2 SAMUEL: 3 & 4
These two books of Samuel contain the historical record of the early days of Saul, and now David, establishing their rule. They contain blood-thirsty and violent incidents. Political intrigue and ruthless self advancement, power and deception were as real then as they are today.
David, in his capital Hebron, becomes father to six sons by six different wives, and works hard to establish his position as King, as there are still supporters of Saul who do not want to lose their position. Abner is the great example of this – attempting to secure his place on Saul’s side by sleeping with Saul’s concubine (3:7) but intimidating others in the process (3:11). He then switches allegiance to David when criticised by Ish-Bosheth, a surviving son of Saul, and covering for himself through negotiation and action.(3:8-12 & 21)
In spite of the animosity Saul had shown David, David remained loyal to ‘the Lord’s anointed’ even to the point of having anyone who harmed any of Saul’s supporters killed.
It is no wonder that we are encouraged to PRAY for our leaders, both political and church, that they have both wisdom and desire to lead in a Godly way for the good of all citizens.
How striking is the disregard for women in those days! Eventhough, along with men they were made in the image of God (Genesis1:27), they are treated as objects of man’s convenience. Rizpah, Saul’s concubine (3:7) was used to advance Abner’s chances and Michal (3:13-16), tossed from one husband to another and then returned, without any consultation.
REVELATION 21: 9 -27
Have you ever eagerly recounted a dream to someone the next morning? The more graphic and well told, the more gripping it often is for both teller and listener. Today we come almost to the end in spectacular detail of John’s amazing experience of being ‘caught up in the Spirit’ (21:10) to see a vision of the completion of God’s cosmic plan- recreation, the New Jerusalem as it is described. This being the perfect place for chosen humanity to live forever in God’s presence.
evil has been defeated (20:10)
sorrow, sickness and suffering are no more (21:4, from Saturday’s reading).
and John through the Spirit ‘sees’ this splendid, awe-inspiring creation. No sun or moon is needed because God is there; His glory providing abundant light.
This city, a perfect huge cube in shape, was meticulously measured as 12,000 stadia ie 2414km (Adelaide to Darwin) on each surface – a greatly expanded copy of ‘ the holy of holies’ in the original temple where God communicated with His people in the Old Testament. No temple is needed in this vision because the city is where God is present – it ‘comes down from heaven’. (21:10 & 23). It can never be something humans can make, but is forever God’s gift of love and grace, a picture of ‘ultimate future’ according to Bishop Tom Wright. This great new reality, shown to John so he can pass it on, is the place where God will dwell, and there’s room for many. The TWELVE gates of of this city wall are always open, and draw together the essence of the Old Covenant shown by the individual names of the twelve tribes written on each of these gates, and the names of the twelve apostles each written on the foundations of the wall…….expressing the completion of God’s original creation.
Today we could close our eyes and picture such a place with all its wonder, brilliance and purity and then thank God for the Lamb’s sacrifice that has made it possible to look forward with confidence of being there.
Peter and Elizabeth Smart.