Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dancing with David: David and Jonathan

David, before taking the throne, lived in the palace as a servant to King Saul. He defeated the Philistine champion, Goliath. He became a champion of Israel, himself. He played the lyre before Saul in his royal court. And he became good friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan. David and Jonathan shared a covenant of equal respect. Jonathan gave David his robe and sword. They were the closest of friends. As time goes by, Saul became jealous of David's popularity and plotted to kill him. David had to go on the run from Saul. In a tearful embrace, the two princes said farewell. The love and kindness of Jonathan made it possible for David to escape death. And that grace remained a part of David's soul for the rest of his life. We should all be lucky to have at least one friend that “has our back” and inspires us to live in gratitude to grace.

Although this is not one of my favorite renderings from this series, I still think it sums up the moment well. It depicts that mournful goodbye. The quiver, worn by Jonathan, alludes to the signal he used to warn David. The embrace has strong lines around the arms. This is that kind of hug that is more like a body slam full of emotion. The tears seem a bit sappy, but they serve as a symbol. These men were crying. Yes, men can cry for their friends. We should not feel it a weakness to cry for our brother. And we should dare to love others so strongly.


LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dancing with David: David and Samuel

The prophet Samuel is about to anoint a new king, but doesn’t know who it will be. Only God knew who among the people of Israel would have the qualities to be king. To everyone’s surprise, the one called to be king is a young, scrappy, shepherd boy named David. And I think an even bigger surprise to David.

This drawing depicts the moment of David's anointing. I wanted the scene to convey a baptismal-like moment. As the oil drips on David’s head, he is being called by God to live a special life. For the rest of his life, David lives out the call. Sometimes well. Sometimes poorly. In our baptisms, we are claimed by God and called to live special lives. Lives that only God knows we are capable of living. Only God knows the kind of person we are meant to be. Only God knows our hearts. Our limits. Our true gifts. In some ways, it feels like we are flying blind on how to live out our calling. But we go on—trusting in the One who knows us and believes in us.


O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.

O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dancing with David Through Lent?

The season of Lent has begun. It is a time of contemplation, meditation, prayer and preparation before Easter. Traditionally, we reflect on the moments in the life of Jesus leading up to his death and resurrection. We turn our eyes towards Jerusalem and follow the journey there with Christ. For these Lenten blogs, let us add some layers to that. Let us fix our eyes to Jerusalem, but further back in time. To another King of the Jews. To King David.

David’s story is full of triumph and tragedy.  Scandal and grace. His life was filled with war, sin, and pain. Yet, he was  remembered for being “a man after God’s own heart.” He’s attributed to writing many of the psalms in our scriptures. Psalms of human honesty before God.  And he dared to dance with joy before the Ark of God when others considered it to be irreverent. 

During these weeks in Lent, I plan to post some charcoal drawings illustrating some stories from the life of David. They were designed to be bulletin covers for a Lenten sermon series called “Dancing with David.” They were made a few years after I graduated from college. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much from the sermons (Sorry John).  But it is interesting to look on these drawings again with older eyes. Some of them are artistically “just ok”. But others are rather nice. I found the charcoal adds to the moods of Ash Wednesday, fasting and Lent.  

And to add music to the dance, I plan to add a psalm that I think connects well with the story.  At first, I thought reflecting about David during lent is a bit of a stretch. But after hearing the psalm that ushered in our Lenten season at our Ash Wednesday service, I’m convinced that the story and songs of David can add much to our Lenten experience.  

Shall we dance?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Here is another painting form the series “Consider the Lilies.” A rose to help us consider “Love.” You can read more about the series in my last post on “Hope.” This is actually my first and only attempt to paint a rose. I have plans to do more. This rose is is in a misty environment. It has drops of water on the petals which I think adds depth to the meditation on love. Ok. You creative types will probably say that roses are so cliche. But the rose can still have some interesting insights to love. Its colors are passionate. It has many complex layers that unfold as it blooms. It appears delicate and vulnerable, yet stands strong against fierce storms. And it even has a bittersweetness in its thorns. As Valentine’s day approaches, please take a moment to ponder how profound is the concept of love, and how fortunate we are to possess the ability to love. Here is a favorite Bible passage of mine about love from the letter of First Corinthians, chapter 13. Ok. You Bible types out there will probably say that this passage is so overused. But like the rose, it is worth looking at with a deeper gaze of faith and wonder.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I pray that we all take some time in our lives to “stop and smell the roses” and thank God for the gift of love.