Hats

Grandpa used to tell me that there were 2 types of hats: “winter” hats and “summer” hats.  Winter hats had cloth all around them; summer ones had the mesh.  I thought he was making it up.  Sure enough these are universal terms…leave it to me to question the wisdom.

There are more than just 2 types of course.  Cowboy hats (straw for the spring/summer; felt for fall/winter; palm leaf for a Kenny Chesney concert); stocking hats; welders caps; pirate hats…the list could go on and on.  The hat fits the job being done.  What hat you have on is important.

“You are a man of many hats” so the saying goes and nothing is more true of men.

CaptureThis came across my twitter feed minutes ago.

Trust me, I understand that women have the same deal going.  The job description of a Mom is endless and often times overbearing.  What hats women wear are too numerous to count.  But here in lies the difference, women hats are all viewed the same.  If they are changing the oil in the car; it is viewed in a caring and nurturing manner.  If they are changing a diaper; it is viewed in a caring and nurturing manner.  A woman, regardless of whether they have children or not, are viewed the same way.

Men on the other hand are not.

In a recent study, two groups of people were given a list of the same traits (i.e. “caring”; “aggressive”; “confident”).  One group labeled the traits ‘positive’ and ‘negative’.  The other group was asked to rate how much of the trait was shown in men, women, mom’s, and dad’s.  Two conclusions were revealed:

  1. Men had the most negative traits attached to them in the study.
  2. The deviation between men and dad’s was far greater than that between Mom and woman.

So men are bad and father’s are good?  At least that is how this study concludes people’s views.  It’s like trying to wear two hat’s though.

To be a father is to be a man.

Wounded father’s raise wounded men as John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart reminds us.

Capture“Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father.” (62)

 

CaptureIf the gap in how men and father’s are viewed widens, then fatherhood will become more like motherhood.  Let me explain.  In his book, No More Christian Nice Guy, Paul Coughlin conducts a similar experiment with his readers.  Two columns of traits are given and asked which ones apply to Jesus.  The exercise is to show how Jesus is portrayed as a meek and mild…dare to be said “feminized” man.  But a case study of Jesus full identity would lead another direction to a dangerous and confrontational Savior.  The same has been done for Dad’s at Church and in Society.

CaptureThis is why in David Morrow’s words: “Men Hate Going to Church”.  Churches knock all the danger, excitement, and passion out of the Gospel to keep it safe and grounded.

One of the worst things that can happen to Fatherhood would be to lose the very meaning of being a man.  Unifying the two, fatherhood and manhood, is the only way to raise a family.  Healthy women/wives/mothers; healthy sons; and healthy daughters.  Hat’s off to the men leading families with their heart!

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things will never be shaken. (Psalm 15)

Vacation Bible School

20180523_124440Praise Day Bible Camp went by smoothly (outside of the Kindergarten kid who decided to jump and land on my foot). I was in charge of the Bible Story.  I recruited three young men to help me out and to make the day go quicker.  I can’t say enough good things about these young men.  Maddix, Max, and Caleb (with no advanced warning mind you) led small groups and Kagan activities, played the part of bouncer, and people listened.  I guess I shouldn’ be suprised that they taught like Maddix’s dad who is coaching his sprinters at state track; they disciplined and crowe control like Calebs dad, a county sherriff; and when they spoke to both students and adults, they listened, just like Max’s father.

“Like father,like son” can be a blessing or curse.  I was blessed today in sharing ministry with good men, because their fathers are good men.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6.4)

Shame and Failure

ShameEveryman deals with things between two extremes.

Some men, can deal with life fine.  They remain unstressed, balanced, connected, and adjusted.  Others, not so much.

For some, trepidation comes and they crumble.

Some men, like Washington Irving’s character Rip Van Winkle, deal with things by avoiding them.  He hunted squirrels, shared gossip at the town square, and walked in the woods, all the while his farm fell apart, his wife beckoned, and kids wore worn out clothes.

Some get angry, like Stan Lee’s character the Hulk.  When things go awry, his anger is on display.  His exposure to gamma ray’s caused him to have a short fuse and when trials come he falls apart.  It is no coincidence that one of Saul’s defining characteristics was his anger.

Some isolate and retreat.  When a line to gain is drawn and they fall short, they withdraw.  Harper Lee, in To Kill a Mocking Bird, has a scene just outside of the courthouse where Dill has passed out.  Along comes the town drunk, Mr. Raymond, who always carries with his a bottle in a brown sack.  A sip from the bottle in the sack revives Dill.  Upon questioning, it is discovered that the bottle in the sack is a Coca-Cola.  The man doesn’t care about his label, the reputation, or the town.  Let him be; isolation.

Some achieve and advance, like Ernest Hemmingway’s depiction of the Old Man in The Old Man and the Sea.  Over 80 days has passed since he landed a fish.  The dry spell drives him farther from shore than ever before.  He was going to fish harder and deeper than ever before.  It’s a tragic tale about a driven man.

Some men are adept at all of them.  I am one of them.

What people don’t know is the shame that men carry around with them.  This last weekend, my alarms didn’t go off and I overslept for sunrise service.  I awoke to two church members knocking on my door.  I felt nothing but shame.  On the day that celebrated Jesus’ overcoming death, I could not let him overcome my shame.

A few months ago, when I took a new position and moved.  Upon arrival, 4 men were assembled at my new house to unload my one chair, microwave, and two boxes of books that my broken foot had allowed me to pack.  I repeatedly told them that I didn’t have anything to unload, but they insisted on being there to help me unpack.  I pulled up and 1 min later we were done.  I had wasted their time.  I was mortally embarrassed because I was a failure and I felt nothing but shame.

At the end of October, after years of hearing how I was accident prone, a klutz for lack of a better term; I broke my foot.  I have multiple capable and handy uncles who can do all things building, constructing, and mechanically. I have never been labeled with them.  I enrolled at Washburn Tech to try to learn a skill that would give me real world knowledge that could be of use.  Not much real-world application is drawn from parsing Hebrew verbs.  So I went to class…and got my foot rolled over by a semi-truck.  I failed and felt nothing but shame.

At the end of December the previous, after my Birthday date at Fuzzy Taco’s in Lawrence, I sat on our bed when my wife of 3 years informed she was leaving me for the night.  I was shocked.  The next day, it turned in to a week; and after the week, 3 months. I drove to Lawrence the moment she told me on the phone.  I disappeared.  Ignored calls from everyone.  Went to my parent house to find her sitting with Mom.  Her last words to my Mom:  “Divorce was not an option!”  Nov 9: we divorced.  I had failed, and I felt nothing but shame.

The summer prior, after getting off work, something was said about my building or fixing something.  I had been on the road for 6 weeks straight and when I wasn’t on the road, I was at working at the grocery store.  The fight started late that night but the dagger came early.  She told me about having to call other husbands to help her do things.  I wasn’t there to do things for her.  I couldn’t do things for her.  I got angry and slept at my parent’s house.  We had a brief conversation on facebook messenger.  I was a failure and felt nothing but shame.

Earlier in the summer, I was having radiator problems on my red Dakota pickup.  It had 222,000 miles on it.  I replaced the hoses and it still blew up.  I hoped on my bike stormed out on my wife and the dog and rode my bike 12 miles to Meriden.  I was supposed to be at a Rodeo Bible Camp and they were blowing up my phone.  I couldn’t do anything.  I came to a bridge and jumped.  The pool off water was deeper than I reached and I splashed down after a 20ft free fall.  Dried off, I rode to my parent’s house.  We took my wife’s car to camp.  I dropped my off at camp and went to the Pilot gas station to gas up.  My card was declined.  I had no money.  I transferred some from my parents account (sad hugh!)  It got me to camp. I went to camp that night where they donated me a truck.  It was an unwarranted gift.  Now I was a man who was unable to provide a means of transportation.  I feel like a failure every time I set foot in that truck and I feel nothing but shame.

I have crawled into a whiskey bottle, tried suicide, depression pills, counseling, and everything in between.  The shame that started well before I left Central Park has always been around.  It seems daily that something comes up that reminds me that “I’m not adequate!”.  Case in point: I pulled into our Maundy Thursday service on Wednesday (four days prior to oversleeping), and someone pointed out the rattle of my broken muffler on a truck I couldn’t afford.  A reminder of all the shame.  I had heard the rattle and checked the engine that afternoon but didn’t see the muffler.  Shame!

Jesus took that to the cross I know, but its hard to grasp or should I say, let go of!

Scars

857abb01-252a-43cd-ad06-695ddc6e389d.jpegScars make anonymity impossible.

Years had passed since his mast had disappeared over the horizon following Agamemenon to Troy in battle. King Odysseus left a beautiful young wife, Penelope, and an infant son, Telemanchos. For 10 years, he fought the Trojans at Troy. Then he spent the next 10 surviving the wrath of Poesidon on the seaways back home. His travel
tribulations, his apologoi (adventures) rival those that Paul tells of in 2 Corinthians 11. Twenty years of travel will change a man.
Chris Ledoux, another classicist, paraphrased Homer best: “It ain’t
age that makes me look this way/it ain’t the years boy, it’s the
miles.”

Odysseus finally makes it home and finds the place in shambles. His house is overrun with men suiting his wife, eating him out of house and home, and an absent son. Taking the form of a beggar so as not to become a target, Odysseus infiltrates the palace where all this is taking place. He gains a counsel with Queen Penelope and after giving her word of Odysseus (without relinquishing his identity) she treats him like royalty asking Eurcyleia to bath him and prepare a room for him. As she washed his feet, her hand ran across a scar just above the knee.  She knew it was him. It was from a boyhood boar hunt; an event many years past, but with great present value. It was the scar that announced a king’s return. He was home and the nostos was complete.  Identity announced by a scar.

Scars tell the story of the men who carry them. Scars juxtapose the
current and the past. In The Old Man and the Sea, the great fisherman of many years is in the midst of a 84 day slump. Hemmingway’s
description of him contrasts his present predicament with his history: “…his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert.” A great fisherman who had fallen on
hard times as described by his scars. Scars tell a story.

“I got this one in Paris, in a war ‘fore you were born/ and this one when I was half your age, workin’ on my Daddy’s farm./ You know the way I see it, you’ve been round but you’re still green/ ‘cause tattoo’s and scars are different things.” – Montgomery Gentry
“Tattoo’s and Scars”

The presence of scars is on thing, but not all scars are made equal.
My scars tell different stories. The one on my foot will tell of
stupidity. There is not on ounce of redemption to be found in the
scar that will be on my foot. There was nothing at stake and nothing
on the line. The scar on my chest, however, came from the day that my grandfather had died. I was working above my head, taking down 2×4 braces on a garage door. It had popped loose just as we got word that grandpa was Code Blue and the exposed nail tore into my chest. That scar runs diagonally across my pectoral muscle. When I look down and see it, I see how quickly life can blindside us.

The 8” “C” shaped scar that adorns my right shin is from a bull spur.
While working a hang up at Burlington, Kansas when the bull came around to the right, sending the rider, with legs and spurs flying, in my direction and when the muddy water cleared, the crimson was running down my leg.

Everybody’s got scars and everyone has stories; but not all scars had purpose. When all three come together, scar, story, purpose, the results are life-saving. Take a fire-fighter with third-degree burn scars, the story of the collapsing building, and the lives that are still living. Think of the soldier, with the bullet wound, the ambush that was set, and his brother being pulled to safety. Think of John 20 and Revelation 5.

John 20 is a conversation between Thomas and the disciples. The
disciples had seen the resurrected Jesus, but Thomas was strangely
absent (20.24). When he does show up, the disciples let him know that
they had seen Jesus (20.25). Thomas wasn’t having it though. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand to his side, I will not believe.”(20.25b) Translation: “Let me see the scars”.

In Revelation 5, John is observing worship around the heavenly throne.  When a scroll is brought forth, an Angel asks: “Who is able to open this thing?” Nobody in heaven was able to open the scroll and this was a problem. If this scroll doesn’t open, everything that has been, is, or will be, will not. So John begins to weep at the proceedings.  But Jesus is found to be capable. John describes the one who approaches the throne this way: “…I saw a Lamb, looking as if it has been slain…” (Rev. 5.6)

Here the dilemma lies: the resurrection is supposed to make things right. Heaven is supposed to make things better. But Jesus bears the marks of the crucifixion; the Lamb bears the marks of sacrifice. In heaven, I wont get to look like Tom Brady or George Clooney. And I wont be given a Jimmy-Buffett-relax mentality. Reading through
Revelation, it appears that the pain of suffering will still be remembered, the scars of life will still be present, and the torment
of Earth still a reality. Though they wont be felt or experienced,
they are no less real. Why is this?

Heaven is where the perfection of the Garden of Eden was meant to be realized. Notice it was the perfection of the Garden, not the
“idleness” of the Garden. There is the prevailing mindset that we
will spend eternity floating on clouds, playing harps, and doing very little. This idea of Heaven would necessitate very little
preparation. However, should we get to Heaven where work is involved, worship is enacted, and both community and culture were cultivated; that will take us some training here. Scars are the resume of that training. Scars are the results of our learning what it means to worship, to sacrifice, to live for others. Jesus has his scars
because it was his identity, his story, and his purpose. That is why
he carries them throughout eternity.

 

The Man of Understanding

Batman_'66_-_Adam_West_as_Batman_2Like a revolving door, Solomon introduces characters and whisks them away just as fast.

If its been a while since you picked up the book of Proverbs, Solomon  introduces characters and whisks them away just as fast.  There is a Wisdom character who calls from the rooftops.   There is a perverse man, who’s dishonest scales favor his gain.  There is the wife, who’s identity is made known through her qualities.  The fool is on who shuns knowledge and is the antithesis of what a man is supposed to be.  Then there is the man of understanding.

Understanding is really the point of the book.  He begins the book: “The proverbs of Solomon, the Son of David: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight…” (Proverbs 1.1-2)  The stage is set for the hero of the book, but he doesn’t arrive until chapter 10.  First the stage is set then the idea is primed.

Then he rolls out his dominant thought for preachers; his lead for journalists; his “I can” statement for teachers.  Every statement made in the book, every saying, can be explained in the short phrase: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (9.10)

So he makes his purpose clear and then he makes his clarifying statement, but that’s not enough for Solomon.  He needs a figure to encapsulate them.  He needs a character to display what “knowledge of the Holy One” looks like.  He needs…he needs…he needs a hero.

Hero’s don’t just fly in and save the day.  They don’t just fight the bad guy and save the princess.  They don’t just burst on the scene and make everything right.  They do these things of course, but they do so much more.  They stand for something.  They stand for principles.  They represent justice and integrity.  They embody courage and honor.  Hero’s are living/breathing examples of all the qualities that society teaches its youth to embrace.  Solomon’s book needs a hero and one arrives in chapter 10.

He was hinted at near the beginning of the book.  In his preface Solomon wrote: “let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning (literally “the man of understanding”) get guidance.”(Proverbs 1.5)  The man of understanding (hb. ish tebuna) seeks understanding from the parables and riddles of the wise and add to his understanding.  Batman’s (or should I say Bruce Wayne’s) parents were killed in the streets of Gotham.  It was his raison d’etre, his most important thing, that motivated him to become the “Caped Crusader” and fight crime.  The man of understanding too was on a mission, but his wouldn’t begin until chapter 10 when he would reappear and there are a few qualities that he would embody.

The Man of Understanding has a steady thought.  Solomon writes: “A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.” (Proverbs 10.23)  The Man of Understanding is not swayed by theory or new discovery, but provides an unwavering thought process to the situations that he encounters.  My favorite hero of all time is Indiana Jones.  With minimal resources, a satchel, a revolver, and his trusty bullwhip; Indiana can navigate any situation.  Partially it is because of his ability to out think his adversaries.  He always has a plan.  And if the first plan falls through, then he makes another one.  His steady thought enables him to be the hero.  And its not just theory.  The first use of the word tebuna is found in Exodus 31: “Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—'”  It was not just that Bezalel understood what needed to be done, but he was able to apply it and do it.  I can give you all the theory and science behind a diesel engine, but put a wrench in my hand and it all goes south pretty quick.  I have knowledge of the engine, but I don’t understand it.

The Man of Understanding is a steady presence.  The second reason my favorite hero is Indiana Jones, is his steady presence.  If they hadn’t been filming in the desert, he probably never would have broken a sweat.  There was no situation that he couldn’t handle and no issue too big for him.  He never even lost his hat (except for that moment in Last Crusade where the tank went over the cliff)!  Tin Cup says: “When a defining moment comes along, either you define the moment or the moment defines you.”  My life has been defined by moments not the other way around.  There have been multiple times when the situation overwhelmed me.  In three areas, the Man of Understanding, overcomes situations.

  1. His tongue.  “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding (ish tebuna) holds their tongue.”(Proverbs 11.12)  Words slip, gossip takes place, lying happens, half-truths are spread, and exaggeration is common; these are all excuses that we make in order to downplay the fact that we cant control our tongue.  The Man of Understanding, our hero, controls what comes out of his mouth no matter the situation.  A disobedient dog, a stuck bolt in an engine, a hard headed horse, or a rebellious child, the words that come out are seasoned with Understanding.
  2. His heart.  The words we use and the words we say, flow from our heart as Luke reminds us (Luke 6.45).  Our words are usually directly tied to our temper.  The Man of Understanding is even-tempered.  “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17.27)  The connection is made about our here…temper drives words.  How often does our temper control us instead of the other way around.
  3. His surroundings.  The temperature of the room.  When you enter the room does it rise or fall?  Indiana is always the coolest guy in the room.  When you enter a room, does the tension rise or fall?  “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment (ish tebuna) and knowledge maintains order.” (Proverbs 28.2)  Order comes with the Man of Understanding.

The Man of Understanding walks a steady path.  The Man of Understanding walks with consistency.  Hero’s stay the course.  Despite what they are facing, he continues to walk.  “Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding (ish tebuna) keeps a straight course.” (Proverbs 15.21)  Are there some people who you avoid because you never know what kind of mood they are in? or how they are going to react to a situation? or what they are going to do?  Are you one of those people?  I really don’t want that kind of reputation and I certainly don’t want to develop that kind of character.  Hero’s have a consistency to their image and their character.  People know what to expect.  Chi Mcbride once says: “A hero is anyone who runs toward something that everyone else is running away from.”  The reason they run forward, is because there is no other option.  Bullfighters have to make the decision, before they ever enter the arena, that their safety comes last.  Firefighters don’t have a decision to make when they see a fire, they have already made it.  The World Trade Center fell 16 years ago.  Without hesitation the Emergency Responders, ran through the doors and up flights of stairs.  They knew their job and never strayed off course. The Man of Understanding is cut from the same cloth. He walks a straight and steady path.  Our hero understands that this way of living brings wisdom and life.  His steadiness is directly related to his purposes.  The deepest beliefs he has.  I have written elsewhere about Proverbs 20.5: “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight (ish tebuna) draws them out.” Needless to say, what we believe in our core will show up in our course.

The Hero of the book of Proverbs, the Man of Understanding, is the character rolled out as an example of who we as men are to become.  Growing into the Man of Understanding, begins with a check of the heart and a life of discipline.  I want to be a hero, but hero’s carry with them scars.  In these area’s, I’ve got some surgery to do.

 

 

A Man after God’s Heart: His Sin

1403634417608“Where am I and how did I get here?”  These can be startling questions.

Sleep-walkers, Partying majors in college, and people who lack short term memory have all asked this question.  Sometimes, spiritually, this question can arise; especially when sin is involved.  David had to wonder about this question.  All his struggles are behind him, but now he faces depression and death…”how did I get here?” he wonders.  Well it was a journey that began at home.

Sin shows up where your aren’t supposed to be.  It was the spring time.  A time when “kings go off to war” (2 Samuel 11.1).  David had sent Joab out with the army, but David stayed in Jerusalem.  The recurring theme of David’s story has been this: he was a king before he was a King.  David had always acted like a King even before the title became his.  Saul on the other hand had the title but not the character.  When Goliath stood before the army of the Lord, it was David, not King Saul whose responsibility it was, who went out to fight.  David was a warrior.  His name was forged through the battles he fought, the wars he waged, and his life as a soldier.  But in this case, he skipped the battle.  He sat this one out.  Instead of wandering among the tents of his soldiers, he wandered around the roof of his palace.  The rooftops of the city spread out beneath him.  There he spied a woman bathing on one of the houses in the lower part of the city. (2)  Temptation presents itself.  Sin arrives when we aren’t where we are supposed to be.  David should have been at war, instead he is on is roof.  He is on the computer at 2 am instead of in bed.  He has multiple tabs open on his browser instead of just checking his e-mail.  He has driven across town to the gas station near the club, when he should have gone to Walmart down the street.  Sin always finds us when we aren’t where we are supposed to be.  God told Cain in Genesis 4: “sin is crouching at your door.”  Cain’s heart wasn’t in the right place, and soon they would head out to a field where he would kill his brother Abel.  Sin is ready and waiting to get us when we veer from where we should be.  David learned that lesson.

Sin thrives on curiosity.  After David saw her bathing, he had a choice: forget he saw her and go on…or explore the situation a little more.  David chose the latter.  He sent someone “to find out about her.” (3)  How different would Alice’s story be if she hadn’t followed the rabbit down the rabbit hole?  David went exploring.  Sin is a journey of curiosity.  That is how it began right?

  • “Did God really say…” (Gen 3.1)
  • “You will not surely die…” (Gen 4.5)
  • “Your eyes will opened…” (Gen 4.5)
  • “You will be like God knowing good and evil” (Gen 4.5)

Satan’s last argument, “don’t you want to know good and evil?” sealed it.   The Hebrew word, know, means “to fully experience”.  Satan says: “Eve, aren’t you a little bit curious about the good and evil that God is keeping from you?” The question was sealed with a little fruit.  Curiosity is what keeps the traffic continuous on porn sites.  Curiosity is what feeds affairs.  Curiosity is what promises excitement, freedom, and pleasure.  Curiosity is what made David search out Bathsheba.  Satan’s goal with Eve, with David, and with us, is to arise curiosity.  Doubt is at the root of this curiosity.  Can we really trust God’s word?  Does God really want the best for us?  Is God hiding something good from us?  We doubt the holiness of God, the truth of His Word, and the goodness of His character; so we are curious about what we are missing.  And sin becomes a reality.

Sin doesn’t stop itself.  It is a well known fact that sin always takes you farther than you ever wanted to go.  Anyone who has ever been caught up in sin can testify.  What began as something small escalates to full fledged addiction.  A quick glance turns into a lingering stare, a white lie into a full on story, a wish into idolatry.  David indulged his fleeting glance, entertained his curiosity, and went on a journey farther than he ever wanted to go.  He slept with Bathsheba  and she winds up pregnant. (2 Samuel 11.4)  After two attempts to get Uriah to appear to be the father of the baby in Bathsheba’s womb, David sends word to the front.  Uriah carries his own death sentence to the front lines.  Joab is told to pull back his troops, leaving Uriah alone, in the midst of the fighting (2 Sam. 11.16-17).  This is not the first time thins thinking and this plan was undertook.  If you remember, Saul wanted the Philistines to do his dirty work by killing David (1 Samuel 17.24).  A glance, fueled by curiosity, produced adultery, and ended with murder and death (2 Sam 12.19).  Isn’t that the story of sin?  It ultimately ends with death (Romans 5.12).  It takes us farther than we ever anticipated.  David learned this the hard way.
Sin is the universal diagnosis of humanity.  Everyone has felt the implications and the consequences.  Specifically, in this story, the sin was sexual immorality.  The more men I have spoken too, the more I have counsel, and, shamefully, the longer I live, the more I run into this story of David living out in my life and the men around me.  The struggle of pornography, unfaithfulness, and lust have become a pandemic among the American male.  I guess what David’s story is showing us is all the off ramps that we can take to avoid the destination of addiction.  Stop the glance by being where you are supposed to.  Starve the curiosity by filling your life with the truth.  Avoid the journey, by never taking the first step.  There are so many layers to this story, and this is just one.  Still, the message is resounding and the consequences deadly.

A Man after God’s Heart: His Word

David always did things differently.  To fight Goliath, Saul tried to get him to wear his armor and take his sword.  David took a sling and stones.  To get the Kingdom, David was told to kill Saul, but twice spared his life.  He always liked to do things a little different.

So it is fitting that when David is seated on the throne, the ark is resting in Jerusalem, and the country is firmly in his hands, that he would do things differently.

Second Samuel 9 begins with a question: “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

It has been some time since David’s ascent to the throne.  The “war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time” (3.1) and has since ceased.  Things are going pretty good in the life of David.  Ish-Bosheth, the last of Saul’s line that was of age to usurp, had been killed some time back (4.6) and the throne was firmly in David’s hands.  Time for David to finally rule.

Still there was this unfinished business.  Like a pebble in a boot or a burr in the saddle, David had yet to accomplish this one thing.  He had yet to keep his word with Jonathan.

The covenant made with Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20 still stood.  A covenant relationship, by definition is eternal, but this one was also stipulated as “forever.”  There was no getting out of it.  A lot has happened since the two men made their pact of kindness (1 Samuel 20.14-16).  There had been nights sleeping in the darkness of caves, days spent on the run, times of hiding in enemy fortresses and times of madness.  Death, injury, hurt, and pain has plagued David since this covenant was made.  So is it that big of a deal?  Think of the pain that Jonathan’s family has caused David.  Now Jonathan is gone.  He is dead.  Deal off?  Not for a Man after God’s heart because he gave his word.

David wrote in Psalm 19:

“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.

So much of this Psalm about a Godly man speaks of his words.  David knows the equation that Jesus voices in Matthew 12.34: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Jesus spoke it as a rebuke of the Pharisees, but it’s true of all of us right?  Our words and heart are connected.  The man after God’s heart will be a man who keeps his word.

Exaggeration, deceit, lying, down-playing, and secrecy are the symptoms; pride, arrogance, image-control, and selfishness is the disease.  The reason David kept his word was because the cause wasn’t there.  David didn’t feel the need to manage his image like I do.  David didn’t crave approval like I do.  David didn’t watch the feed, check the ‘likes’, or bow at the altar of public opinion like I have been known to do.  David kept his word because the only one that it mattered too, God, mattered everything to him.

So David searched for a man of the house of Saul in order to keep his promise (2 Samuel 9.2-5)  Finally, Mephibosheth was found.

David’s officials couldn’t have been happy.  His own family probably was none to thrilled.  Leaving alive someone who had claim to the throne was not something that Kings did.  But as we have seen elsewhere, David was anything but a typical King.  No matter how long it took or how far he had to go, David was going to find a way to keep his word.

David showed kindness, mercy, and honor to Mephibosheth.  He restored to him all the land and a position at the Kings table (7).  He made him like one of the King’s sons (11) and he stayed in Jerusalem with the Royal family.  All of this happened because one man kept his word.

David wrote in Psalm 15 that a man “keeps his word even when it hurts.” (Ps. 15.4)  How often have I chosen a lie to avoid pain? a falsehood to avoid embarrassment? deceit to stave off shame?

I commit to things I cant accomplish because I am afraid of how I will be perceived if I say no?  My word is shot.  I lie because my worth needs to be shown in the stories I tell or the people I say I have met.  My word is shot.  Image is what drives words.

David didn’t have an image to protect, which is why keeping his word came so natural to him.  He didn’t have to make up accomplishments, didn’t have to exaggerate victories or skills.  He simply devoted himself to become God’s man for the job.  In doing so, the vulnerability that comes with keeping your word, was something he was comfortable with.  He knew who gave him his identity (2 Samuel 7.8) and in whom he found his strength (1 Samuel 30.6).  When the disease is taken care off the symptoms disappear.