A few springs ago, my wife and I drove up the California coast, heading for Oregon and its iconic coastal beauty. We were not at all disappointed by the stunning sights we saw there in Oregon, but I admit that I was more taken with the drive we made through the Redwood National Park up Highway 101. It is a most unusual National Park, since it primarily consists of a single road through enormous redwood trees, on both sides of… Read more

As any of you know who have been following my lectionary blog this summer, I have been retelling in fictional form some of the great stories from Samuel. As the summer is winding down, I was anticipating a rousing rendition of the end of David’s life, his inability any longer to get warm, even with the help of a nubile woman, his manipulation by his wife, Bathsheba, who forces him to make her son, Solomon, the heir to the throne,… Read more

Some years ago, probably longer ago than my mind can conjure, I was asked to lead a clergy retreat for the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was not the first or last of such invitations for me, but it was one of the few I received from the Western Jurisdiction of the church. It was held in Missoula, MT, and I had a lovely time. The temperature was still cool in early May, and the… Read more

Joab did not care what his king told him as he left the city to chase after the rebel Absalom. Of course he knew how the aging monarch doted on his son, that handsome, long-haired wonder, who had stolen the hearts of the people of Israel right under the unaware nose of David. How could he have been so blind? David, who had prided himself on his full knowledge of everything that went on in his growing kingdom, had in… Read more

In two weeks I will be returning to my old Dallas school to preach at a graduation event for persons in the Course of Study School, a United Methodist alternative to seminary training that for many years has supplied hundreds, if not thousands, of pastors for churches in every Annual Conference if the church. These clergypersons come from wildly diverse backgrounds, possessing in some cases PhD’s and in other cases still working to finish undergraduate school. I have taught in… Read more

Well, David mused to himself, I handled that mess with ease. It would have been distinctly embarrassing if Uriah had returned from battle and watched the belly of his nubile wife, Bathsheba, swell with my child. It surely could not have been his, since the siege of Ammon dragged on far too long. His death in the battle was an unfortunate casualty of brutal warfare, and though I urged Joab to place him in great danger, he died heroically, I… Read more

The sermon I heard last Sunday was based on the final commandment of the Big Ten, “You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor ox, nor donkey, nor anything else that is your neighbor’s.” Of course, I have never lived next to anyone who had a donkey or ox, though there were, and are, certainly wives involved. The Hebrew from the word “covet” is chamad, which surely can mean “to covet” or “to desire,” but I am interested in its… Read more

David was bored. Even though his aging general Joab had called for fresh combat against the Ammonites, since the dry spring had begun, and the earth again was suitable for chariot fighting and fast-moving ground troops, David for the first time in his warrior life was uninterested. He knew this was the season when kings went forth to battle, but once he had finally defeated the pesky Philistines, who for countless suns had threatened Israelite power, the king had retired… Read more

I announced in this blog some 15 months ago that I and my wife Diana would be moving to Los Angeles to be with our children and grandchildren. That move occurred in May of 2017, so we have now been in this sun-drenched city for about 14 months. During nearly all of that time we have been living in a very slow moving construction zone. Our goal has been to convert a two-car garage into a living space that includes… Read more

I was for a long time vastly disappointed in this chapter of the long saga of Samuel, Saul, and David. The tale has up to now been rich and rare, filled with irony and ambiguity, giving it a timeless and immediately relevant quality that simply never grows old. And the material following the chapter resumes this high quality of story-telling worthy of any great tale from the ancient or modern world. But chapter 7? It appears to be raw and… Read more

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