. Let me just name a few examples of being sinned against: childhood or spousal abuse, desertions, rejections, abandonments, financial injustices, false accusations, all kinds of inequities, when life seems so unfair, so not what we expected.
Truth: Even when we are sinned against, our lives can be brought into the purposes of God for His good.
There are times, dark times, when we don’t see God, we don’t feel His purposes in our pain, but be assured; He is always working, always present, always active in ways we don’t understand or sense. Bathsheba must have felt sinned against. She was taken from her home by the king’s men to the palace. David had sex with her and sent her back home. She found herself pregnant by David, not her husband. An intentional crime against her husband made her a war widow. How unfair!
Do you know the old saying “It takes two to tango?” Sometimes with sin, it’s only One. Only one person sins and yet, the other also reaps the consequences.
I remember several years ago I was sitting in a large auditorium listening to a message on this topic: when we are sinned against. Next to me was a very good friend and neighbor who I had known for years. Her husband had left her and was in the process of divorcing her and remarrying. When the speaker said something like “Sometimes there is only one at fault, only one to blame for what happens in relationships” my friend starting crying, and I did too. She was like Bathsheba, not perfect, but the one who was sinned against.
The Good News here is that sins against us are not the end of the story. God is going to confront David about his sin. Yes, there are difficult, painful consequences to his sin and Bathsheba will suffer too, but God is working out His purposes, His plans for good. We will see that as we read on.
III. Marriage And Children ( 2 Samuel 12:1-25)
A. Confrontation And Consequences
Life in the palace seems calm for a season. David and Bathsheba are married. Their son is born and all is peaceful until Nathan the prophet shows up with a message from God. He tells David a parable that appeals to his heart as a shepherd and king.
2 Samuel 12:4 This rich man had lots of lambs but he stole a precious little lamb from a poor man and cooked it for his house guest.
David was righteously upset with the rich man until Nathan said to him You are the man, although you’re not going to die, your baby will (12:7) This breaks David’s heart and he confesses
2 Samuel 12:13 I have sinned against the Lord
The baby does get sick and David pleads, prays, fasts and for 7 days he was pleading with God to save the life of his son. I imagine Bathsheba was probably holding that baby in her arms and praying too, staying up all night, rocking and loving this little one. Have you been there with a sick child? Or a precious animal? Do you know how she must have felt?
One commentator said …This child “though short lived and unnamed, would not be unloved” 7 David and Bathsheba loved this baby.
Sometime, perhaps during the 7 days or in this season David would pen the words to Psalm 51 (A Psalm of David when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba) Every week at our church we pray a version of this Psalm.
Psalm 51:1,2 Have mercy on me O God according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
God forgave the sin, but there were painful consequences to bear. The baby died. We see David’s great grief, but of Bathsheba we hear nothing. What pain, what sorrow, what heartache she must have felt too. It would seem that this baby’s death drew them closer together
2 Samuel 12:24, 25 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
Solomon’s name comes from the root of the Hebrew word shalom meaning peace. Jedidiah means beloved of Yahweh. The phrase “Now the Lord loved the child” is the Hebrew way of saying the Lord chose him.8 Perhaps from birth, Bathsheba knew that Solomon was a special child, destined for greatness, designed to be David’s heir.
B. Bathsheba Request To David (I Kings 1:1-53)
Some 20 years go by before we see Bathsheba again. When Nathan, prophet, confronted David about his sin, he predicted that because David had killed Uriah with the sword and taken his wife, “the sword will never depart from your house” (2 Samuel 12:10). That’s what we see happen in these 20 years; troubles upon troubles for David’s family. His oldest son, Amnon raped his own half-sister Tamar. In revenge, Tamar’s brother and David’s son Absalom killed Amnon and fled into exile. Absalom returns only to usurp his father David’s throne and take his wives. As the battle progresses, he is killed by David’s general, Joab. His large family, his many wives, the consequences of his own actions result in great dysfunction and agony as he ages. When we meet Bathsheba again David is old, near death, but still alert and has not yet officially designated a successor to the throne. Enter Adonijah.
1. Adonijah’s Coup (v. 5-10)
Adonijah is David’s fourth son, probably the eldest one living at this time, most likely around 35yrs old. He made elaborate preparations to seize the throne. He lined up horses, chariots, runners, and planned a huge party. He invited all his brothers except Solomon; all the royal officials except the special guard; all the army including Joab; all the priests except for Zadok and the prophet Nathan. He is ready to usurp David’s throne, this is a coup.
2. Bathsheba And Nathan’s Intervention (v. 11-27)
Somehow Nathan finds out and goes to court to tell Bathsheba. He advises her to respectfully ask David about his successor decision. Then he will come in and confirm the news about Adonijah. He will imply that basically one of two things is happening. He questions David: did you change your mind about Solomon succeeding to your throne and pick Adonijah? If not, David you need to know that your son Adonijah is usurping the throne, making himself King. Hearing that title “King” got David’s attention and he acted quickly. Then inserted into the passage is a tender moment between man and wife.
3. Bathsheba’s Son Is King (v. 28-53)
2 Samuel 12: 28-31 Then King David said, “Call in Bathsheba.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him. The king then took an oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30 I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.” Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
After that things happen very quickly. Solomon, who is probably about 20 years old, is mounted on David’s own mule, which would be a public statement to all that David wanted him to inherit the throne. He is anointed by the priest Zadok and Nathan. The trumpet is blown stating “long live King Solomon” and he is placed on David’s throne. The coup is quelled and the conspirators flee for their lives. Adonijah “in fear of King Solomon” (v. 50) runs to the sanctuary courtyard and took hold of the horns of the altar. To understand what this meant, we need to go back to Exodus.
Exodus 21:12-14 Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.
Grasping the horns of the altar provided asylum for an accused person while his case was under review. A person could be completely safe there, but only for a time.9
Solomon shows his brother mercy, but it’s conditional. Adonijah must show himself “worthy,” “honorable,” “trustworthy”. We’re going to see how that plays out. But our focus here is on Bathsheba.
For over 20 years Bathsheba has been at court as David’s wife and the mother of his sons. This passage shows that over these years she has developed courage, confidence and a voice, she speaks! Berlin writes:
If Bathsheba is portrayed as passive in her early relationship with David, she becomes strongly active toward the end of David’s life in her successful attempt to ensure that her son Solomon will inherit the throne.10
As a wife of the King, she is respectful not only of him as her husband, but his position as King, “she bowed low and knelt before the king” (v. 16). Yet she is very open with David and reminded him of previous conversations they have had. “You yourself told me Solomon your son shall be king” (v. 17) She knew when he was born God had named him as his chosen one “Jedidiah” beloved of Yahweh. David had probably shared with her his desire to build a temple for Yahweh but God had stopped him. ( I Chron 22:6-10) Solomon, the man of peace, her son, would be the King who build the Temple.
I Chronicles 23:1 When David was old and full of years, he made his son Solomon king over Israel.
And God used Bathsheba to help that happen.
Think of the contrast between Michel and Bathsheba. Michel when she married David, she loved him and protected him, but as the years passed, she allowed the difficult circumstances of her life to harden her heart toward David. Whereas ,Bathsheba was another man’s wife when David took her and sinned against her, but as the years progressed Bathsheba responded in a way that showed she grew to love and respect David. Consequently, she had influence. He listened to what she said. The words she said took courage and conviction, knowing the consequences were life threatening.
Truth: God’s purposes may require us to speak up in difficult circumstances.
In Bathsheba’s world, her step son was about to forcibly take over the Kingdom. If that occurred, and David died, she and her son would likely be murdered. For her, this was a life and death moment. She had to speak up. She had to champion God’s will for the Kingdom.
Can you think of a time, a hard time, when you needed to say something that might be risky or costly to you? But you had to say something because it was the right thing to do?
The Scriptures are full of stories like Bathsheba speaking up to the King. Esther risked her life to speak up to save her people from extinction. Deborah had to speak up to lead an army to defeat the enemy of Israel. Mary had to speak up and accept the difficult yet honored role of the Mother of Jesus. Lydia had to speak up and invite Paul to teach her more about Jesus.
Where might you have to speak up for God’s purposes? What life situation might demand you say something for good?
From an unlikely source, US News and World Report magazine, I read this quote:
“Bathsheba is one of the most Beguiling Characters in the Bible…”11
One thing about Bathsheba is clear: It is she alone who sparks a sudden transition in David’s life…the implications…will dominate his remaining years.”
Bathsheba is a woman of influence. She became a favored wife of the King. She was Queen Mother to her son Solomon the King. She birthed 5 sons to David. Her name is in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:6).
Her life illustrates: it’s not what happens to us but how we respond. Do we become better or bitter? Do we allow God to work through our difficulties for His purposes?
Do we trust Him when we are sinned against? Do we speak up for Him?
1 Liz Curtis Higgs, Really Bad Girls of the Bible (New York: WaterBrook, 2016) 127.
2 Lindsay Hardin Freeman, Bible Women (Foreward Movement, 2014) 204.
3 Sarah E. Bowler, “ Vindicating the Vixens”(Kregel, p96)
4 Bob Deffinbaugh, “David and Bathsheba” www.bible.org
5 Dr. Thomas Constable, “Constable’s Notes,” NET Bible Study Suite, www.NetBible.org.
6 Adele Berlin, “Bathsheba: Bible”, jwa.org.
7 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary”, 938.
8 Constable’s Notes.
9 The Quest Study Bible p 444.
11 Jessica Feinstein, “U.S. News and World Report,” January 25, 2008.
Related Topics: Women's Articles
4. Abishag (I Kings 1:1-4, 15b)Related Media
I know we’ve been talking all weekend about influence but I wonder if you ever question if what you do each day really matters?
Those Daily routines of meals, cleaning, work, carpool, childcare, doctor’s appointments, church ministries: does it all really count? for something? For Anything? I think that’s a question common to all women. Katherine Norris addresses this issue in her little book “The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work”. “Dailyness of daily life!”
“We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing even ecstasy but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were.”1
Daily, ordinary, seemingly insignificant, unnoticed are words that could describe our last woman’s life: Abishag.
There are only 4 ½ verses to read about Abishag. Just 4 ½ little verses describing how she influences the life of the King David. She does play a part in the beginning of Solomon’s reign in 1 Kings 2, but that’s another King and another story. Our focus is on the life of David; we have 4 ½ verses to cover. So, you can imagine researching material about Abishag was challenging. I googled her name and read everything I could find. I searched all my commentaries. I went on Christian and Jewish websites. I searched some 33 different theological journals’ sites. I spent more time searching for material on Abishag than what I found. And yet, I could not let her go. She intrigued me; and perhaps we are more like her than any of the other women.
At the beginning of her life, when she is young, strong and beautiful, Abishag is brought to the palace to take care of King David who is at the end of his life; he is old, fragile and dependent on her help. We will never know all the many times, day and night, that Abishag quietly cared for David’s basic needs, his ADL’s which stand for Activities of Daily Living.
All weekend we’ve been talking about how these different women, Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba, and how they affected the life of David; saved him, turned his career around, changed the direction of his life. Now this woman, Abishag, she is different from the others. She is not a wife, not a concubine, she simply ministers to her King in the ordinary, somewhat messy at times, selfless way of a caregiver, a caretaker, a custodian of life. What she does seems insignificant and unnoticed but I think we’ll be surprised by her. So, let’s meet this woman, Abishag.
I Kings 1:4 When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him.
The King is old. How old is he? We know he died at 70 years old. This event was in his last years, he is probably late 60’s, near 70. He is still the King, living in Jerusalem but he’s elderly and perhaps even bed-ridden. He’s cold! Very cold. He can’t get warm even when they pile blanket after blanket on top of him.
I remember when my dad got older. He would get chilled easily from his poor circulation. He could never keep warm. He’d wear a jacket all the time and his hands were always cold. When I’d visit him, in the same house I grew up in, the house would always be so hot. He’d keep it 80 plus degrees all year around, because dad was always cold, just like King David. So, the problem at court was how to get the King warm. The servants have an idea.
I Kings 1:2 So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.”
Their advice was to find a young virgin to be his nurse and to lay next to him to keep him warm. This was a common solution: warm up an elderly person not only by covering with blankets but also by putting a healthy person in bed with him or her.2 You would get warm from the other person’s body heat. It does work, you do feel warmer next to someone else. We have a grandson, Raleigh, and from the time he was a toddler, he loved to get really close when he slept with you. There’s always the chance of an arm of leg coming over on top of you, face right on your face. I can assure you, you definitely felt his body heat. David needed somebody’s body heat to keep him warm. The job description was not only to provide warmth but also v2 “to attend, to take care of him”. So, they started looking for just the right young girl.
I Kings 1:3 Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
They looked all over Israel “for a beautiful young woman.” Isn’t it interesting they weren’t looking for an ordinary looking woman, or an older woman; they wanted a beautiful young woman!
They found her, Abishag, a Shunammite. She was from the town of Shunem in northern Israel, some 60 miles north of Jerusalem. That was quite a search for her! They brought her to the King.
I Kings 1:4 The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.
In Hebrew this literally says she will “stand before” the king, describes the role of a “‘caretaker’ and nothing more”3 Abishag is not a wife, she is not a concubine; she’s an attendant, a nurse, a home health or hospice caregiver. She is a special servant, but one whose presence was ignored.
I Kings 1:15 So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him.
In her role as caregiver she was present when David needed bathing, feeding, dressing, but the text is clear: she was not intimate sexually with him. We’re not told what kind of relationship they had, but he was dependent on her care. A few years ago, after my dad had “the fall,” he was in a long-term care facility. He could feed himself but needed help with his personal hygiene and walking. I thank God for all the wonderful caregivers he had, but one in particular was named Shirley. Dad loved Shirley. His eyes would light up when she came in the room and he’d say “There’s my girl Shirley!” She was kind, considerate and gentle and always concerned that he had his meals, he had his meds, that he was comfortable. She was his Abishag. When I think of Abishag, picture her in my mind, I think of all the Shirleys that right now are taking care of our elderly loved ones.
I mentioned at the beginning how little information I could find written about this woman. I’ve never heard a sermon preached on Abishag. I’ve never done a bible study about her before now. And yet, her she is forever inscribed in the Word of God; her story and her name are significant enough to be included in the Scriptures. So, as I pondered that, I wondered what can we learn from her, what lessons are in these few verses for us? As I was praying and asking God to give me something from Him that about Abishag, I read and re-read this verses, picturing this woman; imagining what her day looked like? What did she do, day in and day out, as she cared for David? Although she was at Court and he was the King, what she did was routine and ordinary, the same every day. I wondered if she ever heard a “thank you” or “you’re doing a great job” or “we couldn’t do this without you.” Maybe, or maybe not. I thought how many of us, at so many times, feel like we are unnoticed or what we do every day is seemingly insignificant. The routines of daily life seem to be going nowhere. Our ministries wear us out and we wonder if anyone cares? Taking care of a family, children, homework, car pool never has an end. At work, we question if what we do, day after day, is making a difference? Anywhere?
And then on August 21, I was reading the daily devotional from “My Utmost for His Highest” and God impressed me to pay attention: this is about Abishag and this ministry is important to Me. August 21 is titled “The Ministry of the Unnoticed”4
If you go on the website “My Utmost for His Highest’ Oswald Chambers, you’ll see on August 21, a photo of a woman from the knees down, in jeans and tennis shoes, you don’t even see her face. On one side of her is a floor mop and the other side is a mop bucket, a visual of cleaning floors, a task that we all know is definitely unnoticed!
The New Testament notices things that do not seem worthy of notice by our standards. “Blessed are the poor in spirit….” This literally means, “Blessed are the paupers.” Paupers are remarkably commonplace! The preaching of today tends to point out a person’s strength of will or the beauty of his character— things that are easily noticed….. At the foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is the genuine loveliness of those who are commonplace. …If I have no strength of will and a nature without worth or excellence, then Jesus says to me, “Blessed are you….The true character of the loveliness that speaks for God is always unnoticed by the one possessing that quality. Conscious influence is prideful and unchristian. If I wonder if I am being of any use to God, I instantly lose the beauty and the freshness of the touch of the Lord. “He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). And if I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord. Who are the people who have influenced us most? Certainly not the ones who thought they did, but those who did not have even the slightest idea that they were influencing us. In the Christian life, godly influence is never conscious of itself. If we are conscious of our influence, it ceases to have the genuine loveliness which is characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.5
We may never know what God is doing behind the scenes of our common, ordinary, unnoticed lives and ministries. One thing we can assured of: if our unnoticed deeds, seemingly insignificant ministries are dedicated to The King, following His will, then we are influential women and we will accomplish eternal good.
Acts 13:36 Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep he was buried with his ancestors…
God has a purpose for each of our lives. We can lose sight of the big picture when we’re looking down at the ordinary. Abishag is a reminder of how the little deeds of our lives are important to God and that our very life can be a witness for Him no matter how young or old we are. We need to encourage each other in this truth.
Patsy was the mother of a man in our small group from church. She was a believer in Jesus and had 5 children. Although the children were raised in the church, not all her kids were or are Christians.
Over the last 4 years Patsy’s health, mentally and physically had been declining. She had gone to live in an assisted care facility near her daughters. They would visit ever week or so. The other children would visit as they could, living farther away. In the several years that we’ve been in small group together, our group has prayed for Randy’s mom Patsy, for her health, for her living conditions, for her peace. From the beginning, as she declined, Randy would say to us and to his family “Mom is not going to die until God’s purposes for her life are accomplished” I remember every time we prayed for her, Randy was confident of that truth, not really knowing what those purposes were as her health deteriorated.
November was a huge turning point in this story. Patsy became dehydrated, very sick, to the point of death. The family gathered and it became evident that the facility had not taken the best care of their mother. So, as she recovered, she was moved to another place and most importantly one of Randy’s sisters said “I’m not going to let mom die from neglect.” She started visiting every day, then twice a day caring, spending hours and hours with her mother. Another important piece to the story is this sister was a prodigal from her Christian upbringing. She was embracing today’s new age spirituality and she had not raised her family in the faith.
But she was determined to care of her mom. Days would go by, Patsy would have moments of recognizing the family, of people she knew, but her over-all health was declining. Randy’s sister would faithfully do the laundry, check on her meals, visit and sit with her mother. We all wondered how long would Patsy live in this condition?
By summer, things declined rapidly, Randy went home to see her. He took his prayer book with him and his sister asked him to pray over their mother, to say familiar prayers, and to recite the Nicene Creed knowing his mother loved to recite it. For those of us who are not used to reciting ancient Creeds at church, the Nicene Creed dates back to 325 AD when the early church fathers were confronting different heresies. The Nicene Creed is a statement of Christian faith, an orthodox doctrinal statement about the essentials of our faith. Listen carefully to the words:
I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth
and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only‐begotten Son of God,
begotten of His Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father,
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried.
And the third day He rose again
according to the Scriptures
and ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of the Father.
And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,
and I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen. 6
This creed says: I believe in the Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus came and died for my salvation. I believe He is coming back to judge the world and I believe in Heaven, and a Kingdom without end. This is our Christian faith.
After several days, Randy went home. One night not too long after his visit, his sister said evening prayers with her mom. She recited the Lord’s prayer and the little night time prayer many of us grew up saying: “Now I lay me, down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die, before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take. Amen.” Then she went home. When she got there, she as she was talking with her husband, processing her thoughts and emotions about her mom, she said “I just can’t stand the thought of mom not being in Heaven when she dies.” As she wrestled with that, she remembered: I know she believes in God; I know she always believed in the words of the Nicene Creed. I guess I believe them too. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe what the Nicene Creed says, so I guess I’m a Christian too. Five minutes later, the nursing home called and said Patsy had just died.
Had Patsy died before November, Randy’s sister would not have had all those days and months with her mom. She would not have had the opportunity to care for her mom; to sit with her, to pray with her, to have time for God to soften her heart. Patsy had no idea that her lingering, decaying body and mind would be used for God’s purposes in her own daughter’s spiritual life. Patsy would not die until God’s purposes for her were finished, but when they were finished, she died 5 minutes later.
Patsy, an elderly, dying woman, had like Abishag: the ministry of the unnoticed. To many people I’m sure she just was an old woman in a nursing home, but not to God. God had eternal purposes in mind for her as He did for Abishag and He has for you and me.
Influence. May we all be willing to use our influence no matter where we are, for God and His glory.
Influential Women: Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba, Abishag and You!
Each of you, every one of you, you are Influential, more than you will ever know this side of heaven. But It’s our choice whether we will use our influence for good and for God or not. I pray we will with God’s help.
1 Kathleen Norris, “The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work” New York: Paulist Press 1998, 12.
2 Constable’s Notes, www.bible.org
3 Jewish Study Bible, 671.
4 Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest” August 21.
6 As found in the Lutheran, Missouri Synod version: http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=954
Related Topics: Women's Articles
Q. Is It Wrong To Have Pictures Of Jesus?
Idolatry And Pictures Of Jesus
Idolatry In The Old Testament
I believe that this text in the Book of Deuteronomy is the key to the answer:
“Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ 11 “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. 12 “Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice. 13 “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14 “The LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it. 15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. 19 “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (Deut. 4:10-19 NAU)
God forbade the making of idols (and worshipping them!) because as yet no one had ever seen God (only manifestations of Him, such as we see in Exodus 24:9-11). How can you make an image of someone no one has seen?
Now, of course, there was the matter of worshipping a forbidden idol, and often that worship involved immorality, among other things.
Idolatry In The New Testament1
Consistent with the biblical process of progressive revelation, the New Testament sheds additional light on the matter of idols.
It probably is worthy to note that Jesus never said anything about idolatry in the Gospels. I’m not seeking to make anything of this, but merely to point something out. A further observation was that while no one saw God in the Old Testament, Jesus now claims to be God, and thus to see Him is to see God:
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (Jn. 1:18 NAU)
No one has ever seen God. The one and only1 Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side-- he has revealed him. (Jn. 1:18 CSB17)
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. (Jn. 14:7-11 NAU; see also Philippians 2:5-11)
Jesus’ claim to be God was a great and unpardonable sin to those who rejected Him:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS ‘? 35 “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God ‘? 37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” 39 Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. (Jn. 10:27-39 NAU)
It should not surprise us to read that Jesus was worshipped by men who received Him as God:
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matt. 2:2 NAU)
After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matt. 2:11 NAU)
And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matt. 14:33 NAU)
And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. (Matt. 28:8-9 NAU)
And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. (Jn. 9:38 NAU)
So, does the incarnation of our Lord Jesus, God coming to earth as a man, a perfect God-man, not impact in some way the prohibition we read in Deuteronomy 4? Is it not right to say that God has revealed Himself to men as a man, the God-man Jesus Christ? Is it not right to worship Jesus as God?
Some would brush this aside, and persist to contend that a picture of Jesus is not appropriate. I would respond to this contention from two different directions.
First, I would say that while it is possible that some image of Jesus might be wrongly venerated, and even worshipped, that is seldom the case. Indeed, I have never observed or heard of any instance of this within Evangelical Protestant Christianity. If it were so, this would be wrong, but I don’t think that would justify the condemnation of any and every graphic representation of Jesus
But now, I wish to approach the issue from the opposite direction. Is it possible that the prohibition of graphic representations can actually be counter-productive? Because of the Jesus film which has been shown globally, many have come to faith in Jesus and are now worshippers of Him (not the movie or the character who played Jesus). Would we wish to conclude that this graphic representation of Jesus was evil? Wouldn’t the prohibition of pictures of Jesus hinder the gospel?
Here is another sobering thought. If one were to take away every picture of Jesus in children’s Bibles and Sunday School curriculum, would this produce the kind of results that would please God? There are a number of heresies which have cropped up in an effort to reject or modify the biblical doctrine of our Lord’s incarnation – that the Son of God came to earth as the one and only perfect God-man. Jesus had a physical body. One can hardly avoid this conclusion as you read the Gospels. But there are those who embrace a heresy known as Docetism, the theory that Jesus only appeared to have a body, but in reality, He did not.
I cannot think of any picture of Jesus that I have seen that did not portray Jesus as a man, a man with a human body. Children don’t think in abstract terms, but in concrete terms. When they see pictures of Jesus they see Him as a man, and that is what He was. Jesus appeared as a man, and was accepted as such without debate. What men found more difficult was that this “man” was also God. Our Lord’s deity became evident by means of His words and deeds. To take away all pictures of Jesus as a man tends to diminish His deity, and actually inclines children toward Docetism.
My point in all this is that pictures of Jesus don’t normally result in idolatry, while the removal of all pictures of Jesus may actually misrepresent His nature, and hinder the proclamation of the Gospel.
A Word About Application
So what if an individual continues to be convinced that pictures of Jesus are a form of idolatry? Given the fact that very highly respected evangelical scholars and theologians differ on the acceptability of picture of Jesus, should we not conclude that this is a matter of personal conviction, rather than a strongly held fundamental of the faith, historically embraced within Christianity? And if it is a matter of conviction, should we not act in accordance with Paul’s instructions in Romans 14 and 15? If so, we should not seek to impose our views on others, or debate in a way that divides us.
I’m reminded of the issue of divorce and remarriage which was dealt with by Bethlehem Baptist Church some years ago. John Piper held to a very strict view regarding divorce and remarriage: no divorce or remarriage after divorce.2 The church, after a lengthy time of study and discussion, reached a less restrictive policy.3 As I understood this from a distance, John Piper was free to teach his position on divorce and remarriage, and he was free to practice his convictions as he saw fit. But the position of the church was different, and that was what guided the staff and individual members as the church’s policy.
In any case where an individual (especially a visible leader) held strongly to a position that the model set forth at Bethlehem Baptist Church be followed. The individual is free to hold his position, and even to teach it (though not to beat this horse repeatedly), but the position of the church would be distinguished. I believe in Piper’s case that he actually communicated both his position and that of the church.
I do not believe it wise to make this matter of pictures of Jesus a fundamental of the faith, or to allow it to divide the body of Christ. In my opinion it is similar to matters like the celebration of Christmas or Easter, which had pagan associations in earlier days.
1 One could make the point from the New Testament that it is not merely images which can serve as idols, but other things as well, although it is my opinion that in our day too many things have been labeled as “idols.”
Related Topics: Christian Life
Resurrection Sunday/Easter Study Guide: Suggestions For Family Devotions Or A Small Group StudyRelated Media
Texts of Scripture and Questions to Ponder
What evidence is there that the Old Testament saints anticipated a bodily resurrection? (Hint: We should approach this in the light of Hebrews 11:13-16.)
Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5
Genesis 22; Romans 4, especially vss. 16-25; Hebrews 11:17-19
2 Samuel 12:18-23
2 Kings 2:11-12
2 Kings 13:21
Psalm 16:7-11; 17:15; 23:4-6; 73:1-28; 116:15
Isaiah 53:7-12; Daniel 12:1-2; Malachi
What did Jesus do or say related to His upcoming death and resurrection?
- Jesus raised the dead: Matthew 3:9; 10:8; 27:50-53; 11:4-5; Mark 5:25-43; Luke 7:11-16; John 11:30-44, and so did the apostles (Matthew 10:8; 11:2-6; Acts 9:32-43; 20:9-11).
- He told His disciples and others of His upcoming death and resurrection: Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32; Mark 14:28; Luke 9:22; John 2:19-22; 6:38-54; 12:1, 9, 17ff.
- Jesus staked His entire ministry on the fact that He would rise from the dead: Matthew 12:38-40. (The apostles did the same thing – basing their preaching the gospel on the fact of Christ’s resurrection: Acts 1:22; 2:24; 2:31-32; 3:15, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:27-39; 17:18; 24:14-15; 24:21; 26:23.)
During His earthly ministry, how did Jesus’ disciples respond to revelations concerning His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21ff.; Mark 9:9-14; 9:31-37; 16:9-11)? Were they predisposed to believe in His resurrection? What changed this?
How important was the resurrection of Jesus (and of all the dead) to the N.T. writers? What did they make of the resurrection, its meaning, and its application to us? How does the resurrection of Jesus Christ impact people today?
- Acts 1:22; 2:14-47; 3:6; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30-32; 13:26-39; 17:18; 17:30-34; 23:6-10; 24:14-15; 24:21; 26:21-23.
- Romans 1:4; 4:16-25; 5:12-21; 6:1-11; 8:11; 10:6-10; 10:38-43
- 1 Corinthians 15
- Ephesians 4:7ff.
- Philippians 1:19-26; 3:7-11
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
- 2 Timothy 2:15-18
- Hebrews 11:13-16
- 1 Peter 1:3; 3:21-22
- Revelation 20:4-15
According to Hebrews 11:13-16, Romans 4:13-25, Romans 10:9, and 1 Corinthians 15, what is the relationship between believing in a physical, bodily resurrection and saving faith?
Name several reasons for believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?
- John 21:14
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-9; Acts 2:32; 3:15; 9:1-22; 13:30-31
- Acts 2:23-32; 17:2-3;
- John 16:7-11 (especially verse 10).
- Romans 8:11
- Acts 3:3-16; 4:8-10
If we preach that Christ was raised from the dead, and thus all the dead (believers and unbelievers) will also be raised, how is it that the doctrine of the resurrection can be joyfully embraced by Christians (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and yet fearfully anticipated by unbelievers (Acts 10:42; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 2:14-15; Daniel 12:2; Revelation 1:18; 20:12-15)?
How had Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Sadducees regarding the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-34)? Why is it that the Jewish religious leaders (particularly the Sadducees) so strongly resisted the proclamation of the resurrection by the apostles (see Matthew 27:62-64; Acts 4:1-2; 5:17; 23:6-7)?
This will be a thought-provoker. Why is it that when we celebrate communion (the Lord’s table) we focus on the incarnation (the bread) and on the death of Jesus Christ (the wine), but nothing is specifically stated regarding the resurrection of Jesus (though it is implied in 1 Corinthians 11:26)? (Hint: What symbol could represent the resurrection of Jesus?)
What is the significance of the resurrection? What difference does it make whether or not one believes in the resurrection?
What are some differences between the biblical doctrine of the resurrection (of Christ, and of all the dead) and a belief in reincarnation?
So, summing up the teaching of the Scriptures on the resurrection of our Lord, what is it that we can and should celebrate this Easter? In what ways does the resurrection prompt our worship, as well as our efforts to share the gospel with unbelievers?
Psalms Of GladnessRelated Media
In a prayer psalm attributed to David, the psalmist opens his request with a plea for God’s help (Ps. 5:1-2; cf. vv. 7-8)
Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.1
While asking for God’s help, he contrasts God’s graciousness (e.g., vv. 3-5) with the infidelity of evil people (e.g., vv.9-10), So it is that he can close his psalm with a happy life the righteous person may expect (vv. 11-12). Another psalmist praises the Lord and rejoices in him:
I will praise you, O LORD with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (Ps. 9:1-2; cf. 16:9)
Still another psalmist asks God for his intervention in the midst of Israel’s difficulties and pleads with God:
Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
For as many years as we have seen trouble. (Ps. 90:13-15)
By way of application Futato remarks, “The pain and trouble of this life can be ever so frustrating, but God is able to replace our frustrations with satisfaction”.2
In Psalm 67, the psalmist begins by praising God (vv. 1-2) and then urges that all people everywhere will praise the Lord. In so doing he says prayerfully:
May the people praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth. (vv. 3-4)
Indeed, granted their doing so, they may find that God’s many blessings will follow:
Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
all the ends of the earth will fear him. (vv. 6-7)
Applying this passage to today’s Christians, Van Gemeren remarks “Our joy is now full in Jesus Christ. We have reason to sing for joy, as our heavenly Father blesses us by providing for our needs. (Mt. 6:25-34)3 Accordingly, all believers may not only be glad but can sing for joy:
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful (Ps. 68:3)
As the author of Proverbs remarks,
A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit. (Pr. 15:13)
In a traditional poetic piece, attributed to David as the author (a psalm which has experienced various critical views (Ps. 70)), the psalmist pleads for God’s help (vv. 1-3, 5; cf. Ps. 40:13-17). In so doing he petitions the Lord:
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
May those who love your salvation always say,
“Let God be exalted!” (v.4)
While the psalmist probably had his own difficulties, he none the less was concerned that all who put their faith in God would not only experience God’s assistance, but be able to rejoice in the Lord and be glad in His saving intercession. David’s request may also be felt in today’s believers, so that rather than having a hostile attitude toward others, they may be concerned not only for their own correction and deliverance from trouble, but have a concern for all people.
A similar sentiment is found in Psalm 96:8-9:
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Even all nature may rejoice and sing:
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. (vv.11-12)
If all nature can experience God’s blessing, then certainly God’s people can do so. Indeed, several psalms express a similar thought, for example:
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
For you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul. (Ps. 31:7; cf. 32:11)
All that we have examined certainly provides suitable examples for today’s believers as well. May we be challenged by God’s word which reminds us:
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful psalms. (Ps. 100:1-2)
May such be our daily experience:
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps.118:24)
Yes, as the old proverb declares “A righteous one can sing and be glad” (Pr. 29:6b).
The above discussion may well be felt in a familiar hymn:
Be strong in the Lord and be of good courage;
Your mighty defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings as the eagle ascending;
Victory is sure when you call on his name.4
1 All scripture references are from the NIV.
2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il., Tyndale House, 2009), VII:294.
3 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:513.
4 Linda Lee Johnson, “Be Strong in the Lord”.