Logos Bible Software

Hiking Oyster Dome, Part 2

Oyster Dome Hike Dave at sunset 4.45 pmIn Hiking Oyster Dome, Part 1, I told about my trip to Logos Bible Software in Washington state to tape two courses (1, 2, Samuel, and 1, 2 Kings). I concluded my week discussing David’s song in 2 Samuel 22 (which is the same as Psalm 18) where he praises his God for being his rock, his deliverer, and his savior. After a full week of taping, on Friday I wanted to head to the woods where I encountered God on my hike to Oyster Dome. After reaching Oyster Dome, I had 5 minutes to enjoy the spectacular view of forest, mountains, coastline, ocean, islands, clouds and sunset before heading back to my car, hoping to arrive before dark. (Review is now over.)

After going down about fifteen minutes, the path didn’t look familiar.  “I don’t remember walking across these logs.”  I had a moment of panic, thinking that I made a wrong turn.  I decided just to backtrack and find the right path.  After walking back about 10 minutes and not seeing an obvious “right path”, I began to wonder if I had made a mistake backing up.  I decided to just keep going the way I had originally gone.

But now the panic really began.  I could easily be 2 hours away from my car.  I wasn’t sure where I was.  Darkness was coming quickly.  I hadn’t seen anyone for 30 minutes.  Did I mention that my cell phone was dead?

The prospect of spending the night in the mountains loomed on the horizon.  I never made it past Cub Scouts, so I wasn’t good at the whole eating nuts and berries, and starting a fire from scratch thing.  No working phone, no flashlight.  I did have a map…and a God who listens to my prayers.

I recalled 2 Samuel 22 that I had taught on that morning, particularly verse 7.

In my distress I called upon the LORD

It’s been awhile since one of my prayers has felt that urgent.  “God, get me back to my car safely.”

I hiked another 10 minutes and found a point on my map that I did recognize.  I had made a wrong turn at the base of Oyster Dome.  Now, I had a choice, 1) Go back the way I had just came, or 2) Descend using my map on an alternate route called “Max’s Shortcut.”  I decided to go with Max (and hoped that that was not where the wild things were) and option 2 since I had already tried backtracking and it didn’t work out.  I had a good trail map.

As I headed down on “Max’s Shortcut,” I thought I should start jogging if it was flat or a slight decline to save time.  It was a bit awkward with my backpack.  I felt like Gimli (not like Aragorn or Legolas).  The sweat started to pore down my face.  My green shirt smelled like a high school boys locker room.

I was making good time and this path was clearly marked. (“Thank you, Jesus.”)  I met no wild things.  I knew where I was and could follow along on my map.  Everything was great until Max’s Shortcut ran into the Larry Reed Trail.  I saw a sign from the distance and was encouraged since I had seen no humans for about an hour.  I ran up to the sign, read it and was devastated.  “Trail Closed Due to Logging Danger.”

In my distress I called upon the LORD

The sign told me to go back the way I had come, which would now take over 2 hours.  It informed me that if I were caught trespassing on this trail I could be fined.  I thought, “I’d be happy to be caught and fined.  That’s better than spending the night in a forest.  But I don’t want to be crushed by a log.”

I decided to take my chances with falling logs with Larry Reed.

At first everything was great.  (“Thank you, Jesus.”)  The trail was clearly marked and relatively flat.  I knew where I was on my map and because I kept jogging I was making great time, until I ran into a clearing where the loggers had done their business.  The path disappeared as an enormous swath of the forest had been harvested.  All that was left was a big, brown gap, with no sign of the path.  I couldn’t make it back without a path.

In my distress I called upon the LORD

 I looked down at my map and noticed that the path through this section was relatively straight, so I tried to guess where the path should reappear on the other side of the clearing to give myself a heading and then starting walking straight.  After climbing through the dirt, and rocks in the clearing, I came to the other side and found my beloved Larry Reed Trail.  (“Thank you Jesus.”)

Ten more minutes of hiking/jogging took me to the Samish Overlook.  The view was amazing, not as high as Oyster Dome, but you were closer to the ocean and had a much wider panorama.  There were people there (Civilization!) who I considered hugging, but then thought better of the idea and just said “hi”.  (Did they think I was a wild thing?)

After a brief stop to take in the view, I was back to my Gimli-esque jogging and reconnected to the Oyster Dome Trail and went down the steep switch-backs knowing that I wouldn’t spend the evening in the wilderness, I wouldn’t be crushed by falling timber, and I wouldn’t be forced to chew on tree bark for sustenance.

About 4:45, I met a serious photographer taking shots of a gorgeous sunset who I convinced to take a picture of me with my iPad.  He’d never used a iPad. (“Just press that circle.”  “I don’t think it took.”  “It probably did.” “I’ll make sure.”  He took 10 pictures.  I included 1—image #3. “It will just be a silhouette.” “That’s OK, people don’t want to see my face anyway.”)

I finally made it down to my car as it was getting dark a few minutes after 5:00, exhausted, sweaty, sore, stinky, but most significantly grateful to the God that not only delivered David the king, also delivered David the hiker.  In the future, whenever I wear my green Samuel shirt I will be reminded of my hike to Oyster Dome and this is what I’ll say:

In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry came to his ears…
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing praises to your name (2 Sam. 22:7, 50).

Counting publications and soldiers

I was working on my CV today (I’m not applying for jobs, I just update it regularly), and I decided to count up my publications by category (books, articles, dictionary articles, book reviews). As the number grew, I suddenly thought, “Perhaps this isn’t a good thing for me spiritually…


Then I thought of David and the census. I’ve been thinking about David and the Israelite monarchy a lot lately since last week I was at Logos Bible Software taping courses on 1, 2 Kings and 1, 2 Samuel. The book of 2 Samuel ends with a bizarre story where YHWH is angry at his people so he incited David to count the people (2 Sam. 24:1-17).

1 Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army, who was with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.” 3 But Joab said to the king, “May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” (2 Sam. 24:1-3)

In Chronicles it was Satan who incited David to count the people (1 Chron. 21:1). Did the biblical authors sometimes get confused between God and Satan? That’s not something you want to mix up.

The text of 2 Samuel 24 isn’t exactly clear what’s wrong with counting the people. After all, the book of Numbers does a lot of counting (hence the catchy title). But Joab clearly knows David shouldn’t do it.  For David, it seems to be related to pride in the size and strength of his military.

Gideon, after all, had too many soldiers and had to whittle down his army to 300 which was still ample to defeat the Midianites (Judg. 7) since it was YHWH that was fighting for Israel. Just as Gideon needed to depend upon YHWH and not the size of his military, David should do the same. By counting the people under his control, David would know how large his forces would be. He would then be tempted to rely on his enormous standing army for victory in battle, and not on the God who had delivered him from Goliath, the Philistine giant (1 Sam. 17).

Tragically, for David the divine punishment was severe upon the people. But why did YHWH punish them, for something David did that he provoked David to do? Great question–any thoughts?

For me counting publications, book sales or speaking requests can lead to pride, arrogance and a lack of dependence upon the God who’s given me my gifts, experiences and abilities.  As an act of penance, I decided to write a blog about the topic.

Next time I feel like counting, I’ll count my blessings.  I may even name them one by one.

How do we “take a census” today? Why is census-taking unhelpful spiritually?