Judges

A Killer Prayer?

prayer_warrior“God, sometimes it’s hard to obey, but help us to obey your word completely, even if it means we have to kill people.”

A killer prayer?  Is that what it means to be a prayer warrior?  Not sure about the theology, but let me give you a little background to this prayer…

After dinner tonight we were reading through Judges 1 as a family (lest you think our family more pious than we are, we’re lucky if we manage to do this about once a week).

Things we observed about Judges 1:

1) Difficult to pronounce names (Adoni-bezek, Kiriath-arba, Aijalon).  When reading a name you don’t know, the key, just be confident.  As Luther would say, sin boldly.

2) Adoni-bezek cut of the thumbs and toes of his enemies, so that’s what they did to him.  An eye for an eye, a toe for a toe.  We talked about this topic for a long time.  We have 2 teenage sons.

3) Some tribes worked together (Judah, Simeon), others not so much.

4) The guy from Luz who showed mercy to Israel was shown mercy even though he was a Canaanite.

5) The Israelites were supposed to drive the Canaanites out of the land, but they didn’t complete the task very well.  The Israelites weren’t good at obeying God completely.  Noah remembered this fifth theme in his prayer.

Afterwards, I asked Noah, our younger son (he’s 16) to pray.  He prayed the prayer I quoted above.

We laughed because we have a dark sense of humor.  The earlier part of his prayer, that I don’t quote was good.  He prayed for his brother’s job search, among other things.

In case you’re wondering about the appropriateness of Noah’s prayer, we weren’t shocked.  I’m certain God wasn’t offended.  God has a sense of humor.

In case you wondering what I think about the disturbing violence of the books of Joshua and Judges, I’ve written about the Canaanite Genocide for Relevant Magazine, you can check it out here.  I also discuss it in God Behaving Badly, in the chapter on violence.

Do you make jokes in your prayers?  What kind?  

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Reading Joshua and Judges: An Interview with David T. Lamb | The Whole Dang Thing

Blogging friend and InterVarsity staff Ben Emerson is blogging through the Bible (The Whole Dang Thing).  As his journey took him to the problematic books of Joshua and Judges, he decided to interview me.  Here it is:

Reading Joshua and Judges: An Interview with David T. Lamb | The Whole Dang Thing.

His interview questions include:

1) Tips for reading about the violence of Joshua and Judges?

2) Why doesn’t God condemn the killing and dismemberment of the Levite’s concubine?

3) What do you like about J & J?

4) What can J & J teach us about God and God’s people?

Why was God so mean to Saul? Part 2 (1 Samuel 13, 15)

Saul’s sins involved a premature sacrifice (1 Sam. 13) and an incomplete slaughter (1 Sam. 15).  That doesn’t sound too bad, particularly in comparison to David’s murder and adultery.  And yet as we observed in a recent blog, those are the sins that got Saul in big trouble with YHWH and his prophet Samuel.

So, why was God and Samuel so harsh in judging Saul?  I see two reasons.

First, Saul as the initial king of Israel, his actions set a precedent for future kings.  And, as we read the story in the books of Samuel and Kings, later rulers struggled to obey.  Samuel had just made it clear to the people and their brand new king that they all need to obey diligently, and if they don’t, they’d be punished (1 Sam. 12:15, 25).  So, Saul’s decision to disobey Samuel’s command to wait, had consequences.  Leaders lead for good, or for ill.

Second, Saul should have known that he could trust YHWH and wait.  The clues are there in the text.  The description of the Philistine army, “like the sand of the seashore in multitude” is reminiscent of Gideon’s story where the Midianites are “countless as the sand of the seashore”.  And what was Gideon’s big problem, according to YHWH?  Too many soldiers.  The fact that Saul was losing men was a good thing.  He wasn’t going to need to do the lap like a dog trick.  Saul had just been reminded of the story of Gideon by Samuel (1 Sam. 12:11; Gideon is called Jerubbaal by Samuel).   Despite appearances, Saul should have trusted God. 

The final thing to note here, is that Saul’s judgment wasn’t as harsh as it may seem.  He was allowed to rule for another 15 years or so.  The main punishment fell upon Jonathan, who wasn’t able to succeed his father.  And Jonathan was an impressive guy.

But this is just the first judgment against Saul.  Come back later for the discussion of why God judged Saul so harshly for not completely slaughtering the Amalekites.  That’s a problem.

So, was Samuel too harsh or too lenient to Saul? 

Image of Samuel Reproving Saul from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Samuel_reproving_Saul_.jpg

Bulls and Baals (Gideon 9)

YHWH decided it was time to smash the Baal and slaughter the Bull.  He picked Gideon for the task (Judg. 6:25).

Gideon’s father, Joash had a Baal altar and before Gideon was to gather troops to overthrown the Midianites, they needed to undertake some idol bashing.  They were supposed to worship YHWH only, so the Baal altar needed to get torn down.  Joash also had an Asherah, which was technically a sacred pole (like a totem pole), but the pole was dedicated to the goddess Asherah, Baal’s supposed wife or consort.  The Asherah also needed to get cut down.  To celebrate this idol bashing, Gideon was also supposed to take his dad’s prize bull and slaughter it, using the wood from the Asherah.

This task should be no problem for a “mighty” warrior like Gideon, but he knew his father and the townspeople might not endorse this undertaking, so Gideon does it at night.  The text tells us that Gideon did it then because he was afraid (Judg. 6:27).

How would you feel if your son took the car (a bit like a bull) and crashed into your HD TV (the closest thing we have to an altar–we devote a lot of time and energy to it–Andrew Luck on TV right now is making it hard to finish this blog…)?

Before God calls us to do something big like Gideon, he’s going to want us to make him first.  God commands us to not worship idols, and even though we’re not really bowing to Baal much (hopefully…), we’ve other things we devote too much time, energy and money to (cars, computers, TVs, houses).

So have you ever smashed a TV, or destroyed one of your idols?