Martin Luther King

MLK and the death of King David’s son

Google MLKGoogle comes through again.  How could anyone prefer Bing, when Google is so much cooler.

How have you celebrated MLK day?  I went to work because I don’t get the day off.  And I posted a very short note on my blog about MLK.  See my MLK post from a year ago.

On a completely unrelated note, a few days ago, a friend sent me this email asking advice about a question that came up during their family’s devotions (they have young kids):

This morning the devotional brought up David & Bathsheba (personally I thought, why would a devotional for kids deal with that? but I digress…). It didn’t get very specific. Just said ‘David wanted to marry a beautiful woman so he had her husband killed.’ But it did say that as a result God said his child had to die. Our daughter responds like any 10 year-old who is inquisitive would respond, ‘Why did God punish David by killing his son? Why not kill David?’

Of course I answered the only way I knew how: ‘That’s a great question and I don’t really know. We know God loves us but we don’t understand everything he does.’

David and BathshebaI made 5 comments to my friend:

1) I think its great that the devotional material includes the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11-12).  Although, I understand why you’d wonder about that.  I don’t have girls.  But we’re supposed to teach the Bible to our kids, and God inspired the whole thing, so I think it’s good to talk about it.  Children that discuss sex and sexuality with their parents are more likely to take on their parents values on sex.

2) I’d tell your daughter that she’s asking a great question.  How clever of her!  It’s tough to understand, but by asking good questions, you’re taking a step in the right direction.

3) In the OT, God often punishes children for sins of parents.  It doesn’t make sense to us, but we tend to think individualistically.  In many ways, to punish a child is a more severe form of punishment for parents.  Most parent’s would rather suffer, than allow their children to suffer.  God punishes the sons of Jeroboam and Ahab.  Jonathan is prevented from becoming king because of the sins of his father Saul.

4) God promised David an eternal dynasty (2 Sam 7), so perhaps that promise was meant to keep him alive.  God also said that the sword would never leave his house, and violence did characterize the remaining years of his reign.  His sons Absalom and Adonijah both tried to rebel against their father, so other consequences came his way.

5) Your response of “I don’t understand” is great.  It models humility.  That’s great parenting.

So, what would you have said to this 10 year-old girl? 

No, I haven’t seen the Gregory Peck portrayal of this story.  Have you?  Is it any good?

Following in his father’s footsteps (MLK)

In November 2010, I visited the home of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta for the first time during the Society of Biblical Literature conference.  I was struck by his family situation.  His father was the Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  Many children of pastors, ministers and missionaries grow up mad at God or the Church because their father or mother had more important things to do for God than to spend time with their children.  However, the ministry of Martin Luther King, Sr left such a positive impact on his son, Martin Jr that he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.

In his 1950 essay An Autobiography of Religious Development, King Jr. wrote that his father was a major influence on his entering the ministry.  “I guess the influence of my father also had a great deal to do with my going in the ministry. This is not to say that he ever spoke to me in terms of being a minister, but that my admiration for him was the great moving factor; He set forth a noble example that I didn’t mind following.”

Rather convicting.  I wonder what my sons will do.

How has MLK impacted your life?