Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dancing with David

Last Sunday, the children in our church sang a processional “Hosanna in the Highest” and “King of Kings” waving palm branches. After their special time with the pastor, they returned to their seats. My 5 year old daughter decided to skip all the way dow the isle to where we were. It made my heart smile to see her skipping about in the house of The LORD. In thinking for this Easter blog, I thought about how inappropriate it would be for any adult to skip about for joy in the sanctuary of our church. It just wouldn’t be proper respect in worship. But would it be all that disrespectful?

David was bringing the Ark of God back into the city. The Ark was the very literal “Presence of God.” On it’s way, the Ark bobbled. Uzzah, placed his hand on the Ark to steady it, and was struck dead by the LORD for disrespect. Because of this, David became fearful of bringing the Ark into the city. He later regained confidence and continued the procession. As the Ark entered the city gates, aware of the tragic events, David dared to dance with all of his might before it. Some considered it scandalous. But the LORD found favor with it.
This is an oil painting of David dancing before the Ark. It is unfinished, but I kind of like it that way. I love the movement in it. It makes me feel like giving my all to God. No matter what others may think.

Lent is finally over. Easter is here! Away with the charcoal and bring back the colors!

Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus’ conquering death and bringing salvation to the world. I think that’s worth dancing about. I hope you have enjoyed this series. May you be blessed by God’s gift of grace. May you respond to God with your all. Come what may in life. In good times and in bad, I pray you find the courage to dance in gratitude of God’s amazing grace. Alleluia!


Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dancing with David: David and Absalom

And the day of victory turned into mourning. At first, there was much rejoicing. The rebellion had been defeated. But tragically, the one who lead the revolt against David was his own son, Absalom. Despite the terrible things Absalom did against his father, David still loved him as most any father would. After hearing of Absalom’s death, David covered his face and wept. And so the celebration turned into a time of sorrow.

This was the Palm Sunday scene for the series. It was very fitting because Palm Sunday is a day many celebrate with much rejoicing only to turn somberly, ushering the way into the Holy Week of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It celebrates the story of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Days later, He would be arrested and crucified. In the background of this scene, you can see celebration and the waving of palms. But in the foreground, the passion of a king losing his son is displayed.

We become weary of the somber tones of Lent. We are ready for the joys of Easter. We are ready for some celebration. And for a brief moment, we do celebrate with the followers of the King. But we can’t “Dwell in the house of the LORD” unless we first “Walk thru the valley of the shadow of death.” we must turn our eyes to the cross. And so, our day of victory turns into a week of mourning. A bittersweet mystery of Lent.

This week. I hope you take time to reflect on God’s gift through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. May you all find peace and blessing in that Grace.


My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dancing with David: David and Bathsheba

You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.
You shall not steal.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not not kill.
These are but some of the commandments David transgressed when he sent Uriah to die in battle and took Bathsheba to be his own wife. Not one of David’s finer moments. The gravity of this was brought to his attention by the prophet Nathan. He told David a clever story about a rich man stealing the only sheep from a poor man. David became enraged with the “Rich Man” only then to find out the story was a metaphor of his own actions. David is confessed his sin.

David then endured the tragedy of helplessly watching his (and Bathsheba’s) son die of illness. He fasted and prayed to God that God might heal the child. Then, after hearing of the child’s death, David cleaned up, worshiped God, ended his fast, and comforted Bathsheba.

David messed up big. No Doubt there. And like many of life’s heroes, we are disappointed when our idols fail in character. But I am intrigued by the character that David shows next. Was the child’s death a punishment from God as Nathan claimed? God only knows. But I’m sure David had plenty guilt and self-blame in his heart as he prayed for mercy on his child. He didn’t give up. He hoped for God’s help. And when all hope was lost, he still managed to worship God.

Later, David and Bathsheba had another son. His name was Solomon.

In the drawing of David and Bathsheba, I wanted to illustrate the concept of what it’s like to covet someone or something. David wraps Bathsheba in his robe with a look that says, “She’s mine.” Bathsheba, however has a look of helplessness. Her head is covered in a cloak of scandalous secrecy. This was originally an Ash Wednesday illustration. Here we see humanity’s pride, and delusion of self-power.

For this week in Lent, the story is contrasted with the account of David and Nathan. In this illustration, David is humbled before God. This time we see humanity as helpless and in need of grace.


Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgement.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dancing with David: David and Mephibosheth

Saul and Jonathan were dead. David was crowned King. But because of the love that Jonathan showed David, he continued to show kindness to the descendants of Saul. In spite of how horribly he was treated by Saul, David asked “Is there anyone still left in the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” They brought Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. He was crippled in both feet and worthless by the standards of the day. He even asked David “What is your servant that you should notice a dead dog like me?” David showed kindness to Mephibosheth, cared for is finances and re-established a place of prominence for him.

In this illustration, David supports the crippled Mephibosheth in his arms, whose legs are drawn awkwardly to accentuate his deformity. In some ways, this composition resembles a pieta with David holding the “dead” lovingly in his arms. Mephibosheth is helped not out of pity or by any action he has done. David loves him because of who he IS. And more importantly, David loves him because Jonathan first loved David.

This is a wonderful story of grace. May we be so moved by God’s love for us.
“Is there any child of God still out there to whom we can show kindness for Christ’s sake?”


How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life for evermore.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dancing with David: En Gedi

This was it. In the dark of a cave at En Gedi came David’s perfect opportunity to get rid of King Saul once and for all. What are the chances that Saul would take a pit-stop in the very cave where David was hiding? (This is Old Testament drama at it’s best) It sure seemed like God was handing Saul over to David at that very moment. But in a dramatic twist of grace, David chose not to kill Saul. In spite of all of the awful things Saul had done, he was still God's Anointed. David respected that and spared Saul’s life. This led to a longer time of hardship for David. I wonder if David ever regretted his decision. Eventually the reign of Saul came to an end that cleared the path for David in ways he could have never imagined.

This is one of my favorite drawings in this series. David peers from a nook in the cave at his target. Sword drawn, David faces his moment of decision. There is much light and dark at play in this piece. There is also loneliness and longing. How long must we wait for God to answer our cries for help? How will we be able to discern God’s response?


How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.