David's Children 

~~MTS-3912
David’s Children
“All these were the sons of David, besides his sons by his concubines.”
            1 Ch 3:9

In some aspects, David was no different from all the other monarchs of the east who took as many wives and concubines as they possibly could and produced many children through them. Even though he was struggling against many foes while he was ruling from Hebron, six sons were born during that time from his many wives; there is no record of how many children in total he had if we include the ones born from all the concubines. Over a period of forty years as king, he had nineteen sons from his wives and the ones from his concubines may have doubled or tripled that number. Indeed the king didn’t spend his entire time ruling the nation or fighting the war; he was preoccupied with producing children. I guess his son Solomon took a cue from him and took child production to a different level. With a thousand wives and concubines, who knows how many children were produced. I read from a publication recently that according to a genetic study millions of people appear to be related to the ruthless Genghis Khan. The man must have had uncountable wives and concubines to scatter his genes far and wide.
The man after God’s own heart should have behaved differently from all other godless ancient monarchs, shouldn’t he have? He would have been greatly admired by the following generations had he practiced monogamy, but he wasn’t even close to doing that in the slightest and, ironically, he wasn’t condemned for having too many wives and concubine; he was found guilty for taking another man’s wife.
Having more than one wife seems to be the perk of becoming rich and famous nowadays and people seem to accept it as the norm. There is even a cute Chinese name for the third party in one’s marriage. What’s the name for them? “The Little Third (小三)” There is even a joke in China that people seem to be quite amused by: the best three things that could happen to a middle-aged man: getting promoted, becoming wealthy, and his wife being deceased. Is there some truth behind this tasteless joke? We can only ponder.
Sin will always run its course if we don’t put up stiff resistance and our sinful nature will always have its way unless we put it to death repeatedly. Why did David and Solomon do what they did and start collecting wives and concubines after they became kings? The answer is indeed quite simple and straight forward: because they were able to, that’s all. It was such a common practice that what they did routinely didn’t even bother their conscience at all. Even David was blinded by his lust for Bathsheba and didn’t realize he was committing a heinous sin until Nathan the prophet pointed it out.
The Lord had pointed it out to the Israelites when they were asking for a king to rule over them. “He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers,” and I presume to be wives and concubine as well. This was exactly what happened when they rejected the only perfect king of the universe to govern them and embraced mere humans with all their sinful desires to be their sovereigns and monarchs.
    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, February 27, 2015 6:40:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Jarha 

~~  MTS-3911
Jarha
“Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to his servant Jarha, and she bore him Attai.”          1 Ch 2:34

It was the easiest way to become a somebody from a nobody. Jarha was an Egyptian servant in Sheshan’s household and the prospect of becoming well-off was quite slim. He was born a servant, and most likely would die a servant, for social mobility was quite limited in those days. Sheshan was probably quite well-to-do and had a certain status in society, since he was able to keep a few household servants. The man probably had high hopes for his daughters, for he had no sons, and he certainly would like for them to marry well.
Jarha must have been in Sheshan’s household for a long while and had proved himself to be a loyal and faithful servant. In some ways, he had become the son Sheshan dreamt of having for years. “Maybe I could get a son out of his union with one of my daughters,” he thought. Yet there was something in him that resisted the idea, for not only was Jarha a household servant, he was an Egyptian. A thing such as this just wasn’t done that often in Israel.
Was it even possible that Jarha was the last resort for Sheshan, for one of his daughters was having a hard time finding a match and her biological clock was ticking fast, and Jarha seemed to represent the only chance his daughter would have to find a mate. It was merely a compromise that Sheshan had to make, all things considered.
Again, my speculation might be too far to the left and might have nothing to do with what actually took place. It was likely that one of his daughters simply fell in love with Jarha and fought tooth and nail for their romance, and Sheshan finally obliged. By agreeing to the match, Sheshan didn’t lose his daughter, he instead gained a son, and through the union he was able to obtain an heir in his grandson Attai.
This event is just mentioned in passing in a long record of genealogy and it may not mean a thing at all. It just stated the fact and moved on without making any comment. I suppose it was mentioned because it was a bit unusual, or just out of necessity. Yet to thoughtful reader of the Scriptures, the story of Jarha does cause one to consider our state before the Lord.
Surely from a human point of view, there was absolutely no chance for someone like me to become somebody. I was merely a faceless person in a sea of people, and would likely perish as an invisible man except to a few people. Yet through my adoption by the Lord Jesus I suddenly turned into a son from a household slave. I can only imagine how euphoric Jarha must have felt when he was united with his master’s daughter and he was no longer a servant; he became a son with all the rights and privileges that came with the new title.
     

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, February 26, 2015 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Daughters 

~~MTS-3910
Daughters
“Sheshan had no sons—only daughters.”
          1 Ch 2:34

My father-in-law had three daughters before he finally had a son. Kathy’s brother was born when his mother was forty years old. It must have been quite a joyful occasion when Bobby arrived at the Koren household.
Did we try to have a daughter after our three sons came along? As far as I can recall, Kathy and I never seriously discussed the issue. We were kind of getting used to boys and would not have minded had the Lord given us another one.
What have we missed not having a daughter? I really don’t know what I have missed since I never had one, therefore have no earthly idea what it is like to have a little girl in my arms. I guess I sort of know what it’s like to have a daughter from observing the way my wife interacts with her elderly mother. Surely daughters are much better caretakers than sons in their parents’ old age. This is not even debatable, really. The Chinese saying of “raising sons for one’s old age” has been proven untrue from our observation and should have been debunked long ago. We actually raise daughters for our old age.
Why are sons more valued in most ancient cultures? Is it because they are the ones who carry our family names? Infant mortality among girls is lower than boys and female babies seem to be healthier and more durable than their counterparts, and their life expectancy is also longer; therefore the likelihood of them being around in our old age is obviously greater.
“Unlike the sons who are taken away to die on the battle field, we at least get to marry our daughters to our neighbors,” we read in old an old Chinese poem, lamenting about sons who perished in battles.
“Sheshan had no sons—only daughters.” This doesn’t sound like a blessing. There seems to be a tingle of regret resonating in this brief remark. Why? Was it more cultural than spiritual? Adam was indeed created before his wife and Eve was made to be a helper of her husband. From this perspective, Adam seemed to be more valuable than his wife, yet from a more practical point of view, we all know who makes a family move and function properly and smoothly. Men may act as protectors of the family; women seem to be more needed than their husbands in so many other ways. We all know where men often turn to for comfort and consolation when they get hurt. I remember falling apart when Michael fall from a water tower at the age two, and Kathy was the calm one who immediately took control of the situation.
It’s borderline sexism that I even find it necessary to make an apology for having daughters. Surely, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him,” whether they are girls or boys. 
   

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, February 20, 2015 6:49:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Azubah 

~~MTS-3909
Azubah
When Azubah died, Caleb married Ephrath, who bore him Hur.
             1 Ch 2:19

The name means “deserted” in Hebrew. Does that mean that Azubah was destined to be forsaken by the Lord? She married Caleb and bore him three sons and then she died prematurely, leaving three sons behind. Not long after her decease, her husband turned around and married another woman by the name Ephrath, who gave birth to Hur.
It was tragic for Azubah to depart from the world prematurely, yet what happened to her was by no means that out of the ordinary; and her death does not mean God’s desertion as her name seemed to imply. In a sinful world bad things do occur and will continue to occur. Mass media and communication have created a true global village out of this world and what happened to Azubah pales a great deal compared to the tragedies what we read about or hear on a daily basis.
Was it all bad in Azubah’s life? Not really. She must have had her share of joy in life, just like most of us. The woman must have enjoyed the bliss of marriage for a while and she had the privilege of bringing three boys into the world. She came to realize the meaning of love through the raising and nurturing of her three sons. Surely it was gut-wrenching for Azubah to leave her husband and sons behind and she might have had some regret about things, but she had to submit to her calling and leave whatever was yet to be done in God’s hand. She was not ready to leave at the time, yet the choice wasn’t hers to make.
Things weren’t half as horrible as what she had anticipated, however. Death brought what awful pain and suffering she was experiencing to an abrupt end, and there was another woman out there to finish what Azubah had left unfinished. She might have considered herself to be indispensible in her loved ones’ life, but it wasn’t really so. She was greatly missed, but easily replaced.
Someday we will also be greatly missed, and quickly replaced.
So let’s not feel sorry for Azubah, who appeared to suffer more pain than most and was seemingly deserted by God, for it makes no difference whether she outlived her husband or most of her contemporaries who have all now been safely tucked away in their graves. The only thing that would make a great difference in Azubah’s life was her love and devotion to God, assuming that was truly the case.
The story of Azubah, if there is a story about her at all, has been told and will be retold repeatedly in the ages to come, and we really mourn for ourselves when we mourn for her, for her story sounds so much like ours. May we learn some spiritual lesson from this woman and treasure the gift of life every moment of the day, so that we will have no regrets when the dark curtain falls.  
   
 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, February 19, 2015 7:26:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Seventh 

~~MTS-3908
The Seventh
“…the sixth Ozem and the seventh David.”
             1 Ch 2:15

The seventh probably was just an afterthought. There were six sons born in Jesse’s family, and the seventh was merely, well, superfluous.
It was hardly fair, really. It was all so new and exciting for the father when the first son came along. He experienced being the father of a son for the very first time, and he might have poured his entire love and attention on Eliab. The second son might have given Jesse’s an assurance and a sense of security when Abinadad was born, so all was fine. Then there was the third and the fourth, and finally the seventh. Jesse was nowhere to be found when David came along, and probably didn’t bother to come home for the occasion.
David was a nice looking boy with great complexion, yet he was probably an afterthought in many people’s eyes, including his father’s. He was destined to be a loser in the stiff competition for the father’s attention and affection. He wasn’t even present when Samuel was there, making the choice of God’s anointed. David was tending the sheep when the important event was taking place.
Didn’t it really matter at all? David might not have his father’s affection, but he surely caught his heavenly Father’s attention by his constant meditation on heavenly things and his devotion to the Lord. He might not have ranked very highly in his family’s pecking order, and he could have been looked down on by many, yet what truly counted was the Lord’s perception of him.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me,” David wrote in Psalm 27.
“Your grandparents wanted me to give you up for adaption after you were born,” my mother told me just a few months before she passed away.
“Why?” I was puzzled, for I was their first grandson, who was supposedly to be greatly treasured in our tradition.
“You were deemed unlucky by some fortunate-teller,” my mother replied.
My parents prevailed because they insisted on keeping me. I guess that explains the reason why I never felt any affection coming from my grandmother while I was growing up, and I have always had a strong urge to get away from her domination.
It amounts to nothing whether we are the first or the seventh as long as we are the first in God’s eyes. Again we are comforted by the words of Samuel who said: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." We just have to make sure that our hearts are right before the Lord and all other factors are superfluous.

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, February 18, 2015 6:38:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Boaz 

~~MTS-3907
Boaz
“Boaz the father of Obed and Obed the father of Jesse.”
            1 Ch 2:12

It was merely a romance between Boaz and a Moabite woman who had recently returned from a foreign land with her mother-in-law. The setting of the story was quite pastoral and most people tend to read it as good love story and very little beyond that. In fact, I once audited a “Bible as literature” class and the book of Ruth was the first one we studied.
Every romance has its own meaning and significance, but some are more far reaching than others. Boaz and Ruth were just doing what they considered natural, and were doing the best they could to meet all the challenges life presented to them. In Ruth’s case, the challenges were far greater and she certainly did not have the luxury to look beyond her present and into the unknown future. Her main concern after she arrived at Bethlehem was mere survival and very little else. 
She and Boaz met and they might have fallen in love, which was an issue rarely discussed and much less valued during the time when responsibility and duty toward one’s God and family was deemed paramount. 
They did what they felt obligated to do at the time and might not have entertained the idea of how things would eventually transpire through their union. A son was born to them who would become the grandfather of David, and we know through the line of David unto us a Son was born hundreds of years later.
My first grandson just learned how to walk, which brought a lot of joy to Kathy and me, yet we have no earthly idea how far and wide into future greatness he will journey in his life. Kathy and I met years ago and, by God’s grace, we became husband and wife, yet we hardly thought about all the implications of our union at the time. But things did happen, didn’t they? Children were born and raised, and things seemingly quite ordinary started to take place from then on. They didn’t become extraordinary until we look at them in retrospect years later.
My grandson’s first steps might look quite spectacular to us now, but I would be very disappointed if he continues to walk that way, a little bit shaky and ungraceful. George MacDonald rendered it so nicely in his writing: “What father is not pleased with the first tottering attempt of his little one to walk? What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly step of the full grown man?” Indeed the Lord is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.
What is seemingly an insignificant event or incident in our lives may turn out to be quite monumental; therefore we should render all things, be they great or small in human perception, as if they were the most important and may produce effects of the most profound and far-reaching kind. Surely the seemingly ordinary events, such as the romance between Boaz and Ruth or my grandson taking his first step, should never be taken too lightly      
  

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, February 17, 2015 7:03:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wickedness 

~~MTS-3906
Wickedness
“Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.”           1 Ch 2:3

Er, Judah’s first born, died young because he was wicked in the sight of the Lord. Thus the only thing we know about this man was his short name, and his life that was even shorter than his name.
The length of his life mattered little compared to how he was depicted. He was wicked. He could have lived a full and long life, but it still wouldn’t have changed how he was defined. Being wicked was what the man was and dying young was more a blessing, really. If the wicked linger in the flesh far too long, their wickedness will only increase.
Instead of counting down the days and years we still have on earth, we should count how many more good things we can we still do in the remaining years. The Lord cares more about quality than quantity as far as our life on earth is concerned.
Er was wicked, but he probably wasn’t any more wicked than many others, yet he was taken away prematurely. There were some who might have found favor in the Lord’s sight, yet they died young just the same. Enoch was taken away several hundred years before his peers, not for his wickedness, but for his righteousness.
I suppose goodness is defined by whether we walk with the Lord or not. Enoch was the epitome of goodness. The Lord could have left Er alone, or he could have taken him away before his time. What matters the most was how his life was portrayed. He was wicked, and his premature death might not have been caused by wickedness, even though it appeared to be so.
Longevity of the wicked may be their punishment, not a blessing. The greater they sin in the flesh, the more severe their penalty will be.
Counting down the years has become my habit as I age, which is rather depressing actually. I don’t think my wife does the calculation all that much, since she seems to be occupied by what she must do, both for her work at school and her ministry. Much to my envy, her days are mainly composed of doing good things and fulfilling her calling, and I, with ample amount of time at my disposal, squander it by counting down my earthly days and becoming despondent.
People who are busy working and doing good don’t have the time or leisure to be moaning and groaning about their future and what may transpire tomorrow. I guess it’s plausible to assume that the wicked worry a lot more about their tomorrows than the righteous.
Self-occupation is a sure sign of wickedness. Er might not have done anything overtly wicked; perhaps his body was just full of exposed nerves and he became so sensitive about every feeling that he might have had, making him become overly temperamental and depressed, which, I gather, caused him to die young.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” It’s a good idea for us to spend a few moments mediating on the Lord’s words before we start the day. 

 


   

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, February 16, 2015 6:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Division 

~~MTS-3905
Division
“One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.”         1 Ch 1:19

The world was vast and mysterious, which presented a great challenge for Adam’s descendents. The Garden of Eden was fenced in and contained, designed almost like an orchard or a botanical garden for people to play in. The first man turned into an outcast in a world without boundaries, stretching endlessly to the horizon, which was strange, dark, and mysterious. The first couple hardly knew which direction to turn, for every direction seemed to be leading nowhere, and it wouldn’t make any difference no matter whether they turned north or south. Their innocence had been transformed into sophistication, yet their sophistication didn’t seem to provide them with a clear direction. They were lost, even though they had no idea what their destination was.
The land was vast enough to shelter billions of people, but Noah’s children still found it necessary to divide the land to avoid any conflict. The first man was merely a tenant in Eden and he felt no need to claim ownership of the land, yet times were different now and division of the territory became essential. Men’s instinct for survival demanded that they secure a plot of land of their own, so that would feel protected and secure. The tenants had turned into landlords and with their new titles came new burdens and responsibilities.
Renting was in some aspects easier for us than owning a house, because we were not responsible for the condition of the house and we had greater freedom of mobility. Achieving the American dream of homeownership isn’t all that rosy considering the price one must pay to own a house. All Adam and Eve had to do was to maintain the Garden and all things would have been free for them, yet out of their ambition they turned into landlords of a vast world that cursed them with thistles and thorns.
I bought a small roll-top desk from Craig’s list, and I started to have buyer’s remorse moments after driving away with the furniture. Now it sits in our guest bedroom, looking rather out of place. Where is the desk going to end up? I ask myself.
After the land was divided by my grandfather, my dad finally had a plot of land of his own, and he bought another lot not long after that. From then on my dad appeared to be burdened by all he had to do to maintain his property. Was it really a blessing for him to own his own land? I sometimes wonder.
So there was a patriarch named Peleg, which meant division, and during his time Noah’s children found it necessary to divide, possibly three ways, and from then on the land would become both a blessing and a curse for all of them.   

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, February 13, 2015 6:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Nimrod 

~~ MTS-3904
Nimrod
“Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on earth.”
            1 Ch 1:10

The flood was over and human civilization started to thrive in the brave new world. Out of the three sons of Noah came peoples and tribes, and with effort and ingenuity the land was tilled and cities were built, and the story of the flood along with God’s judgment gradually faded into distant memory, becoming more of a legend than history. People in the post-flood era might have come to realize that not only could they survive without God, they could also do something great and to compete with God. God may have ceased to be their help and friend; he might have even become their enemy. Not long after the flood, the Tower of Babel, which symbolized people’s autonomy and their rebellion against the Lord, was erected, and Nimrod’s descendants might have played a vital part in its construction.
Nimrod was the great grandson of Noah, yet he seemed to stand for something directly opposite to what Noah was proclaiming. He appeared to represent a rebellious spirit, which has been flowing in people’s veins over the span of thousands of years. We can still witness such a spirit running rampant in our age, not far removed from the age of Nimrod.
Nimrod was a mighty warrior and he became worldly renowned not for his devotion to God, but for his rebellion against the Creator. Do we all aspire to become “a mighty warrior on earth” like Nimrod of old? I am afraid so.
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior,” we read in the book of Psalms. God does not seem to be too fond of people with great natural strength, and favors the ones who are weak and frail. Does this make any sense to you at all? What the apostle Paul boasted about often wasn’t the strength and ability he possessed in great quantity; he preferred to speak about his weakness. “When I am weak; I am strong,” he writes.
Had Nimrod been weak and frail, he wouldn’t have risen up to fight against the Lord’s authority and dominion. People who are incapable know more about who they are than the capable ones. Indeed they have less desire to dominate or to suppress others than the Nimrod types. Nimrod, it appears to me, stands for the kind of human spirit that refuses to yield to the Authority from the above and whose main focus are the things from below.
Surely it was not the Almighty’s intention to create a bunch of weaklings so that they could do nothing but to rely on God; he in fact desires all his children to be strong in the Lord, realizing human strength will always fall short at the end and only the power of God will last eternally. Being a Nimrod isn’t always a good thing after all.      

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, February 12, 2015 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Noah 

~~MTS-3903
Noah
“The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth.”
          1 Ch 1:4

The legend says that thousands of years ago Da Yu was able to bring the flood in China under control. He had such a dedication to the task at hand to the point that he totally neglected his family. I have no idea whether this person was historical or fictional; nevertheless he has become a part of our heritage and is deemed one the great figures in ancient history. One thing we can be sure, though: there was a great flood, and there was a great man who managed to survive the flood miraculously and thrive after the water subsided.
Noah became the most memorable name in the genealogy, for there wouldn’t be any names behind him if he were absent from the family tree of humans. Noah was the righteous man who single-handedly saved the human race from disappearing from the face of the earth.
What does the legend of Noah’s evoke in our hearts? Is it one of those tales that we learned when we were children and have since left it behind when we became adults? How can we ignore the fact that the name of Noah was included in our family tree and his story of surviving the flood was recorded in the Scriptures?
So we can claim one of his three sons as our ancestor from whom we have come to being as a people. I was told by our Bible teacher that we Chinese are the decedents of Japheth. I haven’t done enough research to find out the validity of this claim, but for certain I will never be able to find his name in our history book.
Indeed there was a universal flood during ancient times, some people’s lives were spared and they lived to tell the tale. We have our Da Yu and the Hebrews have their Noah, and the likelihood of two being one and the same person may still be there and worthy of our investigation.  The history of “Da Yu managing the flood” might have long become legendary in our civilization since it was so far removed from the actual occurrence and we can only speculate at best.
What do Noah and his three sons have to do with us? Surely we can place them at the top of our family tree and what happened to them and their interaction with God thousands of years ago turned out to be a determining factor, deciding our existence or non-existence on earth. Or if we decide to cut ourselves off from them, we may have to create a legend of our own to explain our existence. Da Yu might have been a product of our imagination and through whom we can make sense of our long struggle against nature and our prevailing over the challenges presented to us during the ancient times. Surely this is a good topic worthy of our pondering.          

   

 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, February 11, 2015 6:40:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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