Why the High Price of Humility is Worth What You Pay

Horeshat Tal reminds us of unity's essential ingredient.

Living together in harmony make life great. But dealing with disharmony is like draining the marrow from your bones. King David knew both extremes. He offers wisdom from the voice of experience.

Horeshat Tal—A Reminder of Unity's Essential Ingredient

(Photo: Horeshat Tal National Park. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Many places in Israel today adapt their modern names from biblical names or references. Horeshat Tal National Park takes its name from David’s words in Psalm 133. Horeshat Tal means “The Dew Grove,” a name derived from verse 3:

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. —Psalm 133:3

Sitting in the shadow of Mount Hermon, this extensive park with its lush surroundings includes beautiful lawns, rolling streams, stone bridges, and a large swimming pool and water slide.

But the best parts of the park are the beautiful groves of centuries-old Tabor oak trees.

  • At one time, these oaks grew in abundance on the hills of the Galilee.
  • These trees are all that remain—saved partly due to a local legend that claims whoever harms a tree will endure suffering.

The superstition reminds us of a principle of unity that Psalm 133 speaks as truth—not legend.

Click to continue reading »

Why God Always Connects Your Physical Needs to Your Spiritual Life

The One who set eternity in our hearts created in us a hunger that space and time cannot satisfy.

The superscription of Psalm 63 notes how David prayed the psalm in the wilderness of Judah, either while fleeing from King Saul or, later, from David’s rebel son Absalom.

Why God Connects Your Physical Needs to Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Sunset over the Judean Wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. —Psalm 63:1

The “dry and weary land” that David described also described his own weariness, and the lack of water around him served to surface an even deeper thirst. At the height of his emotional and physical distress, David sought refuge in his spiritual life.

He yearned for God.

Our physical needs are connected to our spiritual lives for that very reason.

Click to continue reading »

What to Do When It’s Not Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Lonely holidays are the times to draw close to God.

The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.

(Photo by Photodune)

(Photo by Photodune)

Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.

During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).

David felt very alone.

His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.

Click to continue reading »

Bethlehem—A Powerful Metaphor for Your Life’s Greatest Need

The place of Jesus' birth puts our priorities in their proper place.

Christmas cards and carols venerate Bethlehem as an idyllic, quiet place with “silent stars” above it and “deep and dreamless sleep” within its walls. A pleasant picture, for sure. But it wasn’t always so.

Bethlehem—A Metaphor for Your Heart

(Photo: Today’s little town of Bethlehem, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Scripture’s introduction to Bethlehem isn’t pretty.

  • Jacob buries his favorite wife, Rachel, on the way to Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19).
  • The book of Judges mentions Bethlehem in conjunction with a corrupt priest who became a mercenary for idolaters (Judges 17:8-9).
  • Another account describes a Bethlehem concubine who, after leaving town, was brutally raped and dismembered (Judges 19:1-30).

Not a great beginning for the little town of Bethlehem.

But then, the scene shifts.

Click to continue reading »

Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

The exclusivity of salvation isn't a new question.

Of course, we can only approach God’s presence God’s way. The New Testament clearly reveals that only through Jesus can anyone come to God the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23). But what about in the Old Testament? Are there multiple ways? 

Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

(Photo courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After King David conquered Jerusalem and secured it as his capital, he desired to bring the Ark of the Covenant up from Kiriath-Jearim into his new City of David. But in his passion to have God’s presence, David neglected to follow God’s principles. That negligence of improperly transporting the Ark cost a man his life (2 Samuel 6).

Three months later, David correctly transported the Ark into Jerusalem and placed it in a tent he pitched for its keeping.

In this experience, David gained a profound respect for God’s holiness.

This principle directly relates to the question: did the Old Testament offer only one way to God?

Click to continue reading »

This Mind Hack Can Get You Through an Ordinary Day

Focusing on one objective helps the rest fall into place.

The ordinary days of life far outnumber the extraordinary ones. That can get discouraging. But as we look at the lives in the Bible, we see the same pattern. Thankfully, they were normal like us.

This Mind Hack Can Get You Through an Ordinary Day

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Like us, the biblical lives show years of routine interrupted by occasion moments of excitement. Thankfully, we see God at work in the ordinary day just as much as in the extraordinary. David’s fight with Goliath is the perfect example.

It can also happen with you.

Click to continue reading »

Tel Dan Stele—Providential Ironies in Favor of King David

How a stone inscription offers encouragement to your spiritual life.

Sometimes archaeology offers marvelous vindications to biblical history. The ancient site of Tel Dan has a large, rock wall—a city gate from the time of Solomon’s temple.

Tel Dan Iron Age gate near where the stele was discovered

(Photo: Tel Dan Iron Age gate near where the stele was discovered. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Likely built by King Ahab in the 9th century BC, this Iron Age entrance helped to fortify the city of Dan. And for good reason. The ninth and early-eighth centuries BC saw many battles between the northern kingdom of Israel and the expanding kingdom of Aram.

In the courtyard of Tel Dan’s gate complex, archaeologists unearthed sections of a large engraved stone—an ancient basalt stele. Its discovery gave hard evidence that King David was no Robin Hood legend of Hebrew history.

It also offers encouragement to your spiritual life. Here’s how.

Click to continue reading »

Nebi Samwil—A Site with Wisdom Ignored

Solomon's defining moment can also become ours.

Most travelers to Jerusalem never think to come to Nebi Samwil. The minaret towering above the hill looks like a misplaced lighthouse searching for the sea. On a clear day, a visitor can spy the Mediterranean to the west.

Nebi Samwil

(Photo: Nebi Samwil. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Although few come here today, there were few more important places in David’s and Solomon’s time—if any. In fact, it signified Solomon’s most defining moment.

What’s more, it represents the potential for ours as well.

Click to continue reading »

Hope from the Upper Room and David’s Tomb

How events of history and tradition combine to offer an answer to David’s prayer.

One of King David’s most poignant prayers came after one of his greatest mistakes. “Do not cast me away from Your presence,” he prayed, “and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).

Hope from the Upper Room and David Tomb

(Photo: Upper Room Interior. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the traditional site of the Upper Room, pieces of Hebrew and Christian scripture come together in an ancient building. Here, on Jerusalem’s Western Hill, events of history and tradition combine to offer the ultimate answer to David’s prayer.

In fact, the place offers hope for all of us.

Click to continue reading »

From Bahurim to Susa—God Turns a Curse into a Blessing

The Lord’s Providential Ironies Flow from Benjamin’s Tribe

One of the dark moments of King David’s reign saw him shuffling barefoot over the Mount of Olives, fleeing rather than facing a fight with his rebel son Absalom.

From Bahurim to Susa—God Turns a Curse into a Blessing

(Photo: Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After David made his way over the summit, he passed below the Benjamite village of Bahurim. There a loudmouth named Shimei hurled rocks at David’s passing entourage. But the curses Shimei chucked hurt worse. David’s response was stellar:

My son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day. —2 Sam. 16:11–12

Centuries later, another Benjamite named Shimei would play a role in providing blessing to David’s line. In fact to all Jews.

And to you.

Click to continue reading »