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Archive for the ‘2 Samuel’ Category

Unkind children

And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. 2 Samuel 2:6 (NKJV)

 

Kindness is like good medicine to the soul, particularly when we witness it in children.  Who doesn’t melt when you see a child being kind, whether that’s sharing a favorite treat with a friend or giving someone a hug, just because.

And yet, maybe because of the barrage of social media, or all the stories of bullying, Americans feel that children today are not very kind.  NBC News[i] conducted a survey they called “the state of kindness poll” in which 62% of the more than 2,600 participants responded that they believe kids are less kind today than they were in the past. Women (66%) feel more strongly about this kindness deficit than do men (58%).

Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of respondents (77%) blamed parents for this seeming lack of kindness among children today, with only a few blaming the community, schools, or friends.  But while saying that, Americans say they don’t put kindness first when it comes to teaching kids values.  Instead, teaching children honesty, courage, leadership, and a strong work ethic trumped kindness by the majority of the respondents.

On the other hand, the younger generation — those 18-24 — thinks kindness rules, and these millennials chose kindness by 10 percentage points over honesty as the most important quality to teach kids.

The survey results also show that Americans are split on whether kindness is innate or needs to learned and nurtured over time. Slightly more than half (52%) of survey participants believe that all of us are born with the ability to show kindness, while 47% believe kindness must be developed.  Those without kids (56%) were more inclined to think that people are born kind, while 50% of participants with kids thought nurture trumped nature, and more men believe nature is innate while only about half the women believe it is inherent.  Parents do play a very important role in teaching kindness to their kids by example.

 

Father, help me to teach kindness to my kids through my own example.

[i] http://www.today.com/kindness/are-todays-kids-kind-most-americans-say-no-guess-whats-t57326

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Music helps your mind – 2

Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. 2 Samuel 6:5 (NKJV)

Serusha Govender, from WebMD[i], tells us of five ways music helps your mind.

  1. Group singing makes you happier. Singing simultaneously lowers the level of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and releases endorphins which makes us feel content. In addition, the anticipation of making a melodic change while singing in a group floods the body with dopamine which give you a sense of euphoria.  According to some research, singing in a choir releases the antibody s-IgA, which boosts our immune system, especially when the song is moving.  And if you don’t have a group to sing with, doctors say singing alone releases oxytocin, which is the happiness hormone, giving you an instant mood booster.

When you go to church, participate in the congregational singing; not only will you be praising God in music but it can give you a real high.  I especially appreciate these words: “Music can be made a great power for good; yet we do not make the most of this branch of worship…Music should have beauty, pathos, and power. Let the voices be lifted in songs of praise and devotion. Call to your aid, if practicable, instrumental music, and let the glorious harmony ascend to God, an acceptable offering.”[ii]

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”  But it is not just music for our personal benefit that matters; instead, think of how the songs we sing brings us closer to God.  “The human voice that sings the music of God from a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving is far more pleasing to Him than the melody of all the musical instruments ever invented by human hands.”[iii]

Father God, thank you for your gift of music and song.  May I take advantage of what it can do to help me feel better, but above all, may it always be pleasing to you.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/5-ways-music-helps-the-mind?ecd=wnl_emw_102815&ctr=wnl-emw-102815_nsl-promo-2_title&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E.G. Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 71.

[iii] White, E.G. Letter 2c, 1892.

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The dating app – 2

After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 Samuel 13:1 (NKJV)

Elyse Murphy[i] offers several more tips to keep dating healthy, particularly if it is a long-distance or online relationship:

Read the gospels. Actually, don’t just read the gospels, or the bible.  Spend good quality time in serious study of the bible.  Part of the problem people have today is that they select only a few portions of the bible for a quick reading instead of seriously spending time with God and His word.  Listen to this important advice, “One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind.”[ii]  And by the way, pray.  “Never should the Bible be studied without prayer. Before opening its pages we should ask for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and it will be given.”[iii]

Keep good people around you.  Think about the experience of Ruth and Boaz.  Boaz saw Ruth in the field and immediately he asked one of his workers/friends, “Who’s that?”  Surround yourself with close friends who will listen and be a sounding board when it comes to your dating life.

Don’t get too serious too quickly. In that same story, Boaz invites Ruth to eat lunch with him, and brings her into a group setting.  If they were living today, he wouldn’t just say, “Hey, I saw your profile. Let’s get married.”  Take time to get to know personally the other person.

Regardless of how you choose to meet someone, in person or online, remember that God sees you, He loves you, and He has a plan for your life.  As Murphy writes, “He knows what you need, and who you need, and He knows how to get you there. Don’t rush the journey; enjoy it.”

Father God, lead me in my life and help me to follow your plan for me.  I need your patience and your guidance today more than ever.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Where-Is-Real-Life-Love-in-the-Online-Dating-Age-/

[ii] White, E.G.  Steps to Christ, p. 90.

[iii] Ibid.

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And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead. 2 Samuel 13:39 (NKJV)

Yesterday we considered the third of what Amy McCready, writing for TODAY Parents[i], lists as one of the five most common entitlement-prone parenting styles. Today we look at the fourth style:

  1. The Indulger. Have you ever been guilty of doing these?  Your 12-year-old demands to see a certain movie with friend, one you may not even approve of, but you hate to disappoint him, or embarrass him in front of them, so you allow him. . . he wins.  Or perhaps your 6-year-old insists on drinking soda with every meal, and you buy it for her… she wins.  Your daughter wants to wear the latest clothing style, even though they are not modest, in fact, quite revealing. . . buy when you take her shopping you buy her what she wants. . . she wins.

We’ve all probably been guilty on this one at one time or another. It’s not wrong to let our kids experience life’s little pleasures, but it’s our responsibility to set the appropriate limits we know are best for them. As McCready writes, “Entitled kids are known for thinking of themselves as above the rules, and deserving the best of what life has to offer.” We need to change this mindset by establishing boundaries and sticking with the limits we set, while at the same time ignoring the protests and attempts at negotiations.

Instead of indulging your kids, you can provide your children opportunities to learn to use age-appropriate control over their own lives in a decision-rich environment.  Allow your kids a sense of power over positive things like what kind of healthy snacks to buy, whether to do their homework in their room or at the table, and input into vacation activities within a set budget. As McCready explains, “When kids have more control over some aspects of their lives, they are less likely to pitch a fit when we have to say no or enforce limits in other areas, like bedtime or curfew.”  As Ellen White writes, “Children, when they become of age, will prize the parent who labored faithfully, and would not permit them to cherish wrong feelings or indulge in evil habits.”[ii]

Father God, help me as I guide my children to make the best decisions for their lives.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/entitled-kids-these-parenting-tips-can-change-behavior-t32201?cid=eml_tes_20150720

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p.292

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And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead. 2 Samuel 13:39 (NKJV)

Amy McCready, writing for TODAY Parents[i], lists five of the most common entitlement-prone parenting styles, as well as a few proven fixes.  Yesterday we considered the first one:  The Enabler.  Today we look at the third style:

  1. The Rescuer. Does this describe you? Your child can’t remember his homework, permission slips, sports shoes, and lunch unless you remind him every single morning.  You can see that your child can remember their favorite show, or the game in which they are playing, or the date with their friends, but when it comes to remembering their sports equipment, they never seem able to.  Then they call you to bring what they “forgot” to them they feel entitled to your personal delivery service when they forget.  You need to remind yourself that whether you’re frantically helping your child finish the science project the night before it’s due or figuring out how to negotiate their grades and their involvement in sports or other activities, you may need to back off and let your child face the music when it comes to his/her own effort (or lack thereof) and forgetfulness.

McCready suggests you institute the “No-Rescue Policy” for repeated forgetfulness.  Anyone can make a mistake from time to time.  Have a good conversation with your child, and calmly let them know in advance that you will no longer be rescuing them.  Make your expectations clear, and help them brainstorm strategies to keep track of their responsibilities.   While it is difficult to watch as your child suffers the consequences of their carelessness or lack of responsibility, let the situation play out and soon your kids will learn how to follow through.

Read these sobering words:  “What right have parents to bring children into the world to neglect and to let them grow up without culture and Christian training? Parents should be responsible. Teach them control; teach them that they are to be managed, and not to manage.”[ii]

Father, while my heart goes out to my children to help them, show me how not to teach them to become responsible for their own choices.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/entitled-kids-these-parenting-tips-can-change-behavior-t32201?cid=eml_tes_20150720

[ii] White, E.G.  Child Guidance, p. {CG 186.3}

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Where’s my dad?

I’ll be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me. When he does wrong, I’ll discipline him in the usual ways, the pitfalls and obstacles of this mortal life. 2 Samuel 7:14 (MSG)

 

Research has shown that growing up without a father, whether due to death, divorce, or a non-marital birth, is associated with a host of negative effects on the children.  Researchers Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider[i], reviewing 47 studies made some interesting discoveries:

Education: There is consistent evidence that a father’s absence lowers children’s educational attainment and decreases the likelihood that they will graduate from high school.  When young people fail to finish high school it places them at a major disadvantage in life since workers without high school diplomas experience very high levels of unemployment and make less money than more educated workers.

Mental Health: There is a negative effect of parental divorce on adult mental health and problem behavior. Also, a father’s absence affects their children’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol. The authors write that “the effect of father absence on  mental health and social skills has implications even beyond children’s personal happiness.”

Labor Force: The researchers found that “divorce was associated with lower levels of employment,” and “higher levels of labor force inactivity among those who experienced divorce in early childhood.”  One of the studies they looked into also showed that growing up with stepparents and with a single divorced mother had negative effects on occupational status, while growing up with a single widowed mother was not a disadvantage relative to growing up with stably married parents.

In short, while there are other variables that play a role in the association between family structure and child outcomes, these studies show that a father’s absence does have lasting, causal effects on his children’s life outcomes.

 

Father God, help me to realize that the decisions I make as a father, especially to love my wife and to remain married to her, will pay off a very rich, positive dividend in the life of our children.

[i] http://family-studies.org/yes-father-absence-causes-the-problems-its-associated-with/

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Scripture: Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom; my son, my son Absalom; if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”    (2 Sam 18:33 NKJV)

Observation: Absalom had show his rebellious spirit when he killed his brother Amnon, albeit to avenge the rape of his sister at the hands of Amnon, and by sitting at the gate of the city in judgment as if he were the king.  That spirit of rebellion ripened into a coup d’état against his own father, King David.   But for Absalom it was not enough that he had routed his father, he wanted to destroy him completely, so he pursued him as David fled.  Among the things for which Absalom was known was a head full of long, thick hair.  While pursuing David, Absalom ran under the thick boughs of a terebinth tree, his hair got caught in them and he was left hanging in mid air exposed to the enemy.  Joab, David’s general, came and killed him there.
Joab sent news to David of Absalom’s death, and today’s text tell us of his reaction to the news.  And while Israel could have been celebrating the victory and the fact David could now return to Jerusalem, they all felt awkward by seeing the king mourning.  Joab chastised the king for not affirming the troops which protected him and who won this victory over those who were pursuing him.

Application: I have been told by those going through it that there is no more painful death than the death of a son or daughter, regardless of their age.  I remember being at the hospital with the mother of a stillborn child and a few months later in another room nearby with the parents of a three-year-old.  As a police chaplain I had to give a family the news of the tragic death on a motorcycle of their seventeen-year-old son and have officiated at the funeral of a forty-five year-old daughter who died of cancer.  During times like these and many others like them, the parents have told me again and again how that the death of their parents or a sibling or a dear friend was painful but their pain at losing a child was so much worse, almost unbearable.  Even if their son or daughter had left the fold, like Absalom, their death was nonetheless sad for their parents.
It seems like the right order of events should always be that as you get older and your parents age by the time they die you are old enough to accept it as a natural part of life.  I lost my dad when I was fifteen years old and my mom when I was 42 years old, and their deaths affected me in different ways.  At any rate, it is expected that at some point in time your parents will pass on.  But your child will always be younger than you and thus you don’t expect to have them die before you; it is not the normal way of life.  For Adam and Eve, the murder of their son Abel, particularly at the hand of his brother Cain, must have been horrible.  For David the death of his first son with bathsheba and not of Absalom was most painful.  For God the death of His Son Jesus must have been most difficult.  And yet, he experiences the death of so many of His children every single day!  That’s why during the difficult, painful days following the death of a child we can find comfort in Him who truly knows what it is like to loose a child.  And with God, it’s not just the He understands, but somehow He also brings the healing we need.

Prayer: Father, I pray none of us ever experience the death of one of our children; bless them and protect them.  For those who have, bless them and comfort them, and may Your comforting, loving arms surround them during their time of mourning until healing comes.

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Scripture: (2 Sam 13:15 NKJV)  Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!”

Observation: Amnon, son of David, fell in love with his step-sister Tamar and plotted to have her come to his house under the pretense of being sick.  While there, he forced her, maybe even raped her, but having accomplished his evil plot he despised her and rejected her altogether.

Application: I wish more single young people, teens and single young adults, would read this story and learn that it follows the pattern or most pre-marital relationships.  I think this is particularly important for young ladies who surrender their virginity early with the desire to show their boyfriend their love, for fear they will loose them if they reject their advances, or in the hope they will keep them even while he pulls away from them.  Those who believe in evolution would say that man is the hunter and when they have caught their prey they loose interest in them.  Those of us who believe in God believe that once a woman has surrendered what is most sacred to her, men loose respect for them, and therefore they have no more interest in them.  While young man think that having premarital sex will bring them closer together, more often than not it becomes an insurmountable barrier.
Several years ago there was an article in Time magazine about the report by the National Marriage Project, out of Rutgers University in New Jersey, which says that, “Cohabitating couples are more likely to experience a host of domestic problems — including, if they finally get marriage, divorce.
Last year in the U.S., more than 4 million unmarried heterosexual couples shacked up, in contrast to only half a million at the end of the supposedly free-spirited ‘60’s.  Though living together has become conventional, the report cites studies showing that these unions, in comparison to marriages, tend to have more episodes of domestic violence to women and physical and sexual abuse of children.  It notes that annual rates of depression among unmarried couples are more than three times those of married couples.
The report contends that cohabitation reduces the likelihood of later wedded bliss.  It quotes a 1992 study of 3,300 adults showing that those who had lived with a partner were 46% (it is now known to be 80%) more likely to divorce than those who had not.  ‘The longer you cohabit, the more tolerant you are of divorce,’ says David Popenoe, the sociologist who co-wrote the study.  ‘You are used to living in a low-commitment relationship, and it’s hard to shift that kind of mental pattern.’”
Premarital sex and premarital cohabitation do not benefit the relationship; instead, it will bring a host of problems, challenges, and difficulties including not marrying the person with whom they had intercourse or with whom they live, including abuse to them or their children, and ultimately divorce.  God’s plan for sex after marriage is best and healthiest and provides the best chances for lasting happiness.

Prayer: Father, bless the young and single who are tempted to enter into relationships and practice premarital sex and help them to not fall into a sin which will bring about life-lasting difficulties and challenges.  May they enjoy the best and healthiest of relationships before and after their wedding.

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Scripture: (2 Sam 9:8 NKJV)  Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”

Observation: As he had promised his friend Jonathan, David was looking to show his love and kindness to a surviving member of the royal family.  The only one left was Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, who was lame because in escaping his nursemaid dropped him and his feet were probably broken.  While he was afraid at first, eventually David’s kindness won him over and he ate at the king’s table for the rest of his life.

Application: I have liked this story ever since I first read it, not only because it is a story of brotherly kindness but also because it is an allegory of God’s plan of salvation for us.  I preached a sermon about it and want to share its highlights.  Notice the beautiful parallels:

1. Mephibosheth was lame on his feet. vs.3
2 Sam. 4:4 describes how he became lame in both feet.  In Jewish minds, any kind of disease or deformity was the direct result of that person’s sin, so Mephibosheth’s crippling state was viewed as happening as a result of his sin.  When you think of it, Sin has crippled us.  To me it is amazing to think that while everything in the royal palace must have looked nice and neat, King David wanted to bring in a crippled man – symbol of sickness and sin – and all just for the sake of his friend Jonathan.  Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said,  (Matthew 9:12 NIV)  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

2. Dead Dog . . . . vs.8
Let’s pick up the story in 2 Samuel:  6When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan (who was the son of Saul), came before David, he bowed deeply, abasing himself, honoring David. David spoke his name: “Mephibosheth.” “Yes sir?” 7“Don’t be frightened,” said David. “I’d like to do something special for you in memory of your father Jonathan. To begin with, I’m returning to you all the properties of your grandfather Saul. Furthermore, from now on you’ll take all your meals at my table.” 8Shuffling and stammering, not looking him in the eye, Mephibosheth said, “Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?”
Mephibosheth was obviously more than surprised – he was shocked.  You might say that his self-concept had hit rock bottom.  Just imagine, if all your life you grew up believing that you were crippled because God was punishing you for your sin, how would you feel?  Well, Mephibosheth felt so low, he though of himself as no more than a stray dog, worse yet, a dead dog.  The grandson of a mad, sinful, egotistical king who had tried to kill David before.  A crippled man in a society that considered him an outcast.

3. His Name
Even his name tells us something of who or what he was.  In fact, he had two names.  1 Chronicles 8:44 tells us his name was Merib-baal. – which means “Baal is my lawyer.”  Baal was the pagan god of the Canaanites.  His name declared that Baal, the pagan god, was his attorney.  His name was so embarrassing to him that it was changed to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:6), which means shame.

4. Where he lived.
If that were not enough, even where he lived was bad.  The story tells us that he lived in a place called Lo-Debar (vs.4).  In the Hebrew language, Lo means No, and Debar means nothing.  Lo-Debar, literally means No-Nothing, and what it really is and it describes is a place that is worse than nothing.  The prophet Amos wrote of this place:  (Amos 6:13 NKJV)  “You who rejoice over Lo Debar, Who say, “Have we not taken Karnaim for ourselves By our own strength?”” The Living Bible renders this text:  (Amos 6:13 TLB)  “And just as stupid is your rejoicing in how great you are when you are less than nothing–and priding yourselves on your own tiny power!”
You see what this passage is saying?  Lo-Debar was not only nothing, but less or worse than nothing.  Isn’t that a fair description of our world today?  The more we think we’re making it better, the worse it seems to get!  The more we try to fix it with technological advances, the more we ruin it.
This man’s condition is worthy of the intensive care unit in God’s hospital. . . . He was lost, he was crippled by sin, he had no social status, because an ex-royalty is no royalty at all, he had a shameful name, descriptive of his situation, and he was living in a place that was worse than nothing.  And yet, it was to him – lost, crippled, sick, shameful Mephibosheth from Lo-Debar, that David, the King, wanted to show kindness.  In fact, what exactly did David want him to enjoy?

5. Return of his father’s land – vs.7
“Don’t be frightened,” said David. “I’d like to do something special for you in memory of your father Jonathan. To begin with, I’m returning to you all the properties of your grandfather Saul.

Genesis 1:28 and 2:15 tell us that the Lord put man in the Garden of Eden to tend it, to care for it, to be his home, but we also know that when Adam chose to disobey God he lost what God had given him.  Later, God promised Abraham that he would inherit the promised land and through him the promise has been passed to the remnant of all the ages.  Jesus Himself confirmed that promise,  (Matthew 5:5 NKJV)  “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”  Paradise, given to Adam and his descendants, was lost at the Fall, but will be returned to them at the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom on earth.

6. Eat at the King’s Table Continually. v.7.
Furthermore, from now on you’ll take all your meals at my table.”

King David, a type of Christ, didn’t see in Mephibosheth a crippled, outcast person, a person living in a dump and with a name that was not worth repeating.  He saw a child of THE KING – one who deserved, not of his own merit, but because of a promise to his father, to be treated like royalty.
Think of it – WE ARE THAT MEPHIBOSHETH!  Living in this filthy planet – filthy because we have made it so.  A planet that has gone so bad that one day the Lord will have to clean it completely with fire so that no trace of what we now know and see of it will remain.
We are that Mephibosheth!  Crippled by sin so that, as Paul would declare with frustration,  (Romans 7:15 TLB)  “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to–what I hate.”
We are that Mephibosheth!  with a shameful name.  Jesus said that every time we lie, Satan becomes our “prosecuting Attorney.”  But it’s not what we are, but what he sees in us, and what we can become in Jesus, that concerns Him.  And to us, He promises that He will come back for us so that we may live in His House (John 14:1-3), that we will inherit the earth – purified and made new – restored so that it’s as good as new, like it was when God created and gave it to Adam and Eve (Revelation 21:1-4), that we become children of God, not slaves and outcasts (Galatians 4:7), that we receive a new name (Revelation 2:17)
Now, I want you to think about this.  Mephibosheth could have refused.  And in the same way, God doesn’t force us to accept His free gifts for us.  In fact, today, many refuse, reject God’s free gifts.  Maybe they feel they’re not worthy.  Maybe they feel they have sinned too much, too often, in too many ways.  Maybe they feel they’ve gone too far for God’s grace to reach them.  Read these words:  “There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Said the beloved John, ‘These things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loves you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that has begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.” {Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 64}

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your plan to save us, as sinful and wicked as we may be.  We accept Your grace and forgiveness, and by faith we claim Your gift of salvation and our new status as sons and daughters of the King of the universe.

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Scripture: (2 Sam 6:16 NKJV)  Now as the ark of the LORD came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

Observation: With dancing and rejoicing David celebrated the return of the ark of God to Jerusalem.  From a distance, his wife Michal watching and thought it disgraceful that the king would act that way instead of being more dignified.  She criticized him, David became defensive, and to the end of their life did not enjoy a good marital relationship.

Application: In the relationship between David and Michal we can see some of the dynamics that bring about the destruction of a Marriage.  Willard Harley, author of such books as Love Busters and His Needs, Her Needs, says that there are three states of Mind in Marriage.  Michal and David exemplify the three states.

State # 1. INTIMACY
(1 Sam 18:20 NKJV)  Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.

David must have had feelings toward her, enough to go to war for her (1 Sam 18:27-28).  Michael loved David enough to lie to protect him, even from her own father (1 Sam 19:11-18).  Maybe the beginning of their downfall took place when Saul, her father, gave her in marriage to Paltiel, and maybe she learned to love her new husband (1 Sam 25:44).

State #2 – CONFLICT

John Gottman’s research suggests there are four ways of interacting that sabotage your attempts to communicate with your partner.  One of what he calls The Four Horsemen of Marriages in Trouble is Criticism (illustrated in our text for today).  Criticism involves attacking someone’s personality or character – rather than a specific behavior – usually with blame.  Gottman also identified a second damaging way or horsemen which is Contempt (also used by Michal in our text).  Ellen White adds an interesting insight: “In the bitterness of her passion she could not await David’s return to the palace, but went out to meet him, and to his kindly greeting poured forth a torrent of bitter words. Keen and cutting was the irony of her speech” {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 708}.  Michael couldn’t wait to pour cold water on David’s joy and enthusiasm and didn’t just criticized him for his actions but showed contempt for not behaving in a regal manner.
Gottman states that “what separates contempt from criticism is the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner.  With your words and body language, you’re lobbing insults right into the heart of your partner’s sense of self.  Fueling these contemptuous actions are negative thoughts about the partner – he or she is stupid, disgusting, incompetent, a fool.”  You can almost hear Michal’s  mocking tone and her twisted smile and the rolling of her eyes as she said to David, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:20 NKJV)

David, on the other hand, used the third of Gottman’s horsemen, Defensiveness.  His anger and dismay at the “welcome” he received from his wife turned into anger and a defensive attack: (2 Sam 6:21-22 NKJV)  So David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. {22} “And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.”

State #3 – WITHDRAWAL

While it is not directly stated, the last words of this story tells us their marriage fell apart.  It is possible that David used the fourth of Gottman’s horsemen, Stonewalling, and simply tuned her out completely.  Regardless, they reached the third state of marriage as described by Harley, the state of Withdrawal and their marriage simply continued as existing together, but there was no love between them: “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death” (2 Sam. 6:23).

How different their life might have been!  Maybe it all began with a poor relationship with his father-in-law.  Maybe it was another relationship, Michal’s marriage to Paltiel, that damaged her love for her hsuband David.  Maybe it was David’s marriages to Abigail and others that interfered with his love for Michal.  Maybe it was not caring for their relationship and sabotaging it so that they moved down the slide from Intimacy through conflict to withdrawal.  I guess the question is, do you see yourself somewhere along that continuum?  Do you see yourself sabotaging your relationship by using any or several or all of the “horsemen”?  Learning and understanding about your situation is one important step on the way to healing, but the next steps you take will determine whether your marriage declines and dies or survives and thrives.  Seek help, ask for help, pray for help, call for help; not taking a positive action will mean letting your marriage drown in the sea of divorce.

Prayer: Father, may what happened to David and Michal never happen to us in our marriage.  Help us to take any and all the steps necessary to see that our marriage not only survives but thrives.

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