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67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
     
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
     
Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
     
like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
     
and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
     
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
     
of Israel his inheritance.
72And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
     
with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm 78:67-72 NIV

The verses we are pondering today focus on David’s appointment and role as King. But before I address this section I feel it is appropriate to at least pass over the first 66 verses of this Psalm.

The Psalm begins with an affirmation of the importance of teaching and remembering the great deeds and miracles God had performed on behalf of his people, the Israelite nation.

But the Israelite people had a problem. They did not remain faithful to God and they did not live by his law. In spite of God’s many miracles, they too soon forgot that they needed God and went their own way.

Whenever God sent hardships on them the Israelites would turn again to him. They would make promises they didn’t keep. Even though God led his people as a shepherd leads his sheep, they rebelled and suffered the consequences. These consequences led the Israelite people to risk and lose the Ark of the Covenant to their enemies, the Philistines. This happened before Saul was anointed King.

Verse 67 begins the explanation of the process God used to select David as the next king of Israel. David came from the tribe of Judah. He had been a shepherd as a youth – a role that he was able to carry over into his reign as King. He was no longer tending sheep, however. Now he was tending the flock of Israelite people, leading them as a shepherd leads his sheep. David led his people with integrity of heart.

Perhaps the message for our day and time that we can take from these verses is the example we are given for good leadership. God used the sheep pens to train David for leadership. David learned how to lead by shepherding his people. He led the people with “integrity of heart: with skillful hands he led them.” (Verse 72 NIV)

As we approach our next national election, may we pray for this kind of leader for our country. One who will lead by example, who will lead through service, who will lead with integrity and skill.

Father God, lead us as our shepherd. May we be willing sheep, eager to follow your example. Lead us through the next election to seek leaders who will lead with honor and integrity. And in the areas of our own individual lives where we have leadership roles, let us take to heart the example you have shown us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 Chronicles 16:7-36 (Click on this link to read the passage. It is too long for me to copy into this post without breaking the Copyright law that governs its use.)

This passage is a psalm of David’s even though it is not in the book of Psalms. It is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God for all he has done for his people. The cause of this celebration of praise was the restoration of the arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

In this psalm David is thanking God for all of the wonder acts he performed on behalf of the Israelites. He is calling for the Israelites to rejoice and to glory in the name of God. He calls on them to remember the wonders and miracles God has performed as well as his righteous judgments against those who rebelled against him.

David remembers God’s faithfulness to his covenant even when the people were not faithful. He remembers God’s faithfulness to give the Promised Land to his people as an inheritance.

David recalls how God protected the Israelite nation as they wondered in the desert with no place to call home – yet. He then calls on the Israelites to sing God’s praises and to declare his glory to all nations.

David declares God’s sovereignty over all other gods. He challenges the Israelites to give God the glory and honor he is due. He calls on the earth to tremble before the Almighty God.

My feeble re-telling of this great psalm leaves much to be desired. One needs to read this Psalm over and over. Try to imagine King David’s uncontainable excitement as he sings his heart out to the Israelites through these words.

As I have written these words today I have wondered how we could bring this psalm closer home. Those of us who live in the United States have a history that, at least at the beginning of our nation, had very close ties with God. His name is embedded in our national documents, and his people were at work making our nation great. It is grievous to see how far away from God we have moved in the past 100 years.

I would like to see this psalm re-written to fit our nation’s history and to challenge our own citizens to “Cry out, ‘Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise.’ Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” (1 Chronicles 16:35-36 NIV) 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old–
3 what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
Psalms 78:1-4 (NIV)
    

     These four verses are the beginning of a Psalm written by Asaph in which he teaches the history of the Jewish people beginning with Jacob and his sons in Egypt, through the time of King David. He urges the people to listen as he tells the wondrous story of how God has performed many wonders for the Israelites and impresses upon the people the importance of teaching this to the next generation so they too will learn of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. 

     This is why I am blogging. It is my heart’s desire to pass on the truths of the Bible to the next generation. They are not getting Bible teaching on TV, radio, or in the movies. Instead they are being bombarded with one form of blasphemy after another on every front. So few are regular church attendees like their grandparents were. In the majority of schools they are being taught from a humanistic point of view–to look for the answers to their problems from within themselves, to depend on human strength and wisdom. It has become passé to believe in the Bible or to expect God to be anything more than a crutch. 

     It breaks my heart, too, to see Sunday school classes and youth activities that seem to have the philosophy that getting them in church through fun and games is paramount to teaching the children directly from the Bible. Too many leaders and teachers seem to make the assumption that the Bible is too boring to be interesting to their students, so they sugar coat it so much that the students can easily make the assumption that the characters and tales are little more than fairy tales. 

     My hope for this blog is that my readers will discover that there is sound wisdom and direction in the Bible. I pray that they will hunger and thirst to read the Bible for themselves, and that they will find the power, strength, comfort, and direction for life that can be found within its pages. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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